Lake Wales Ridge State Forest is for explorers – folks who like to find places that aren’t in the guidebooks. Here you can hike for miles in the woods, hear only nature and have a chance to spot wildlife, including bear, bald eagles and endangered scrub jays.
This state park holds a special place in my heart. In urban South Florida, it preserves a sliver of the natural splendor once all around. There’s a lot to do here: beach, biking, shaded picnics, Intracoastal views. When visiting, a perfect day includes a stop to nearby Bonnet House.
Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge is a year-round refuge for birds and other living things, from the dazzling roseate spoonbills to the American bald eagle. During the fall migration, birding is especially good.
In honor of the 100th birthday of US national parks, here’s a park that deserves to be on your must-see list. We loved camping at Dry Tortugas National Park off the Florida Keys. It takes some time, money and effort, but, wow, does it pay off.
Honeymoon Island is an unusual combo: It’s accessible, with first-rate concessions, and yet it’s a big, natural beach where you can get away from people and see wildlife. And you have to love how it got its name.
BOYNTON BEACH — About 260 species of birds and waterfowl find their way here throughout the year, and you can find them by hiking, biking or paddling the canoe trail.
Myakka is one of the oldest and biggest state parks, a great place for seeing wildlife, from huge gators to flocks of birds in winter. Go here for its log cabins, appealing camp sites, excellent kayaking, extensive hiking and good bike trails. It’s also a good spot for nature neophytes, who enjoy the airboat ride and canopy walk.
The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail is a guide to 500+ places. It’s a great tool for discovery. I used it to find a colony of burrowing owls in an unlikely spot — a city park in the middle of overbuilt Broward County.
Peaceful Waters Sanctuary is an outstanding birding site and a particularly good destination for nature-starved folks from Broward and Palm Beach counties. It’s also close to two good places for 3-mile-long walks in natural settings.
The Gulf coast along Charlotte Harbor has miles of wild shoreline, making it a wonderland of wildlife and natural beauty and ideal for sea kayaking.