Twenty minutes off I-4 between Orlando and Tampa, there is a little-known wildlife preserve that one visitor calls “a free safari.” It attracts thousands of migrating birds in winter, but it has more to offer than just excellent birding.
DELRAY BEACH — Amid a sea of subdivisions, you’ll find a pair of man-made wetlands where you will encounter extraordinary wildlife viewing from strategically placed boardwalks — wildlife preserves that are especially lively during the fall and spring bird migrations.
This wild island on the Gulf coast is never crowded — it’s too hard to get there. For those who drive to Pineland on Pine Island and then take the hour-long ferry to the state park, the rewards are many: Nine miles of perfect beaches, shaded jungle-like trails and wildlife that includes osprey nests, dolphins, stringrays and all sorts of bird and sea life.
It’s not the best known destination in southwest Florida, but there are a lot reasons that make Lovers Key State Park so lovable: A 2.5 mile beach lined with natural vegetation that is perfect for beachcombing and bird watching, and mangrove-lined waterways that are draws for both manatees and kayakers.
A seemingly endless hike deep into the Everglades awaits you along the levee on the southern boundary of the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge..
White pelicans migrate to Florida in winter by the thousands. They are the sort of big, dramatic birds that even folks who don’t consider themselves birders will enjoy spotting.
This isolated cluster of islands 70 miles west of Key West is accessible only by boat or seaplane. But treasures await you, especially if you camp over for a few nights. Yes, you can camp here! Snorkeling and kayaking, too!
I wait all year to enjoy Florida’s winters, and not just for the cooler weather. It’s also the peak time to spot amazing wildlife. One spectacular Florida scene worth seeing and hearing is a flock of migrating sandhill cranes.