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.
Parks & Forests
Some of the best hiking near Orlando can be found at the Little Big Econ State Forest, where bluffs along a scenic river add interest. The forest is 5,000 acres preserved in a suburban area in the middle of the triangle formed by Orlando, Cocoa and Daytona Beach.
Juniper just might be the most pristine spring-fed river in Florida. It’s also stunningly beautiful and easy to kayak. On a hot day, the 72-degree water and shaded run help keep you comfortable.
Falling asleep to the soothing rhythm of waves lapping on your own beach is every camper’s dream, so we pick the best beach campgrounds on Florida’s Panhandle.
Florida Springs where you can swim, snorkel and dive.
Secret beaches are the stuff of vacation dreams. But I found one — more than 5 miles of wild, broad unspoiled sandy shore, lined with thick native vegetation and without a condo or T-shirt shop in sight.
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.
It’s rare in Florida to find a loop trail for kayaks and this one, with three lakes, two creeks and a canal, is a challenge. The 11-mile trail circles the state park.
A prime destination for camping, hiking, off-road bicycling, fishing and limited canoeing, this vast 22,000-acre wildlife refuge is a classic South Florida wilderness with wet prairies and marshes, cypress domes, oakwood hammocks, pine flatlands and abundant wildlife.
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.