The beach town of Marco Island is all manicured and modern, but here are four adventures into the wild and authentic Florida that are within a quick drive. You can wade across a lagoon to a wild beach or have lunch in a funky fishing town or stroll on a boardwalk into a beautiful old growth cypress swamp.
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.
2018 is an exceptional one for nesting birds in Everglades National Park. Two super colonies– more than 25,000 birds clustered together– are nesting in the park for the first time since the 1940s. We couldn’t resist a visit. And while you can’t reach the super colonies, there is much to see on a spring visit.
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.
Kayaking the Chaz on the central Gulf Coast takes you over turquoise springs, down twisty creeks, and you might just see a manatee, otter or bald eagle. This is one of Florida’s premier kayaking rivers.
There are a lot of things I love about winter in Florida, but high on the list is spotting the wonderful variety of wildlife here. You might not get lucky and view all these animals, but you’ll visit wild and beautiful sites on your quest.
One of the best places to see wood storks and other wading birds nesting up close in winter is Wakodahatchee Preserve in Delray Beach. In February and March, dozens of storks build nests close to an easy-to-walk .75 mile boardwalk.
Encompassing more than 600 square miles in North Central Florida, Ocala National Forest is bursting with adventure. Hike the Florida Trail, camp in the deep woods, spend a lazy day at a cool, bubbling spring, ride the equestrian trails, paddle a spring run, a lake or a river.
Your smartphone has never had more tools available to explore Florida’s outdoors.
With a beautiful beach, free pier, beach-side restaurants and a lively downtown, this is a classic beach town. It’s frozen in time while it awaits redevelopment.