People and birds alike enjoy the beautiful beaches and sandbars plus the pristine mangrove creeks at Bunche Beach. There are several routes for kayakers or it’s a great place for just combing the beach and enjoying the wildlife.
When it’s chilly, you can see dozens of manatees at this free park. Even without manatees, the Orange River is a beautiful kayak trail through Old Florida scenery.
If you’re lucky, you can see manatees in lots of waterways around Florida, but here are a few locations where, in winter, you can reliably admire these charming creatures — and even kayak with them.
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.
Marineland was the original oceanarium and the first to discover you could train dolphins to perform. Read its fascinating history, an excerpt from the new book, “A New Guide to Old Florida Attractions: From Mermaids to Singing Towers,” by Doug Alderson.
This gorgeous, wild, winding river is well-known in Florida, but can only be paddled when water levels are high enough — and that’s right NOW. This river belongs on the bucket list of those who love the Florida outdoors.
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.
This 22,000-acre wilderness offers 60 miles of trails for hiking, biking and equestrians through five thriving wildlife habitats. Six primitive campsites allow you to get away from everything, or camp near the preserve in a little-used county campground with river access.