Skip to Content

Casey Key, a skinny 8-mile-long barrier island south of Sarasota, is a great destination for someone who wants to pedal a great bike trail in the morning, beachcomb amid natural beauty in the afternoon and then enjoy an authentic waterfront fish house for dinner.

Read More about Casey Key: Hidden treasure is ideal base for bicyclists, beach lovers

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.

Read More about Off-the-beaten path in Marco Island: Go beyond your hotel pool

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.

Read More about At Cayo Costa State Park, you live your dreams of a private island

Once the site of a luxury resort for the rich and famous, Long Key State Park is a terrific place to spend a few hours hiking, beachcombing, swimming, snorkeling and kayaking in the Florida Keys. While most of its highly prized beachfront campsites are closed, a few tent sites are open.

Read More about Long Key State Park: Fun place for a day in the Florida Keys

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.

Read More about Hugh Taylor Birch Park in Fort Lauderdale: My favorite Florida state park