Old-growth live oaks draped in air plants and Spanish moss dominate the 9,000-acre Highlands Hammock State Park, one of Florida’s original state parks. It offers lush nature trails, scenic bike riding and shady camping.
Florida Southern College in Lakeland has been named one of the 20 most beautiful college campuses in the country. The campus is unique: Nowhere else in the world has more buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
This small town festival celebrates a uniquely Lake Placid product: caladiums, a colorful plant grown commercially almost nowhere else. There’ll be music, food, a car show, arts and crafts plus bus tours of the caladium fields.
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.
Even many Floridians don’t know that cattle ranching in Florida is big business. This interesting free tour near Orlando offers a peek into one of the biggest cattle ranches in the nation, and it’s owned by a church.
The Dora Canal could be the prettiest one mile you’ll paddle in Florida. The waterway connects Lake Dora and Lake Eustis in Tavares, just west of Mount Dora.
Sebring, a small town along the lovely Lake Wales Ridge in Central Florida, is staking a claim for something new — Florida’s first (and only) craft soda festival, the Sebring Soda Festival. Local small-batch sodas made with real sugar are making a comeback, partly as an outgrowth of the craft beer phenomenon. This Sebring festival is a good opportunity to taste what it’s all about.
The clear waters flowing out of Alexander Springs are the start of a great paddling trail inside Ocala National Forest. It’s an easy stream to paddle with lots of wildlife, especially birds and fish.
Arbuckle Creek is a gorgeous river through an ancient cypress forest. It feels remote and wild but is convenient to Orlando and South Florida. It’s a gem, full of wildlife and magnificent scenery.
If you haven’t experienced Florida’s most famous spring, you’re missing one of the most beautiful spots in Florida. This weekend, Ocali Country Days, a special living-history festival, will re-create the Ocala of the 1800s. Year-round, this park has it all: kayaking, hiking, glass-bottom boat rides, horseback riding and terrific cabins.