This out-of-the-way rural area on the St. Johns River offers good hiking, kayaking and springs. With Welaka as a base, we explored a place little changed by the years.
Bike & Hike
We know what the big draw is in Orlando, and it’s not nature. But it should be! Even if your main destination is a theme park, here are eight natural experiences and places that would make memorable additions to a visit to Central Florida
Amateur astronomers love this place in the heart of Florida’s cow country. With 54,000 acres of wide-open prairie 25 miles from the nearest town, light pollution does not exist, making the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve one of a few destinations in Florida for stargazing under a pure night sky. The campground set aside for astronomers is known as “the red light district.”
This laid-back beach town isn’t famous, but it charms visitors with its funky Florida history, gorgeous beaches and a cute downtown with interesting restaurants and shops. In 2019, it celebrates its 100th birthday.
Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park — the biggest state park in Florida — is a vast, wild place near Everglades City. Year after year, we drove right past, but there are three great reasons to spend time here. We’re glad we did.
Lake Louisa State Park is a half hour from theme parks, but is a natural world with 20 miles of hiking trails and great cabins. Located on the east end of the vast Green Swamp, you’ll find wildlife, old citrus groves, hills, cypress swamps and forests.
The Van Fleet Trail into the Green Swamp is one of the most rural, isolated rides you’ll find in Florida. It’s flat. It’s straight. But if you want to truly get away from it all and encounter a little wildlife along the way, here’s the place.
It’s spring in Florida: Azaleas are blazing in white, lavender, pink and red at a Florida state park with a rich history.