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Lake Wales Ridge State Forest is for explorers – folks who like to find places that aren’t in the guidebooks. Here you can hike for miles in the woods, hear only nature and have a chance to spot wildlife, including bear, bald eagles and endangered scrub jays.

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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

The East Central Regional Rail Trail deserves a catchier name because it’s a great bike trail – long, smooth, scenic and well-supported with signage and amenities. It travels through one of the most rural areas of Florida with miles of paved path without an intersection.

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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

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.

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This paved trail in Coral Gables lets you experience one of Miami’s most beautiful public spaces — Old Cutler Road. It passes several special gardens and parks and is shaded by historic ficus trees, It’s a delightful way to experience one of the oldest neighborhoods in Miami.

Read More about Old Cutler Trail: Bike path along beautiful road passes iconic Miami parks and gardens