Every fall, the skies over the Florida Keys fill with thousands of birds from hundreds of species heading south for the winter. A remarkable citizen science project, Hawkwatch, based in Curry Hammock State Park, keeps a tally.
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 Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, an Audubon Society preserve, takes you on a hike via boardwalk with good wildlife viewing and exquisite scenery. In summer, you might get a peak at the rare ghost orchid blooming.
Some sections of the 2.5 mile beach remain closed. Otherwise, the park is open every day from 8 a.m. until sunset.
If you have one day or its your first visit to the Everglades, this guide will help you see wildlife and experience the essence of Everglades National Park. We offer tips, too, for more in-depth Everglades experiences.
Twenty minutes off I-4 between Orlando and Tampa, there is a little-known wildlife preserve that one visitor calls “a free safari.” It attracts thousands of migrating birds in winter, but it has more to offer than just excellent birding.
One of the best places to see wood storks and other wading birds nesting up close in winter is Wakodahatchee Preserve in Delray Beach. In February and March, dozens of storks build nests close to an easy-to-walk .75 mile boardwalk.
Orlando Wetlands Park is a must-stop for birders and wildlife fans; it’s home to over 100 roseate spoonbills, 1,700 alligators and 200 species of bird. What’s even better: A half-mile boardwalk opened this winter providing great views of nesting birds in a cypress island. It’s only 20 minutes off I-95.
Renting a houseboat in Everglades National Park lets you glide into the wilderness of Whitewater Bay and experience its splendor at dawn, at sunset and marvel at its starry skies. Fishermen will love it, but even without fishing, there’s plenty to enjoy.
The Hillsboro/Parkland entrance to the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge offers endless trails into South Florida’s vast and watery wildlife corridor.
White pelicans migrate to Florida in winter by the thousands. They are the sort of big, dramatic birds that even folks who don’t consider themselves birders will enjoy spotting.
It’s a perfect time to explore Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Boynton Beach. The kayak trail has been cleared of water lilies clogging the way. You can rent or launch kayaks here, but also hike an exquisite boardwalk through a cypress forest and see birds and other wildlife on the trails.
Florida birding festivals bring together experts, pros and beginners at winter events. With its varied terrain and long coastline, Florida is birding heaven. The first major birding festival starts Oct. 20.
Honeymoon Island is an unusual combo: It’s accessible, with first-rate concessions, and yet it’s a big, natural beach where you can get away from people and see wildlife. And you have to love how it got its name.
Next time you travel Florida’s west coast on I-75, take a five minutes detour in Fort Myers to discover a magnificent slice of old Florida – a 1.2 mile boardwalk through an unspoiled cypress swamp called Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve.
Few South Florida hiking or biking trails rival this 12-mile-long trail near Naples for scenery and wildlife. It deserves to be known outside the Naples area.