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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

While neighboring Myakka River State Park lets you experience the natural beauty of this prairie country, the Crowley introduces you to the people who lived and settled here. Farm animals and historic houses help visitors picture the pioneer lifestyle.

Read More about Crowley Museum & Nature Center: Charming stop near Myakka with animals, history

Telegraph Creek, a tributary of the Caloosahatchee River near Fort Myers, is all the things I love about kayaking destinations – out-of-the-way, uncrowded, scenic, full of wildlife. It’s located within a half hour of Fort Myers and is ideal for a shaded two- or three-hour kayak outing.

Read More about Telegraph Creek: Unspoiled kayak trail worth discovering

In the wild and watery world of southwest Florida, Collier-Seminole State Park near Naples draws people who love the natural Florida for camping, hiking and paddling. It’s also home to the 1924 Bay City Walking Dredge, and how often do you get to visit a “National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark”?

Read More about Naples park has camping, kayak trails, lovable historic dredge

An open-air Thai brunch and market draws throngs every Sunday morning to this beautiful waterfront temple in Tampa. The food is very good and moderately priced. The exotic gold-trimmed temple is worth visiting just because it’s beautiful, set among shady live oak trees decorated with orchids.

Read More about Tampa Thai temple: Exceptional Sunday market & brunch