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.
Jetty Park, with a terrific beach, fishing jetty and a view of passing ships, has a campground and small cabins. It’s an appealing getaway, with a few catches.
A very old, very big live oak tree inspired me to stop at this park near the Villages in Central Florida, and I found it to be a nice place to picnic, paddle and take a short hike.
Hontoon Island is a terrific refuge for camping or a stay in a rustic cabin and as a base for a kayaking or canoe trip. The paddle around the island is 10 miles filled with birds and wildlife, past ancient cypress and oak trees. This Central Florida state park is near several other great parks, too.
Charming Old Florida village with an antique center and flea market that will knock your socks off. Not everyone wants to stay in a B&B or hotel, so we reveal a few of our favorite places to camp within 25 miles.
This large state park in a rural, out-of-the-way part of Central Florida, preserves Old Florida cracker history. It offers great hiking trails and camping plus lakes to explore by kayak or canoe. Wildlife, from deer to alligators to sandhill cranes to eagles, is abundant.
Environmentalists have won a few battles in Florida and paddling the Ocklawaha is a good reminder. This is a wild, untouched river that was once destined to be lost forever. Today, it is a beautiful spot to explore.
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.