It’s easy to find a beach in Florida. It’s harder to find a hidden beach, a beach where you experience a sense of discovery and delicious isolation. Here, however, I share my favorites, discovered over many years.
Natural beauty makes Riverbend Park in Jupiter a delightful place to explore. Its 10 miles of bike trails are particularly well suited to family bicycle outings. It’s also the site of a historic battleground from the Second Seminole War.
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.
This isolated cluster of islands 70 miles west of Key West is accessible only by boat or seaplane. But treasures await you, especially if you camp over for a few nights. Yes, you can camp here! Snorkeling and kayaking, too!
The charming Riverview Hotel accommodates guests at the gateway to New Smyrna Beach’s arts and entertainment district, a half-mile strip of historic homes, quaint galleries and friendly pubs leading to one of Florida’s most popular beaches.
Fort Lauderdale’s Rustic Inn is a classic. Their “world famous garlic crabs” draw hundreds of people every night to this old Florida restaurant, tucked away on Ravenswood Road, just west of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. You’ll find it from the sound of wooden mallets pounding on the table every few minutes.
Despite a lack of state parks with campgrounds, there are five well-maintained public campgrounds near Fort Lauderdale and a few private campgrounds worth considering.
There are prettier rivers and wilder rivers, but the Peace River offers something you can’t find elsewhere: A place to paddle and camp through an undeveloped forest filled with wildlife within an easy drive of 7 million South Florida residents.