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Best outdoor guides for exploring Florida 2023

Exploring Florida sometimes requires more than just a sense of adventure and time to travel. Even those of us who write about Florida’s outdoors use guides for planning.

Here are a few books in our library that we are comfortable recommending to our readers.

Florida Rambler may receive a modest commission should you decide to purchase a book through these links.

Florida outdoors guides. Florida Rambler co-publisher Bob Rountree on the boardwalk at Boca Grande
This is me in Boca Grande! (Photo illustration by Dave Ryan)

The Best in Tent Camping: Florida: A Guide for Car Campers Who Hate RVs, Concrete Slabs, and Loud Portable Stereos

I like this book, but only as a supplement to Moon’s Florida Camping (above). This is not a comprehensive guide.  The descriptions are very good, and details and maps for the campgrounds it does cover are excellent. Author Johnny Molloy has made a career out of writing guides for hiking, camping and paddling throughout the southeast, and it seems that at times he relies on contributors as opposed to personal experiences. Nonetheless, this book is useful and worth including in your camping library. $30 on Amazon.

Related article: 8 hot tips for tent camping in Florida

Canoeing and Kayaking Florida

This is one of the best guides for discovering Florida kayak and canoe trails. No single guidebook can possibly cover all of the state’s paddle trails, especially with new trails being promoted as draws for tourism. But the 100 trails it does cover are thoroughly reported with maps, descriptions, level of difficulty, put-in, take-out and shuttle detail, and phone numbers you can use to obtain the latest water levels. Noticeably missing are trails in the Florida Keys.  For that, you’ll have to get Bill Keogh’s “Florida Keys Paddling Guide” (below). $26 on Amazon.

Related article: Best kayaking in Orlando and Central Florida: 15 wild rivers

Florida Keys Paddling Guide: From Key Largo to Key Westoutdoors guides ir?t=fc090a 20&l=as2&o=1&a=0881505447 Best outdoor guides for exploring Florida 2023

outdoors guides floridakeyspaddlingguide Best outdoor guides for exploring Florida 2023

The Keys are a paddler’s paradise. You can launch a kayak almost anywhere. Author Bill Keogh, who lives on Big Pine Key, has paddled the Keys from top to bottom, and he knows all the best spots to launch and the best areas to explore. Keogh describes wildlife and ecosystems so you understand what’s around you, and he lists almost 70 launch points and takes you on 47 adventures of special interest, accompanied by nautical chart references, tidal alerts and previews of what you’ll encounter. $21 on Amazon

Related article: 12 awesome outings for kayaking in the Florida Keys

Florida’s Paved Bike Trails

Paved trails for bicycles, skaters and walkers are growing like wildflowers around Florida, where the appetite for converting abandoned railroad beds into multi-use trails seems insatiable. This book tries to keep up by staying ahead with details on future trails and expansions of existing trails. Each trail described in the book provides maps and access points, as well as a detailed description of what you’ll see along each trail. Distances and amenities, such as rest rooms and water fountains, are also part of the package. The book is organized by region, and there is an index in the back for quick reference. $21 on Amazon

Related article: 23 best Florida bike trails: Our favorites for scenic bicycling

Baits, Rigs & Tackle Book & DVD

I’m on my third version of this book and couldn’t do without it. Written by one of Florida’s foremost anglers and former editor of Florida Sportsman magazine, Vic Dunaway. This essential resource covers everything from rods and reels to baits and how to rig them for the fish you are targeting. Much of the focus is on Florida fishing. The illustrations are colorful, the book well-organized and easy to read. Baits, Rigs & Tackle is out of print, but the content is timeless, and you can still buy used copies on Amazon. $5 & up on Amazon (used)

outdoors guides baitsrigstackle Best outdoor guides for exploring Florida 2023

Related article: Florida kayak fishing, where a few have gone before

Moon Florida Camping: The Complete Guide to Tent and RV Camping

outdoors guides moonfloridacamping Best outdoor guides for exploring Florida 2023

This is still my camping bible. Although not updated since 2007, its 660 pages include thousands of campgrounds. Detail runs deep, though photos are lacking. Learn about things to do nearby, campground descriptions, directions and contact information. There have been many changes since this guide was published, but it still has legs. $10 on Amazon.

Related articles: Best Florida camping

Everglades Birds: Pocket Guide to Familiar Species

outdoors guides evergladesbirdsfieldguide Best outdoor guides for exploring Florida 2023

More than 360 species of birds have been identified in Florida’s Everglades, and the most common species are identified in this excellent fold-out field guide. Keep it in your car, your daypack, or stuff it in your back pocket when hiking or paddling in the Everglades back country. This quick-reference guide identifies the birds you’re most likely to see. $8 on Amazon.

Without a Paddle: Racing Twelve Hundred Miles Around Florida by Sea Kayakoutdoors guides ir?t=fc090a 20&l=as2&o=1&a=B004NSVF40 Best outdoor guides for exploring Florida 2023

This is not really a guide, but it covers a lot of territory you may paddle someday. Warren is an avid kayaker and journalist, the perfect combination for the writer of a book about the Ultimate Florida Challenge, a 1,200-mile paddling marathon circumnavigating Florida. Along the way, you learn about paddling open water, haunting night paddles, finding places to camp, how to efficiently pack your kayak for overnight trips, foods to eat and the games your mind plays when paddling alone for weeks on end. His challenge nickname is SharkChow. $24 on Amazon

outdoors guides withoutapaddle Best outdoor guides for exploring Florida 2023

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