Silver Springs State Park near Ocala lets kayakers launch at the famous springhead and paddle an exquisite waterway where paddlers often see monkeys, manatees and an array of birds and other animals.
Parks & Forests
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.
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.
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.
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.
You don’t have to drive hours off the interstate to find Florida’s natural beauty and funky history. You can find treasures within 10 minutes of these I-75 exits.
Loop Road is famous for being a wild place. (That once applied to the people as well as the animals.) It’s a gravel road off the Tamiami Trail in the Everglades. If you’re not in a hurry, it’s a rewarding place to explore.
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park near St. Augustine has two sides — historic gardens amid ancient live oak trees on one side and a beach with fantastically shaped coquina rocks on the other.