This Miami state park, 10 minutes from sprawling Aventura Mall, is a remarkable island of green where you can kayak, mountain bike, picnic and enjoy a sandy beach. There are even rustic cabins to rent.
Parks, Forests & Preserves
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.
MacArthur Beach is one of South Florida’s treasures: Nearly two miles of natural, dune-lined beach with rock outcroppings and a reef that makes it a great snorkeling site.
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.
It’s rare in Florida to find a loop trail for kayaks and this one, with three lakes, two creeks and a canal, is a challenge. The 11-mile trail circles the state park.
Remote, rural and picturesque, northwest Florida rewards your long drive with sparkling springs, the beautiful Suwanee River and scenic rural roads. Two state parks with cabins and campgrounds make great bases to explore the region.
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.
Secret beaches are the stuff of vacation dreams. But I found one — more than 5 miles of wild, broad unspoiled sandy shore, lined with thick native vegetation and without a condo or T-shirt shop in sight.