It’s hot, but that doesn’t mean you have to seal yourself in air conditioning for the next three months. You can enjoy nature and the outdoors, even in the summer, with these coolest places to visit in Florida.
Here are six outings that are perfect for a hot, sunny summer weekend:
1. Bicycling: Try Jupiter Island
Why is it cool? The tree-shaded road on Jupiter Island gets ocean breezes. As long as you keep peddling, you stay cool from the air movement. And you can stop along the way and take a swim to cool off. (My guide to bicycling Jupiter Island includes what appears to be the lone but unmarked beach-access point where you can get to the sand and swim.) The scenery is lovely and the rich residents are all at their summer homes, so traffic is slim. More on bicycling Jupiter Island.
2. Kayaking a freshwater spring: Try Blue Spring State Park
Why is it cool? Blue Spring stays a steady 68 degrees. In the winter, that’s warm enough to draw hundreds of manatees. But with manatees safely elsewhere, the spring becomes a vast swimming hole with multiple entry points for a chilling dip. Blue Spring Run and the St. John’s River offer an unbelievably wild environment for kayaking, both north and south of the park, and you can start and end your trip with a refreshing plunge. Here are more springs that are perfect for summer weekends. Florida state park website for Blue Spring.
3. Tubing: Try Ichetucknee State Park
Why is it cool? The Ichetucknee has bracingly cold, gin-clear water and passes through a pristine forest. This spring near Gainesville is Florida’s favorite tubing destination, and for good reason. It has been declared a National Natural Landmark by the U. S. Department of the Interior. (You can also kayak and canoe the river.) Details on tubing Ichetucknee. This link includes other popular tubing spots, such as Blackwater River State Park in Holt, in the Panhandle; Blue Springs State Park in Orange City in Central Florida, and Rainbow Springs State Park, in Dunnellon, west of Ocala. Florida State Park website for Ichetucknee.
4. Snorkeling (without a boat): Try Peanut Island
Why is it cool? Peanut Island is a man-made island in the middle of the Port of Palm Beach. Its rocky shoreline and its location directly in the mouth of the inlet make it a magnet for colorful fish and creatures, from rays to manatees to small sharks. It is well-known for having some of the best easy-access snorkeling in South Florida.
Some other great places to snorkel from shore: Cannon Beach at John Pennekamp State Park and Indian Key in Islamorada. And here’s a neat idea: A snorkeling trail at Phil Foster Park, which is an island on the Blue Heron Bridge at Riviera Beach. Here’s more snorkeling without a boat in Florida.
5. Discover a new and out-of-ordinary beach: Try these three
Why is it cool? We all know beaches are among coolest places to visit in Florida summers. But have you discovered the rare beaches in Florida with outcroppings of Anastasia limestone? Blowing Rocks Preserve in Jupiter is a wild and natural place preserved by the Nature Conservancy that, under the right conditions, features spurts of water “blowing” up from the rocks.
Washington Oaks Garden State Park in Palm Coast is full of swirling, sculptured coquina rocks piled along the beach, some sporting circular holes, others forming bowls that create tide pools for snails and anemones. MacArthur Beach State Park in North Palm Beach also has Anastasia limestone rocks.
6. A tiki bar weekend getaway in Florida Keys: Create your own tour.
Why is it cool? Between waterfront breezes and frosty beverages, tiki bars help you forget the twin 80s (temperature and humidity — but maybe the whole decade, too.) And, the Florida Keys are, without question, one of the coolest places to visit in Florida. You could theme your getaway around making a tour of best Keys tiki bars.
In the Keys, tiki bars – or chickee-bar or cabana bars — are about being outdoors and overlooking the water, particularly at sunset. Keys tiki bars are some of the best places to eat fresh fish and fried anything. They are usually family friendly, because kids at an outdoor table can wiggle and make noise. And they are the epitome of the Keys attitude — sit back, relax, be entertained by fish snapping up breadcrumbs or the passing clouds. You can find classic tiki bars elsewhere, too, of course, but the Keys always have a breeze.
A few more ideas for weekend getaways in Florida:
- Explore the beaches of Naples by bike.
- Sanibel Island and why we find it so special.
- The Lower Keys, the less-developed section of the Florida Keys.
- Cedar Key: Artsy town with beach and kayaking
Where do you go to stay cool in Florida’s hot summers? Please use the comment field to add your suggestions.
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.