In the middle of Everglades National Park is the best preserved Nike missile base in South Florida, a relic of the Cold War and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Today it reminds us of those days of John F. Kennedy, fallout shelters and Bob Dylan protest songs.
Whoever named this kayak trail Hell’s Bay was giving you a hint: It won’t be easy. During National Parks Week at the end of April, I paddled this forbiddingly named trail. It’s mile after mile of mangroves with tight twists and turns that make going slow. If you’re heading for a backcountry camping site — a chickee on a platform in the middle of the Everglades wilderness — then this trail is worth the trouble. If not, well, I have some suggestions for you.
McKee Jungle Garden was a popular 1940s roadside attraction. Today, the Vero Beach garden is smaller but known for water lilies and its historic buildings. It’s a beautiful place!
Within an hour’s drive of the urban tangle of South Florida, one of Florida’s two nationally designated “wild and scenic” rivers meanders through a spectacularly lovely cypress swamp. Recently, Jupiter Outdoor Center re-opened the kayak and canoe rental operation in Riverbend Park, allowing visitors to paddle the best section of the river.
The paved, traffic-free Lake Trail along the water on this exclusive island provides gorgeous harbor views and sneak peeks into backyards of the rich and famous.
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.
The historic Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge couldn’t be in a prettier spot. It also tells the story of a wild Florida of shipwrecks and pioneers. While you’re exploring the gorgeous beaches here, it’s worth a quick stop.
Peaceful Waters Sanctuary is an outstanding birding site and a particularly good destination for nature-starved folks from Broward and Palm Beach counties. It’s also close to two good places for 3-mile-long walks in natural settings.
Craggy limestone rocks form a dramatic beach-scape, far different from the usual sandy beach. At the right time, waves crash into the rocks, spurting water into the air.
Biscayne National Park is 95% underwater. Boat trips to shipwrecks, reefs and islands are the best way to see this park. The shipwreck snorkel tour often goes to the wreck of the Mandalay, which has a fascinating story.