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Ichetucknee Springs State Park in winter: Best time to kayak

The Ichetucknee is the most pristine spring run in the state. It has eight major springs, crystalline water, lush jungly vegetation plus plentiful birds and wildlife. It’s a shame that most visitors only experience it as a busy tubing river. It’s a fabulous winter kayaking destination in North Florida — worth a drive!

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Punta Gorda: 11 things to do in an Old Florida riverfront town

Punta Gorda is blessed with a beautiful riverfront location, but it doesn’t have a beach. And there lies the reason it has an off-the-beaten-track quality. It’s a great place for kayaking, biking, hiking, birding and discovering funky crab shacks and other authentic Florida experiences.

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Myakka River State Park: 10 reasons to visit this big, wild Sarasota preserve

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.

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Kayaking Blue Cypress Lake: Exceptional scenery, so many ospreys, near Yeehaw Junction

Chances are, you’ve never heard of Blue Cypress Lake near Yeehaw Junction. If that’s so, you’re missing a spectacular natural lake rimmed by old growth cypress trees and home to hundreds of ospreys and osprey nests. This lake is the headwaters of the mighty St. Johns River. What a great kayak destination!

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Off-the-beaten path in Marco Island: Go beyond your hotel pool

The beach town of Marco Island is all manicured and modern, but here are four adventures into the wild and authentic Florida that are within a quick drive. You can wade across a lagoon to a wild beach or have lunch in a funky fishing town or stroll on a boardwalk into a beautiful old growth cypress swamp.

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Visiting fabulous Flamingo, Everglades National Park’s last outpost, and worth the drive

Flamingo is a long way from the entrance to Everglades National Park, but we love it for the wildlife — manatees, crocodiles and an osprey nest right in the marina. Kayaking into Florida Bay is a splendid way to see the many birds and spectacular scenery. Our guide provides tips for hiking too.

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Crowley Museum & Nature Center: Charming stop near Myakka with animals, history

While neighboring Myakka River State Park lets you experience the natural beauty of this prairie country, the Crowley introduces you to the people who lived and settled here. Farm animals and historic houses help visitors picture the pioneer lifestyle.

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