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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. In 2024, with the addition of an excellent visitor center and a new lodge, there are more reasons to go to Flamingo.

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

Good news: One of Florida’s favorite kayak runs, Juniper Springs, is open again. It might be the most pristine spring-fed river in Florida. It’s stunningly beautiful, a narrow twisty stream, best for experienced paddlers. It had been closed since 2020.

Read More about Juniper Springs in Ocala Forest: One of the best kayaking runs is open again

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.

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