Camping, kayaking, hiking, biking and a humongous swimming pool are the top features of this state park that straddles the Hillsborough River.
If you think all there is to the Suwanee River is an old song with problematic lyrics, you’re missing out on one of Florida’s greatest kayaking, canoeing and camping rivers.
If you haven’t experienced Florida’s most famous spring, you’re missing one of the most beautiful spots in Florida. This weekend, Ocali Country Days, a special living-history festival, will re-create the Ocala of the 1800s. Year-round, this park has it all: kayaking, hiking, glass-bottom boat rides, horseback riding and terrific cabins.
Folks who dream of picnicking or even camping on their own little island can do just that quite easily by kayaking the Indian River Lagoon. There are dozens of spoil islands in the lagoon that make great paddling destinations.
Curry Hammock State Park is a hidden island in the Florida Keys near Marathon right off US 1. It has excellent camping and a swimming beach safe for kids. The park offers a kayak trail that is perfect for a short, inexpensive paddling experience. (They rent kayaks and SUPs.)
When it’s chilly, you can see dozens of manatees at this free park. Even without manatees, the Orange River is a beautiful kayak trail through Old Florida scenery.
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!
Vast and remote, the Ten Thousand Islands off Florida’s southwest coast seems challenging to visit, a labyrinth of twisting channels through thousands of remote mangrove islands.
Canaveral National Seashore is quiet and peaceful with bountiful wildlife, and you can always find your place in the sand.
This state park fits my definition of a hidden paradise: A scenic kayak trail on a wild island that ends at a spectacular hidden beach you’ll have all to yourself. This little-known state park is accessible only by boat.
This out-of-the-way destination reminds us of artsy waterfront towns like Key West and Cedar Key. West of Fort Myers, Matlacha is a colorful collection of little wooden houses surrounded by good saltwater-kayak trails. Artists love this funky little village.
This Miami state park 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. Now, the historic Blue Marlin Fish House, located on park property on 163rd Street, has re-opened and rents SUPs and kayaks on the Oleta River as well as offering sandwiches, salads and beer.
Rainbow Springs and the Rainbow River are among Florida’s top tubing and kayaking spots. People love this waterway because of the pure, clear water and spectacular natural setting. In winter, it’s a peaceful place to kayak and perhaps see otters. In summer, it’s full of tubes floating through a cool paradise.
The Lido Key Mangrove Trail is a well-known scenic kayak trail in Sarasota. In addition to friendly cormorants and shaded mangrove tunnels, this trail is popular in summer because there is a sandbar where you can swim.
On dark summer nights in the Mosquito Lagoon near Titusville, the water glows from bioluminescent plankton. Kayak tours help visitors see the spectacular light show.
This state park has superior cabins and is a great base for kayaking the Suwannee and hiking. It’s also home to an oddly dated museum on Stephen Foster. (We considered it a funky Florida find.)
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.