Sea-turtle walks are like seeing a nature documentary in person, and they’re back in many places for 2021. But you need reservations to join these night-time beach walks to watch giant sea turtles nesting.
Load your bikes on your carrier and head north to Old Florida. Along this bike trail, you can stop and hike a bit and maybe even see gators, wild horses or even bison in Paynes Prairie. This pretty paved trail also lets you use your gears on a hill or two.
Amateur astronomers love this place in the heart of Florida’s cow country — 54,000 acres of wide-open prairie, 25 miles from the nearest town, ideal for stargazing under a pure night sky.
Big Cypress National Preserve offers excellent Everglades experiences. It’s adjacent to the famous national park, is free and has some spectacular scenery.
A 22,000-acre wilderness with 60 miles of trails for hiking, biking and equestrians through five thriving wildlife habitats. Six primitive camping areas, or try this secret campground with river access.
Blue Spring State Park, home to manatees in the winter and a favorite place for a swim in bracing spring water in the summer, will allow visitors to stay after closing during firefly season from March 19 to April 4. If that took you by surprise, you’re with me. But there is a firefly season and Blue Spring, located 35 miles north of Orlando in Orange City, is firefly central.
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.
One of the best places to see wood storks and other wading birds nesting up close in winter is Wakodahatchee Preserve in Delray Beach. In February and March, dozens of storks build nests close to an easy-to-walk .75 mile boardwalk.
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.
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.