Florida is known across the world as the home of Disney. Many people might not realize that this unique state offers more than fun theme parks. If you look beyond the likes of Walt Disney World in Orlando, you will discover obvious beauty from the top of Jacksonville to Miami.
Escape the bustle of everyday life and get closer to the natural world on your next vacation. Here are nine must-visit Florida destinations for nature lovers.
Source: Instagram, posted on September 3rd, 2022, Westgate Ranch’s official profile.
- Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo
Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo provides a rural landscape and exciting pursuits, which will make you fall in love with the great outdoors.
Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo is in one of the last untouched wilderness areas in Florida. The authentic dude ranch is surrounded by natural beauty, offering a rural landscape and overlooking the hypnotizing Kissimmee River.
The rustic yet luxurious glamping tents, teepees, lodge rooms, and cabins work in harmony with Old West activities like horseback riding, fishing, and guided hunting. Also, you can enjoy more modern pursuits to experience the beauty of Florida, as you can go on an airboat ride, hit the air rifle range, or play a round of mini golf.
Source: Instagram, posted on September 24th, 2022, Everglades National Park’s official profile.
- Everglades National Park
Experience Everglades National Park for yourself to see why it is often described as Florida’s biggest natural wonder.
Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and is home to rare and endangered species, such as the American crocodile, manatee, and Florida panther. A guided boat tour in the Gulf Coast area is a must-do, as you will learn about life in the Everglades and may be fortunate enough to spot dolphins or manatees in the water.
A World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve, the Everglades is one of the most unique natural attractions in the US. After all, it is the only destination on the planet where crocodiles and alligators coexist. If you would like to spot the large reptiles in their natural habitat, don’t overlook Anhinga Trail to get up close along your walk, and you must be extra careful during a hike.
Source: Instagram, posted on September 22nd, 2022, Dry Tortugas’ official profile.
- Florida’s Coral Reef
Florida’s Coral Reef system is one-of-a-kind, and you can experience it from different locations across the Sunshine State, including Biscayne Bay, Dry Tortugas, and the Florida Keys.
Florida’s Coral Reef is the only system of its kind in the continental United States, which is spread across 350 miles from Dry Tortugas to St. Lucie Inlet. It is home to more than 40 reef-building corals that provide millions of animals and plant life with food, shelter, and breeding sites.
There are many destinations to see Florida’s Coral Reef for yourself, such as Biscayne Bay and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. One destination you should visit is the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to explore the underwater world, wearing a snorkel, mask, flippers, and a wetsuit. It is a natural experience you will remember forever.
Instagram, posted on September 14th, 2022, Naples Botanical Garden’s official profile.
- Naples Botanical Garden
Naples Botanical Garden is an educational, relaxing destination for every age, featuring beautiful, rare, and endangered plant species that create this vibrant tropical paradise.
Naples Botanical Garden is one of the most visually stunning spots in all of Florida. The 170-acre subtropical museum and preserve feature beautiful plants and cultures of the tropics, which will make you feel at one with nature.
It is a gorgeous location for connecting with nature, making memories with loved ones, and learning about plant species in danger of extinction, such as seed-bearing plants. Also, it provides a host of educational programs, activities, and events to help children develop an appreciation for the natural world.
Source: Instagram, posted on December 24th, 2019, FL State Parks’ official profile.
- Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
Spot rare, threatened, and endangered species in their natural habitat at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park or gaze up at the stars that shine much brighter at nightfall.
It is impossible not to fall in love with Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, which offers almost endless grassland, endangered species, and extensive walking trails. Avid birdwatchers, photographers, and nature lovers are sure to fall in love with the wide-open landscape, which serves as a home for rare and threatened wildlife, such as the Florida grasshopper sparrow and burrowing owl.
Visitors have a choice of activities that will make them feel closer to nature, such as camping, bicycling, boating, fishing, kayaking, and more. Also, Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is internationally renowned for its lack of light pollution, meaning visitors can spot the Milky Way without using binoculars or a telescope.
Source: Instagram, posted on September 9th, 2022, Biscayne National Park Institute’s official profile.
- Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park not only houses various ecosystems but takes the time and effort to protect them, creating a flourishing environment for its wildlife.
Biscayne National Park is the embodiment of 10,000 years of human history, as it tells the story of pre-historic tribes, pineapple farmers, and US maritime history. Visitors have the option to embark on its Maritime Heritage Trail, which is an opportunity to explore six shipwrecks that have remained in the water for almost a century.
What’s more, Biscayne National Park protects an incredible four ecosystems that blend into each other to support various wildlife, such as sea turtles, manatees, many fish and bird species, and insects and plants indigenous to the United States.
Boca Chita Key is the most visited island inside the park, as it features a historic lighthouse dating back to the late 1930s. However, visitors shouldn’t overlook Elliott Key. Once a pineapple farming community, it is now a scenic spot for picnicking, swimming, camping, hiking, and wildlife watching.
Source: Instagram, posted on September 28th, 2020, Big Cypress NPS’ official profile.
- Big Cypress National Preserve
The vast and beautiful Big Cypress National Preserve in south Florida is the US’s first national preserve. It offers a rugged landscape, outdoor adventures, and a peaceful environment to help you connect with nature.
Nature lovers will feel right at home at Big Cypress National Preserve, as there is so much to see and do during a visit. If you can pull your eyes away from the striking backdrop, you can enjoy many fun outdoor activities at your leisure, such as paddling, boating, canoeing, birdwatching, and hiking.
Despite its undeniable natural beauty, it isn’t overrun with crowds, and you may even feel like you have the preserve to yourself, depending on when you visit. Yet, you can guarantee plenty of people will be exploring the stunning swamp, as it spans 729,000 acres and welcomes more than a million visitors annually.
Source: Instagram, posted on March 12th, 2022, Visit Florida’s official profile.
- Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Visit Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge to enjoy scenic walking and hiking trails, which are an ideal place to spot beautiful and endangered birds and wildlife in a natural, protected habitat.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is 60 miles east of Orlando along the beautiful coast and is now one of the most productive estuaries in the United States. A little off the beaten path, it is one of the quietest natural spots on this list, but this isn’t a reflection of the beauty and wildlife that it offers in droves.
Birdwatchers will relish an opportunity to visit this natural attraction, as it strives to conserve and protect migratory birds, as well as other endangered and threatened wildlife species, to provide a safe wildlife habitat and ensure their survival and growth.
Source: Instagram, posted on April 16th, 2022, St George Island FL’s official profile.
- St. George Island
St George Island is a 22-mile barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, featuring stunning beaches and a chance to enjoy fun activities in the glorious Florida sunshine.
Natural attractions come in different forms in the Sunshine State, from lush preserves to expansive state parks. While Florida isn’t overrun with beaches, some spots provide a beautiful slice of paradise in the glorious sunshine.
If your idea of absorbing nature is lounging on a visually beautiful beach, there is no reason to look beyond St George Island. It is home to many unspoiled, serene beaches without annoying crowds. Visitors can enjoy many fun activities in the outdoors, providing a much-needed escape from modern technology. For instance, it is a gorgeous spot for swimming, paddling, fishing, kayaking, cycling, boating, and, of course, castle-building. Alternatively, you can relax on the sandy beach to soak up the sun.
Explore the best of the Sunshine State by visiting the above destinations on your travels. Rest assured, you will fall in love with Florida’s diverse, historic landscape that continues to provide fun, family-friendly activities for many personalities and interests. You might love it so much that you’ll decide to move to Florida!