Adventure parks, posh boutiques, shimmering cities . . . Florida has them all. But if you’re a visitor looking to experience the Sunshine State’s secret side—where natural beauty and thriving wildlife bring the thrills—check out these insider tips:
1. Everglades National Park
If wildlife sightings are your thing, start at Everglades National Park’s Shark Valley Visitor Center in Miami. Tour the park by tram, bicycle or on foot and you might see bobcats or panthers—and definitely alligators.
2. Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
The boardwalk trail at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers guarantees easy access for all. Even if you don’t spot any of the wildlife species that inhabit the site, you’ll relish exploring the lush 3,400-acre wilderness.
3. Big Bend Scenic Byway
Are you a road-tripper? Follow the Big Bend Scenic Byway. Stretching 220 miles through North Florida, the byway delivers you to tranquil scenes where majestic forests and jewel-blue waters meet, and the pace of life slows down accordingly.
4. Adventurous Outdoors
For adventure-seekers, just pick your own: You might coast over canyons, cliffs and lakes at the Canyons Zip Line & Adventure Park in Ocala; swim with manatees at Crystal River Preserve State Park in Crystal River; or snorkel at Dry Tortugas National Park (located 70 miles west of Key West, you’ll catch a ferry to reach this oasis).
5. Disney Wilderness Preserve
Discover The Nature Conservancy’s Disney Wilderness Preserve near Kissimmee. Everyone knows about Disney’s theme parks, but the main attraction here is a trail system that immerses you in pristinely restored wetlands. Look closely to spot some of the preserve’s 1,000-plus documented plant and animal species.
For more ways to experience Florida like an eco-tourist, click here to explore the guide.