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3 ways to experience Florida’s great outdoors

By: Ann Martin

Photo: Peter W. Cross for VISIT FLORIDA

More than 1,350 miles of coastline have made the Sunshine State notable for its never-ending beaches, but when it comes to enjoying the Florida outdoors, don’t limit yourself. Take some time to go inland, as well, to check out the state’s rugged wetlands, vast seas of sawgrass, and crystal-clear springs — all of which support postcard wildlife including alligators, manatees, and rare panthers.

On your trip to experience the diversity of Florida’s landscapes, do it all — ride the Atlantic’s waves, but also ride horseback through pristine oak hammocks. Get in some beach time, but don’t neglect your mangrove time. Within the three regions profiled below, you’ll find all this and more, showcasing some of the very best this wild state has to offer.

This guide is proudly produced in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA.

Ocala

Photo: VISIT FLORIDA

In the heart of north-central Florida, Ocala’s rich history and unique topography are a dangerous combination for any too-short itinerary. From turquoise springs framed by serpentine live oak trunks to the state’s second-largest national forest, Ocala is the side of Florida you don’t often see in the glossies. And that’s fine, because you really should see it in person instead.

Juniper Prairie Wilderness

Tucked along the St. Johns River just west of Orange City, Blue Spring will transport you.

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Ziplining over canyons

Ziplining above Ocala means soaring through palm-thatched canopies…

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Silver Springs State Park

Long before the age of the theme park, Silver Springs offered visitors a different kind of magic…

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Ocala National Forest

Key West may be the southernmost point in the continental United States, but did you know Florida…

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Horseback riding around Ocala

Newbies can saunter through oak-lined pastures. Pros can gallop across open fields…

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Martin County

Photo: Peter W. Cross for VISIT FLORIDA

Bookended by the calm waters of Lake Okeechobee and the frothy surf of the Atlantic, Martin County is a blend of sandy beaches, eco-adventures, and Old Florida charm. And that’s not even touching on the local arts, history, and nearly endless sunshine.

Blowing Rocks Preserve

This unexpected Florida landscape makes for a different kind of beach day…

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Jonathan Dickinson State Park

This wild mosaic of a park starts with coastal sand hills…

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Treasure Coast catamaran tour

Nimble catamarans take guests into these dazzling Atlantic Coast waterways on a private tour…

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Stand-up paddle boarding the Treasure Coast

Hop aboard The Ohana Bus and get ready to SUP…

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Greater Fort Lauderdale

Photo: Peter W. Cross for VISIT FLORIDA

It has postcard beaches, shipwrecks, and an extensive tangle of canals that give it the nickname “Venice of America” — Greater Fort Lauderdale is worth a whole trip in itself. The wilds of the Everglades are in its backyard, but you don’t even have to go that far to find some serious adventure.

Airboating through the Everglades

These flat-bottom, fan-driven boats glide above the Everglades’ sawgrass-strewn wetlands…

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Hugh Taylor Birch State Park

Hugh Taylor Birch is to Fort Lauderdale what Central Park is to New York City…

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Flamingo Gardens

This property features more than 3,000 species of rare tropical and subtropical plants, along with the state’s largest collection of native wildlife…

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Learning to surf

Warm and wavy, the Atlantic waters off Fort Lauderdale give surfing newbies a fun and safe place to learn…

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Paddling around (and through) the city

In the “Venice of America,” the paddling options are endless…

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This guide is proudly produced in partnership with VISIT FLORIDA.
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