Spring is right around the corner, and here in Florida we like to take advantage of all of our outdoor opportunities. This is the best time to see some of our state’s greatest attractions, so we’ve listed a few of our favorite spots for when you’re feeling adventurous:
1. Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park, Gainesville
Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park in Gainesville gives guests the opportunity to hike into a 120-foot sinkhole with a mini-rainforest, small waterfalls, and lush foliage.
2. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne
This park on Key Biscayne is home to the Cape Florida Light (the oldest standing structure in Miami), was a stop on the Underground Railroad, and has one of the best beaches in the country.
3. Everglades National Park
Most outsiders think of Florida and they think of Disney World and crowded beaches, but residents know there's a more wild side of our state. All of the unique wildlife and landscapes that make our state special shine the brightest within this national treasure.
4. Devil's Den, Williston
This underground swimming hole in Williston (near Gainesville), is a rare natural wonder that will blow you away (if you know at least the basics of diving). It's only open for scuba diving or snorkeling, no sightseeing tours, unfortunately.
5. Falling Waters State Park, Chipley
Falling Waters is home to the tallest waterfall (and one of very few, period) in the state of Florida. It can be quite impressive after a heavy rain, as the water rushes down 73 feet of limestone into a huge sinkhole.
6. Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, Wakulla Springs
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is located 14 miles south of Tallahassee and is home to one of the biggest and deepest freshwater springs in the world. Not only does the beautiful park contain a natural landmark surrounded by unique Florida wildlife and old-growth forests, it is also home to a 1937 lodge with a dining room that overlooks the spring.
7. USS Oriskany, near Pensacola
"The Great Carrier Reef" has become one of the most popular diving destination in the United States. The 911-foot ship sits stern first in over 200 feet of water, so the reef is accessible from 80 to 212 feet down. This means some of the ship can be explored by beginners, but additional training is necessary to see the entire reef.
8. Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna
Not only is this park the only one in Florida to offer cave tours, visitors can also enjoy hiking, biking and camping, as well as fishing, boating and canoeing on the Chipola River or Blue Hole Spring. It is often recognized for its nice and well-kept campsites.
9. Big Shoals State Park, White Springs
Big Shoals is located approximately a mile east of White Springs, FL, and home to the largest whitewater rapids in Florida. If thrill-seekers come at the right time, they can kayak down the Suwanee in class III whitewater rapids. It's also a terrific hiking spot.
10. Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnellon
This park in Dunellon has been drawing visitors for decades with its crystal blue waters. It's nearly impossible to find natural waterfalls in Florida, but the man-made ones at this park are a lovely substitute.
11. Torreya State Park, Bristol
Torreya is a real gem. This scene probably looks unusual for Florida, and that's because it was taken from a 150-foot high bluff. This park in Northwestern Florida is also home to the tree for which it is named. Challenging trails, high bluffs and the extremely rare Torreya tree can be found here.
12. Crystal River
Manatees flock to Crystal River and its springs seeking warmer waters in the winter. This is the only place in Florida where you can legally swim with the manatees, and the practice is strictly regulated for their protection. If you want to swim with these incredible creatures, the best time to do so is from November through about mid-March.
13. Payne's Prairie Preserve State Park, Micanopy
This National Natural Landmark near Gainesville is a beloved spot for wildlife viewing, with alligators, horses, and even bison for $18 a night. This park will definitely become one of your favorites.
14. Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Copeland
Forested swamp featuring diverse wildlife, including panthers and black bears. Also the home of the legendary ghost orchid. Pictured is the Big Cypress Bend boardwalk.
15. Dry Tortugas National Park, Key West
More than 60,000 people visit the park every year to tour Fort Jefferson and enjoy activities such as snorkeling, bird watching, kayaking, saltwater fishing and even camping.
16. Ocala National Forest
The Big Scrub is 360,000 acres of hiking heaven. Ocala’s 75-mile section of the 1,300-mile Florida National Scenic Trail is widely considered one of the best and most beautiful. Here you'll find bountiful hills, ponds, pine forest and boardwalks through cypress and gum swamps. Don't forget to visit some of our most beautiful springs within the park, as well.
Have you been to any of these places? What are your favorite things to do in Florida when spring rolls around?