One of the best things about Florida is that no matter how well you think you know it, you will still come across a surprising place you never knew existed. Where else would you find such an eclectic array of attractions?
1. Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach
Most people have no idea that a beacon of Japanese culture can be found right here in Florida. Visitors to this museum in Delray Beach can peruse exhibits on Japanese art and customs, sample Japanese food, and stroll through historical gardens with an impressive bonzai collection.
2. JFK's Florida Bunker
Did you know a fallout shelter was built for President John F. Kennedy in Florida during the Cold War hysteria? This bunker was designed to keep the president safe underground on Peanut Island near the Kennedy family home in Palm Beach.
3. Falling Waters State Park, Chipley
Waterfalls aren't really the first thing that come to mind when you think of Florida. Our land is so flat that water doesn't usually have far to fall. Falling Waters is home to Florida's tallest and most impressive natural waterfall. Plan your visit for after a heavy rain, so there will be plenty of water rushing down the 73-foot sinkhole.
4. Blowing Rocks Preserve, Hobe Sound
Outsiders would never guess this beach with huge limestone formations is in Florida. At the right time, water will go crashing through the outcropping and up to 50 feet in the air.
5. Venetian Pool, Coral Gables
Leave it to Florida to build the country's largest freshwater swimming pool. We were always in search of new ways to stay cool, even back in the '20s when this gem was built. Most people outside of South Florida have never heard of this hidden gem that was built in a coral rock quarry. It's the only swimming pool on the National Register of Historic Places.
6. The Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach
This 12th-century monastery was purchased in the 1920s by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, who originally planned to place it in California. Shipping problems ruined his plans, and it wasn't given a home until it was bought again in the '60s and put together in North Miami Beach.
7. Big Shoals State Park, White Springs
Whitewater rafting may seem impossible here in the flattest state in the country, but there are actually several places with small rapids. You can find class III rapids, the largest in our state, at Big Shoals State Park.
8. Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna
A lot of people don't know we have caves here that aren't underwater. While air-filled caves aren't very common here, this state park in the Panhandle offers tours and has a lovely campground, to boot.
9. Solomon's Castle, Ona
This hidden gem out in the little town of Ona is definitely off the beaten path. Lovers of art and classic roadside attractions will get a kick out of this artist's home, gallery, restaurant and bed and breakfast.
10. Seacrest Wolf Preserve, Chipley
Seacrest Wolf Preserve in Northwest Florida is a non-profit dedicated to raising public awareness of the perils faced by these incredible animals.
Have you been to any of these places? Are there any other hidden gems you’d like to share with us? Please leave your comments below!