Some people can’t imagine life outside the city, but others think living out in the countryside or in a small town is worth giving up a few conveniences. It turns out some of the coolest places are way “out in the boonies.” So gas up the car, and check out one of these hidden treasures:
1. Torreya State Park, Bristol
This park is located in Northwest Florida, on limestone bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River. The hiking here is some of the most challenging in the state, but the views are incredible. Spend the night in the on-site yurt for a special experience.
2. Treasure Camp on the Suwannee, Fowler's Bluff
This hidden gem sits behind a general store on the Suwannee River, offering scenic views and a cozy, rustic environment. They specialize in simple seafood dishes, like fried shrimp. The address is often listed as Chiefland, but it's actually in a small town called Fowler's Bluff, so expect a bit of a drive.
3. The Yearling Restaurant, Cross Creek
The Yearling specializes in "Cracker Cuisine" (like frog legs and alligator), but the unique atmosphere is what has kept visitors coming out to this countryside gem since 1952. If you love Old Florida, you absolutely must visit this restaurant. You'll also want to visit the nearby homestead of famous Florida writer, Marjorie Kinan Rawlings (who wrote The Yearling).
4. Loxahatchee Ice Cream & Coffee, Loxahatchee
What could be better than homemade ice cream? This humble little spot is a bit out of the way, but once you try it, you'll be hooked. They're constantly churning out fresh ice cream in creative new flavors.
5. Myakka River State Park
Once you enter this park located nine miles off of I-75 in Sarasota, you will truly feel like you've reached the middle of nowhere. Don't be surprised if you can't get cell reception, but you don't really need a phone out here, anyway. Spend the day hiking and take in the sights and sounds of wild Florida. Don't miss the epic canopy walkway through the trees for a spectacular view of the park.
6. Sparky's Place, Astor
Next time you're passing through Central Florida, check and see if the small town of Astor is near your route. Even if it's not, you should make Sparky's Place a stop on your trip. They have everything from incredible homemade breakfasts to massive "swamp burgers," but they are perhaps best known for their perfect pizza and calzones.
7. Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary
The Catty Shack ranch has been providing homes for rescued big cats for decades, but it opened to the public in 2004. The educational tours here include a nighttime feeding tour, where visitors can see these animals at much more active times than they will during most zoo hours.
8. Cafe Masaryktown, Masaryktown
This longstanding family-owned restaurant is regarded as one of the best places to get a Cuban sandwich outside of Ybor City. The cafe offers a selection of authentic Cuban and Spanish cuisine.
9. Black Hammock Restaurant, Oviedo
This unique restaurant in Oviedo is quite an experience. Where else can you go on an airboat ride and look for gators, hold a small gator, and then eat gator? Now that's good old fashioned Florida fun.
Have you visited any of these out of the way places? What’s your favorite attraction that requires a long drive?