It seems like everyone visits Florida exclusively for Disney World or the beach, while so many incredible places fly under the radar. Next time your friends or relatives come to visit, take them somewhere off the beaten path. There’s so much more to Florida, and you’ll both have fun discovering new places.
1. Falling Waters State Park, Chipley
Waterfalls aren't really the first thing that come to mind when you think of Florida, but 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 this 73-foot sinkhole.
2. Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna
Here in Florida, most of our caves can be explored underwater. The Florida Caverns are the only air-filled caves in Florida that offer tours for visitors. Even better, this park in the Panhandle is a short drive from Falling Waters State Park, so you can see both in the same trip.
3. Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales
The Bok Tower Gardens in Central Florida are like something out of a fairy tale. The intricately decorated 205-foot tower is not only a work of art, it also holds some of the world's finest carillon bells. Guests can spend hours strolling in the surrounding gardens as well. Your visitors will never forget this magical attraction.
4. Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, Palm Coast
This state park is truly a hidden gem. Not only is it home to gorgeous formal gardens and mightly live oak trees, its shoreline is decorated with coquina formations. Your friends will leave with a new appreciation for a side of Florida they never knew existed.
5. Solomon's Castle, Ona
Unbelievably, this quirky castle was built by a single individual, an artist, to house tons of his very unique artwork. Guests will definitely have some great stories to take home.
6. Devil's Den, Williston
This underground swimming hole in Williston (near Gainesville), is a rare natural wonder that will blow your guests away (if they know at least the basics of diving). It's only open for scuba diving or snorkeling.
7. Rainbow Springs State Park, Dunnellon
This park in Dunellon has been drawing visitors for decades with its crystal clear waters. The man-made waterfalls at this park are just lovely.
8. The Dali Museum, St. Petersburg
Fans of the surreal will go gaga for this unique museum, which houses the largest Dali collection outside of Europe.
9. Tarpon Springs
Most visitors can't help but fall in love with the old world charm of this Greek sponging town located about 45 minutes from Tampa. Historic buildings, antique stores, and a scenic waterfront make this town a must-see.
10. Myakka River State Park, Sarasota
A local favorite, this park near Sarasota has a river and two lakes, so water-related opportunities are plentiful. It's home to many diverse environments and has something for everyone. Additionally, it's one of Florida's oldest and largest state parks.
11. Venetian Pool, Coral Gables
This lovely oasis is the country's largest freshwater swimming pool---and the only swimming pool on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in the '20s in a coral rock quarry in the style of Venice, Italy.
12. The Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach
How cool would it be to take your friends to a 12th-century Spanish monastery...in Florida? This monestary was purchased in the 1920s by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, whose plans of moving it to California were sidetracked by shipping complications. It ended up in storage for decades until it was purchased again in the '60s and moved piece by piece to its current location.
13. Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park, Key West
If you're headed to the Keys, don't overlook this national park. This unfinished island fort sits about 70 miles west of Key West. The masonry combined with the stunning natural surroundings give this place a haunting quality your visitors will never forget. It's also a great place for camping---especially for stargazers.
Have you been to any of these places? What are your favorite spots to take out-of-towners? Please share your comments with us below!