We love learning about all of the natural beauty and adventure that our state has to offer, and we’ve shared as much of it as possible with you over the last year. Now, we’re taking a look back at several of the must-see places we featured in 2016 in hopes that you will find a few places to add to your New Year’s resolutions. You don’t have to wait until January 1st. Start planning your ultimate Florida adventure today with these 15 places:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Falling Waters State Park, Chipley
This beautiful state park is home to Florida's biggest waterfall. When conditions are right, water rushes 73 feet down the side of this sinkhole. Call the park before visiting to check on the status of the waterfall, or you might find it at just a trickle.
2. Dry Tortugas National Park, Key West
This national park is home to Fort Jefferson, which is unfinished, but still the Western Hemisphere's largest masonry structure. Visitors to this park enjoy snorkeling, kayaking, and touring the old fort.
3. Solomon's Castle, Ona
This castle was created by a single man using reclaimed materials, to serve as his home and art gallery. It's not the easisest place to find, but the artist's creativity and sense of humor make it worth a day trip.
4. Dinosaur World, Plant City
We're willing to bet that you probably know a child or child at heart who would love a trip to this incredible park located between Tampa and Orlando, stocked with over 200 life-sized dinosaur sculptures and other related activities.
5. The Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle, De Leon Springs State Park
One of Florida's coolest breakfast spots is located inside of this state park. The old sugar mill is now used to grind fresh flour, creating the perfect pancake batter. Even better, guests pour their own pancakes on griddles set into the tables.
6. Devil's Den, Williston
Devil's Den has an ethereal beauty that reminds you how lucky we are to live in our state. This unique prehistoric spring is covered by a karst window that lets in a stream of sunlight, like a spotlight into the clear, blue water below. Visitors must be scuba diving or snorkeling to explore here.
7. Coral Castle, Homestead
Looking at this quirky historic landmark, you would never guess that these monolithic structures were sourced, moved and carved by a single man. Explore the castle and ponder the mysteries of its construction.
8. Sweet Pete's, Jacksonville
This massive 23,000-square-foot candy store, factory and restaurant is located in a beautiful historic building in downtown Jacksonville. With ice cream, baked goods, and over 1,000 kinds of candy, this may be the closest you ever get to visiting a real-life Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.
9. Ravine Gardens State Park, Palatka
Florida is known for being primarily flat, but this park in North Florida actually has some stunning natural ravines that reach depths of 120 feet. The park features gardens, trails, and even two historic pedestrian suspension bridges.
10. Bob's Train, Sarasota
This restaurant in Sarasota is like no other. It's housed in old train cars that were once used in the Ringling circus, which made Sarasota its winter home for many years. The owner, Bob, doesn't just prepare delicious meals, he also loves discussing all kinds of circus history with guests.
11. St. Augustine's Nights of Lights
Every Floridian should see our oldest city dressed up in millions of lights for this yearly festival at least once. Luckily, it lasts through the end of January, so you still have time to check it out.
12. O'Steen's Restaurant, St. Augustine
While you're in St. Augustine, stop by O'Steen's Restaurant. We featured this longstanding locally owned restaurant earlier this year as the place to go for the best fried shrimp in Florida. You can expect to wait in line, but you won't be disappointed.
13. Lodge at Wakulla Springs, Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
This historic 1930s lodge is a special piece of Old Florida, with the spectacular design of the lodge and natural beauty of the springs combining to create the perfect getaway.
14. Wat Mongkolratanaram of Florida, Tampa
This temple hosts weekend markets that have become locally famous for authentic Thai food in a beautiful environment, right on the waterfront.
15. Cayo Costa State Park, Captiva
If you've ever dreamed of the peace and quiet of your own private island, Cayo Costa comes pretty close. This wild, unspoiled island is only reachable by ferry or private boat offers a glimpse of a Florida of the past that is getting harder and harder to find.
Have you visited any of these incredible places? Which of these places are you most excited to add to your plans in 2017? Are there any other places you would add?