Florida is a fun and exciting destination for travellers of all ages. Attractions like Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Studios draw people from all over the globe, but not many people know it has so much more to offer visitors. While these theme parks provide hours of endless thrills, exploring the diverse natural spaces and seeing what this state is all about is an incredible experience in itself.
Getting outdoors and trying out some adventure activities is a great way to recharge when on your Orlando holiday and get away from the busier traveller crowds. Outdoor activities range from hiking the epic Florida Trail, kayaking with dolphins, or visiting beautiful thermal springs.
So, Orlando Villa Holidays has rounded up amazing places to explore in Florida for outdoor lovers, to help you to decide which outdoor adventure suits you most.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
This gorgeous national park stretches all the way from Mississippi to Florida, offering different islands to explore, as well as a variety of beaches; perfect for a long walk and getting back to nature. While Florida has endless beaches for travellers to visit, anyone who wants to avoid the tourist flurry and experience an untouched beach (in a beautiful part of the world), this is a great place to start.
At Gulf Islands National Seashore, you can witness the migration of thousands of monarch butterflies before they head south to Mexico, just before the temperature drops in Canada and America. Seeing the orange and black wings of these astounding insects is a sight that’s not to be missed.
Holidaymakers can camp at various spots in the park for a small fee, too. So, the whole family can relax and swim in the ocean, see bottlenose dolphins bobbing along the seashore, and walk the many public trails that run along the mainland, including Santa Rosa Island and Perdido Key.
Devil’s Den Spring
In Florida, you can find Devil’s Den: an idyllic, natural spring with a water temperature of 22 degrees celsius all year round, making its waters very welcoming, especially when warm steam rises from the spring on a cold winter’s day. The site is snorkelling and scuba diving training centre, so although you cannot go for a swim here, visitors can embark on these exciting adventure activities.
From above ground, travellers can see the mouth of the cave amongst the grass and as you peer in, there is glorious crystal clear blue waters below you, accompanied by the sunlight pouring in. The pool is mushroom shaped below the water, making this spring perfect for underwater exploration, and whatever your level of experience, you will be in good hands with the helpful professionals on site.
There is also camping and R.V parking here, so you can easily incorporate Devil’s Den into a road trip and sit by the campfire, while enjoying this fascinating thermal spring nestled in the woods.
Hike the Florida Trail
Florida is home to one of the 11 National Scenic Trails you can find all over the United States, and while many outdoor lovers probably want to hike all of the 1000 miles of this mammoth trail, you can also hike part of it through different national parks. This incredible trail is entirely vehicle free, so you can enjoy peace and quiet while getting back to nature, traversing through forests, and past lakes and creeks.
The Seminole State Forest is a particularly lovely section to hike, and this ample 7.8 mile stretch can be found close to Orlando, making it a great change of pace if you have been visiting local attractions. There is a $2 entry fee to the trail, which is one of the oldest sections of the Florida Trail, offering plenty of character, as well as wildlife and gorgeous vistas.
Amongst the pine scrub you can watch beautiful bird species amongst the lush vegetation, as well as black bears in the area, too. With campsites situated along the trail, this park makes for a relaxed and leisurely hike for anyone who wants to get away from it all, and spend some time in the great outdoors.
Kayaking at Cedar Key
Cedar Key was once a sleepy fishing village, and now travellers love to come to this area because of its astounding natural beauty, and the many outdoor activities you can experience here. Kayaking is a fantastic way to see the best of this area, including the local wildlife, and the laid back and relaxing nature here makes it perfect for beginners.
There are locally run companies that you can contact to hire kayaks or canoes, who can inform you on which routes to take, depending on your interests. The waters are generally calm in the area, and with expert advice from kayaking companies, the whole family will be in safe hands when exploring this beautiful area by water.
Enjoy seeing dolphins playing in the water, and make sure you bring a picnic to paddle out to a secluded spot and have lunch, with unique and spectacular views of the area.
Explore the Everglades
You can hardly talk about Florida without mentioning the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, and this huge national park spans across an impressive 20,000 km² for you to explore. Using hovercrafts is a great way to get around this wetland, and you can glide along with local guides and experts who will tell you all about its fascinating history.
Wildlife enthusiasts can look out for racoons hiding in the trees, manatees playing beneath the water and crocodiles bathing in the sun. You might even see some majestic panthers which inhabit this area on your travels, too. Locals and visitors alike also love to fish in these waters, which yield some great catches. So, grab a fishing permit and spend a day in the Florida sun catching bass, sea trout, snapper and redfish.