Florida is inviting you. From our crystalline blue springs to our breathtaking oceans. Florida is bursting with scenic parks, trails and captivating wildlife....and it's all waiting for you to be explored, experienced and embraced. I share these places not only for your enjoyment but mostly with hope for your help of it's conservation and protection.
Here are some of my favorite places.
WEEKI WACHEE - Crystal River Area
A kayakers paradise. Paddle refreshing turquoise sandy bottom waters for approx. 5.5 miles and be greeted by real life mermaids at the State Park.
Highlights: kayaking, daytrips
HOMOSASSA STATE PARK - Crystal River Area
Take a look underneath the springs and get introduced to naitive wildlife. If you ever wanted to see a black bear or Florida panther, this is your opportunity.
Highlights: day visit, photography, family friendly
THREE SISTERS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE - CRYSTAL RIVER
Enjoy the beautiful boardwalk while watching the manatees gather in the spring during the months of Nov - March. Also see my blog "Gentle Giants"
Highlights: scenic hiking, one of the best places to observe manatees, manatee festival
SILVER SPRINGS STATE PARK
Great place for daytrips and kayaking. It doesn't get overcrowded even in the summer months as there is no swimming allowed. The perfect time to go is around April. Besides monkeys, there is lots and lots of adorable offspring to see. Silver Springs has many alligators and many other wild things to observe.
Highlights: camping, sightseeing, kayaking, wildlife photography
RAINBOW RIVER STATE PARK
One of our favorites to camp at. This is a first magnitude spring fed river and is the perfect spot to snorkel/dive in mesmerizing water and is bursting with abundant wildlife all around. Mother Nature provides an endless variety here. Cormorants greet us from a close distance when kayaking and otters are often observed snacking on crayfish. Every camping trip is an adventure and I am never ready to go back home.Entry to the main park is free while camping there. Simply paddle up to the State Park which has astounding waterfalls as well as a decent sized swimming area. If you like to paddle or tube KP hole which is a county park is close by as well if you want to skip the State Park. If you get hungry, a visit at Swampy's is a must! They have amazing food as well as the perfect view of the Rainbow River from the deck. Who can say no?
Highlights: camping, swimming, kayaking, tubing, snorkeling, wildlife photography
MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK - Sarasota
Beautiful and clean park for a daytrip or weekend camping. Lots of trails to explore. One of our favorite things is the hanging bridge as well as observing the large alligators on the riverbanks of Myakka River. This park always reminds me of a rainforest with it's lush vegetation. I suggest the cooler months for hiking as well as bringing bikes to cover as much ground as possible. From wading birds to majestic oaks to an ocean of wildflowers, Myakka River State Park has a 100 different faces and not one of them is not worth seeing..
SILVER GLEN, ALEXANDER SPRINGS, FERN HAMMOCK SPRINGS - Ocala National Forest
A wonderful place for any outdoor enthusiast seeking to visit Florida's Springs. Camping, hiking, kayaking and snorkeling, ...the opportunities to spend time in the National Forest are endless. We have visited many springs, however Alexander Springs is less plagued by the algae crippling most of our springs due to nitrates. Alexander is still rated a rare "B" and has amazing visibility. Fern Hammock Springs is a step into an enchanted forest, the views leave you breathless. Juniper Springs is located at the same property and Silver Glen and Salt Springs are just around the corner. Besides snorkeling bliss, the forest also provides an immense amount of hiking trails.
Highlights: snorkeling, scenery, camping
GILCHRIST, GINNIE, ICHETUCKNEE SPRINGS - GAINESVILLE AREA
Spring mecca for anyone that is as fascinated by the blues as I am. I can not get enough of this area as it's filled with wild Florida's gems. Gilchrist has to be the most awww-inspiring of them all. It is the newest State Park and has camping available. There are also several other smaller springs on the property such as "Naked Spring" which is away from the crowds. I strongly suggest taking a little hike to see "Aric" who's a giant cypress tree. About 15 min from Gilchrist is Ginnie Springs, which is a privately owned campground and dive heaven. It is one of the most scenic spring systems that are all in one place. I strongly suggest to visit it during the "off season" as this is a very popular campground for the younger crowds and gets a little crazy over the summers. The entry fee is much higher than at a State Park but I would say you definitely get your moneys worth even just for a day visit. If snorkeling or diving is not your thing you can tube down Santa Fe river over and over again as it is directly connected. Now to one of the most famous springs of them all...the Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Not only is it refreshing to take a dip into its head spring or dive into the Blue Hole, the hiking is worth mentioning as well. Camping is not available directly in the park, however there are a few campgrounds close by. Ichetucknee is famous for tubing but kayaking in the winter months serves as a relaxing experience with wonderful scenery and plenty of wildlife to admire.