Off the Beaten Path, Florida
Florida is a state full of beautiful natural spaces, fun attractions and amazing wildlife. Every visitor to the state of Florida will find something they love. There's all the fun of Disney World, the sunny beaches, the cities, and incredible wildlife. Here, in no particular order, are a few of Florida's fascinating destinations, natural wonders and activities.
Salt Springs gets its name from the high salt content in the water -- the water that feeds the spring passes through a salt deposit as it rises to the surface. These springs are home to a variety of wildlife, normally found only in ocean habitats, but because of the high salt content in the water these species have found a home at Salt Springs. Before or after taking a dip in the Salt Springs, visitors can take the 2 mile round trip hike on the Salt Springs trail which leads to the Salt Springs Run.
Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg
This 100 year old garden is an amazing destination in St. Petersburg. The botanical paradise features over 50,000 tropical plants, including some of the oldest in the area. The gardens also have stunning waterfalls and beautiful demonstration gardens. For visitors with an interest in horticulture, there are garden tours and even some horticultural programs.
Silver Springs is another delightful town paired with a unique spring. Silver Springs is one of the largest spring systems in the world, and it feeds the beautiful Silver River. The best way to enjoy the amazing Silver Springs is to take a ride on the glass bottom boats, which ferry people across the springs. From these boats visitors can marvel at the vents, which feed the springs.
Kennedy Space Center
Located on Florida's Space Coast, the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex is a great place to learn about the part the Space Coast itself has played in that history. At the Kennedy Space Center you can tour launch areas, see rockets, experience the space flight simulators, and speak to an astronaut. Some visitors may even get lucky enough to view a shuttle launch, provided that they time their visit right. Also on the Space Coast is the US Astronaut Hall of Fame, which is a destination space enthusiasts won't want to miss. At this museum you can see what space travel was like for the first astronauts and try out the astronaut training simulators and look at the museum's large collection of the astronauts personal items.
The beautiful islands of the Florida Keys are a must for visitors looking for gorgeous beaches and clear ocean waters. The Keys are comprised of Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Key West, Big Pine Key and the Lower Keys. Among the many delights of the Florida Keys is the spectacular snorkeling and diving. As the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States, it is the place to go for vacationers seeking a great diving experience. Snorkelers and divers will find the stunning underwater world of the Keys is filled with colorful fish, vibrant coral, and stunning shipwrecks. Islamorada is know as the sport-fishing capital of the world, and it truly earns its reputation. Key West is also the location of Ernest Hemingway's home.
Located in northeast Florida, St. Augustine is the oldest established European city in the United States. Visitors to the city can enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, take trolleys in the downtown area and visit the many shops in the Historic District, including shops with craftsmen practicing traditional trades. St. Augustine is home to the Castillo de San Marcos, the fort built to protect the city from pirates. The Castillo de San Marcos was heavily fortified and surrounded by a moat, and today visitors can watch the historic weapon demos, including canons, on the weekends. The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum is also worth a stop. Visitors can climb over 200 stairs to reach the top, where they enjoy amazing views of the ocean and the city, and at the museum visitors learn all about the history of the city and the lighthouse.
Everglades National Park
The Everglades are one of the United States' true treasures. Everglades National Park stretches over 1.5 million acres, or 2,400 square miles, making it the largest park in the lower 48. The park features winding waterways, banks of seagrass and mud, oyster reefs and sand bars as well as an amazing diversity of habitats and wildlife. Visitors to the Everglades can enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, canoe and kayaking trails as well as boating. Those visitors wishing to boat should be aware that boating in the Everglades can be tricky and is limited to experienced boaters. The Shark Valley Trails pass through what is considered by many to be the heart of the "True Everglades," and it stretches for 100 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Okeechobee. Boaters can explore Whitewater Bay, Ten Thousand Islands Area and Florida Bay. Visitors can also participate in guided tours, including boat tours and Tram Tours. The Tram Tours naturalists guide explores the Shark Valley Slough over a 15 mile loop, participants learn about the ecosystems and see the amazing wildlife. Throughout the Everglades visitors can enjoy the unique ecosystems and of course the amazing wildlife.