Florida’s Secret Places

Monday, December 6, 2010
By Suki

A wise person once said, and I paraphrase, “I wake up every Saturday morning torn between the desire to change the world and to experience it.” This year we vowed to get away from our computers and explore local places of natural beauty whenever possible.

Wekiwa Springs, Florida

Everyone comes to Florida for its beaches… and they are beautiful. This year, however, we decided we really wanted to check out as many of its state and county parks as possible. With entrance fees ranging from $0 to just a couple of dollars, these places are quite “magical” for lack of a better word.

Thanks to some digging on the Internet and a wonderful little iPhone app by Sandra Friend called FLStateParks (developed by Sutro Media) we’ve been able to take day trips to several of these beautiful places. Note: the app isn’t intended to be an exhaustive resource on each park. What I do love is that it you can be in an area and pull up the parks closest to you on the map and get some quick information on each one and the types of activities / facilities.

Here’s a list of the places we’ve been fortunate enough to visit this year that I highly recommend checking out:

  1. Wekiwa Springs State Park (Apopka – close to Orlando) – great kayaking and trails – the actual springs were overcrowded and noisy though (we went on a Sunday) so recommend going on a week day if possible.
  2. Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge (Titusville) – we actually did the bio-luminescent night tour through the A Day Away Kayak Tours – highly highly recommend it – ranks up there as one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life
  3. Blowing Rock Preserve (Hobe Sound) – get there at sunrise, high tide and rough seas to see some spectacular displays of sea water. Really beautiful.
  4. Bahia Honda State Park (north of Key West) – quiet sugar sand beaches, nice place to curl up and read a book
  5. Dry Tortugas (islands south of Key West – requires a ferry) – phenomenal photo ops, okay snorkeling at the time we went, not quite sure it was worth the price or the length of the ferry ride but an experience nonetheless.
  6. Fern Forest (Coconut Creek) – a lovely afternoon stroll through some tall trees and typical Florida vegetation (bring boots if you want to do the mud trails)
  7. West Lake Park (Fort Lauderdale) – a park within the city, great for beginner kayakers
  8. Oleta River State Park (North Miami) – a great state park that’s inside the city, we’ve only been kayaking but I hear they’ve got great biking trails

Dusk at launch site - Bioluminescent tour, Merrit Island

Dry Tortugas

Bahia Honda State Park

Blowing Rock Preserve

Fern Forest Nature Center, Coconut Creek

West Lake Park

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