Ahh, Florida in the summer. For some folks, it's a blissful escape from colder climates, while for others it's a time spent hunkered down in a cool, dark corner of home. For most of us outdoorsy types, it means sticking closer to the trailhead or spending time around somewhere with water. Florida hiking and camping is best done in the cooler months, but there are plenty of great adventures to be had when the heat is on – here are five that you won't want to miss this summer:
Everglades Swamp Walk - Come on in, the water's fine! A lot of folks might think that the water down in the Everglades is like a bubbling cauldron. It's quite the opposite – the water is cool and clear, and a swamp tour is the perfect way to see the Everglades up close and personal. Take part in the annual Labor Day swamp walks at the Big Cypress Gallery on Sept. 3-5, or reserve a walk that's held every Saturday.
Bioluminescent Kayaking - Head over to Titusville and hook up with the gang from A Day Away Kayak Tours for an incredible nighttime paddle trip. Any movement in the water produces a blue glow caused by bioluminescent organisms. This is a must-do summer adventure, and here's a tip: Keep tabs on the phase of the moon – the darker the night, the brighter the glow in the water will be.
Visit a Florida Spring - Florida's got the largest concentration of freshwater springs in the world, so there's no excuse why you shouldn't visit at least one of them this summer. Swim, dive, tube, snorkel or just bob around in the cool, gin-clear water and forget about everything else. Check out www.visitflorida.com/springs or www.floridasprings.org for trip ideas and to locate a spring around the state.
Paddleboard a Coastal Dune Lake - In Northwest Florida? Don't miss a chance to see one of Florida's coastal dune lakes, which are only found in a handful of places on earth. Take a drive out to the BoatHouse at the WaterColor Inn and Resort where you'll find a paddleboarding mecca. Take lessons with the YOLO Board crew, or get an in-depth look at the coastal dune lake ecosystem with Murray Balkcom of Walco Eco Tours.
Take a Wildlife Drive - Go birding or see the wild side of Florida on a drive at J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, or on Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville. Go during the early morning or evening hours when wildlife is the most active, and you'll see some cool stuff without ever leaving the comfort (and A/C) of your car.