EXPLORE FLORIDA'S NATURAL BEAUTY
Of the hundreds of billions of pictures taken by Florida visitors, it’s likely most of them were taken outdoors. That’s because much of Florida basks in the middle of a subtropical climate and the weather’s never too hot or too cold to head outside and savor the outdoors.
But it’s not just the weather. The 500 miles between Northwest Florida and the Florida Keys encompass a diverse assortment of landscapes and environments, ranging from the Apalachicola National Forest to the famed "River of Grass" that creates Everglades National Park. And throughout Florida, we can boast 175 state parks.
And if you circumnavigate the Atlantic coastline from Jacksonville to Key West then onward and upward through the Gulf to Pensacola, you’ll find thousands of miles of beaches, bays, inlets, islands and estuaries designed by nature for swimming, surfing, sunbathing, camping and exploring.
Florida's 320 known freshwater springs offer the luxury of living it up in deliciously cool comfort as you drift downstream. Locals and visitors have enjoyed these crystalline springs and rivers for decades, and so have the gentle manatees who make these waterways their winter homes and create lasting memories for the visitors who adore them.Florida is where you’ll find the third-largest concentration of nesting bald eagles in America.
Even better: much of the state is traversed by the Great Florida Birding Trail, a network of 510 wildlife-viewing sites found along a flyway for migrating birds. And between Sugarloaf Key and Big Pine Key en route to Key West, you’ll pass a habitat for the elusive Key deer, the smallest in North America. You can also see wildlife by taking a nature tour, dropping into award-winning zoos or scheduling a visit to private preserves that protect wolves, bears, elephants, tigers, lions and primates.
Nature itself is preserved at places such as the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which stretches along barrier islands east from Pensacola, and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge ,where 140,000 protected acres look largely the same as they did thousands of years ago. Explore Florida and you’ll also find St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge, St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge and hundreds of state parks where guests enjoy camping, swimming, hiking, picnicking, canoeing, kayaking and, in one unique park, the universe: Florida’s Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is the only state park certified by the International Dark-Sky Association.
Whether fresh, salt or brackish, Florida waters are meant for fishing, but there’s far more beneath the surface. Off Florida’s Miami coast divers from around the world explore coral reefs at Biscayne National Park and, further down the Keys, slip into turquoise waters at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, America’s only underwater state park. Off the northern Gulf Coast, the Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail marks dive sites for dozens of wrecks-turned-artificial reefs, including the massive USS Oriskany, a WWII-era aircraft carrier.
Add recreational trails created atop historic railroad beds, bicycle trails that will soon connect the Gulf to the Atlantic, back roads that offer a great escape whether in a car or on a motorcycle and ever-changing vistas that making photography a snap… and it all adds up to something wild and wonderful.
Only in Florida
Follow your spirit and give some of these adventurous activities a try.
Forever Florida will take you ziplining, horseback riding, camping, and adventuring through the wild on a beautiful nature conservancy in St. Cloud.
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