How to explore Florida without going to the beach

By Stef Zisovska
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How to explore Florida without going to the beach

Stef Zisovska
 
 
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Millions of people head to Florida’s beaches every year to enjoy the sun, get a great tan, and walk in the sand. If you are not a beach person but you still want to visit and explore Florida, there are many ways to do it without ever stepping on a crowded beach. The Sunshine State has so many things to offer other than just beautiful beaches.

If you feel the need to do something more adventurous than just lying on the sand all day, then check this suggestion on how to explore Florida’s other side.

Swimming with Manatees

A manatee and her calf. West Indian Manatee
A manatee and her calf. West Indian Manatee

The West Indian Manatee is a native of Florida’s warm freshwater rivers. Swimming with them is an unforgettable experience, especially in the last years as they’re no longer on the endangered species list anymore. Crystal River, just north of Tampa, is the only place in Florida where you can legally interact with the sea cows and actually swim right next to them. The folk who don’t want to swim with the Manatees can just stay on the boat and observe from above.

Fishing

Fishing
Fishing

Florida is the state with the best fishing opportunities in North America. The state spends millions of dollars on sport fishing conservation and habitat restoration, and the result is the amazing quantity and quality of hundreds of fish species off its coast. However, Florida also has freshwater fishing that attracts anglers from all across the country. South Florida is famous for peacock bass, while the lakes in the northern parts are a paradise for largemouth bass anglers. If fishing is your passion, don’t hesitate to explore the waters of Florida.

Mountain biking

Mountain biking
Mountain biking

Florida and mountains sound like a contradiction, right? But, actually, this state is full of fast-flowing single track riding for mountain bikers. You can’t expect to go biking on the spine of a sandstone ridge, but you can definitely fly down the twisting, turning swamp trails that offer you the added excitement of seeing alligators on each corner. What can be more thrilling for a mountain biker than to be a potential snack to a gator? Spider Berm, the Drunken Monkey, Helter Skelter and Pepper Ranch are some of the mountain biking trails in Florida that you can choose from for your next adventure. If you don’t have a bike, Broward County’s Quiet Waters Park will rent you a bike at a low cost.

Historic Sight Seeing

St Augustine lighthouse visitor center sign
St Augustine lighthouse visitor center sign

One of the first European settlements in North America is located in Florida. The city of Augustine was founded in 1565, and it is the oldest city in the United States. Most of its historic structures are still there and the most photographed among them is the 161-foot tall St. Augustine Light Station. If you want to do some serious historic sightseeing in Florida then you can’t miss these places: Cold War-heavy Kennedy Space Center on the Atlantic coast, the Art Deco Historic District in Miami, the Pensacola Historic District in the Panhandle, and Ybor City Historic District in Tampa.

Kayaking

Kayaking
Kayaking

Florida is a perfect playground for kayakers because of the temperatures allow for all year round kayaking across the state. You can paddle through the mangrove forests of Rookery Bay near Naples, the riverine jungles on the Indian River near Sebastian or Wakulla Springs where Tarzan was filmed. The Keys, of course, have access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, so kayakers can choose where they want to try any new equipment or skills they’ve just acquired. Launch from Curry Hammock State Park, Long Key State Park, Bahia Honda State Park or Fort Zachary Taylor State Park for a more relaxing and safer experience if the ocean is not for you.

Now you see that you can explore Florida without baking all day on the beach – unless that’s what you want, of course. Good luck!

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