Image by Randall Beauchamp from Pixabay
If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Florida, look no further than the following places to go. Here we’ve compiled a list of the best places to go to if you are a native Floridian (or close to it). Apart from our sandy beaches, these hidden gems will make you proud to be from Florida.
Blowing Rocks Preserve
Located in Jupiter Island, Hobe Sound, Florida, Blowing Rocks Preserve’s story began in 1969, when far-sighted and generous residents of Jupiter Island donated 73 acres of their island to the Conservancy. Blowing Rocks Preserve runs for one mile, north to south, from the Atlantic Ocean on the east to the Indian River Lagoon on the west. Today, the restored preserve looks like a South Florida barrier island a century ago. You may enjoy swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving from the protected beach. Spend hours observing rare birds, plants and animals on three hiking trails. You may find out more at the Blowing Rocks Preserve website.
Circle B Bar Reserve
Circle B Bar Reserve, on the northwest shore of Lake Hancock, is a former cattle ranch that today boasts a wide variety of plants and animals. You can see several distinct ecosystems in this reserve of 1,267 acres. You’re almost guaranteed to see alligators in Lake Hancock, often considered the headwaters of the Peace River, which flows more than 100 miles from Polk County southwest to the Gulf of Mexico. Some activities include hiking, photography and painting, with plenty of trails and facilities available at your disposal.
Please visit the Circle B Bar Reserve website to learn more about its history, wildlife and natural communities.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was named after the late John D. Pennekamp, a Miami newspaper editor, whose efforts contributed to the establishment of Everglades National Park and the preservation of what would become John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Established in 1963, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was the first undersea park in the United States. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and the adjacent Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, cover approximately 178 nautical square miles of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove swamps.
The park extends 3 miles into the Atlantic Ocean and is approximately 25 miles in length. These areas were established to protect and preserve a portion of the only living coral reef in the continental United States. The park was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 14, 1972. Visit the John Pennekamp website to learn more.
Three Sisters Springs
Nestled quietly in Crystal River, Florida is Three Sisters Springs. The park is named so because it contains three spring areas that contain many sand boils and vents. The land surrounding the springs is privately owned property and there is no landfall or boat tie-up permitted; the only access to the springs is blocked by concrete posts to stop the boats from entering. Only kayaks, canoes, and swimmers are permitted in the area. Three Sisters Springs is also home to many manatees and is one of the Crystal River’s sanctuaries. Learn more at the Three Sisters Springs website.
Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge
This beautiful wildlife refuge is home to many species of birds, fish and reptiles. It is best defined as a maze of mangrove islands and narrow waterways that serve as nursery grounds for countless plants, animals, and fish. Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1996 under provisions of the Arizona-Florida Land Exchange Act of 1988. The refuge is located approximately 20 miles southeast of Naples, FL on the south side of U.S. 41. Please visit the Ten Thousand Islands website to learn more about the refuge and preservation of the freshwater marshlands.
Melissa’s career in writing started more than 20 years ago. Today, she lives in South Florida with her husband and two boys.