51 Adventurous Things to Do in Florida
51 Adventurous Things to Do in Florida
Florida is a unique state home to some of the world’s most popular theme parks and beaches, but also some of the country's most incredible and rare nature. Naturally, there are a TON of things to do in Orlando,... seeing as Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios Orlando, and SeaWorld Resort offer their own sets of entertainment and thrills, and (if you want to stray a little further from the center of the state) as far as Florida hotels seem to dot our landscape, you could road trip from town to town, never driving more than five minutes at a pop if you really wanted to! Yet, for those looking for a more thrilling experience, there is much more to be found if you seek out lesser-traveled paths. From state parks that span land and sea to underwater cave diving and exploring the ruins of bygone towns, Florida offers plenty to the daring, curious traveler.
Best Adventurous Things to do in Florida
For the true explorer, every trip is an adventure waiting to happen if you keep an open mind and ask the right questions. Go off the beaten path and let these suggestions be a starting point for an adventure of your own making. This list just scratches the surface of all the amazing, unforgettable experiences you can have while staying in Florida.
So, here is our list of the most adventurous things to do in Florida:
1 | Take a moonlit stroll through Greenwood Cemetery | Take a FREE, two-hour scenic walking tour full of atmosphere through Orlando’s storied Greenwood Cemetery to visit key figures from Orlando’s history. Established in 1880, you’ll visit about 100 graves of notable Orlando residents. The free tour is approximately four-miles around the 100-acre cemetery and takes place monthly during a full moon from 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM.
Tour spots go fast, so be sure to visit their website in advance for upcoming dates. Please note: You MUST register to take part of the tour, so don’t show up unannounced lest you disturb the ghoulish spirits of grumpy Greenwood Cemetery guides.
The cemetery is open to visitors during the daytime as well if you aren’t able to make it to their monthly tour.
WHERE: 1603 Greenwood Street, Orlando, FL | WHO: 407-246-2616
2 | Live like a cowboy at Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo | Adventurers looking for a truly one-of-a-kind experience won’t want to miss a stay at Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo, where guests can encounter the unspoiled beauty of Florida. Choose from all kinds of activities, including horseback riding, rodeos, skeet shooting, archery, and campfires. For an extra thrill, take a guided 40-minute trip on an airboat down the beautiful Kissimmee River or explore land wildlife aboard a Swamp Buggy - be sure to keep your eyes peeled for wild gators! Get even closer to nature by camping or enjoy the dude ranch experience in style inside a one-of-a-kind luxe teepee. With so many accommodation options and varied activities, the resort offers the perfect vacation experience for everyone.
WHERE: 3200 River Ranch Boulevard, River Ranch, FL 33867 | WHO: 863-692-1321
3 | Snorkel in the crystal blue waters of Dry Tortugas National Park | It doesn’t get more adventurous than a trip to one of the most remote and least visited national parks, located 70 miles west of Key West, Florida. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the Dry Tortugas National Park, made up of seven small islands, is certainly worth the extra effort to reach.
The park is a haven for unforgettable snorkeling and secluded beaches with crystal blue waters and soft, powdery sand. You’ll also want to visit Fort Jefferson for amazing views and a chance to explore a captivating piece of Florida’s history. There are even limited spots available for camping for a true adventure that’ll take you back in time to the life of an early Florida explorer. The Dry Tortugas National Park offers an island paradise filled with adventure and history that is fun for everyone.
WHERE: Dry Tortugas National Park, PO Box 6208, Key West, FL 33041 | WHO: 305-242-7700
4 | Explore an underwater cemetery at Neptune Memorial Reef | It’s hard to get further “off the beaten path” than to go 40 feet below the surface of the sea. The underwater Neptune Memorial Reef is located 3.25 miles offshore of Key Biscayne, Florida and is free to visit and open to all divers. As the “memorial” in its name indicates, the artificial reef is also an undersea cemetery. The reef is sponsored by the Neptune Society and was designed by Florida artist Kim Brandell as an interpretation of the Lost City of Atlantis. The memorial houses the cremated remains of many people, including Bert Kilbride,a shipwreck diver who was once listed as the oldest living scuba diver in the Guiness Book of World Records.
At the entrance to the reef, you’ll see ancient-looking columns flanked by carved lions and even more amazing sculptures as you explore. This eco-friendly site is certified by the Green Burial Council and was designed by a marine biologist to build an ecosystem. It’s the largest man-made reef in existence and is teeming with marine life.
WHERE: N25º 42.036′ W80º 05.409′ near Key Biscayne, FL | WHO: 754-208-1203
5 | Dive down into a steamy cave with a hidden spring at Devil’s Den Spring | Named for the smoke-like steam that rises out of the cave’s chimney on cold winter mornings, Devil’s Den Spring is popular for its unique location below the surface with cave views and relative seclusion. The Den’s unusual appearance is due to it being what’s known as a karst window. These are formed when a sinkhole opens and exposes a water aquifer below the surface.
Like any spring, water temperatures maintain a year-round 72 degrees, allowing comfortable diving or snorkeling in any season. The spring is privately owned and operated by a scuba diving training and recreational facility, so you must reserve through them to visit. Swimmers, casual visitors and children under 6 are prohibited.
WHERE: 5390 NE 180th Ave Williston, FL 32696 | WHO: 352-528-3344
6 | Travel to the Amazon at Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park | A massive natural pit 120 feet deep inside of the Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park houses a rainforest-like environment due to its unique formation. Deep below the surface and shaded by overhanging canopy trees, the climate is markedly cooler and has allowed lush vegetation to thrive even during dry Florida summers. Streams of water pool into the pit further feeding the abundant green fauna and wildlife.
A freshly built set of boardwalk steps (built after damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017) allow visitors to safely descend to a viewing platform where you can experience the stark contrast in temperature and feel as though you are stepping into a different time and place.
Fees to visit are inexpensive at just $4 per vehicle but be advised that the park is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
WHERE: 4732 Millhoppper Road, Gainesville, Florida, 32653 | WHO: (352) 955-2008
7 | Feel the call of the wild at Seacrest Wolf Preserve| On a 400-acre farm in Chipley, Florida, Cynthia and Wayne Watkins rescue displaced captive wolves and other small animals at Seacrest Wolf Preserve. The wolves come from all around the US and Canada and are primarily large, gray timber or Arctic wolves. Wolf packs are separated by fences, but visitors are welcome to interact with the wolf packs and other animals, such as arctic or gray foxes, native skunks, and raccoons. The preserve also serves to educate visitors about the importance of keeping healthy wolf populations in the wild.
Tours are two and a half hours and are by reservation only. Be sure to read their rules and guidelines ahead of time to ensure safety. On Mondays - Fridays, only exclusive VIP tours are held, but a less expensive $35 per-person tour is held each Saturday.
WHERE: 3449 Bonnett Pond Rd, Chipley, FL 32428 | WHO: 850-773-2897
8 | Explore the beauty of Japanese culture at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens | The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is not like anything you’d expect to find in south Florida. But you may be surprised to discover a unique connection between Japan and that region. In the early 1900s, a group of Japanese families moved to Florida, forming a farming colony called Yamato, where they hoped to cultivate pineapples. In the end, the results didn’t work out as they hoped and each family left the colony, except for George Morikami.
The colony was claimed by the U.S. Government during WWII and Morikami moved to Delray Beach where he purchased a farm. He lived there, farming, for more than 65 years before donating his 200 acres of land to Palm Beach County. Now, his former farm features distinctly crafted gardens inspired by those in Japan, interactive exhibits, an authentic teahouse, and more. Visit and watch a tea ceremony performance or walk through the splendid, tranquil gardens and imagine for a few hours that you’ve been transported to a country far from the South Florida beaches.
WHERE: 4000 Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach, FL 33446 | WHO: 561-495-0233
9 | Discover the fabled Fountain of Youth at Warm Mineral Springs | Warm Mineral Springs in North Port, Florida was formed after a subterranean cavern collapsed over 30,000 years ago, leaving a sinkhole that has now filled with warm, mineralized water. The water comes from a vent over 200 feet below the surface and cools to about 85 degrees as it reaches the surface.
The spring operates as a health spa, attracting many visitors looking to soak in the soothing, mineral-rich waters. In fact, many believe this is the legendary “Fountain of Youth” that brought Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon to Florida. But, it’s also the site of many archaeological digs that have yielded fossils of extinct animals and prehistoric humans. Some of the human remains have been carbon dated back to 10,000 years ago!
Day passes are $20 for non-resident adults and $15 for locals and additional spa services can be booked ahead of time. Please note: The springs produce a strong sulphuric odor if that’s something that could bother your party.
WHERE: 12200 San Servando Ave, North Port, Florida, 34287 | WHO: 941-426-1692
10 | Relive history at Fort Matanzas in America’s oldest city | Fort Matanzas is designated National Park just a boat ride away from the city of St. Augustine on an island smaller than two acres. It was originally built as a watchtower to spot enemies approaching the city and has undergone extensive renovations since it was acquired by the National Park Service in the early 1900s.
The fort is notable for its history, but also for its rare stone used in its building materials. In addition to concrete, a soft limestone called coquina, which was made from crushed and broken seashells after slightly acidic rainwater from the Pleistocene era “glued” together the mass of sand and shells into rock. Look closely and you’ll see millions of individual shells cemented together with sand.
Fort Matanzas stands as a reminder of the conflicts between European countries as they vied to control land in the New World. Explore that history first-hand while also taking in amazing views of the ocean and appreciating the natural beauty of the Fort Matanza’s coquina walls. Please note: The fort can only be reached via a pontoon boat, which you can board from the parking lot. Admission is free to all visitors.
WHERE: 8635 A1A South, St. Augustine, FL 32080 | WHO: 904-471-0116
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#WhatsBloomingWednesday Giant Apostles' iris along our historic koi pond and foot bridge signal spring in the Gardens. This stunner hails from Brazil, but is a fairly easy maintenance plant that produces the iris-type flowers many northerners miss. Did you know Florida has its own lovely blue iris as well? See what it looks like! (Link in bio) . . . #tropicalgarden #iris #spring
11 | Meander the paths of a botanical haven at Sunken Gardens | Started by local plumber and avid gardener, George Turner, Sunken Gardens is a historic roadside gem in St. Petersburg, Florida. In 1903, Turner drained the four-acre lake on his property to get to the fertile soil 15 feet down. While this would not have been possible these days, Turner’s efforts created a gorgeous tropical paradise that has lasted for over 100 years.
His below-sea-level garden started with just a few trees and a small vegetable garden, but over the years, he added walkways and more tropical plants. A tiny jungle sprung up in the humid bubble below the neighborhood.
Visit and meander through winding paths filled with exotic plants from around the world. With more than 50,000 tropical plants, flowers, waterfalls, and gardens to explore, you’ll find plenty to see in this hidden paradise.
WHERE: 1825 4th St. N., St Petersburg | WHO: 727- 551-3102
12 | Explore one of the largest known underground caves at Vortex Spring | Vortex Spring is a mecca for all who love to explore crystal clear waters at refreshingly cool temperatures, especially for cave divers. The spring is commercially owned and home to the largest diving facility in Florida. Besides the beautiful water, the Spring is notable for the cavern beneath its surface. At a measured length of 1,642 feet, and suspected to be even deeper, Vortex Spring contains one of the largest known underground caves in the southern U.S.
Swimmers, snorkelers, and divers gather here to explore the natural wonder of the spring’s cavern and cool off in its waters. Visitors can also enjoy recreational features, such as diving boards, rope swing, slides, basketball and volleyball courts, and picnic areas, making this a perfect oasis for a day of fun.
WHERE: 1517 Vortex Springs Lane, Ponce de Leon, Florida, 32455 | WHO: 850-836-4979
13 | Take a trip through time at the ruins of a sugar plantation in East Florida| Listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, the Bulow Plantation Ruins stand on 150-acres of land that was once a thriving sugar plantation. The Bulow family grew sugar cane, cotton, rice, and indigo here before militia fighting the Second Seminole War forced the family out in 1836. The plantation was then used as a fortified base, but it didn’t hold up against attacks by the Seminole. After only 15 years, the plantation was crumbling and burnt away, leaving the ruins visitors come to see today.
Adventurers exploring the ruins are reminded of the fast rise and fall of sugar plantations during a time of upheaval and volatility along the early Florida frontier. A scenic walking trail leads visitors to the sugar mill ruins, the crumbling foundations of the plantation house, and other fascinating structures.
In addition to the ruins and interpretive exhibit, park goers will find plenty of areas to enjoy the natural Florida beauty through hiking trails, kayaking, and more. Please note: The historic park is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
WHERE: 3501 Old Kings Road, Flagler Beach, Florida, 32136 | WHO: 386-517-2084
14 | Explore the Florida Caverns | With Florida’s proximity to the sea level, underground exploration is almost entirely limited to the aquatically inclined. However, there is one place in Florida where intrepid trekkers can explore a cavern on foot. The Florida Caverns in Marianna, Florida is the only one of its kind in the state.
The caverns are about 38 million years old and were once submerged beneath the ocean. As the water level rose, sediments from the sea floor hardened into limestone and over the years, groundwater dissolved parts of the rock, creating the cavern walkways. Later, workers expanded the passageways by hand, allowing visitors to walk upright on tours.
Tour guides will lead visitors on a leisurely journey through the otherworldly splendor of the caves. Lucky visitors may spy fossilized remains of fish vertebrae, nautilus, or even shark teeth in the limestone walls. Please note: Tours may sell out, so be sure to book in advance.
WHERE: 3345 Caverns Rd, Marianna, Florida | WHO: 850-482-1228
15 | Meet the strange stony creatures at the ruins of Bongoland | Once a plantation and then a short-lived theme park, the ruins of Bongoland still captivate visitors who come upon its strange, stone dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures while strolling through Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens.
In the 1940s, a dermatologist with a penchant for paleontology, leased some land to turn into a theme park. He hired Manny Lawrence, who crafted the life-sized creatures out of chicken wire and concrete. A recreation of a Seminole village, historic sugar mill ruins, and live animals made up the hodge-podge of attractions in Bongoland.
Despite the oddity of attractions, the park wasn’t a success and closed just 5 years after its opening. But the sturdy dinosaur creations have remained through today where they sit, unassumingly, amidst a peaceful garden filled with towering trees, flowers, and ferns.
WHERE: 950 Old Sugar Mill Rd, Port Orange, Florida | WHO: N/A
16 | Make a trip to an exotic parrot sanctuary at Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden | Avian enthusiasts won’t want to miss a stop at Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden in Key West, Florida, to visit the beautiful birds Forrester rescues at her sanctuary. She founded the sanctuary to care for abandoned, abused parrots. A passionate environmental activist and educator, visitors come to see her as much as they come to visit the colorful, friendly birds she looks after. Dense, green foliage provides a jungle-like backdrop against the vibrant-plumed parrots that call the sanctuary home.
There’s a daily “Parrot 101” presentation where people can learn more about the birds, take photos, and even hold them. The educational program features one of each of the eight species of large macaw still in the wild. Fees are just $10 for adults, $5 for kids (ages 5-11), and free for kids under 5. All fees go to support the garden and help care for the birds.
WHERE: 518 Elizabeth St, Key West, Florida | WHO: 305- 294-0015
17 | Pay homage to a piece of space history at Launch Complex 34 | A memorial and site of interest for visitors is an eerie abandoned NASA launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Launch Complex 34 was the site of a tragic fire that took the lives of three astronauts in 1967. During a rehearsal launch, a small cabin fire that set the events in motion. The facility remained open for another year before being decommissioned in 1968.
Many of the large structures were taken down and now only the main rocket cradle and a commemorative plaque remains in the middle of the pad as a memorial to the three astronauts who perished. Guests are welcome to visit the site and reflect on a somber moment in humankind’s space race history.
WHERE: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Cape Canaveral, Florida | WHO: N/A
18 | See the city of mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs | The world-famous “mermaids” of Weeki Wachee Springs have swum and danced in an underwater theater to the delight of tourists for decades. This magical show has attracted visitors since the 1940s, performing 365 days a year in one of Florida’s beautiful, natural springs. Would-be mermaids must go through intensive training to gracefully glide and twirl to music underwater while utilizing special SCUBA technology.
This whimsical, underwater fantasy performance is fun for everyone and makes a unique addition to any Florida vacation.
WHERE: 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606 | WHO: 352-592 - 5656
19 | Wander the remains of the ghost town Ellaville | Venture off the beaten path of tourist-y stops and main streets to explore a real ghost town along the Suwannee River. Although you’ll find no spooky spirits here, Ellaville offers curious explorers a glimpse into a Civil War-era town. Starting as a booming mill town, Ellaville was hit by a wave of bad luck, including fires, major flooding, and finally the Great Depression.
Still standing in the town is one of the original bridges, offering scenic views of the river and the old railroad bridge. Old homes sit askew among the tall grass of the overgrown town. If you hike a bit further, you may be able to see the foundation of the Drew Mansion, former home to the town’s founder.
WHERE: 596 NE Drew Way, Lee, FL 32059 | WHO: N/A
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Today’s #friendsofthejungle goes to @caitlinbeadles What a great photo from the Rainforest Tour! Be sure to make a reservation! #monkeyjunglemiami #squirrelmonkeys #primateparadise #miami #soflo #monkeysofinstagram #redlandtropicaltrail #Repost @caitlinbeadles with @get_repost ・・・ Can’t wait until I own one of these little guys .... pretty positive it’ll solve all my problems 🤣💕💓🐒🐵
20 | Hold baby monkeys at Monkey Jungle | Get up close to about 30 species of primates in this topsy-turvy wildlife park where humans wind through the habitat in caged tunnels while the monkeys run free. Here, people can observe the animals in a more natural habitat than they would a normal zoo. There are even chances to hold some of the baby monkeys as you trek through the park! In addition to the animals, guests can visit the Amazonian Rainforest area of the park to see the only semi-natural tropical rainforest in North America. The founder spent over 5 years collecting different plant species from the Amazon rainforest in South America, making this a rare sight for most.
WHERE: 14805 SW 216th St., Miami, FL 33170 | WHO: 305-235-1611
21 | Dive down to an underwater sculpture off the coast of Key Largo | A nine-foot-tall bronze statue awaits bold snorkelers and divers off the coast of Key Largo, Florida, 25 feet under the water at John Pennekamp State Park. Known as Christ of the Abyss, the statue is actually the third to be replicated from the original mold. The top of the statue is about 8-10 feet from the surface, making it visible to snorkelers. But to get that perfect Instagram shot, you’re going to have to strap on some scuba gear.
WHERE: 251 County Rd 905, Key Largo, Florida | WHO: N/A
22 | Get lost in a tranquil paradise at Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens | With over 50 gardens to explore, cascading waterfalls, and peaceful koi ponds, Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens is a tranquil retreat for nature-loving vacationers. The 20-acre botanical garden is set on ponds with mini “islands” connected by bridges, offering gorgeous views for visitors as they explore. Shaded gazebos and cozy hammocks are scattered throughout for those who want to pause a moment and enjoy the gentle sounds of wildlife around them.
WHERE: 4990 NE 180th Ave. Williston, FL. 32696 | WHO: 352-529-0055
23 | Snorkel over a reef notorious for shipwrecks at Alligator Reef | What could be more exciting than diving through a reef that marks the shipwreck of a pirate-hunter? Just four miles offshore of Islamorada in the Florida Keys, is Alligator Reef. The reef beneath abounds with hundreds of marine life species, including spiny lobsters, barracuda, and colorful rows of coral. Many ships sank to the bottom before the Alligator Reef lighthouse was erected, so adventurous divers may spy the remains of some of these unfortunate vessels. Visitors can arrange snorkeling or diving expeditions back on the coast.
WHERE: Islamorada, FL | WHO: N/A
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24 | Visit the abandoned remains of an ill-fated zoo at Crandon Park | Crandon Park, a popular public park on Key Biscayne, was once home to a zoo that later reopened as a botanical garden. Now the remains of the zoo and garden can be enjoyed by park visitors along with recreational amenities such as a beach, golf course, nature center, and more. From the 1950s to 1990, the zoo went through many changes and upheavals, including a long period of closure after Hurricane Betsy swept through in 1956, destroying much of it. Today, beachgoers can visit the ruins of the zoo with several lakes, pleasant walkways, and the remains of buildings and cages, which urban adventurers will be keen to explore.
WHERE: 6747 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne, FL | WHO: 305-365-2320
25 | Explore the ruins of an island empire at Indian Key | The remains of the once-lucrative empire of a shipwreck cargo salvager and his workers can be found at Indian Key, a protected state park that can only be reached by water vessel. The small island once held a hotel, store, warehouses, docks, homes, and more before its founder’s fortune ran out. After a siege in 1840, nearly every building was lost, and today only stone ruins remain amidst wild foliage and fauna. Immerse yourself in the fascinating history of this forgotten slice of paradise and dreams just a ½ mile offshore of Islamorada.
WHERE: Indian Key State Park, Islamorada, FL, 33036 | WHO: 305-664-2540
26 | Explore Native American temple mounds at Lake Jackson Archaeological State Park | Before Spanish explorers ever set foot in the northern part of Florida, ancestors from several Native American groups inhabited the area. The seven earthen temple mounds preserved at Lake Jackson Archaeological State Park are a memorial to the earliest residents in northwest Tallahassee. Once an important ceremonial center for Native Americans, seven mounds remain, and many important relics have been found on the site. Two of the mounds are open for visitors with stairs leading to observation platforms at the top. Park goers can also traverse trails that pass remnants of Florida’s early statehood as well as a plethora of Florida plants and wildlife.
WHERE: 3600 Indian Mounds Rd., Tallahassee, FL 32303 | WHO: 850-487-7989
27 | Dive down to the wreck of the USS Massachusetts | Dubbed “the worst battleship ever made”, the wreck of the USS Massachusetts is now a site popular with divers and fishers. Its poor design made it ineffectual in battle, but good for target practice, which is what finally sent it 26 feet down into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.
It’s been there almost 100 years and time has turned it into an artificial reef, attracting all manner of Gulf marine life, including massive grouper, sharks, stingrays, and even schools of dolphins. It’s also designated as an underwater archaeological preserve.
You’ll need to hire a boat captain familiar with the area if you plan to dive down to the wreck, but the extra work is sure to pay off for especially bold adventurers.
WHERE: 30.3299, -87.3117, Pensacola, FL | WHO: 850-245-6444
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Built between 1672 and 1695, the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is the site of the oldest masonry fort in the United States! . . . . #florida #northflorida #staugustine #visitstaugustinedotcom #visitstaugustine #history #castillodesanmarcos #historicsite #funfacts #staugustineflorida #stjohnscounty #lovefl #exploreflorida #floridahistory
28 | Marvel at the unbreakable walls of Castillo de San Marcos | Visit the astounding Castillo de San Marcos, a fort known for its unbreakable stone walls, in St. Augustine, Florida for a fascinating trip back in early Florida history. Like Fort Matanzas, its walls are made from rare coquina rock, giving it the necessary fluidity to absorb the shock of cannon balls. But the marks are there as reminders of the battles America’s oldest masonry fort endured centuries ago. Take in some history while enjoying incredible views of the bay and city.
WHERE: 1 South Castillo Drive, St. Augustine, FL | WHO: 904-829-6506
29 | Find fields of rare, beautiful pitcher plants at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park | Venture into one of Florida’s famous marshlands to see the state’s largest cluster of a rare carnivorous plant, the white-top pitcher plant. These plants are only found between the Mississippi and Apalachicola Rivers along the Gulf Coast and at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park, you’ll find them in abundance. There are four endangered species of pitcher plants in the park as well as other rare, endangered plants. Stay and picnic while enjoying the uncommon plethora of plants and wildlife that make up almost 100 species in the park.
WHERE: 2401 Bauer Rd, Pensacola, FL | WHO: 850-492-1595
30 | Go birdwatching at historic Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge | This island preserve for brown pelicans made history in 1903 when it became the nation’s first wildlife refuge. Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for over 30 different species of birds and during migratory season thousands of birds roost nightly. Visitors are not allowed on the island to not disturb nesting birds. However, the refuge has since expanded to include around 5,400 acres of water and land near the island, partnering with Indian River County to allow access to trails and viewing areas. In the expanded refuge, there are many spots for wildlife observation, fishing, a butterfly garden, and a self-guided trail to create a day full of fun wilderness adventure.
WHERE: 4055 Wildlife Way, Vero Beach, FL 32963| WHO: 772-581-5557
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It's tropical fruit season! Come to the Summer Fruit Festival this weekend, June 22nd & 23rd to see all the amazing fruit we are able to grow in fabulous south Florida. Enjoy a fruit carving demo, watermelon🍉eating contest, do a propagation class and get expert advice on growing 🌱 At Noon on Saturday, don't miss the presentation by the Wildlife Rescue of Dade followed by the release of a rehabilitated Red-Shouldered Hawk. Image: a cluster of red velvet bananas with a green anole lizard perched on top.
31 | Taste your way around the world at Fruit & Spice Park | Immerse yourself in a climate unlike anywhere in the U.S. at the Fruit & Spice Park in Homestead, Florida, the only tropical botanical garden of its kind in the country. The park is home to over 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, nuts, spices, herbs, and tropical plants. Drop into a fertile paradise where you can feast on fruits found lying in your path - just be sure to verify it’s edible first! If you prefer your fruit prepared in a kitchen, a cafe on the premises serves seasonal smoothies and shakes, sourced directly from the garden.
WHERE: 24801 SW 187th Ave, Homestead, FL, 33031 | WHO: 305-247 - 5727
32 | See some of the world’s most amazing animals at Jungle Island | In the heart of vibrant Miami lies an animal encounter theme park like no other. Jungle Island is home to remarkable animals from around the globe, including the world’s only trained Cassowary, a striking, emu-like bird native to the tropical forests of southeast Asia and Australia. Interactive animal experiences let you get up-close-and-personal with amazing animals, such as kangaroos, squirrel monkeys, and other exotic animals. Physical activities like rock climbing and zip-lining will tire out even the most energetic adventurer.
WHERE: 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, FL 33132 | WHO: 305-400-7000
33 | Swim with endangered Florida manatees in Crystal River | A quintessential part of the Florida experience is spying a gentle, friendly manatee enjoying the state’s warmer waters. The endangered manatees aren’t found in the abundance they once were, but Crystal River, Florida is home to the world’s largest population of the sweet “sea cows”. It’s also the only place where it’s legal to swim with manatees, and you’ll find many companies, like River Ventures offer guided tours, giving you a chance to encounter these curious, languid creatures up close in a safe environment for all.
WHERE: 498 S.E. Kings Bay Drive Crystal River, FL 34429 | WHO: 352-765-0383
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My Meg from today! 😁 🦈 #megalodon #megalodonteeth #megalodontooth #meg #sharktoothwars #sharkteeth #sharktoothhunting #sharkteethhunting #sharktooth #fossil #fossilhunting #fossils #fossilhunter #rockhound #prehistoric #paleontology #rockhounds #citizenscience #fossiladdict #fossiling #sharks #shark #sharksofinstagram
34 | Hunt for prehistoric shark teeth at Venice Beach | Ten million years ago when Florida was underwater, sharks swam in abundance. As land and sea changed, those sharks died, leaving behind their fossilized teeth. The Venice coast serendipitously sits on a layer where tens of thousands of these prehistoric shark teeth and other fossil remains are embedded. As storms and ocean waves pull fossils out and into the shallow waters, they eventually wash ashore for plucky tooth hunters to find. Larger teeth, even some from the extinct Megalodon, are farther offshore and require a boat trip and diving equipment.
Bring a hat, sunscreen, water shoes, and something to hold all the treasures you’ll find along the beach. End your day at one of Venice’s great restaurants or bars to celebrate your haul.
WHERE: Venice Beach, FL 34285 | WHO: N/A
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Florida’s OTHER waterfall! Located in Falling Waters State Park in Chipley, Florida, also in Florida’s Panhandle. There is an observation deck for viewing the waterfall and excellent hiking within the park. #jbrownell9 #fallingwatersstatepark #chipleyflorida #floridawaterfalls
35 | Admire the beauty of a rushing waterfall at Falling Waters State Park | Waterfalls are an uncommon sight in the flat landscape of Florida, but they do exist. At just over 70 feet, you’ll find the tallest one in Falling Waters State Park. Water gushes over the fall into a 100-foot deep, fern-canopied sinkhole below, disappearing into a cave at its bottom. There are actually 12 large sinkholes in the earth around Falling Waters that are estimated to be more than 20 million years old. They are a spectacular sight (nothing like the ones you see in the news popping up in backyards or on roads) as you meander the Wire Grass Trail that takes you through the park.
Visitors can get to the fall via the Wire Grass boardwalk, taking you so close you’ll feel the mist as the water rushes by. There’s also a higher platform available for an elevated, breathtaking view of the park.
WHERE: 1130 State Park Road, Chipley, FL 32428 | WHO: 850-638-6130
36 | See some of Africa’s most exotic animals at Safari Wilderness | Nothing says adventure like an African safari. And right in the middle of Florida, set between two of its biggest cities, is Safari Wilderness. As your tour driver takes you through 260 acres of wild, roaming animal habitats, you’ll see exotic species in a way rarely experienced. Feed and even pet llamas, ostriches, and water buffalo that walk right up to the tour’s custom, converted safari bus. Enjoy the silence and beauty of nature as you look out at grazing zebras, admire the graceful beauty of the red lechwe antelope, and take home unforgettable memories of over 450 animals housed on the property.
If you want a little exercise during your experience, try the kayak safari, which includes a stop at lemur island where you can hand-feed them grapes.
WHERE: 10850 Moore Rd. Lakeland, FL 33809 | WHO: 813-382-2120
37 | Try to solve the mystery of Coral Castle | Explore a castle like no other in the world in Homestead, Florida. Built by a Latvian immigrant named Ed Leedskalnin for reasons that have remained a mystery (many people think it to be a monument to his lost love), Coral Castle is a fascinating work of architecture. As its name suggests, the building is carved from over 1,1000 tons of a fossilized coral known as Oolitic limestone. With walls over 25 feet tall and stones heavier than 30 tons, even more of a mystery than its inspiration is how he managed to build it. Leedskalnin built the entire castle alone, secretly in the middle of the night to hide his methods. Everything is built from this stone, even fully functioning rocking chairs!
Tour the castle with audio stands or one of the Castle’s knowledgeable guides. Admire the incredible craftsmanship and pay homage to its enigmatic builder.
WHERE: 28655 South Dixie Highway, Miami, FL 33033 | WHO: 305-248-6345
38 | Go back to a land before time at Dinosaur World | Driving along Florida highways, you may see signs for this famous Central Florida roadside attraction. Dinosaur World is known as the “World’s Largest Dinosaur Park” with over 150 dinosaur sculptures across 12 acres. Each one has been crafted to be life-sized (based on scientific approximations) and surrounded by Florida’s natural tropical environment, they seem to fit right in. Helpful plaques help you identify the dinos you aren’t as familiar with as the T-Rex, Triceratops, or Brontosaurus. It’s an educational adventure perfect for all ages to enjoy.
WHERE: 5145 Harvey Tew Road, Plant City, FL 33565 | WHO: 813-717-9865
39 | Immerse yourself in Florida history at Miccosukee Indian Village | Immerse yourself in the early history of Florida by learning about some of its earliest inhabitants, the Miccosukee Indian Tribe. The tribe was originally part of the Creek Nation before migrating to Florida. There, during wars in the 1800s, most of the tribe was moved out to the West, but about 100 never surrounded and instead hid out in the Everglades. Today, there are over 600 direct descendants living in the area.
The tribe found many ways to adapt and thrive in the harsh Everglades territory, and today visitors to the Miccosukee Indian Village can learn about their fascinating history and culture. The Village also offers airboat rides around the Everglades, giving visitors a chance to explore the iconic swampland guided by those who pioneered a way of life there.
WHERE: Mile Marker 36, US-41, Miami, FL 33194 | WHO: 305-480-1924
40 | Hear the singing bells at Bok Tower Gardens | A Central Florida historic gem, Bok Tower Gardens is a National Historic Landmark that has drawn visitors for over 80 years. The lush landscape of Olmsted Garden is a place of serene beauty, featuring seasonal blooms of flora and fauna, a reflection pool, and the incredible landmark Singing Tower Carillon. Located at the core of the Garden, the tower is built on Iron Mountain, one of the highest points of peninsular Florida. The 205-foot tower plays a 30-minute bell concert twice a day that you won’t want to miss, but the gorgeous design of the tower and surrounding gardens alone is worth the visit.
WHERE: 1151 Tower Boulevard, Lake Wales, FL 33853 | WHO: 863-676-1408
41 | Surround yourself in nature’s beauty at Butterfly World | Be amazed by the captivating spectacle of thousands of butterflies fluttering all around you at Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, Florida. The world’s largest butterfly park, you’ll encounter more than 20,000 of them with species ranging the globe. The park also features exotic bird aviaries where you can hand-feed lorikeets as well as a botanical garden, bug zoo, waterfalls, and more.
WHERE: 3600 W Sample Rd, Coconut Creek, FL 33073 | WHO: 954-977-4400
42 | Test your athletic skill at Orlando Watersports Complex | Active adventurers looking for a chance to cool off will have a blast at Orlando Watersports Complex. Guests can wakeboard, wakeskate, waterski, wakesurf, and kneeboard at the world’s most visited wake park. The complex is set up with two lakes equipped with full-size cable systems. And don’t worry, first-timers, one of the lakes is for novices. Didn’t pack any gear? No problem - you can rent everything you need, and instructors are available to get you out on the water having fun in no time!
WHERE: 8615 Florida Rock Rd, Orlando, FL 32824 | WHO: 407-251-3100
43 | Walk the largest state park in Florida at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve | At the largest state park in Florida, you’ll find plants and animals found nowhere else in the continental U.S. Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park is an unusual spot where subtropical and tropical climate meets in the world’s largest strand swamp. Walk the 2,500-foot long Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk through the heartland of the Fakahatchee Strand and into the interior of the world’s only Bald Cypress-Royal Palm Forest. This jewel of the Everglades is also known as the Orchid Capital of the United States - so keep your eyes peeled for them as you explore. Along the way, you can spot Florida box turtles, osprey, deer, bobcats, red-shouldered hawks, and of course, alligators.
WHERE: 137 Coastline Drive, Copeland, FL 34137 | WHO: 239-695-4593
44 | Greek culture and Florida nature meet at the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks | On the Anclote River along Florida’ Gulf Coast, you’ll find Tarpon Springs, aka the “Sponge Capital of the World”, where Greek immigrants settled during the early 1900s and built a thriving industry around the sponges found in abundance in their waters. The descendants of these early settlers have created a little Greece right in Florida with authentic food, culture, and traditions. For most visitors, the famous Sponge Docks are a must-stop, offering a chance to join boat tours and see a demonstration of traditional Tarpon Springs sponge diving up-close. You can also catch a boat out to Anclote Key, a beach known for its plethora of colorful shells ready for collectors to take home.
WHERE: 735 Dodecanese Blvd, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689 | WHO: N/A
45 | Get your fortune told at Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp | An essential piece of “Weird Florida” is the psychic haven of Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp in Volusia County, Florida. Known as the “Psychic Capital of the World”, the community is home to spirit mediums, psychics, and spiritual healers who are happy to give spiritual advice to curious tourists. Established in 1894, the community welcomes guests as long as they are respectful of its members. Interestingly, the community has unofficially separated into two sects - the New Agers, who utilize techniques such as tarot cards and astrology, and the more religious traditionalists. Whether you are a believer or not, it’s a fascinating town to explore with a rich history and quirky, but friendly, residents.
WHERE: 1112 Stevens St, Lake Helen, FL 32744 | WHO: 386-228-2880
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We're excited to announce that since last April, over 7,000 boaters have completed our free Boater Education course! Thanks to all of our users who have completed the course and are helping us to care for our amazing park resources. Everglades NP developed the Boater Education course to help orient and educate boaters to the unique features of the park's marine waters. Our overall goal is to protect marine resources while providing world-class recreational opportunities. The course is free and available online in both English and Spanish and takes most users about 45 minutes to complete. Upon successful completion of the course and test, boaters can print out the certificate to carry with them while operating a vessel in the park. Boaters will need to have a paper or electronic copy of the certificate with them while boating in the park. To take the course, check out our "Boating" highlight! Photo by @petebarrettphoto #AmericasEverglades #EvergladesNationalPark #Everglades #USInterior #NationalParkService #NPS #NationalPark #Florida #VisitFlorida #SouthFlorida #Miami #Travel #Outdoors #FloridaBay #Boating #Ocean #SaltLife #Boater #potd
46 | Traverse iconic Florida wilderness at Everglades National Park | No Florida adventure would be complete without a trip to the unparalleled Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. The Everglades is an important habitat for many rare and endangered species like the Florida manatee and American crocodile. The Everglades spans an incredible 1.5 million acres, but there is easy access to the park’s main three areas. Visitors will encounter flora and fauna like nowhere in the world and you’re sure to see more than a few alligators. There is no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy, including biking, fishing, camping, hiking, and more. Nearby companies offer tours and airboat rides if you want a more guided experience, but rangers are on-site to help wayward adventurers as well.
WHERE: 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034 | WHO: 305-242-7700
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Everyone is enjoying the day 🐾🐾🙈 Hope to see you out !! Be Safe in all you Travels !! Every Day first tour 1pm last tour 3pm Every Wednesday, Friday & Saturday gates open 6pm last tour 7pm Tickets always available here when you come. @cattyshackranch #cattyshack #cattyshackranch #iknowjax #visit_jax #visitflorida #jacksonville #jacksonvillefl #thingstodoinjax #bigcats #igersjax #igers_staugustine #jaxmomsblog #florida #jaxlocals #904 #datenight #whatsgoodjax #daytour #fun4firstcoastkids #jax4kids #duval #onlyinduval #news4jax #cattyshackjax #tripadvisor #tigertalk #thingstodo #stufftodoinjax #tour
47 | Hear the roar of the jungle at Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary | Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing safe, loving homes for endangered big cats and educating the public about these exotic species. Tigers, leopards, lions, bobcats, pumas, and more can be found at the sanctuary alongside what the sanctuary calls their “honorary cats”, foxes and coatimundis. You can take a 45-minute day tour to learn more about the resident animals. Or, for a thrilling glimpse into the wild heart of nature, you can visit for one of the sanctuary’s Night Feedings and hear the roar and excitement of these incredible animals as they prepare to chow down.
WHERE: 1860 Starratt Road, Jacksonville, FL 32226 | WHO: 904-757-3603
48 | Take a boat tour to Stiltsville, a community-at-sea | Only in Florida could you find a neighborhood built in the middle of the water and accessible only by boat. Stiltsville is a curious collection of stilt houses located in Biscayne Bay off the shore of Miami. These pastel-colored homes are perched on sand flats and used to be as many as 27 in the 1960s before a litany of fires and hurricanes reduced their numbers to just seven remaining. Its origins are a bit murky, but the accepted story is that they sprang up as a sort of playground for the wealthy that was often used for less-than-legal activities. Still, the idea of a secluded home offshore and away from civilization is attractive for many.
You’ll need to pay a hefty fee for a permit to access the homes ($1,000 minimum), but there are many boat tours that will get you close enough to admire the homes and learn about Stiltsville’s colorful past.
WHERE: Key Biscayne, FL 33149 | WHO: 305-230-1144
49 | Visit the remains of Florida’s first tourist attraction at White Sulfur Springs Ruins | Once a popular bathhouse for those seeking out its healing mineral springs, the White Sulfur Spring Ruins are now a popular site for urban explorers. Originated by the beliefs of the Timucuan Native American tribe who originally resided there, the spring was thought to possess cleansing abilities. In the mid-1800s enterprising plantation owners opened a hotel and spring house and marketed the spring as offering up cures for a variety of ailments, such as rheumatism, nervousness, and kidney problems. The bathhouse is considered Florida’s first tourist attraction, drawing hundreds of people over the following decades. It was eventually built up into a four-story building with doctors’ offices, concessions areas, and even an elevator.
Unfortunately, the spring eventually dried up in 1990, although the popularity of the resort had already dwindled by the 1930s. Today, the remains of the bathhouse are still preserved for viewing.
WHERE: White Springs, FL | WHO: N/A
50 | Drift along a two-hour tubing experience at Ichetucknee River State Park | The eight springs that feed the six-mile Ichetucknee River account for its pristine waters and feed an ecosystem that supports its diverse wildlife. The length makes it a popular spot for tubing with a leisurely float lasting about two hours. The 72-degree year-round water is chilly, but a welcome reprieve during Florida’s hottest months. If kicking back isn’t your style, the state park is also home to Blue Hole Spring where people come to snorkel the beautiful cyan waters and glimpse a peek at the cave system 40 feet below the surface. If you’re cave/cavern SCUBA certified, you’ll surely want to dive down to traverse the nearly 600 feet of twisting passages that make up the complex cave system.
WHERE: 12087 Southwest, US-27, Fort White, FL 32038 | WHO: 386-497-4690
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This is an aerial view of the Florida Ghost Highway, a red brick road that was built in 1916 as a part of a network to connect ten US states, but was rendered obsolete within 15 years. If you steal one of the bricks, a ghost will follow you for the rest of your days. 👻👻👻 . . . #roamflorida #pureflorida #upsideofflorida #flogrown #naturefl #realflorida #loveFL #fun_in_florida #florida_insta #florida_greatshots #hashtagflorida #therealflorida #pureflorida #roamflorida #waterislife #dronestagram #djiglobal #mavicair #fromwhereidrone #dronesdaily #dronepilot #dronegram #dronepic #oldflorida #historicpreservation #floridahistory
51 | Take a trip down a road forgotten to time on Old Dixie Highway | This ten-mile stretch of red brick road running from small town Espanola to Country Road 304 is all that remains of “Dixie Highway”, which used to span more than 5,000 miles from the Midwest. In its heyday, the highway brought through more than a hundred tourists daily to Flagler County, driving their Model Ts and “Tin Can Trailers”. It quickly became obsolete after its construction and most of it paved over. The part that remains is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and can still be accessed. The road is bumpy with potholes and it’s only wide enough for one car, but the road sees little traffic most days. Take a ride along the “Old Brick Road” and imagine the delight of tourists from the early 1900s as they drove to exotic, tropical Florida from their wintry Midwest homes to the north.
WHERE: Located somewhere between Espanola, FL and CR 204 southeast of Hastings, FL (Pull up your GPS to help you find an entrance) | WHO: N/A
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Last Tips on Adventurous Things to Do in Florida
Before you do anything on this list, research in advance as Florida’s climate of storms and hurricanes can mean sudden closures. Some of the locations on this list have unusual days and times of availability so you’ll want to check that ahead of time. Book tickets ahead of time as much as possible as many of these attractions are popular with both locals and tourists. Also, pack appropriately - the Sunshine State has enviable weather year-round, but outdoor activities on hot, summer days can lead to trouble if you’re not properly prepared.
* Westgate Resorts is in no way affiliated with the attractions featured in this article. Items or places listed are current as of the publishing date of this article. Please call or visit the respective website for the most up-to-date offerings and details.