Florida is one of the world’s best known and most popular travel destinations. It’s the most visited state by Americans and its great climate and popular beaches and attractions also make it a hit with international visitors. However the Sunshine State is also large enough that it’s not that hard to get off the beaten path and we’re going to take a look at some of the best hidden gems in Florida.
5 Hidden Gems in Florida
Wekiwa Springs State Park
With the state’s largest airport, Orlando is the logical starting point for any Florida hidden gems road trip. You can rent a car in MCO airport and start your adventure by visiting the Wekiwa Springs State Park which is located just north of Orlando.
This 7000-acre site is full of natural wonders and it’s a great location for activities such as biking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking and horseback riding. The self-guided kayaking routes are perhaps the pick of those options and will enable you to see some of the wildlife and most beautiful parts of the Park. There is even a swimming area in Wekiwa Springs which offers a refreshing dip throughout the year.
After your trip to Wekiwa Springs State Park, you’re centrally based in Florida and it’s easy to get out to destinations in all four corners of the state.
Aside from the party capital of Miami, Florida is not really a place known for its urban destinations with most visitors attracted by its beaches and areas of natural beauty. However there are plenty of underrated towns that may be worth a visit and one of those is St. Petersburg.
Located directly on the Gulf Coast in the Tampa Bay area, St. Petersburg is known as the Sunshine City. It has somewhat reinvented itself in recent years as a city of art and culture with fun festivals and some excellent museums including the striking Dali Museum.
You’ll also only be a short drive away from Fort DeSoto County Park which is home to some fabulous white sand beaches and great spots for picnics or even camping.
Falling Waters State Park
Florida is a very flat state but if you’re looking for a slight change in terrain and want to see the tallest waterfalls in this part of the US, head to Falling Waters State Park.
It’s a bit of a mission to get here, with Falling Waters located in the far northwest of Florida not far from the Alabama state border, so few visitors make this journey. However with its many waterfalls (one of which is 70 feet tall) and mysterious sinkholes, Falling Waters State Park might just be the best kept secret in Florida.
There are also many great hiking trails in the park and some freshwater lakes where swimming is permitted, although there are warning signs up as there are a few alligators in the park.
Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring
Located around 100 miles to the northwest of Orlando, Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring is one of the prettiest places in Florida.
The underground spring, located within a cave, offers warm waters that are around 75°F throughout the year. You can swim alongside turtles and a variety of fish with the beautiful turquoise waters offering scuba-divers a great view of everything beneath the surface.
Devil’s Den also has a large picnic area so you can easily spend a full afternoon here. It would make for a convenient stop on the way between Orlando and Falling Waters State Park.
If you’re looking for more hidden gems in Central Florida, consider paying a visit to Eatonville, a small town only six miles from Downtown Orlando.
Eatonville has a quite unique history as one of the first self-governing all-black municipalities in the United States following the abolition of slavery in the 19th Century. There are a few small museums and sites of interest that document this journey while there is an annual festival in honour of the author Zora Neale Hurston.
It would be a convenient end point for any Florida trip given the town’s proximity to Orlando International, one of the busiest airports in the United States with flight connections to cities all around the world.