By Lilly Herbert (Guest Writer)
It is no secret that Florida has too much to offer to its visitors. Between the Gulf of Mexico in the west and Atlantic Ocean in there awesome cities, parks, diverse cultures, sandy beaches and amazing foods to try. The interesting thing is that you don’t need to look hard for you to see something outstandingly beautiful or amazing while visiting the Sunshine State. However, there are many Florida treasures that people never get to visit because they are either not aware of their existence or because they opt to follow the crowd. Without taking anything from the other adventurous and fun places in Florida, we advise against spending too much time on the already-discovered tourist attractions and instead use your time to dig out the state’s hidden treasures. To start you off, here are 6 hidden gems of Florida that you cannot afford to miss.
National Wildlife Refuge in Pelican Island
Located in Vero Beach, Florida, this wildlife refuge is one of the largest land areas that has ever been set aside by any government for the sole purpose of protecting endangered animals. It sits on about 4,500 acres of land and hosts hundreds of birds, turtles, fish and butterfly species. You will be able to see all these animals without paying a dime and without having to cope with noise or crowds that are witnessed elsewhere. This tranquil environment is a good venue for undisturbed introspection too.
Bahia Honda State Park, Florida Keys
500 acres of nothing but raw beauty; that is Bahia State Park for you. This piece of land is full of fun activities for you to enjoy with your family. You can choose to snorkel or ride a boat to the park’s offshore island. Better yet, you could swim around the tranquil coastline. A trip to the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary- which is a a few minutes away by boat- is also a good thing to try while here. For your accommodation, you can opt to camp on the island, rent a cabin or get yourself a vacation rental.
The Kampong Botanical Garden
At the heart of Coconut Grove, Biscayne Bay is this hidden botanical garden which, unbelievably, is alien to many Florida locals. Not many people know that this place exists and that makes it even more interesting to visit. The garden was developed by Dr. David Fairchild, a legendary horticulturist, and has a unique blend of beach and Asian cultures. The houses therein are architecturally Asian while the plants are predominantly tropical. Spending a night here will give you all the peace of mind and relaxation that you need for a weekend getaway.
Santa Rosa Beach
When visiting Walton County, be sure to visit this magnificent white sand beach. It is adjacent to the Eden Gardens State Park, where you can visit and interact with nature if your time allows. The beach is vast and fun just like Miami Beach but sees little traffic unlike most Florida beaches. Camping is also permitted on Santa Rosa Beach. As for accommodation, you will get a vacation rental for your budget and needs. They range from small beachfront cottages to family beach houses.
Sponge Docks, Tarpon Springs
You will learn a lot about of Greek culture and history when visiting the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs. It is located a few miles north of Clearwater. Some of the fun activities to partake in while here include boat tours, exploring Greek museums, trying Greek cuisine or have a tour of the Sponge Roama’s Sponge Factory therein.
Winter Park: A small town to the north of Orlando but with a charm greater than most big cities in the world. This place never gets cold, the natives are the friendliest and hospitable people you will ever see, and the tranquility here is unbeatable. While visiting Winter Park, you can enjoy any of the thousands of festivals that go down around the year. You will also be amused by the beauty of Mead Garden and the scenic view of the blue Atlantic Ocean from a distance. Other fun places to go in Winter Park include Central Park or Rollins College, Byzantine-Romanesque chapel, and Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of Natural Art.