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Discovering Florida's 16 Hidden Gems You Need to Visit

Hidden Gems Of Florida

Florida has many stunning beaches, lively cities, amazing theme parks and is one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. When you think of Florida you most likely think of the Florida Keys, Walt Disney World or Kennedy Space Center. While these destinations are fantastic, they are also incredibly crowded. However, Florida has many hidden gems for those who are looking to enjoy the Sunshine State with fewer crowds. Use this guide to the hidden gems of Florida to help plan a relaxing and stress free trip.

16 Hidden Gems Of Florida

Devil’s Den - Williston

Known as a diver’s paradise, this privately owned prehistoric spring is quite literally a hidden gem. The natural sunroof provided here allows the sunlight to filter through to the underground river. The water is always clear and cool thanks to the natural springs that feed the river.

If you’re looking to explore a unique underwater environment, then you’ll love this hidden Florida gem. Keep in mind that you cannot enter Devil’s Den without diving or snorkeling gear. Here is a breakdown of the rental prices:

· $15 per person Mon-Fri

· $20 per person weekends

· $38 per person scuba

· $10 additional for snorkeling gear

· $40 additional for scuba gear

Devil’s Den| 5390 NE 180th Ave, Williston, FL 32696|

Dry Tortugas National Park – Homestead

Located in Homestead, Florida you’ll discover Dry Tortugas National Park roughly 70 miles from Key West. This hidden gem park is only accessible by boat or seaplane and is one of the most underrated National Parks in the United States. This archipelago of 7 small islands is also home to Fort Jefferson, a gigantic fortification that takes up the entirety of one of the small islands.

This National Park is a favorite among divers and snorkelers for both its spectacular coral reef as well as enormous shipwrecks to explore. For the best snorkeling spots make sure to stop at Historic Coaling Pier or Garden Key’s Coral Head.

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens – Delray Beach

Want to get your zen on? Head to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. This 16-acre Japanese garden offers a beautiful and serene spot to relax in Delray Beach, Florida. You’ll find many exhibitions, tea ceremonies and celebrations of Japanese festivals. Morikami has a world class bonsai collection, serene koi ponds and trails to explore to fully immerse yourself in nature. If you’re looking to engage a bit more then take one of the art classes or language workshops available at the gardens.

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens| 4000 Morikami Park Rd, Delray Beach, FL 3344| Adults - $15, Kids (6017) - $9

Three Sisters Springs – Crystal River

If swimming with a Florida manatee is a dream of yours, then look no further than Three Sisters Springs. This little piece of Florida heaven is a hidden gem chock full of outdoor adventures for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. This wildlife reserve on Crystal River allows you to easily spot adorable manatees.

Three Sisters Springs even allows you to swim with the manatees during your visit. If swimming with the manatees is not your thing, then you can explore more of the springs at Crystal Springs. The area gets its name from the crystal-clear gorgeous water and it’s a great place to relax to beat the Florida heat.

Three Sisters Springs| 601 Three Sisters Springs Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429| Adults - $12-$20, Kids (6-15) - $7.50

Venetian Pools – Coral Gables

This isn’t your average public pool. The Venetian Pool was carved out of a coral rock quarry in the 20s and is now the largest freshwater pool in the U.S. Believe it or not, the pool is emptied and refilled each day.

Enjoy a warm Florida day by splashing in the waterfalls and grottos while under the swaying palm trees. This hidden gem will leave you feeling like you’ve found paradise right in Florida. Families should keep in mind that children under 3 are not allowed at the Venetian Pools.

*Closed from November 28, 2022 to February 2023*

Venetian Pools| 2701 De Soto Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33134| Adults (13+) - $15, Kids - (3-12) - $10

Falling Waters State Park - Chipley

Did you know Florida has waterfalls? Well, the Sunshine State does in fact have waterfalls and the tallest one can be found at Falling Waters State Park. The park is named after its main attraction, Falling Waterfall. These impressive falls stand 74 feet tall and cascade 100 feet into a cave.

You’ll get to the falls using a boardwalk on the Wire Grass Trail. The best time to see the waterfalls in the park is after a nice rain. This state park is full of activities for the whole family.

Falling Water State Park| 1130 State Park Rd, Chipley, FL 32428| $5 Per Vehicle

Blowing Rock will take your breath away between the beautiful beaches, mangroves, dunes, and stunning rock formations. You can take a hike through the preserve on some amazing trails including Beach Trail (.1 miles), Dune Trail (.4 miles) and the Mangrove Boardwalk (.1 miles).

There are many endangered wild animals who call the preserve home. Keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles and manatees as you explore the limestone shoreline. When visiting, pay attention to the tides as it’s best to visit during low tide for the full experience.

Blowing Rock Reserve| 574 S Beach Rd, Hobe Sound, FL 33455| $2 per person donations help to maintain the preserve

Caladesi Island State Park - Dunedin

If you’re visiting Clearwater Beach and want to escape the crowds, consider visiting the quiet sugary white sands of Caladesi Island State Park. You’ll need to board the ferry or paddle to the island. Once you reach this tropical paradise explore the mangroves by hiking or kayaking.

Known as one of the few untouched islands along the Gulf Coast, you’ll want to take a nature trail walk to the historic Scharrer Homestead. Or enjoy the ocean breezes while paddling through the mangroves. Hit the beach to relax in the calm and beautiful turquoise waters.

Caladesi Island State Park| 1 Causeway Blvd, Dunedin, FL 34698| $6 per boat, $25 for kayak rental

Cedar Key

Cedar Key is a charming small town on the northwest coast. As the second oldest town in Florida, it has a ton of historic old world charm. With fewer than 1,000 permanent residents, this town is perfect for exploring by bicycle and the nearby islands are great for kayaking. You won’t find high rises or franchise restaurants in this seemingly untouched small town.

Whether you have a drink at the historic Island Hotel Neptune Bar or dine on fresh seafood overlooking the Gulf, you won’t soon forget the time you spend on Cedar Key. Try the award-winning Florida clam chowder while in town.

Cape Romano Dome House – Marco Island

Located on Cape Romano, you’ll find the Florida Dome Homes, a unique hidden gem. This was once the home of a millionaire seeking a serene beach life, the domes now act as a shelter for birds and other aquatic life. The majority of the dome structures are submerged thanks to the years of erosion. The remains are only accessible by boat, but they are worth the effort.

Southwest Florida Ale Trail

If you’re into beer then you don’t want to miss the hidden gem Southwest Florida Ale Trail. The trail connects across 4 Florida counties and even has a fun passport that you can have stamped at the 18 participating breweries. Some of the highlights of the best Southwest Florida Ale Trail are Fort Myers Brewing Co, Riptide Brewing Co, Crazy Dingo Brewing Co and Bone Hook Brewing Co. Many of these breweries are a very short distance from the coast, making it the perfect combination of brews and beaches.

Bahia Honda State Park – Bahia Honda Key

Located in the Florida Keys, the entire Bahia Honda Key is known for Bahia Honda State Park, which contains the gorgeous Calusa Beach. The state park, encompassing over 500 acres, offers some of the best snorkeling and beach combing in all of Florida.

If you are looking for a quiet and secluded family getaway, then Bahia Honda Key is perfect for you. The palm lined beaches, gin clear water and awe inspiring sunsets will have you relaxed in no time.

Florida Caverns State Park - Marianna

You may be thinking, What? Florida has caverns? That’s right, there are hidden gem caverns in the Sunshine State at Florida Caverns State Park. You’ll explore the cave through a guided tour where you’ll learn about the inner workings of the caverns. LED lights highlight all of the cave formations so that you can marvel at the stalactites in these magnificent caverns.

Keep an eye out for bats and snakes, common cavern dwellers. Thanks to the underground setting these limestone caverns are at the cool 65 degrees all year long. The tour lasts about an hour and will take you into a whole new underground world.

Florida Caverns State Park| 3345 Caverns Rd, Marianna, FL 32446| $5 per vehicle (2-8 people)

Beer Can Island – Longboat Key

For a rare beach gem in the Florida Keys head to Longboat Key for Beer Can Island. The island has a more rustic feel as it is underdeveloped. This fragile ecosystem here means you need to practice the Leave No Trace principles.

Make sure to pack out what you pack in and do not touch or move the driftwood on the beach. The island is also accessible by boat. You’ll notice that the beach feels different than other Florida beaches and that’s what makes this place special.

Beer Can Island| N. Shore Drive, Longboat Key, Florida

Weeki Wachee State Park – Spring Hill

Weeki Wachee State Park is a kayakers dream and a stunning hidden gem. Not only that, but these enchanted springs have live mermaids. See a live mermaid show, kayak through the calm clear waters or take a riverboat cruise. You’ll also find that Weeki Wachee has abundant hiking trails, swimming, and picnic areas. You can also learn about Florida’s wildlife or swim in the pristine waters of Buccaneer Bay.

Weeki Wachee State Park| 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606

Caladesi Island State Park

The Caladesi Island State Park is located on the same name island in the Gulf of Mexico. To get to the park, you can take a passenger ferry or hire a private boat at Honeymoon Island. From Clearwater Beach, you can walk all the way out to Caladesi Island, which is technically connected to the mainland at this point via a narrow juncture.

Formed by sand and earth during a hurricane in 1921, this beach boasts a nature trail of 3 miles, a marina, pavilions and concession stand. Once inside, you'll feel as if you've stepped into another world. Aside from birding and watching other diverse kinds of wildlife, you can also go fishing, snorkeling, kayaking and swimming at this true Florida gem, demonstrating how beauty is created by storms.

Santa Rosa Beach

A true hidden gem of Florida, Santa Rosa Beach is an unincorporated community in Walton County on the Florida panhandle. Visit this vacation spot that so many Florida residents love. You'll fall in love with the white sand beaches and blue waters and want to stay just a little longer.

This community has merged the old with the new in a charming way: visit historic Eden Gardens State Park, then head to The Bay for dinner. There are a variety of vacation rentals for you to choose from: large beach houses and cozy beachfront cottages, enhanced by a friendly beach community that awaits your visit.

Gasparilla Island State Park; It is separated from the Florida Mainland by Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound. Whether you love the beach or nature, this Gulf Coast barrier island is the perfect destination. Don't forget to bring sunglasses and sunscreen to avoid getting sunburnt since you'll be in the sun all day long!

One thing not to miss while visiting Gasparilla Island is Port Boca Grande Lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in 1890 and stands today. Gasparilla Island is a popular shelling destination during the winter months, and there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy throughout the year. You can swim, fish, snorkel or study the nature of the island; it is a wonderful piece of the Florida Gulf Coast barrier islands and a genuine Florida jewel. Gasparilla Island is the perfect little piece of the Florida Gulf Coast barrier islands.

Pine Island

Just 30 minutes from Fort Myers, Pine Island is the largest island off the Gulf coast of Florida. This small town has some of the best fishing in the state and is a great place to relax. Get out and enjoy some of the quiet, laid-back vibes and lush nature of Pine Island Sound.

Matlacha Pass waterways offer excellent canoeing and kayaking opportunities, or you can explore the mangroves or palm trees that stretch for miles. There are three aquatic preserves on Pine Island, which provide ample day trips or activities. Come here to escape the crowds and enjoy nature.

Molasses Reef

A popular coral reef destination in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Molasses Reef is filled with artifacts left over from ships that ran aground here.

This is a great opportunity for trained scuba divers to explore the area's thriving coral reef. Brain and star coral line the depths, while Elkhorn and Boulder Corals provide an ideal environment for snorkeling. You can get up close with the impressive array of sea life, such as eels, parrotfish, angelfish, and nurse sharks; however, it's important to remember to respect nature's playground and leave it intact for future visitors!

Ocala National Forest

This National Historic Landmark is located in Lake Wales, Florida and encompasses more than 200 acres of land. On Iron Mountain, one of the highest points on the Florida Peninsula, there is the “Singing Tower”, a 205 foot structure built on top. Don't miss out if you're in the area all year round!

Founded initially as a bird sanctuary, Edward and Marie Bok created a botanical garden paradise in order to provide a habitat for birds, and it is now home to over 100 species. In addition to a reflection pool and koi pond moat, the Singing Tower is surrounded by a koi pond moat. You should take your camera along with you as you walk along the Pine Ridge Trail to fully appreciate this magical place.

Rainbow Springs State Park

There have been people visiting Rainbow Springs for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived – the spring is the fourth largest in Florida. Rainbow Springs is open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day. In the off season, it is only accessible on weekends. Take advantage of the watersports and hiking opportunities, or camp here for a few days.

At the headsprings, you can rent canoes to embark on your own adventure, or you can swim in the designated areas. You can go tubing further down the Rainbow River, hike on the trails, or cycle on the bike. Make sure you have a place at the campground in advance so you can enjoy the refreshing outdoors while you reserve your spot.

Winter Park

just north of Orlando where the charming small city of Winter Park is located. During the winter months, Winter Park is a popular destination for arts and culture – explore the downtown area yourself for some fun. There are 70 parks in the city, which host festivals and events all year round!

Check out the local farmers market, or take a scenic boat tour on the river. Visit Central Park and Rollins College, and admire the beauty of Mead Garden. Enjoy the relaxed pace and good food while you are here.

Tigertail Beach

In the heart of the Everglades and mangrove islands lies the remote, wild Tigertail Beach. Located on Marco Island, a relatively developed suburban community, Tigertail has remained preserved and natural as a Collier County park. Hurricane Wilma recently created this area.

There are three miles of white sand beach and shells along the lagoon, with dolphins frolicking in the water. To reach the beach, you have to walk across the muddy lagoon and through some water, but it's well worth it. You can relax and enjoy this untouched stretch of beach as the blue-green water stretches out before you in relative quiet and isolation in a paradise that seems designed just for you.

These hidden gems of Florida are such rare finds and amazing whether you are traveling with family, a partner or by yourself. With so many hidden gem options, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get to Florida! Check out some of the other great destinations in Florida that you should not miss out on below.


Historic Sites in Florida

-The Castillo de San Marcos: This Spanish fort is the oldest masonry fort in the United States, and it's located in St. Augustine. It was built in the 1600s to protect Spain's territorial claims in North America and defend against attacks from pirates and foreign powers. The fort has been through a lot over the centuries, including multiple sieges, and it's now a National Monument.

-The Oldest House Museum: This museum is located in St. Augustine as well, and it's dedicated to preserving the city's history. The house itself was built in the early 1700s, making it one of the oldest surviving structures in Florida. It was home to several notable residents over the years, including a mayor and a judge. Today, visitors can tour the house and learn about its fascinating past.

-The Gamble Plantation Historic State Park: This plantation was once one of the largest sugarcane plantations in Florida. It was founded in 1825 by Major Robert Gamble, and it remained operational until the Civil War. Today, visitors can tour the plantation house, which has been restored to its antebellum appearance, as well as some of the outbuildings on the property.

Water and Beach Activities in Florida

Florida is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. And, with so many things to do on the water and on the beach, it's no wonder that Florida is a top vacation destination for families.

Whether you're looking for a place to relax and soak up the sun or you're looking for adventure, there's something for everyone in Florida. Here are just a few of our favorite water and beach activities in Florida:

Swimming: Of course, one of the best things to do at the beach is to swim! And, with over 825 miles of coastline, there are plenty of places to take a dip in Florida.

Snorkeling: If you want to get up close and personal with some of Florida's amazing marine life, snorkeling is a must! There are plenty of reefs and shipwrecks to explore off of Florida's coast.

Stand Up Paddleboarding: For a workout with a view, try stand up paddleboarding! You can paddle your way through mangroves, over seagrass beds and even around dolphins!

Kayaking: Explore Florida's waterways by kayak! Paddle through winding rivers, across glassy lakes or out into the Gulf of Mexico. There's so much to see from your kayak seat!

Fishing: Whether you're an experienced angler or you're just trying it for the first time, fishing is a great way to

If you're looking for a unique Florida vacation, look no further than these hidden gems. From secluded beaches to charming small towns, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

1. Grayton Beach State Park: This scenic state park is located on the Gulf of Mexico in the town of Grayton Beach. With its sugar-white sands and clear blue waters, it's no wonder this beach is consistently ranked as one of the best in the country. In addition to swimming and sunbathing, there are also plenty of opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and hiking.

2. Tarpon Springs: This historic city is located on Florida's Gulf Coast and is known for its Greek heritage. Visitors can enjoy exploring the many art galleries and shops, as well as taking a tour of the sponge docks. Be sure to try some of the delicious Greek food while you're here!

3. Sanibel Island: This beautiful island is located off the southwest coast of Florida and is world-renowned for its shelling beaches. In addition to spending time on the beach, there are also several nature trails to explore, as well as a variety of shops and restaurants.

4. Apalachicola: This quaint riverfront town is located on Florida's panhandle and offers a slow-paced atmosphere that's perfect for relaxation. Stroll through the historic district or take a boat ride down the Apalachicola River - either way, you're sure to

Unique Lodging Experiences in Florida

There are plenty of hidden gems to uncover in Florida. From secluded beaches to small towns with big character, there's a lot to explore in the Sunshine State. And when it comes to lodging, there are plenty of unique experiences to be had. Here are just a few of the hidden gems you'll find when you're looking for a place to stay in Florida:

- Glamping at one of Florida's many state parks. There are tons of great camping options in Florida, but if you're looking for something a little more luxurious, try glamping. You can find glamping sites at many of Florida's state parks, which offer amenities like air conditioning, private bathrooms, and even cable TV.

- Renting a vacation home from a local owner. If you want to really experience what it's like to live inFlorida, try renting a vacation home from a local owner. You'll get all the comforts of home, plus the added bonus of getting insider tips on the best things to do and see in the area.

- Staying at a bed and breakfast. For a truly relaxing vacation, consider staying at a bed and breakfast. You'll enjoy delicious meals made by your hosts, as well as comfortable accommodations and plenty of personalized attention.

- Taking advantage of unique lodging deals. Many hotels and resorts offer special rates and packages for Floridians looking for unique lodging experiences. So whether you're interested in staying in an eco-friendly resort

Tips for Exploring the Sunshine State

Florida is a state with endless possibilities for exploration and adventure. However, it can be difficult to know where to start when uncovering its hidden gems. Here are a few tips to help you get started on your journey:

1. Talk to the locals - Florida is home to some of the most friendly and helpful people in the country. When exploring off the beaten path, be sure to ask the locals for recommendations on where to go and what to see. They will be able to point you in the right direction and help you avoid any tourist traps.

2. Do your research - Use online resources, such as travel blogs and guidebooks, to help plan your trip. This will allow you to get an idea of what attractions are worth visiting and how best to experience them.

3. Rent a car - Having your own transportation will give you the freedom to explore at your own pace and visit places that are not easily accessible by public transportation.

4. Be prepared for anything - Florida's weather is notoriously unpredictable, so it is important to come prepared for both hot and cold temperatures. pack sunscreen, insect repellent, and a light sweater or jacket just in case.

5. Relax and enjoy yourself - Remember that there is no wrong way to explore Florida. As long as you are having fun, you are doing it right!

From breathtaking beaches to rustic parks, Florida is a treasure trove of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. We hope this article has inspired you to start planning your next adventure in the Sunshine State and uncover its best-kept secrets. With so many places still left to explore, it's no wonder why Florida continues to attract new visitors year after year!

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