jdavis88 is a firefighter and paramedic who lives in Florida. He loves to travel and maintains a blog called Southern Travel Tips.
Every year, millions of visitors to Florida plan to visit the great beaches. Although those beaches are certainly beautiful, they are hardly all there is to see in Florida. Although Florida is known as the "Sunshine State", beaches are only the tip of what Florida has to offer...literally. If you're going to experience Florida, come and see all it has to offer.
This state has everything from wooded natural parks, springs, Civil War battlegrounds, and of course, Florida is home to the original large theme park, Disney World. Many of Florida's cities have historical, cultural, sports, and other attractions to make your vacation an adventure on many levels. From one of the oldest cities in North America, St. Augustine, to a "city of the future" at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center, Florida has every type of attraction you could want. If you are going on a Florida vacation soon, you should include some time in your trip for some of the other great vacation places in Florida. The natural and cultural attractions listed below will can be found within short drives from most of Florida's tourism hubs.
Rivers, Creeks and Streams!!
If your Florida vacation only includes salt water, you are missing out! Florida has many rivers that can add some beauty and local flavor to your trip. Some of these places offer swimming and fishing, and others are great for tubing or canoeing! These are great spots for both family vacations, fishing, camping and personal getaways, and due to their location are generally cheaper than a vacation at the coast.
There are many beaches to visit across the U.S., and a few are comparable to Florida beaches, but none of them are so close to other natural views and trips as the ones in Florida.
Most of Florida's rivers are only short drives from great beach areas. If you are visiting the sand of the Pensacola area beaches, the Escambia River and Blackwater State Park are wonderful areas to see. If Tampa is where you are headed, the Hillsborough River has great canoeing for both newcomers and the experienced or even the Homosassa Springs State Park where you can see Manatees and many other forms of Florida wildlife. And if Daytona is your destination, try visiting Blue Springs, Wekiwa Springs or DeLeon Springs for excellent swimming, kayaking, and more!
Some other river stops in North Florida include the Wakulla and St. Marks Rivers. At Wakulla Springs you can swim in the spring or even take a boat tour down the river to see all of the great wildlife surrounding the area. And a stop at the historic St. Marks Lighthouse is a must for any Forgotten Coast visits.
Also fresh water, Lake Okeechobee, Florida's largest lake, is a great vacation spot and has some of the best fishing in the South. All of these stops offer a further look into the culture and life of Floridians.
Floridas Beautiful State Parks
Florida has some of the most beautiful state parks in the USA. They offer camping, cabins, fishing, and more and are spread out all over the beautiful state. These parks are easy to add to the vacation you are planning because no matter where you are headed in the Sunshine State, a Florida State Park is near you! Florida State Parks are an inexpensive way to see every vacation area of Florida.
For a great underwater experience, visit the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. It is the first underwater state park in America and offers snorkeling, scuba diving, glass bottom boats, fishing, and more! For an extended stay, you can enjoy their great camping facilities. With over 70 nautical square miles, great beaches, and a 30,000 gallon aquarium, there is fun for all. It is also a great place from which to visit some of the other tourist areas of the Florida Keys that are just a short trip away.
Perhaps you would like to see something other than beach while on your Florida vacation? If so, I would recommend the Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna, FL. You can view the only Florida state park to offer cave tours to the public. This park offers camping, fishing, hiking and even has stables if you would like to bring your horse for some trail riding. There is also a 9 hole golf course there so you can catch a short round while the family plays in the swimming area. Florida Caverns State Park (seen to the right) is a very short distance from the Chipola River which offers some of the best tubing in the state. On any given day in the summer you will see hundreds of kids and adults floating down the cool river.
For some history mixed with beautiful views, visit the Fort Clinch State Park near Jacksonville, FL. This park offers beaches, hiking, camping, fishing, swimming, and tours of one of Florida's oldest forts located in one of the most beautiful locations. Fort Clinch is also near some of Northeast Florida's best beaches along with Jacksonville for shopping, zoos, museums and more. There are multiple nearby camping areas, plenty of fishing on the St. Johns River and off shore from Jacksonville Beach.
Other Great Florida Spots
A few other Florida vacation spots worth mentioning have little to do with beaches and fishing, although they are close to the beaches. They would be an excellent addition for anyone planning a personal or family vacation.
Florida's oldest city, St. Augustine, is a great destination for any Florida vacation. This beautiful place offers horse-drawn carriage rides, historic tours, and great shopping. Only 40 miles from Jacksonville, you can find great beaches, a dolphin conservation center, a fort, and great fishing all in St. Augustine.
A few miles south, near Cocoa Beach, you will find every child's dream, Kennedy Space Center. Cape Canaveral offers beaches and fun, but for both family and single travelers, a visit to the home of NASA is a must! No, they are not still sending astronauts up from their launch pads, but they do great tours, have a lot of history, and anyone can learn a great deal about space and science there. For any vacation to Orlando or Cocoa Beach, be sure to visit, and check their website for tour and launch information. There rocket launches, SpaceX or otherwise, are visible from nearby Daytona and other vacation areas as well.
On the opposite coast, in Tampa, FL, you will find excellent sights at the Tampa Bay and at nearby Ybor City. Ybor City offers night life, great shopping, and wonderful food. This pedestrian shopping zone has plenty for every age, but bring some cash. It is not that expensive, but you will see too much that you want. A short ride from Ybor is the Tampa Bay Port area where you will find a great shopping area next to the cruise port, along with the beautiful Florida Aquarium.
Shelly Wyatt from Maryland on December 18, 2012:
This is a great hub, I enjoyed your travel tips and I hope to be visiting the beautful state of Florida very soon!
Raylene Wall from Alberta, Canada on December 23, 2010:
When we're barely above freezing FINALLY today after almost a whole month of frozen-ness, Florida sounds GREAT right about now! LOL! Thanks for the tips!