It’s no secret Florida is most known for Orlando’s theme parks, Miami Beach, and Everglades National Park, but what else does Florida have to offer tourists and locals alike? Being a born and raised Floridian I’ve found six of the most underrated destinations for the weekend getaway or road trip in and around Florida.
1. Blowing Rocks Preserve in Hobe Sound, Florida:
You can’t beat bouldering these cliffs while watching the tides roll in but keep in mind many of these rocks are sharp and sitting on most of them is definitely not a comfortable option so make sure to bring a beach chair.
2. Cumberland Island in St. Marys, Georgia:
A secluded island that can only be reached by ferry, Cumberland Island is most known for it’s 100+ wild horses that are speculated to have first been introduced to the island by the Spanish in the 16th century. Almost every landscape exists here from beaches to marshes to woods and even deserts making it one of most popular destinations for camping.
3. Driftwood Beach in Jekyll Island, Georgia:
Being featured in the latest, seventh season of The Walking Dead, Driftwood Beach’s name speaks for itself. This beach is full of huge pieces of driftwood as well as little sea critters such as sea anemones that can be found in the dozens amongst the rocks by the shore.
4. Bok Tower Gardens & Spook Hill in Lake Wales, Florida:
Bok Tower Gardens, built upon Mount Iron, is a 205 foot Singing Tower with carillon bells and surrounded by a large moat doubling as a koi pond. Unfortunately, actual entrance to the Bok Tower itself is off limits to the general public but the surrounding gardens are wonderful for picnics, diving into a novel, or just simply strolling and enjoying the gardens and bird sanctuary.
Spook Hill, on the other hand, is just that a gravity hill that is creepy yet magical for drivers who drive to the top, put their car in neutral, and seem as if their car is going uphill when it is actually going down.
5. Castillo de San Marcos & St. Augustine Lighthouse in St. Augustine, Florida
An old Spanish fort constructed during the 16th century and used as a military prison for various Native Americans, it now stands as one of most historical attractions in Florida and features regular cannon firing demos by volunteers.
St. Augustine Lighthouse, said to be haunted although seemingly more spectacle than truth according to its current and seasoned lighthouse keeper, visitors can climb to the top of all fourteen stories and take all 200 or so steps to get a full 360 view of Saint Augustine’s historic district and beaches.
6. Sanibel & Captiva Island in Lee County, Florida:
Known as two of the most popular destinations for shelling, Sanibel and adjoining Captiva Island as well as neighboring beaches such as Lovers Key did not disappoint! I found six sand dollars, although only two survived my carelessness, in a matter of a couple of hours in addition to a variety of other shells. For me the most fascinating part of the islands was that beachgoers can venture several yards into shore and only be ankle or knee deep in the water with the ocean floor still visible. Nevertheless, it should be noted that it’s an expected courtesy to return living sand dollars and inhabited shells back into the water. Moreover it’s said that the odor of a dead sea creature is unbearable and will soak into the fibers of your car seats or furniture.