Hidden Gems Of Florida
Florida has many stunning beaches, lively cities, and 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 you plan a relaxing and stress free trip.
15 Hidden Gems Of Florida
1. Devil’s Den
- 5390 NE 180th Ave, Williston, FL 32696
- $15 per person Mon-Fri
- $20 per person weekends
- $38 per person scuba
- $10 additional for snorkeling gear
- $40 additional for scuba gear
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 Florida hidden gem. Keep in mind that you cannot enter Devil’s Den without diving or snorkeling gear.
2. Dry Tortugas National Park
- Florida Keys
- $15 per person
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.
3. Morikami Museum And Japanese Gardens
- 4000 Morikami Park Rd, Delray Beach, FL 33446
- Adults (18+) – $15
- Seniors (65+) & Military – $13
- Students – $11
- Children (6-17) – $9
- Under 5 – Free
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, seren koi ponds and trails to explore to fully immerse yourself in nature. If you’re looking to engage a bit more than take one of the art classes or language workshops available at the gardens.
4. Three Sisters Springs
- 601 Three Sisters Springs Trail, Crystal River, FL 34429
- Adults – summer: $12.50/ winter: $20
- Seniors (55+) – summer: $12.50/ winter: $17.50
- Military (With ID) – summer: $11.50/ winter: $15
Children (6-15) – $7:50
- Under 5 – Free
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 isn’t 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.
5. Venetian Pools
- 2701 De Soto Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33134
- Adults (13+) – $15
- Children (3-12) – $10
- Under 3 are not allowed at the Venetian Pools
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.
6. Falling Waters State Park
- 1130 State Park Rd, Chipley, FL 32428
- $5 per vehicle
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 the waterfall, Falling Water Falls stands 74 feet tall and falls an impressive 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.
7. Blowing Rock Preserve
- 574 S Beach Rd, Hobe Sound, FL 33455
- $2 per person donations help to maintain the preserve
Blowing Rock will leave you awe-inspired 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.
8. Caladesi Island State Park
- 1 Causeway Blvd, Dunedin, FL 34698
- $6 per boat, $25 for kayak rental
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, take a nature trail walk to the historic Scharrer Homestead. Or enjoy the ocean breezes while paddling through the mangroves. Or hit the beach to relax in the calm and beautiful turquoise waters.
9. 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.
10. Florida Domes
- Cape Romano, Marco Island, FL
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.
11. 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.
12. Bahia Honda State Park
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 beachcombing 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.
13. Florida Caverns State Park
- 3345 Caverns Rd, Marianna, FL 32446
- $5 per vehicle (2-8 people)
- $4 single-occupant vehicle
- $2 pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers
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.
14. Beer Can Island
- N. Shore Drive, Longboat Key, Florida
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 then other Florida beaches and that’s what makes this place special.
15. Weeki Wachee State Park
- 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606
Weeki Wachee State Park is a kayaker’s 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 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.
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!
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