Top “Hidden” Florida Day Trips

When it comes to Florida, residents and tourists alike agree that theme parks, heat waves, and big cities get all the acclaim. Thanks to the summer heat dying down and this handy article from SouthernLiving for the “must-visit,” secretive places in the panhandle state, there’s never been a better time to visit! Planning Florida day trips have never been easier.

Gordon River Greenway in Naples, Florida

Longtime Florida residents can agree that the state has become more and more developed over the past decade. Metropolises and commercialization are on the rise across the panhandle, but in Naples, Florida, there’s a spot that is known as one of the “last unspoiled areas in the region” by the locals. The Gordon River Greenway is a breathtakingly gorgeous nature trail that is elevated, and its paved pathways weave and meander throughout the mangroves, lead to kayak and canoe launches, and provide scenic overlooks for all sorts of wildlife viewing. The best part of all is to use this location as an opportunity to not only go on a pleasant, pedestrian hike but also a jumping-off point to brighter adventures. This is because the Greenway itself leads to a hidden entrance to both the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the Naples Zoo, making it a truly spectacular find! It’s one Flordida day trip you don’t want to miss.

The Banyan Tree in Islamorada, Florida

For another interesting Florida day trip, step into mystical, tropical gardens that are brimming with expansive and unforgettable plant life like orchids, succulents, and (of course), the titular, towering Banyan Tree. Located in Islamorada, Florida, you’ll be at peace with Florida’s often overlooked foliage and fauna as you wander through a magical garden, pursue the local wares of nearby shops, or even rediscover a lost talent by taking up an art class. As expected, most events and shops are plant-inspired such as various boutiques and gardens selling floral outfits, clothing accessories, home décor, jewelry, and so much more. Last, but not least, you should make it a dedicated point to attend Creative Plant Night, which is held every second Thursday of the month, so that you can design your own terrariums and flower arrangements with and for friends.

Historic Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs, Florida

If you’re particularly nautical-minded and a fan of Greek culture, then try heading north of Clearwater, Florida to check out Tarpon Springs and their rich, luscious history of sponge harvesting. The sponge harvesting industry is best seen by visiting and truly taking in the legacy of Tarpon Springs’ Historic Sponge Docks, as their tale dates back over a century. Besides a rich tapestry of sponge, sweat, and tears, these docks are also home to some of the most authentic Greek cuisine in the Southern United States. Stop into the Spongeroma’s Sponge Factory for an impressively large selection of natural sea sponges, boat tours, and a museum that’s sure to teach you a thing or two about absorbent, underappreciated sea life.

Shiny Fish Emporium in Anna Maria Island

When it comes to a Floridian beach trip, it’s widely expected that shells, sand dollars, or some artifact that was found in the sand is being brought back home with you. To round out our list of fun Florida day trips, why not lean into that impulse by turning necessity into art at Anna Maria Island’s Shiny Fish Emporium. Owners Rebecca and Dan have cultivated the perfect space to allow patrons to embrace creativity and decorate their own sand dollars so that they look souvenir-shop quality. This activity serves as part artisan safe space and tropical boutique as you can also browse the various wares of the shop to not only make your own gift for those back home but to also buy the perfect Floridian kimono or musical instrument that’s decorated in tropical fashion.

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Southern Day Trips to Take in Summer 2021

If you live in the American South, then you’re familiar with the majesty of the surrounding area, and due to the close proximity of the interesting attractions, you might not always feel inclined to spend multiple nights or days visiting what’s practically in your backyard. If that is true, then consider taking a southern day trip to a spectacular, nearby state, and it’s easy thanks to Southern Living’s list of suggested day trips to take in the Southern United States.

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park; Gatlinburg, Tennessee

While this park isn’t for the faint of heart, it is for those who are unafraid of incredible heights and breath-taking sights. Located in the heart of Gatlinburg, Tennessee is the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park that gives you the perfect vantage point from which to see the majesty of the expansive Smoky Mountains. Whether you’re looking down at Crockett Mountainfrom 500 ft. above, taking a breather at the SkyDeck atop the mountain, or braving a stroll down SkyBridge, the longest suspension bridge in the United States, your adventurous side will no doubt be satisfied. After taking the SkyLift to the top of Crockett Mountain or walking down the 680 ft. SkyBridge, you can stop by the SkyCenter to check out the gift shop, grab your professionally-taken photo of you atop the Skylift, or just relax with delicious concessions while looking at the greatest view imaginable.

The United States Naval Academy; Annapolis, Maryland

Since 1845 the United States Naval Academy has been rigorously training officers for the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps in Annapolis Maryland, and the campus is available for public visitation. Once you’re at the academy, there’s plenty of history to uncover about the prestigious entity that is the nation’s Naval and Marine forces. Visitors stopping by on a day trip might be attending a raucous sporting event at the Brigade Sports Complex or the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, where recruits are often engaged in a Navy game of football, lacrosse, or hockey. Those more inclined to learn about the history of the United States Navy or its academy might want to take in an exhibit at the Naval Academy Museum, see what academy life is like for a midshipman by booking a guided tour, or pay resorts at the crypt of naval hero John Paul Jones. The Naval Academy is located on the northeastern coast of Annapolis, Maryland, and while many residents have grown up with training officers jogging or marching down the streets of the city’s downtown area, many go their whole lives without visiting the Naval Academy, so book a day trip and learn about the history of the famed branch of the U.S military.

Everglades National Park; Florida Everglades

It’s not every day that you can visit a near-mythological landscape that emcompasses 1.5 million acrees of wetlands.Book a day trip to Southern Florida and see the truly unforgettable sights of Everglades National Park, where anything is possible. One popular entry point to the Everglades is located deep in the heart of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, and it has a 2.1 mile-long boardwalk from which you can see the towering sights of the cyprus trees above. Not only are some of the trees 135 ft. in height, but the Sanctuary is the single-largest stand of old-growth cypress trees in the world. While visiting, you can also check out the hundreds of alligators that line the canal banks of the 720,000-acre Big Cypress National Preserve. Many want to experience the Everglades first-hand and fast-paced, so if that sounds like you, then you’d be well-off booking an airboat adventure ride at the Sawgrass Recreation Park. Once aboard, you’ll be able to hear authentic, Florida-specific stories and see over 100 mammals and reptiles that have been adopted and rescued over the past few decades.

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