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.
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.
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.
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.
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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