Outdoor Fun

It’s not only Californians and Pacific Northwesterners who can engage in an active, outdoorsy lifestyle. Those of us in Central and Southwestern Florida can also enjoy a variety of outdoor activities that extend well beyond our spectacular beaches.

Each year more than 25 million park visitors hike, cycle, paddle, paddle board, camp, jet ski, horseback ride and even tour our local waterways on pontoon boats. And for ambitious cyclists, we have the Coast-to-Coast Connector, a paved bike path that nearly crosses the state, extending from St. Petersburg to Titusville. Although there’s no need to traverse the entire thing in one go. Take your time and explore.

Freshwater recreation is abundant, too. One of many fantastic options is the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes, which is less than an hour from both Orlando and Tampa Bay. The chain features 28 lakes interconnected by canals, which means we never have to leave the water. Here we can come solo or bring our families to enjoy boating, stand-up paddle boarding, wakeboarding, jet skiing, or even the latest craze of flyboarding, which rockets riders over the water like spring-loaded action figures.

Many operators offer airboat rides in lakes connected to the Florida Everglades, as well as in nature preserves such as the Kissimmee River State Park, for adventurous journeys in our region’s swampland. And for those of us inclined to more inland activities, Bone Valley ATV Park in Polk County boasts 200 acres of ATV and motocross trails plus picnic tables and easy parking.

Whether you like to play in the water or prefer to take to the woods, there is ample opportunity for year-round outdoor fun near your home. And, best of all, we Floridians get to enjoy the outdoors in the highest ranked parks and recreation system in the nation. That’s right—Florida state parks are the nation’s only three-time winner of the National Gold Medal Award for excellence in park management. No other state in the country has ever won two medals, let alone three. Florida is an outdoor paradise, and our residents and visitors cherish and care deeply for these natural treasures.

 

Relevant Blog Posts

Cortez: A Traditional Fishing Village on the Gulf Coast

For those of us who like to explore off-the-beaten-track treasures and small authentic outposts of “old Florida,” a visit to Cortez, on Sarasota Bay in Manatee County, is a step back in time. It’s only an hour from Sarasota and a quick jaunt from Bradenton, and it’s definitely worth the trip! Founded in 1880, Cortez…

Warm Mineral Springs in North Port

Europeans, Russians, Ukrainians, Scandinavians, and Israelis are all well acquainted with the mental and physical health benefits of soaking in mineral springs. But the habit is not as common for us Americans. And it turns out that we Central Floridians live next door to the largest mineral spring in the world. Welcome to Warm Mineral…

Manatee Viewing Spots from The Gulf Coast to Merritt Island

One of the best things about life in Florida is our unparalleled opportunity to view rare species in the wild. If you haven’t yet seen the docile manatee, it’s time to go—while they still inhabit the warm waters off our ample coastline. Now that the weather has gotten cooler, our native populations of Florida manatees…

4 Central Florida Attractions that Locals Love

One of the greatest advantages of living in Florida is that our state is a treasure trove of quirky oddities and unique attractions in out-of-the-way places. As residents, we can explore the back roads and take our time discovering the more uncommon places that tourists rarely frequent. Sarasota plays home to Circus Museum at the…

It’s Time for Florida Blueberries

Florida's berries are harvested before other locations around the country. The season gives Florida farmers an advantage by limiting their competition. – Florida Blueberry Growers Association This past weekend I spotted a sign announcing my local blueberry U-Pick farm, Tom West Blueberries, is now open for picking. What’s really cool about the U-picking at Tom…

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Weekend plans: how about a Sunday drive through Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive? The 11-mile wildlife drive opened in May 2015 and winds through the Lake Apopka North Shore property. This lush place offers ample wildlife viewing and quiet spots perfect for watching storms roll in or simply catching your breath for a while. Too hot…