With the Atlantic Ocean to its east and the Gulf of Mexico to its west, Florida is the state with the most southeasterly location in the US. As a result, it has miles and miles of sandy beaches, wildlife refuges, and sunny, energetic cities that are brimming with Latin American and Caribbean cultures. And this means there are a few hidden gems in Florida to explore.
When it comes to hidden gems in Florida, the ‘Sunshine State’ has several lovely, less well-known remote beaches, natural attractions, and parks outside of the cities, despite the fact that many tourists come for the state’s traditional attractions like Miami or Disney World.
Check out our list of some of Florida’s best hidden gems, grab your sunscreen and camera, pack your backs and start making the plans for your next vacation so you can experience everything the Sunshine State has to offer. There are so many incredible places in Florida that you’ll never run out of options.
Hidden Gems In Florida You Must Explore
First on our list of hidden gems in Florida is South Walton. According to folklore, paddleboarding is to Florida what snow skiing is to Colorado.
Florida is a paddler’s paradise, much like the Rockies are for skiers, with one important exception: you can paddle anywhere in Florida all year. For any beginner, South Walton’s beaches, Seaside, Miramar, and Grayton, offer an unrivaled variety of standup paddleboarding experiences.
The Gulf of Mexico should come first. The emerald Gulf is level and a bump-free ride on balmy mornings along the Northwest Florida coast before the southerly winds rise. A paddle here offers a panoramic view of the horizon-spanning, snow-white beaches.
The experience could also provide close encounters with wildlife like dolphins and sea turtles.
The coastal dune lakes are a rare natural occurrence that only occurs in a few locations worldwide. The lakes are frequently wind-sheltered for paddlers, especially beginners, making them excellent locations to develop confidence.
When paddlers reach that point of comfort, they might traverse an outfall where the brown water of the dune lake meets the emerald Gulf of Mexico.
Santa Rosa Beach
One of the best hidden gems in Florida is Santa Rosa Beach, an unincorporated area in Walton County, on the state’s panhandle. Set out to enjoy a holiday destination that so many Floridians like.
The white sand beaches and clear oceans will win your heart, and you’ll decide to stay a little longer.
You can visit the ancient Eden Gardens State Park and then have dinner at a contemporary restaurant like The Bay to see how wonderfully the neighborhood has combined the old and new. There are several vacation rentals to select from, including spacious beach homes and inviting beachfront cottages, all complemented by a welcoming beach community that welcomes your arrival.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park, the most southern park in the US, is only accessible by boat or seaplane and is located 70 miles directly west of Key West. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the most secluded of the hidden gems in Florida.
The Dry Tortugas are seven tiny islands scattered across 100 square miles of open water, therefore the term “park” is deceptive in this context. Fort Jefferson is a beautiful brick-red anomaly in a huge turquoise sea that served as a fort and jail during the Civil War.
If you enjoy being alone and in a remote area, campers are welcome. Here, phones are worthless.
Camping guests at the fort on Garden Key have access to exceptional snorkeling along the perimeter of the moat wall, where an octopus searching for shells is frequently spotted. The National Park Service advises snorkeling again at night for more personal discoveries after diving along the wall during the day to snap underwater landscapes.
Once you’re back on dry land you are only a stone’s throw away from some of the Sunshine State’s more visited casinos. Casinos in Florida offer everything from blackjack, roulette, and even slot games. For a detailed guide to the various offerings, Casino.us have created this detailed map here.
Blowing Rocks Preserve
Blowing Rocks Preserve, a nature reserve on Jupiter Island is home to the biggest protrusion of Anastasia limestone on Florida’s east coast. Visit to admire the fauna and diverse terrain of the preserve as well as the unusual rock formations along the beach.
You’ll want to capture the distinctive attraction of the beach, so bring your camera. You won’t want to miss capturing this location as one of the finest among the hidden gems in Florida.
Although it could be slightly dangerous for individuals who don’t like getting wet, the water sprays from erosion holes in the limestone rock as the waves crash against it, producing an amazing spectacle. At the Hawley Environmental Center, explore the coastal dunes and mangrove wetlands and discover more about the surrounding ecosystem.
To find out more about the wildlife that makes Blowing Rocks Preserve home, you can also follow the signage on the boardwalk along the Indian River Lagoon.
Bok Tower Gardens
In Lake Wales, Florida, there is a National Historic Landmark called Bok Tower Gardens. The “Singing Tower”, a 205-foot building constructed atop Iron Mountain, one of the highest points on the Florida Peninsula, is part of this garden’s more than 200 acres of space.
Don’t miss it when you are around since it is accessible to the general public all year long.
Edward and Marie Bok, a Dutch couple who founded the sanctuary, started creating a botanical garden paradise to provide a habitat for birds, and today it is home to more than 100 different species of birds.
The Singing Tower has a koi pond moat surrounding it and was built close to a reflecting pool. To truly appreciate this lovely location and cap off your peaceful stay, take a stroll along the Pine Ridge Trail.
Molasses Reef is a beloved coral reef location for scuba divers and is situated in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The location is visually attractive and offers a wealth of sights due to the abundance of antiquities and shipwreck debris in the vicinity.
For experienced scuba divers, this diving tour is ideal. Many different kinds of coral, like brain or star coral, can be found in the area.
Elkhorn and Boulder Corals both have shallow regions that are excellent for snorkeling. Respect the environment and take advantage of being close to a variety of marine species, including eels, parrotfish, angelfish, and nurse sharks. However, do your part to keep the environment protected by not disturbing the coral or jeopardizing the ecosystem.
Florida Caverns State Park
Another astounding place to explore among the hidden gems in Florida is Florida Caverns State Park, a cave that lies 55 feet beneath the forest floor of the Florida Caverns State Park, shows its geological secrets.
Stalagmites sprout from the floor, while limestone stalactites dangle from the ceiling, growing one drip at a time. The awe is enhanced by organic sculptures like soda straws, flowstones, and drapery.
The eerieness is heightened by the shadows created by floor lights and the occasional bat.
With hand tools, Civilian Conservation Corps members who were paid $1 per day worked for four years to enlarge the cave rooms and tunnels 80 years ago. Although the Florida Caverns were initially opened to the public in 1942, it is possible that native American tribes were familiar with this location long before then.
They reportedly sought refuge from the scorching heat and went underground, where it was 65 degrees.
Cayo Costa Island State Park
Our final location on our list of hidden gems in Florida is Cayo Costa Island State Park. Only boats, ferries, or helicopters can access the park which lies south of Boca Grande.
On islands like Cayo Costa, which Tervio Padilla first colonized in the 1870s before the government confiscated his land, Spaniards who immigrated to the New World established fishing ranches.
Sea turtles, manatees, and dolphins can all be seen in this area, which is now a state park. Visit to enjoy the ocean by renting a boat or to see the local fauna.
On-site amenities include beaches, boat docks, camping accommodations, and hiking trails. The scenery of the ocean and the leisure alternatives will keep you entertained whether you stay for a day or longer.
If you’re planning a trip to Florida, undoubtedly one of the most popular destinations in the US, be sure to explore at least a couple of these locations. The adventures you will have and stories you will bring home from these hidden gems in Florida will surely be some of the greatest highlights of your journey.