Florida’s nature has so much to offer, from pristine beaches and springs to waterfalls and barrier reefs. You could spend weeks exploring the state and never run out of ways to immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty. This Florida nature bucket list will help you decide the best things to see on your next trip!
Florida is a mecca when it comes to strikingly beautiful nature, and while ocean escapes are the usual go-to for visitors, the Sunshine State has a whole lot more to offer on its repertoire of outdoor adventures.
If you’re looking to do things a lil’ different during your visit or you simply want to get to know the state beyond its surface, you’ll be pleased to know there’s an endless array of natural wonders in Florida waiting to be discovered.
From remote islands to enjoy in complete solitude to natural sinkholes containing an actual rainforest to parks in the Florida Keys, these are the most astonishing destinations in Florida to experience nature in its truest form.
7 Ways Enjoy Florida Nature On Your Next Trip
Swim at a Turquoise Spring
Here’s a little fact that may shock you: Florida is home to over 700 natural freshwater springs, the largest collection of them in the world. Perfect for a day spent swimming in shimmering emerald greens and aqua blues, checking out Florida’s natural springs is the ultimate way to cool off in the middle of nature.
Florida’s springs feature interweaving systems of underwater caves and a fascinating array of wildlife (we see you, manatees!), making them a true spectacle unlike any other place in the world. Swimming, diving, and snorkeling are the main thing to do at the springs, but many offer kayak and canoe rentals so you can explore the lush setting from different perspectives.
With hundreds of springs to choose from, deciding where to go can feel pretty overwhelming. To get things started, we recommend checking out Blue Spring State Park, where manatees seek refuge from the cold ocean waters during the winter months. For a mix of history and nature, check out Rainbow Springs State Park, where you’ll find a 10,000-year old spring. For a day spent tubing, swimming, and relaxing, Ichetucknee Springs is your go-to.
Swimming with Manatees, while it can be intimidating because they are such big and beautiful creatures, is an incredible experience! There are several options for the guided tours. In many, you make your way out to the manatees, dive in, and swim around with your new friends!
Manatees are protected, so there are strict rules about interactions, but it doesn’t mean they won’t swim right up to you! We’ve done both the kayak and boat tours, which were amazing.
Your best chance to see manatees is in the colder winter months when they come into the springs!
Chase a Waterfall
While Florida isn’t exactly famed for its cascading waters, seeing a waterfall in the Sunshine State can be a truly special sight considering they’re relatively rare. An absolute must-see waterfall in Florida is a 73-foot fall cascading down into an impressive sinkhole at Falling Waters State Parks in Chipley.
For more bucket list-worthy falls, head to Falling Creek Falls, where you’ll find a 10-foot waterfall draping over layers of limestone, or check out the Steinhatchee Falls in Taylor County, which are the widest ones in the entire state!
Explore a Remote National Park in the Middle of the Ocean
You probably already know of all the popular national parks in the country, but did you know there are many hidden gems out there you’ve probably never heard about?
Dry Tortugas National Park is a prime example of this, and visiting is a must on any traveler’s bucket list, especially if you’re into off-the-beaten-path experiences and epic underwater adventures.
Dry Tortugas is so remote even most Floridians haven’t heard about it. Because it’s set mostly underwater (at least 99% of it is!), accessing it is only possible via boat or seaplane. Once you get there, though, the journey is worth every second, as you’ll get to explore the absolute best Florida’s waters have to offer. From getting 7 tropical islands all to yourself to going in search of colorful coral and fantastic marine life, getting bored at Dry Tortugas is a pretty hard feat!
Visit a Mini Rainforest Deep in The Ground
Even though sinkholes are relatively common throughout Florida, Devil’s Millhopper is the most unique of them all. The reason? In the heart of a pine forest, a striking 120-feet deep cavity leads down into a miniature rainforest.
Lush vegetation thrives on the walls, creating a landscape that will make you feel as though you’ve been transported into the Jurassic Period (in fact, Devil’s Millhopper has provided tons of insight into Florida’s natural history, as fossilized remains of extinct species have been found here!).
See the Third Largest Barrier Reef in the World
Florida is home to the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world and the only one in the United States, making it a must-see in order to truly get to know the life living under its waves.
In order to see this underwater wonder with your own eyes, head to either Biscayne National Park or John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, where you can glide through the water with a pair of goggles in search of striking colorful formations and the colorful marine life that thrives around it.
Get Lost Inside a Cave
Florida isn’t exactly famed for its caves, but if you’re on the mission to find one during your visit, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable experience at Florida Caverns State Park.
This incredibly unique state park features a labyrinth of cavern systems and is the only place in Florida that offers guided tours of dry caves in the entire state.
While here, you’ll get to dive deep into Florida’s nature (quite literally) by touring the dramatic stalagmites and stalactites rising and trickling from the ceilings, as well as see flowstones and draperies that look almost other-worldly. Outside, you can opt to hit a few of the hiking trails around the cave, or choose from an array of outdoor adventures like boating, geo-seeking, or camping.
Explore the 3rd Largest National Park
Florida is home to many national parks but perhaps the most impressive is the Everglades National Park. It’s actually the 3rd largest national park in the United States and it’s also a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, Wetland of International Importance, and a specially protected area under the Cartagena Treaty.
So what makes it so special?
The Everglades is a subtropical environment that provides a habitat for many endangered and/or elusive species, such as the manatee, American crocodile, and Florida panther.
One of the best ways to explore the park is to take a guided tour with a ranger, so you can see much of the wildlife up close.
Catch an Underwater Mermaid Show
There are many incredible state parks in Florida but one that stands out is Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. While Weeki Wachee is the deepest known freshwater cave system in the United States, what the park is most famous for is their daily underwater mermaid shows – their interpretation of The Little Mermaid.
Beyond the mermaid show, you can also kayak and paddleboard, among other activities at the park.
Note that this is one of the most popular attractions in Florida and it can sell out during high season.
Relax on Unspoilt Beaches
Florida is known for its beaches, from party beaches to family-friendly beaches to quiet places to hang out. But among the most stunning in the state are Perdido Key and Santa Rosa Beach.
Both are found within the beach area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, where you can find fewer crowds and practically untouched beaches.
Florida Nature FAQs
Luckily for those planning a trip, the best nature spots in Florida are pretty spread out throughout the state. Areas like the Everglades, the Florida Keys, and the Gulf Islands National Seashore all have great nature spots but so do more inland destinations.
The most famous nature spot in Florida is definitely the Everglades National Park but Florida is also famous for its beaches and springs.
The Everglades National Park is unofficially known as Florida’s natural wonder, as it’s a unique habitat that’s home to many different animals – and the third largest national park in the US!
We hope this list of the best nature spots in Florida helped you plot your next adventure! Even though creating a list of every single natural wonder in the state would be practically impossible, these are some of the most striking destinations to check out for a seriously unique experience in nature.
Have you ever been to any of these natural wonders in Florida? Let us know all about your experience in the comment section below!