We don’t need to tell you that South Florida is one of the most sought-after travel spots for tourists. You live here – you get it. We also don’t need to tell you that your own travel plans for the summer may – or may not – have been scuppered, due to the ongoing pandemic. But, what might be of use, is this short guide, aimed specifically at you – South Florida locals – who may be finding themselves planning a last-minute staycation. So, what are the more secret spots, safe from the crowds at the Everglades, South Beach and Disneyland? Let us reveal a part of South Florida you may not be all that familiar with.
- Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Delray Beach is, itself, a small city on Florida’s southeast coast – an already sacred spot that isn’t usually tourist-heavy – but delve a bit further in and you’ll find sixteen acres of Japanese gardens. This serene, zen-like haven features a world-class bonsai collection, koi-filled ponds and nature-enveloped picnic areas, as well as a whole range of workshops to help you learn all about Japanese culture.
- Florida Keys
Ok – bear with us – we’re not suggesting for a second that the Florida Keys are sacrosanct to locals alone, and we’re sure you’ve already spent a fair bit of time on this beautiful stretch of islands. However, like everywhere else, there are hidden gems here, too, that the tourists may not be scrambling after!
- Sombrero Beach. This quiet stretch of soft sand in Marathon, lined by palm trees, is the perfect place to break up the drive from Miami to Key West. Have some lunch on one of the shaded picnic pavilions, play a spot of volleyball on the courts and keep your eyes open for turtles; you’ll soon discover why this is one of the Florida Keys’ best-kept secrets.
- Dry Tortugas National Park. Appointed a national park by President Franklin Roosevelt and accessible only by plane or boat, you don’t get more ‘hidden gem’ than this remote haven. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, it’s made up of seven of the most isolated islands in the Florida Keys and is filled with an abundance of diverse sea life, colorful coral reefs and tropical birds. Snorkel, scuba dive, fish or kayak your way through the emerald water that surrounds this deserted island, famed for its legends of shipwrecks and sunken treasures.
- Molasses Reef. Part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, this – filled with remnants of ships and artifacts – is the perfect spot for some scuba diving.
- Dolphin Research Centre. A unique place to interact with these friendly, mischievous and full-of-fun animals.
- Crystal River State Park
Boasting islands, forests and sub-tropical climate zones, this 20-mile stretch of preserve is the perfect place to explore Florida’s rural side! Filled with aquariums, snake exhibits and wild birds, you also can’t leave here without going for a swim with the manatees (the only place in the world you can do this legally!)! Bike, hike or canoe – no matter your mode of preference, you must spend some time in this ecotourism hot spot.
- St. Augustine
As the oldest city in America, the historic streets of St. Augustine have over 450 years of history to explore – and it’s right on your doorstep!
Ready to see another side of south Florida? Who says a staycation can’t be fun?!