15 Extraordinary Natural Attractions in Florida You Must See At Least Once
Florida is one of the most beautiful states in the United States of America. This massive southern state has a little bit of something for everyone, including white sandy beaches, thick lush forests, shady swamps, and gorgeous crystal clear springs. While most people think of theme parks when someone mentions Florida, this sunshine state has a lot more to offer, including natural beauty and attractions. So, what are some great places to visit? Here we have 15 extraordinary natural attractions in Florida you must see at least once.
1. Devil’s Den
Starting our list is one of the most well-known attractions in the state, the Devil’s Den near Williston. It’s a prehistoric spring and is privately owned. Currently, it’s operated as a SCUBA diving training and recreational facility. The Devil’s Den is an excellent place to go scuba diving and snorkeling. To go scuba diving in this gorgeous swimming hole, you must be scuba-certified. Although not as accessible as other natural wonders on this list, it’s worth a mention.
2. Ocala National Forest
Unlike the Devil’s Den, the Ocala National Forest is open to the public and has fewer restrictions. The Ocala National Forest is just north of Orlando and covers 430,447 acres of land. It was established as a national forest in 1908 and is a great way to escape the busyness of Central Florida. While here, you can see incredible wildlife and spend days camping and exploring. This wonderful forest is home to over 600 natural lakes and ponds. Within the national forest are also very popular springs, which reach capacity quickly during the summer. You can enjoy this natural attraction year-round as winters are mild in Florida, rarely dropping below 50 °F. Not only camp you camp in the forest, but also bird watch, hike, fish, bike, hunt, and more. A few animals you may encounter here include the Florida black bear, West Indian manatee, redbelly turtle, and pygmy rattlesnake.
3. Three Sisters Springs
If you’ve never visited a spring in Florida, then you’ve never really been to Florida. Another extraordinary Florida natural attraction is the Three Sisters Springs on the Crystal River, in Citrus County. These springs are a true hidden gem. They are the best place to visit during manatee season if you want to admire these incredible sea cows. The Three Sisters Springs is also worth a visit if you love birds. You can spot over 100 different bird species within this area. For the Canal Stabilization Project, the Three Sisters Springs are closed from April 1, 2023 to November 2023. When the area is back open, guests can take a stroll on the scenic boardwalk.
4. Falling Waters State Park
While Florida doesn’t have any mountains, the state does have a few waterfalls. A great place to see a spectacular waterfall is the Falling Waters State Park. This stunning state park is in Chipley and is open daily from 8 a.m. until sundown. Falling Waters State Park is open for a small fee of $5 per article. To make it easier, visitors can pay online and make camping reservations. So, what is so special about this state state park? Most people come to visit this park to gawk at the 73-foot-tall waterfall. It’s the tallest waterfall in the state. Guests can also view the remains of a Civil War-era gristmill. You aren’t stuck just hiking though, you can also fish, swim, and birdwatch.
5. Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
Not too far from Orlando or the theme parks is the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. This underrated state park is filled with Florida dry prairie, one of the largest remaining. The park protects many endangered species and is a great place to visit for photographers. Bird watching enthusiasts can also try their luck with a pair of binoculars to spot birds like the grasshopper sparrow, crested caracara, or burrowing owl. This state park is also an excellent place to go star gazing and escape from light pollution. Not only can visitors reserve a campsite to enjoy the star-lit sky, but astronomy pad sites are also available.
6. Florida Caverns State Park
Florida has no shortage of beaches, forests, and springs, but did you know the state is also home to some incredible above-ground caves? There was no way the Florida Caverns State Park was gonna miss our list. The Florida Caverns State Park is the only Florida state park with air-filled caves accessible to the public. It’s in northern Florida and features stalagmites, stalactites, and flowstones. Tours are available Thursday through Sunday on a first come first serve basis. Not only can you visit the cavern, but also hiking, camping, boating, and wildlife viewing. A popular, family-friendly trail is the Beech Magnolia and Bluff Loop Trail. It’s about 1.1 miles and takes less than half an hour to complete.
7. Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park
Continuing our list of 15 extraordinary natural attractions in Florida that you must see at least once is the Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park. It’s a small park and its main attraction is the 120-foot deep sinkhole. You can walk closer to the sinkhole on a boardwalk. However, the boardwalk can be slippery in the mornings. Walking to the sinkhole will make you feel like you’re not in Florida anymore. The air is different, cooler, and wetter. Visitors can also learn more about Devil’s Millhopper by visiting the visitor center before venturing down the steps into the sinkhole.
8. Venetian Pool
Looking at the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, nothing looks natural about this historic U.S. public swimming pool. Phineas Paist with Denman Fink designed this gorgeous swimming hole and it was completed in 1924. The pool was created from an abandoned 4-acre-old coral rock quarry. So, why is a pool making our list? Although the pool was constructed, the water in the pool is freshwater from artesian wells. It’s still open to the public for a fee.
9. Bowman’s Beach
Considering Florida has over 8,000 miles of coastline, you can’t even begin to imagine just how many beaches there are. One beach has made this list, Bowman’s Beach. It boasts a sandy and shelly seashore, perfect for shelling. It’s one of the most popular beaches in the state. Bowman’s Beach is quiet, isolated, clean, and not as developed as other beaches. It’s a wonderful beach to visit for swimming and family-friendly fun. Visitors also have a chance to see incredible wildlife like dolphins, manatees, and gopher tortoises.
10. Blowing Rocks Preserve
Next on our list is the Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island in Hobe Sound. Here you can see stunning Anastasia limestone. The crashing waves spray water as high as 50 feet! You can watch as the water rushes through the many erosion holes. It’s great to visit during windy days.
11. Blue Spring State Park
A must-visit in Florida is the Blue Spring State Park. This park though does fill up quickly during the summers as it features a popular, crystal clear, and cold spring. While here, you can swim, snorkel, hike, kayak, and more. Wildlife viewing is another popular activity at this state park. Every year about 700 manatees travel to the park. Other animals within the state park include bald eagles, whitetail deer, and American alligators.
12. Dry Tortugas National Park
Have you ever heard of the Dry Tortugas National Park? This national park is about 68 miles away from Key West. This national park is known for its large fort, Fort Jefferson, and stunning coral reefs. You can only visit this remote national park by seaplane or boat. Activities available at the Dry Tortugas National Park are swimming, snorkeling, birdwatching, fishing, kayaking, and more. Some birds you may see here include American flamingos, snow geese, mourning doves, sandhill cranes, and Pacific loons.
13. Everglades National Park
Another incredible national park in Florida is likely the most well-known, the Everglades National Park. This is the best place to go if you’d like to see American alligators and other wildlife. In the Everglades, you can see both alligators and crocodiles, although you should never willingly get close to one in the wild. If you’re lucky enough, you may even catch a glimpse of a Florida panther. Experts estimate there are likely less than 200 left in the wild.
14. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Also on our list is the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. To experience the stunning coral reefs within the state park, visitors can snorkel, swim, hike, and even book a glass boat tour. Here you can see marine wildlife and mangrove swamps. The state park is open 365 days a year, from 8 a.m. to sunset. To enter, visitors need to pay $8 per vehicle. If you’re afraid of the water, you can still visit and experience the coral reefs at the visitor center. At the visitor, using the Maritime Heritage Exhibit, you can explore six Key Largo shipwrecks found just a few miles from the visitor center.
15. Highlands Hammock State Park
Last but not least is the Highlands Hammock State Park. This state park is ecologically rich and has the most rare and endemic species than any other Florida State Park. You can hike through the park easily by using the elevated boardwalk trails that take you through an old-growth bald cypress swamp. Some animals you may see while hiking through this gorgeous state park are pileated woodpeckers, Florida scrub jays, Florida black bears, and bobcats. American alligators are also common. You can see them while hiking, or on the Alligators Tram Tour.