Visiting Florida: Must-Have Experiences to Cross Off Your Bucket List
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The state of Florida has broad appeal, attracting vacationers, snowbirds, and beach lovers throughout the year to its sandy beaches and brilliant, warm sunshine. Everybody knows that Florida offers amazing beaches and, of course, is the home of Disney World in Kissimmee, but Florida offers many amazing experiences and hidden gems that aren’t widely known. Whether you’re planning a trip to Florida or perhaps a permanent move, you’ll want to put these activities on your bucket list.
Take a Ferry to Cayo Costa
Accessible only by ferry, the hidden beach of Cayo Costa offers an opportunity to escape the crowds and simply take in the beauty of the natural landscape. A remote barrier isle, Cayo Costa is also an ideal spot for shelling. In fact, it is said that Cayo Costa is one of the best beaches for finding junonia, a rare shell in the shape of a tulip.
Catch a Hidden Glimpse of Manatees in Their Natural Habitat
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Manatees, like snowbirds, are drawn to warm temperatures, and the Tampa area is the perfect spot for observing these spectacular creatures in their natural habitat. Of course, the Manatee Viewing Center is widely known by visitors and locals alike, but many don’t know about the prime viewing spot: A power station near Apollo Beach, Big Ben Power Station, uses cool water at the end of the day to cool down its units. It’s the area where warm water flows from the discharge canal into the Tampa Bay that draws manatee, making a splendid viewing experience.
Visit Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island to Observe Sea Life
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About an hour and a half west of heavily-populated Fort Myers, Florida sits a rustic hideaway that has not a skyscraper in sight: Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island. You will, however, discover seven miles of glorious beaches with ample opportunities to spot dolphins and manatees in the surf while pelicans and osprey soar above or peck around on the beaches in search of nourishment. Restaurants and galleries will keep you satisfied and immersed in local artistry while you explore this breathtaking piece of nature.
Explore Caladesi Island on the Gulf Coast
Caladesi Island is one of the few islands that remains completely natural, offering visitors a unique experience along the Gulf Coast. Whether you’re in the mood for a few hours of relaxing sunbathing, want to scour the natural sea shore to discover beautiful shells, or you’re ready to hit the waves, Caladesi Island offers all of that and more. Also a state park, visitors can explore three miles of nature on the interior of the island or take a three-mile kayak tour if you’re drawn to the water.
Experience Dry Tortugas National Park
While it’s not one of the lesser-known gems hidden in and around Florida, Dry Tortugas is certainly an experience you won’t soon forget. It doesn’t get more unique than the setup of this National Park: the 100 square miles of park is actually comprised mostly of water but features a collection of seven islands, accessible only by seaplane or boat. Whether you choose to explore the massive 19th-Century Fort Jefferson or simply bask in the breathtaking beauty of the area, Dry Tortugas is a must-see for any visitor to the Key West area.
It’s no surprise that seniors flock to Florida to escape the cold, harsh winters of the North, while others anxiously await retirement so that they can make a permanent move to the area. Whether you’re young or old, Florida is home to dozens of diamonds-in-the-rough that promise a lifetime of incredible memory-making.
Written by Catherine Workman