This guide to adventures in Florida is authored by Alesha and Jarryd.
When most people think of Florida, they think of sunny, warm weather, sandy beaches, and world-class amusement parks. However, there’s so much more to this beautiful state than just lying in the sun, especially if you usually like to travel by car or RV.
A Florida road trip through the sunshine state is a one-of-kind adventure that will allow you to see the attractions and diverse landscapes that are often overlooked by spring-breakers, snowbirds, and beach bums.
From the wetlands of The Everglades to the palm tree-lined sandy beaches of the coast, there are many outdoor pursuits to enjoy around Florida and there are just as many scenic routes to get you from place to place on your next travel adventure.
There are so many good reasons to travel around in search of adventures in Florida. The state is well-known for being road trip-friendly and there are plenty of RV Parks to park for the night if you’re planning on camping.
Having everything you need with you in your van saves time and money and is much more convenient than trying to find a hotel room, especially during peak times. You’re on your own schedule and are free to go where you want, when you want.
Below are some of the best adventures in Florida that combine epic road-tripping routes with exciting outdoor pursuits.
Adventures in Florida
1. The Tamiami Trail – Journey through the Everglades National Park
While there are several driving routes that’ll take you through the Florida Everglades, the Tamiami Trail is the most scenic.
This 275-mile section of US Highway 41 is a two-lane highway that has been designated a National Scenic Byway so you can be sure to see some of the state’s most outstanding scenery along the way.
If alligators are on your list of must-see wildlife while on adventures in Florida, you’ll likely see some as you travel through this area.
You’ll also come across many attractions including the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters, the Kirby Storter Boardwalk, Collier-Seminole State Park, the Big Cypress National Preserve, and the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
Of course, the Everglades National Park is the main draw for road tripping outdoor lovers and simply driving through this park doesn’t do justice to the number of adventures that are to be had!
It is said by many that the best way to experience this 1.5 million-acre wetlands area is by boat. Whether it be by kayak, canoe, or a guided tour on a speed boat or airboat, you’ll have the best views to see wildlife and the best opportunity to immerse in the diverse ecosystems that make up the region.
Dolphins, alligators, turtles, manatees, and many bird species are often spotted in the area.
There are also many hiking trails in the park including the Anhinga Trail, Pa-Hay-Okee Trail, Gumbo Limbo Trail, Pinelands Trail, and the Mahogany Hammock Trail.
Hiking is also a great way to get up close and personal with nature and you never know, you just might spot one of the elusive Florida Panthers that are known to prowl the region.
Biking and fishing are also popular activities in the park but if you really want to get a hands-on experience in the Florida Everglades, slogging is the best way.
If you don’t know what slogging is, all you need to know is that it gets you about as close to the Everglades as you can get. You’ll need long pants and boots for this activity because it involves walking through a swamp and getting the ultimate hands-on encounter with one of the most fascinating places in the country.
2. The Overseas Highway – The Ultimate Island-Hopping Adventure
Fancy driving over the ocean and doing some island-hopping? Head on down to The Overseas Highway, which is one of the most famous highways in the United States, and leave the mainland behind to explore the Florida Keys.
This highway spans 113 miles from Key Largo to Key West and is quite the architectural feat.
Along the way, you’ll cross 42 bridges that connect the islands and you’ll find many attractions including the John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park, the History of Diving Museum, the galleries and boutiques of Rain Barrel Village, and Robbie’s Tarpon Feed.
If you’re seeking outdoor adventure and don’t mind getting a little wet, Biscayne National Park is the highlight of this scenic route.
Biscayne National Park covers almost 173,000 acres, 95% of which is water. Beneath the surface of those clear waters is a whole world waiting to be discovered. A snorkeling or driving adventure reveals beautiful coral reefs, shipwrecks, and many species of fish and other sea creatures.
The Maritime Heritage Trail is a great place to start on your underwater adventure. Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are great ways to explore the surface wonders of the park, including the shoreline mangrove forest of Jones Lagoon.
Birdwatching, fishing, and taking in the spectacular views surrounding Boca Chita Lighthouse are also popular activities in this area.
3. Canaveral National Seashore & Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – Nature and Scenery Adventures in Florida
Coastal scenery, wildlife, unique ecosystems, and the opportunity to get away from the crowds of the busy touristy areas of Florida are some of the reasons why a detour to the Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge should be on your list of stops on your next Florida road trip.
Enjoy a refreshing dip in the ocean at Playalinda Beach or go kayaking or fishing on Mosquito Lagoon.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge has 140,000 acres of pristine natural areas to explore and it’s home to a wide variety of plant life, hundreds of bird species, and dozens of animal species.
Biolab Road is a six-mile gravel road that’s a great place to take a hike and see some of these species including pelicans, egrets, and alligators.
4. Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve – A Mix of Outdoor Adventure and History
Florida is a busy place. Millions of tourists descend on the state every year but despite the crowds, there are still some unspoiled areas left to explore without having to wait in long line-ups or having to spend time stuck in traffic.
This coastal wetland area is a nature lover’s paradise and a great place to enjoy many outdoor pursuits. Across its 46,000 acres is a diverse landscape consisting of salt marshes, coastal dunes, waterways, and hardwood hammocks.
A popular way to explore the region is by kayak but hiking is also a great way to explore it.
Although you can drive along the Saturiwa Trail, the best way to experience it is to hike or bike the 4.4-mile loop that takes you through a section of the Fort George Island Cultural State Park.
Along the way, you can stop and enjoy the stunning views, watch for wildlife and observe the unique plant life of the area. You can combine your outdoor adventures in Florida with a history lesson at Fort Caroline National Memorial and Kingsley Plantation.
5. Big Bend Florida Scenic Byway – Escape the Cities and Head for the Coast
Do you think most highways in Florida are multi-lane, congested roads with cars driving at high speeds? Well, think again because there are still some highways left in the state that make for a relaxing drive on an open road almost free of traffic.
The Big Bend Florida Scenic Byway is a 220-mile corridor near Tallahassee that travels through several counties and natural areas, including sandy beaches and forests.
Some of the attractions you’ll find along the way include the Apalachicola National Forest, the St Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Tateès Hell State Forest, Crooked River Lighthouse, The Apalachicola Maritime Museum, three state parks, and a handful of pretty little fishing villages.
You might also spot some wildlife since white-tail deer, otters, black bears, alligators and more than 300 species of birds make their home in the region.
Many outdoor adventures in Florida can be found all along this spectacular drive. Many visitors love to stop in Eastpoint and Carrabelle to do some fishing while others take some time to explore a section of the Great Florida Birding Trail to observe a wide range of native and migrating birds.
Many areas along the coast are sandy beaches where you can stroll along the ocean or take a dip in the refreshing waters.
Wherever you decide to stop and venture out of your vehicle to explore the great outdoors, you can bet you’ll be surrounded by nature. Seagrass beds, marshes, rivers, springs, and pine forests await! This route is not one to do in a hurry. It’s recommended to take at least two full days to explore this amazing region.
Alesha and Jarryd have been traveling the world since 2008, documenting their journey through photography and travel guides. They share their stories on adventure travel, photography tips, and sustainability on NOMADasaurus.