Explore the Forgotten Florida

explore-florida

There are so many things to explore in Florida that are obviously very famous like the world reknown Walt Disney World, Miami Beach and much more.  So together we can Explore the Forgotten Florida and be enchanted by its beauty, uniqueness and hidden treasures it has to amaze us. 

 

5 Ways Explore the Forgotten Florida


1. Cedar Key

Welcome to Mayberry by the Sea. This Gulf Coast fishing village, about 50 miles southwest of Gainesville, is gloriously isolated and seemingly of another era. There are no chain restaurants, hotels or grocery stores here (or none that I ran across).

What you will find here: An unassuming town of modest and funky tin-roofed homes, a few '50s-style motels and quaint shops. Lots of folks get around via golf carts and bicycles, which they don't seem to ever lock up. Art is a big part of the town, with all manner of public displays popping up. Charter boats at the marina offer fishing excursions and exploration rides, including sunset cruises.

With such a relaxed atmosphere, Cedar Key has a bit of a Key West vibe -- minus the all-night party atmosphere. This is a town that goes mostly silent by 10 p.m.

Cedar Key's culinary fame is clam chowder. The Big Deck had such good chowder I went back for a second night.

If you seek a traditional, white-sand beach with aqua Gulf of Mexico waters right at your doorstep, you need to go elsewhere. But if you want to escape to another time where simple pleasures rule, Cedar Key is the place.

2. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

One word: Manatees. They got 'em, and you can see these gentle giants feeding on heads of lettuce from an underwater observation deck.

This is a wonderful state park dedicated to native flora and fauna (minus one hippo that is a holdover from another incarnation of the park). The birds in particular are spectacular, but you can also see bears, bobcats and gators -- oh my!

Do not skip the 15-minute-or-so boat ride from the parking area to the animal displays, where they take you down a narrow, blackwater creek. You feel like you're in a jungle. And you kind of are.

At $13 for one adult, the admission is more than is typical for Florida state parks, but it's worth it.

3. Alexander Springs, Ocala National Forest

This is no ordinary swimming hole, unless you've been dipping in a pool of chilly gin before. The water is that clear and that cool. Honestly.

Alexander Springs is one of several in Ocala National Forest, a true gem of a wilderness that will evoke memories of "The Yearling" if you ever read that Pulitzer-winning novel.

If you get tired of swimming in the brisk, limpid waters, you can explore the lush surrounding forest on a boardwalk and trail. Be sure to arrive early if you come on a hot summer weekend. There's limited parking.

4. Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

Way down upon the Suwannee River, far, far away from Florida's more crowded tourist sites, lies a pretty little state park not so far from Georgia and an easy jump off Interstate 75.

Honoring American composer Stephen Foster, this park is perched by the famed river that looks like moving black glass contained by tall, white-sand banks. You can't swim here (gators), but you can hike alongside the intriguing, mysterious waterway or go canoeing.

You can also enjoy Foster exhibits, including old pianos and desks he used. Check the park's calendar -- they have various programs throughout the year. No need to bring your iPod; the park's 97-bell carillon housed in an impressively tall brick tower provides the musical backdrop.

The nearby town of White Springs has some pretty old homes, too.

5. Apalachicola and Eastpoint

If you love oysters, you probably have heard about this place. If you don't love oysters, you should still check it out. Apalachicola oozes "Old Florida" charm.

Set alongside a namesake bay and river, this town has one foot in the workday world of harvesting the Gulf's riches and the other foot in artsy boutiques and the like. Somehow, they combine nicely.

Up the Creek Raw Bar provides a fantastic view to enjoy a dozen oysters and a beer.

Be sure to venture out from the little business district. Apalachicola has some lovely, meticulously maintained homes over which you'll drool.

The Sportsman's Lodge offers a great price. The rooms are dated and a bit stuffy, but the grounds, overflowing with foliage and overrun with peacocks, more than make up for it. And it is perfectly poised to take in awe-inspiring, multicolored sunsets. Bring plenty o' mosquito repellent lest that sunset be your last.

There is just a lot more to visit in Florida than what you have heard of or you can imagine. Its truly a state with bundle of beautiful surprises for its tourists. We hope you have enjoyed to Explore the Forgotten Florida with us and we will see you soon!