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TRAVEL

Florida’s Top 5 Hidden Gems

You’ve probably never heard of these places, but need to check them out!

Justin Kelefas Fine Art Photography

Florida is known for its beaches and hot weather, but there’s so much more to check out! Here are the top five places to check out that aren’t talked about as much as they should be. Plus, all these places are either free or cheap!

Blowing Rocks Jupiter, FL
Blowing Rocks Jupiter, FL. Photo courtesy of Qing Lu Photography

Wekiwa Springs State Park (Apopka, Florida)

Wekiwa Springs State Park
Wekiwa Springs State Park. Photo courtesy of Know Your Campground

This is a local favorite. Because it’s a spring, the water stays warm all year. It’s lovely to swim and snorkel in. There are also paddleboard and kayak rentals. It’s the full beach experience without all of the sandy mess. There are tons of other Florida springs to visit (i.e. De Leon Springs, Blue Springs, Devil’s Den) and they’re all wonderful. There are also tons of other places to rent kayaks and paddleboards (also be sure to check out clear kayaking). This is one of many great places to check out!

Sledd’s U-Pick Farm (Mims, Florida)

Sunflower field
Sunflower field. Photo courtesy of Peter de Vink

There are many U-Pick farms in Florida, mostly strawberry and blueberry fields, but this one is unique. There are sunflowers here! It is a truly amazing experience to walk around in a field of flowers and be able to take some home (don’t forget scissors!). Flowers from the store are lovely, but it’s so amazing to be able to pick them yourself. They also have a variety of fresh vegetables to pick as well.

Nature Conservancy Blowing Rocks (Jupiter, Florida)

Blowing Rock Jupiter, FL
Blowing Rock Jupiter, FL. Photo courtesy of Christine Cassen

This beach has an absolutely breath-taking view. It isn’t the typical sandy beach in Florida; it truly feels like a tropical island. The water is very clear and beautiful. There are rocks that look pretty and make a “blowing” sound when hit by the waves (hence the name Blowing Rocks). There is also a spot nearby to snorkel (Phil Foster Park). Overall it makes for a great place to visit.

Pet Rescue by Judy (Sanford, Florida)

Christine Cassen holding Chip dog from Pet Rescue by Judy.
Author Christine Cassen with Chip from Pet Rescue by Judy.

Although one wouldn’t think to visit a pet rescue center, this one is a must. There are dogs and cats for adoption, but they have one opportunity that even the locals don’t know about. There’s a program called Dog 4 a Day where you can adopt a dog (for free!) for the day. Pictured above is Chip, who I took out for the day. All you have to do is sign up about a week in advance. I’ve done this several times, and it’s wonderful because they provide all the supplies you need for the day and you can take the dog almost anywhere (restaurants with patios, parks, etc.). This is great because it gets the dogs out and socialized and you get to make a puppy pal for the day!

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park (Palm Coast, Florida)

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. Photo courtesy of Visit Flagler

This state park has many wonderful features: gardens to view, trails to walk, and nature to marvel at. But the best part is the beach. It’s a state park, and requires a few dollars for admission. This makes it better because it isn’t crowded or dirty. The sand is a unique orange and the water is very blue. There are also wonderful rocks that are incredible (and make for a great photo). It’s also on the east coast, which allows for the perfect view of the sunrise.

These are a few of the many great places to visit in Florida. These places tend to be talked about less and deserve some attention. They truly are hidden gems.

Christine Cassen
Christine Cassen grew up near Orlando, Florida. She is currently a college student studying finance at UCF. She loves reading, writing, and nature.

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