17 Secret Places to Visit in Florida: Hidden Gems for Locals & Tourists Alike

Florida, a state known for its sun-kissed beaches and vibrant nightlife, has a few surprises up its sleeve.

With an adventurous spirit and a little curiosity, you’ll discover a whole new side of the Sunshine State that even locals may not be aware of.

In this list of 17 secret places to visit in Florida, we’ll guide you through an unforgettable journey filled with mystery, allure, and natural beauty.

Get ready to experience the magic that lies beneath, as you step into Florida’s lesser-known wonders.

1. Ginnie Springs

One of Florida’s lesser-known destinations is Ginnie Springs, an enchanting oasis. Located near High Springs, it offers crystal clear waters that will captivate both adventure-seekers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Ginnie Springs

The park features several springs perfect for snorkeling, scuba diving, or just casual swims. With so much to do, it’s easy for you and your family to have a memorable experience, as one TripAdvisor reviewer notes, calling it a “perfect getaway.”

Daily admission starts at $15 for adults during off-season, making it an affordable and worthwhile destination.

So, next time you’re looking for a unique Florida adventure, consider Ginnie Springs – a place even some locals haven’t discovered!

2. Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

Step into a breathtaking world at the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, a serene expanse of infinite grassland.

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park” by RomansTenNine is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Photo may have been modified, resized, or cropped from original.

Encompassing 54,000 acres, this extraordinary park is home to an abundance of endangered species. It’s easy to get lost in over 100 miles of trails as you immerse yourself in nature’s beauty.

Here, you’ll also find the first Dark Sky Park in Florida. The pristine night skies make it perfect for stargazing and creating unforgettable memories. Don’t miss out on a chance to experience the area’s unique geological wonders.

Need more reasons to visit? One TripAdvisor reviewer raves,

Spend one night here to unplug and unwind and definitely did. Perfect opportunity to be at one with nature but still have comforts of home. Electric, water, restrooms, laundry and phone service. Great bike and hike trail, saw a lot and some shooting stars. Not much more I could ask for.

3. Seaside, Florida

Seaside, a charming town in Florida, is a delightful destination for those looking for something off the beaten path.

Seaside, Florida

Stroll through the quaint Central Square, where you can unwind and enjoy the unique atmosphere of this coastal oasis.

Discover the Seaside Farmers Market which takes place every Saturday, offering local foods, fresh produce, and handcrafted items. If you’re looking for some relaxation, attend a daily yoga class at the Seaside Pavilion from April through October.

The scenic Highway 30A is a must-see, with 24 miles of picturesque coastline showcasing natural wonders and distinctive attractions. As a friendly traveler on the TripAdvisor’s review mentioned, “Seaside is a charming town with beautiful architecture, friendly people, and excellent dining options. We can’t wait to come back.”

Get close to nature by visiting the serene Butterfly Garden at Cerulean Park, which offers a peaceful retreat for moments of tranquility.

4. Micanopy, Alachua County

A visit to the quaint town of Micanopy will transport you back in time. Stroll down the tree-lined Cholokka Boulevard and immerse yourself in an atmosphere that feels timeless and inviting.

Micanopy, Alachua County

While exploring this charming place, you can’t miss visiting the historic Herlong Mansion Bed & Breakfast. This elegant abode provides a memorable stay, and travelers often say they experience a sense of warmth and relaxation while surrounded by history.

Spend your afternoons browsing through Micanopy’s numerous antiques shops, which are packed with exciting finds. Also, make sure to mark your calendars for the town’s annual Fall Harvest Festival, an event filled with music, crafts, and a delightful local vibe.

Remember to wear comfortable shoes, as Micanopy is a very walkable destination, and you’ll want to take in everything that this enchanting town has to offer.

5. Cedar Key

As you approach Cedar Key, feel the timeless charm of this quaint island city in northwest Florida. Step back in time as you wander the streets, imagining life in an old-fashioned fishing village.

Cedar Key

Unwind at Cedar Key Beach, or unravel nature’s wonders by visiting Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge. For a delightful dining experience, don’t forget to relish fresh seafood at Steamers Clam Bar and Grill.

One TripAdvisor reviewer mentions how great Cedar Key is for couples seeking a quiet refuge. So grab your partner and explore Florida’s distinct charm in Cedar Key!

6. Winding Waters Natural Area, West Palm Beach

Located in West Palm Beach, the Winding Waters Natural Area is a serene and peaceful destination. This 548-acre nature preserve offers a variety of trails suitable for everyone to enjoy.

Take a stroll on the 3.3-mile canoe/kayak loop track or the 5-mile natural surface walking trail that winds through the forest and around the lake. The picturesque landscape is home to diverse wildlife and numerous bird-watching opportunities.

An AllTrails user described it as an “easy, beautiful, and well-maintained trail,” perfect for all ages. The wheelchair accessible paved trail makes it an inviting option for the whole family, with resting areas and benches along the way.

Experience the untouched beauty of Florida at Winding Waters Natural Area.

7. Bathtub Beach

You’ll fall in love with Bathtub Beach in Stuart, Florida. It’s an ideal spot for families and those who appreciate serene beaches.

Visitors are amazed by its crystal clear waters and soft sand, making it the perfect place to unwind.

At this lovely location, you can enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving due to the vibrant coral reef off the shore. The reef isn’t just fascinating to explore; it breaks the waves for a calm and relaxing atmosphere, especially for little ones.

A TripAdvisor review states,

Amazing place with super clear water. Check before you go that the tide will be going out while you are there. That is the only way you get the “bathtub effect” this place is known for.

So, pack your beach gear and head over to Bathtub Beach for a refreshing and one-of-a-kind experience you won’t forget!

8. Boynton Beach

If you’re seeking a serene and lesser-known destination in Florida, Boynton Beach is the perfect spot. This coastal town offers an array of breathtaking outdoor attractions that even many locals are not aware of.

Boynton Beach

Begin your adventure with a soothing stroll along the Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands. You’ll be immediately immersed in a diverse ecosystem as you meander through mangrove areas on a sturdy boardwalk.

For a taste of cultural charm, head over to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. One Tripadvisor user described the experience as “a stunning walk through Japanese history and nature.”

In Boynton Beach Inlet, you can witness some of the most beautiful coral and artificial reefs in the Palm Beaches. Happy exploring!

9. Playalinda Beach

Playalinda Beach offers an escape into nature’s embrace along Florida’s Space Coast. Known for its pristine conditions, visitors can enjoy miles of untouched shoreline and a serene atmosphere away from bustling city life.

A visit here isn’t just about sunbathing; it’s a chance to witness diverse wildlife and, on occasion, the awe-inspiring sight of a rocket launch.

The beach’s lack of commercial development allows for uninterrupted views and a sense of peaceful seclusion.

For those seeking a more unique experience, Playalinda is known for its clothing-optional section, providing a liberating way to enjoy the sun and surf. As one visitor recounts on TripAdvisor, “It was our first time to a nude beach and it was great… The beaches were very clean.”

Its untouched beauty and tranquil environment make it a perfect addition to any secret places list.

10. The Ten Thousand Islands

Discover the Ten Thousand Islands, a captivating paradise in Florida’s second-largest mangrove forest.

It’s a unique destination for water and wildlife enthusiasts. Glide through the labyrinth of islands, islets, and waterways in the Everglades National Park for a truly immersive experience.

Join Everglades Florida Adventures for a narrated boat tour that will take you deep into the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. This unforgettable journey showcases serene beauty, abundant wildlife, and magical landscapes of this lesser-known natural wonder.

If you enjoy fishing, boating, or simply wandering off the beaten path, Ten Thousand Islands is the place to be. Check out this wonderful reviews on TripAdvisor to get a glimpse of other travelers’ experiences.

11. Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

Discover the beauty of Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, where you can explore 425 acres of Florida’s original coastal scenery.

With a beachfront park and stunning formal gardens, this park is perfect for a serene stroll any day of the year.

Don’t miss out on the park’s unique feature, known as “The Rocks”. Locals love this unusual beach, and they have kept it as their well-guarded secret. At the same time, the park offers a variety of amenities for the whole family.

As one Tripadvisor reviewer mentioned,

Just the most beautiful place. Thought I’d died and gone to heaven. This is a beautifully kept garden which graciously displays the natural beauty of Florida. The giant oaks dripping with Spanish moss, the well kept pathways, the various fountains, the roses, the ocean inlet views. Just superb.

You’ll surely be fascinated by the beauty of Washington Oaks Gardens State Park.

12. Super Rico Colombian Restaurant & Bar

Located in downtown Orlando, Super Rico Colombian Restaurant & Bar offers a taste of Colombian culture for locals and tourists alike.

With its origins as a popular food truck, this colorful spot has quickly become a favorite destination.

The menu boasts a variety of Colombian and Spanish dishes like arepas, empanadas, and salchipapas. Delight your taste buds with their highly recommended guava and cheese empanada from a Yelp reviewer.

Super Rico is open every day from 11am to 9pm, making it a great stop for lunch or dinner.

Whether you’re a fan of Colombian cuisine or looking to try something new, a visit to Super Rico will surely leave you impressed and satisfied.

13. Thirsty Gator

Step into the Thirsty Gator, a whimsically charming oasis in the heart of Florida.

Amidst the state’s abundant natural beauty, this little-known spot offers a stunning combination of vibrant colors and delightful patterns, guaranteed to enchant every visitor.

During your visit, you’ll find intricately hand-painted murals of alligators playfully engaging in various activities, creating an immersive atmosphere for you to enjoy. Don’t miss the chance to capture some unforgettable memories at this remarkable destination.

As one Yelp reviewer raved about this spot,

Rock shrimp (forgot to take a pic) to die for, huge amazing oysters, and excellent meaty wings. Big assortment of beers and ICE COLD. Service was excellent and easy. Doesn’t get much better than this!

So, if you’re searching for a unique experience in Florida, put the Thirsty Gator on your must-see list.

14. Coral Castle Museum

A marvel of human ingenuity, the Coral Castle Museum invites you to explore.

Coral Castle Museum
Coral Castle” by RuggyBearLA is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Photo may have been modified, resized, or cropped from original.

With over 1,000 tons of coral rock, this megalithic wonder offers an intriguing experience.

The work of Ed Leedskalnin, this architectural masterpiece took from 1923 to 1951 to complete. Along with its mysterious origin, the museum boasts unique features such as a hand-carved 9-ton gate and a Polaris telescope.

When you visit, make sure to check out the world’s only Sundial, as it can offer a glimpse into the creator’s mind.

As one TripAdvisor review highlights,

Fascinating history and good tour of the site to explain the place. Quite small, but enough to be entertaining – some remarkable structures

15. Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Discover the beauty of Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers, a serene haven where you can reconnect with nature.

 Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Explore the expansive wetland ecosystem on a 1.2 mile elevated boardwalk, perfect for a leisurely stroll to appreciate the diverse flora and fauna.

As you wander around the preserve, you’ll notice an array of fascinating wildlife. A TripAdvisor review highlights sightings of alligators, turtles, and various bird species, sure to amaze nature enthusiasts.

For a more immersive experience, schedule a visit during the park’s guided tours offered from August to January, and April to May. Educational programs organized by local naturalists provide a wealth of knowledge on the unique ecosystem.

While meandering through the slough may evoke a sense of solitude, remember that you’re only five minutes off I-75, making it a conveniently accessible destination. Now is your chance to visit this remarkable wetland escape that even some locals don’t know about!

16. Lido Key Mangrove Kayak Tours

Ready for an adventure? Lido Key Kayaking Tours welcome you to explore the captivating world of mangrove tunnels nestled in Sarasota.

A true haven for nature lovers, these tours offer a glimpse of Florida’s best-kept secrets.

Delight in the company of diverse marine life such as dolphins and stingrays while paddling through the mangrove tunnels. It’s easy to lose yourself in this enchanting ecosystem as you glide amongst shore birds like elegant herons and majestic ospreys.

As one impressed TripAdvisor user shares, “The guides were super knowledgeable and friendly. Highly recommend!”

So, don’t just take our word for it; experience the magic of Lido Key Mangrove Kayak Tours yourself.

17. Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park is a lesser-known Florida destination that offers boat tours and 58 square miles of unspoiled wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands waiting for your exploration. Visitors rave about the kayaking experience along the Myakka River.

Myakka River State Park

One mystical spot within the park is Deep Hole, a massive sinkhole that’s home to an impressive congregation of alligators. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the diverse wildlife and incredible scenery!

A TripAdvisor review mentions how they “loved the canopy walk and the view from the tower,” which is a must-see during your visit.

17 Secret Places to Visit in Florida: Key Takeaways

In our journey, we uncovered the unspoiled beauty of Florida that even some locals may not be aware of.

Remember, don’t be afraid to venture beyond the typical tourist hotspots. Some of the most memorable experiences await you in Florida’s charming, historic towns and tranquil state parks.

Embrace the spirit of adventure and be prepared to have your breath taken away by the diverse landscapes and stunning views.

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