Let's grab a cool drink and sit in the shade to do this. The sun is a little on the warm side today. I have all the usual materials. There is a lot going on in Florida. It's going to take some time to plan this one. Ready?
Florida is known as the Sunshine State because of it's almost tropical climate. The official butterfly of the 27th state is the zebra longwing butterfly. The state pie is key lime pie. Mmmm, mmm. The shape of Florida is a peninsula with a panhandle and a few islands known as the Florida Keys.
Florida is known for the many theme parks found there. I won't even try to list them. Most have websites that can give you any information you need if that is the adventure you want. I enjoyed looking at all they have to offer.
The Keys also have a lot of nature fun but I'm going to let you look those up too. I'm only one man you know.
When I think of Florida, I think of the Everglades. The Everglades are a subtropical wetlands and are the southern half of a large watershed. There are sawgrass marshes (the River of Grass), mangrove forests of the Ten Thousand Islands, cypress swamps, pine rocklands, hardwood hammocks, and a bountiful marine environment. The Everglades National Park is a small part of the Everglades area. Covering nearly 1 1/2 million acres, it has several wilderness trails where you can see the flora and fauna of the area. Just watch out for the non-indigenous animals that have been deposited by unthinking people. Some are quite large and quite dangerous.
Maybe you'd like to look to the future of exploration. NASA has it's home at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On their website (listed below) they have a schedule of launch times and a list of places to watch from. And the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge borders the Canaveral National Seashore. Nature of the present next to Nature of the future... what a concept. I guess that along with the Nature of the past sometimes found in the Everglades, Florida pretty much has it all.
Florida is practically surrounded by water and also full of water. Exploring the waterways is great fun. And there are so many ways. There is boating, kayaking, parasailing, surfing, tubing, kite surfing, water skiing, scuba diving, yoloing, wind surfing, snorkeling, jet skiing, snorkeling.... the list goes on. Most places offer equipment rental and some have lessons. You can go on a dolphin and sea lion swim to get up close and personal with these creatures. Maybe you'd like to dive to see coral reefs and even wrecked ships. Or take a ride on a glass-bottomed boat to take a look at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the only undersea state park in the United States. Florida has about 2,000 miles of coastline, more than 11,000 miles of rivers and streams, and 7,700 named lakes. There should be something for everybody.
Geocaching enjoys a huge following in Florida. I know of many places that discourage it but Florida welcomes and promotes these fun little treasure hunts. For those of you who are not familiar with geocaching, the treasure hunter uses a GPS to go to preprogrammed coordinates looking for a small waterproof container containing little treasures. These can be coins, trinkets, notes, plastic bugs, or other fun items. As you might guess, the adventure is in the hunt. It's a real good family outing. By going to geocaching.com you can enter the zip code for the area you want to explore and download coordinates to your handheld GPS. The Trek Ten Trails Program features 15 trails that have official caches that contain stamps to stamp your card as well as other caches along the way. There are MANY other places to look too. Some are listed in the vacation guide.
There are hiking trails to be found everywhere. One is the 1,500 mile Florida National Scenic Trail. You can take day trips or spend several days soaking up the nature in the area. It more or less follows the famous Suwannee River (as in Way Down Upon The Swannee River). Smaller waterways, a class III whitewater rapids, and a variety of landscapes are here.
For birders there are 6,390 acres of federally protected habitat. There are 220 bird species at the Sanibel Island and J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge alone. Take a peek. You might see red-shouldered hawks, royal terns, or maybe boat-tailed grackles.
There are so many things to see in Florida. If you go to Ponce de Leon Springs State Park, you must have a sip from the Fountain of Youth. Florida Caverns State Park takes you into the underground world. In Falling Waters State Park, the Falling Waters waterfall plummets 75 feet over the edge of a stovepipe sinkhole.At Flagler Beach you might get lucky and sight a whale. Elsewhere there are caves, sinkholes, and a whole bunch of other natural anomalies.
I highly recommend reading the vacation guide for things to see and do. Even some of the advertisements have information in them. I really would like to hear about your experiences in Florida. Have fun and let me know what a great time you had. Check the links below for information about Florida.
Official Florida Site
Florida State Parks
Everglades National Park
Offbeat Tourist Attractions