Florida has a great diversity of natural beauty. The landscape reveals much more than sandy beaches and offers shelter to birds, alligators and many other creatures. Here are some of the best spots to enjoy natural Florida.

Devils Millhopper Geological State Park, near Gainesville – a bowl-shaped cavity 120 feet deep leads down to a miniature rain forest. A 120-foot drop doesn’t sound like much, but given Florida’s typically flat landscape, this drop really seems amazing and totally unexpected.

Bird-watching in Lake Wales is one of the stops on the Great Florida Birding Trail. The best time to view birds is in the calm of the early morning or at dusk. These moments seem to stand still as you sit and observe these graceful birds. If you are lucky you will catch sight of the massive great blue heron as he searches for a meal.

Don Pedro Island State Park in Boca Grande is the prime spot for swimming and searching for shells. There is just something about sea shells that capture our imagination. We wonder where they have been in the ocean. We put them to our ear and imagine that far away land.

Chasshowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Citrus County – a habitat for 250 species of birds, 50 species of retiles and amphibians and 25 species of mammals. This type of outdoor paradise is not right for everyone. If you have folks in your group that are afraid of creepy crawlers, they could skip this tour.

Caladesi Island State Park, Clearwater – ranked the fourth finest beach in the United States and accessible only by foot, ferry or boat. The remote nature of this beach is ideal. Leave your cell phones behind and enjoy a slower pace.

Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in Melbourne Beach – the most important nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles in the western hemisphere and the second most important nesting beach in the world. Learn how you can help protect these great creatures and help them survive in the wild.

Bull Creek Wildlife Management Area near Kissimmee – experience the beauty from the 8- mile drive or by horseback, bike or on foot. I recommend seeing this area on foot. The slower pace and up-close style will help you spot native creatures.

Ocala National Forest in Marion County – more than 380,000 acres of unique ecological sites, trails, natural springs. The natural springs are truly amazing. The water is clean and cold and seems to have an endless supply.

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