Florida DaytripsOctober 2020
By Visit Florida Staff
Looking for a way to escape familiar surroundings without going too far? Florida has a wealth of beautiful locations to explore within easy driving distance. It’s the best way to see, experience, and enjoy even more of the Sunshine State.
Madison Blue Spring State Park
One of Florida’s most stunning springs can be found at Madison Blue Spring State Park in Lee. The cool, clear, first-magnitude spring is 25 feet deep and 82 feet wide with shallow waters that gently flow into the Withlacoochee River. It’s a popular swimming spot for families, with water temperatures keeping a steady 72 degrees, as well as a cave-diving destination. The elevated woods that surround the spring offer a nice vantage point from which to view its dazzling blue water. Swim, paddle the river, fish, or all of the above while you’re there — it’s up to you.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is an unforgettable spring and river adventure. The clear-as-glass Ichetucknee River is one of the best places in the state for tubing, and tube rentals and shuttles are available. A river is also a great place for seeing wildlife from a kayak or paddleboard, and the two springs within the state park are perfect for snorkeling.
Ichetucknee is among the most famous of Florida’s freshwater springs. Its waters derive from an underground aquifer and measure a constant 72 degrees.
Stephen Foster State Park
Whether you go to canoe the iconic river, listen to the 97-bell carillon, hike or bike the trails, or visit the craft square and museum, Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs makes for an ideal day trip. Water levels allow for canoeing and kayaking about six months of the year, and the park is a typical starting point for paddlers on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.
Tour the nation’s oldest city via a guided tour bus or tram and stop at all the major points of interest including an authentic Spanish fort and the Fountain of Youth. You can also take in the sights on a scenic boat ride or helicopter tour. Just off Interstate 95 in St. Augustine is the St. Augustine Premium Outlets. Nearby, golfers can get their fill at World Golf Village and the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Wakulla Springs State Park
Riverboat rides are a time-honored tradition at Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. In the ranger-led tour that lasts just under an hour, visitors can take in the scenic Wakulla River — home to alligators, manatees, and all manner of other wildlife — and learn about its history. Splash in the spring, explore 9 miles of hiking trails, have a picnic, or even scuba dive while you’re there. And no stop at Wakulla Springs would be complete without seeing the historic Lodge at Wakulla Springs, which includes the Edward Ball Dining Room, plus an authentic soda fountain with a massive marble counter that, at more than 70 feet long, is said to be the largest ever built.
Osceola National Forest
Osceola National Forest covers nearly 200,000 acres of wilderness between Jacksonville and Lake City. Ocean Pond is one of its most popular day-use spots, and for good reasons: the ample opportunities for fishing and hiking, the 2-acre pond’s sandy beach, and the picnic area off its scenic shore. Just outside the national forest is Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park, where reenactments of Florida’s largest Civil War battle take place every February.