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Breaking Free in Florida

I’m sure all you fellow travelers are going bat crazy not being able to travel. Wanderlust is tugging at you day and night. You have had to work from home, finances are tight, the kids are screaming and so are you. What is an avid traveler to do that has had his or her wings clipped due to finances? Well, I have come up with an idea. Re-explore your home state of Florida. I’m not talking about Miami Beach, St Augustine or Key West. Nope, I’m talking about areas that are a drive away and you either haven’t visited in a while or never even heard of. So, let’s take a look.

After being cooped up in the house, I bet you are dying to get out and get some exercise to make up for lost time at the gym. These places will be perfect for that.

  • Falling Waters State Park in Chipley offers a 70-foot waterfall that drops into a sinkhole. There are hiking trails and swimming available.
  • Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna are huge air-filled caves that you can explore.
  • Torreya State Park in Bristol will leave you wondering if you are still in Florida. Towering 150-foot bluffs, hiking trails that are not for the faint of heart and stunning scenery will leave you with a lasting experience.
  • Devil’s Den in Williston is a collapsed cave over an underground spring which you can only enter by snorkeling or scuba diving. A true 007 vibe.
  • Ocala National Forest in Ocala offers hiking, camping, water activities and amazing wildlife. There have been sightings of UFO’s around the forest and on the road that goes through it. I, myself, have driven on that road and with only the stars to illuminate my way, I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. A tad creepy to say the least.
  • John Pennekamp Reef State Park in Key Largo is a definite stop if you are a snorkeling or scuba enthusiast.
  • Crystal River is always a fun way to spend the afternoon swimming with the manatees.
  • Wekiva Island is a secluded paradise on the Wekiva River. Spend the day kayaking, paddle-boarding, fishing and swimming. It is a water lover’s paradise.
  • The Ichetucknee River in Fort White is THE place for a lazy, hazy day of tubing.
  • If exploring on land is your thing then try Mt. Dora. Antiquing doesn’t get any better than here and you can actually take an old-fashioned train ride on the Orange Blossom Cannonball.
  • Looking for that nostalgic, quaint town feel? Cedar Key is the place to go. Stroll around for an afternoon and experience Old Florida at its best. Cedar Key is known for its clams so please don’t depart until you have had a bucket. Wanting something a little edgy? Drive into Cassadaga which is the psychic capital of the world or take a haunted tour of the Mary Stringer House in Brooksville. This is a beautiful Victorian house that is home to some of its deceased residents.

Traveling to exotic places might not be in your immediate future but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the thrill of seeing new places and doing new things. There are some great experiences waiting for you in your own “backyard”.


Given the current dynamic environment, be sure to check park hours and accessibility prior to attending.

Debbie Martinez
Author: Debbie Martinez

Debbie Martinez is a Miami Dade resident and Travel Editor for The Florida Villager. She can be reached at debbiemartinez1@mac.com..

Debbie Martinez
the authorDebbie Martinez
Debbie Martinez is a Miami Dade resident and Travel Editor for The Florida Villager. She can be reached at debbiemartinez1@mac.com..

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