Travel Like a Local: Hidden and Secret Destinations in Florida

secret destinations in florida

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Florida is truly a paradise. But, we don’t always want to be surrounded by throngs of tourists. Sometimes you’re looking for something a little more, isolated. Something that feels like your own personal piece of paradise.

Here we offer you the spots that locals frequent but tourists seldom know too much about it. Here are the secret destinations in Florida you should visit on your next trip.

1. Gasparilla Island

secret destinations in florida gasparilla island

Separated from the mainland of Florida by Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound, Gasparilla Island is a beautiful Gulf Coast barrier island that’s a phenomenal destination for any nature or beach lover.

Sites like the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse offer you a glimpse into Old Florida. It was built in 1890 and is still standing through hurricanes and more. Go through the museum and gift shop to have a little touristy fun and learn some history in the process.

The island offers fantastic shelling, swimming, fishing, and snorkeling opportunities. Remember to bring your sunscreen on this adventure because there is very little shade on the island. You don’t want to get burned.

With tons of rentals and shops available you’ll be fine if you don’t bring your own gear. Go ahead and rent a kayak or other fun water

Gasparilla Island is located at 880 Belcher Road, Boca Grande, Florida 33921. Click here to access their website.

2. Santa Rosa Beach

secret destinations in florida santa rosa beach

This beautiful stretch of beach is located on the Emerald Coast in Northwest Florida. You don’t just have the beach to enjoy because there is also a lot of access to Point Washington State Forest from here as well.

You could play in the sand, go hiking, and simply enjoy the turquoise waters of what’s been called one of the best beaches on Earth for families by Travel + Leisure magazine.

Check out the website here for the Grayton Beach State Park in Santa Rosa Beach for more information. Some of the best restaurants and fun things to do are all around this little beach town.

3. Dry Tortugas National Park

secret destinations in florida dry tortugas national park

This is one of the most beautiful national parks in the country. Turquoise waters, an historic fort, water sports, what more could you want.

They have a full campground to enjoy. In the Dry Tortugas National Park, you can see a 19th-century fort, Fort Jefferson, and enjoy the blue waters and coral reefs all around the park. Bring your snorkeling gear to get up close and personal with marine life and the beauty of the ocean.

Located 70 miles west of Key West it’s a great trip for you boaters out there to relax and have some solitude while soaking up the sun. There is daily ferry service if you don’t have your own boat because it is only accessible by water.

Less than 1% of the park is dry ground so bring your swimsuit and your snorkel and dive in to see it all.

Click here to learn more.

4. Rainbow Springs State Park

secret destinations in florida rainbow springs state park

This beautiful park is designated as a National Natural Landmark and a Florida aquatic preserve. Make sure to bring your tubes and kayaks to enjoy the river and headsprings.

The park offers kayak rentals and a cafe. The campgrounds are beautiful and give you a calm sense of nature. Bring your tent and get a taste of real Florida.

These crystal clear waters are a joy to kayak through and enjoy nature, swim in the refreshing water, paddle your way through the waterways, and enjoy a picnic in the picturesque landscape.

There’s also an amazing hiking trail and you can see the waterfalls and lush natural landscape up close. There is a native plant garden and the trail offers both river and phosphate pit overlooks. It’s a decent trek of 2.5 miles from the Visitor’s Center.

Click here to learn more about Rainbow Springs State Park.

5. Ichetucknee Springs State Park

ichetucknee springs secret destinations in florida

The Ichetucknee River is one of the clearest and calmest rivers in Florida. Float down in an inner tube and watch the forest go by as you take a natural lazy river ride down the current.

Nature abounds down this winding river path. Tube rentals are available all year but the routes are different each season. Check-in at the park office for the trails.

For places to stay check in nearby Fort White or High Springs.

Learn more about Ichetucknee Springs at their website here.

Florida Is Beautiful Even If You Never Visit a Theme Park

You can have an amazing vacation without going to even one theme park.

Get out there and enjoy the nature and beauty that is Florida. There might be something that surprises you in your own backyard.

Learn more about other incredible places to visit in Florida by reading the other articles on our Things To Do section now.

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

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