Florida’s Hidden Travel Gems: There’s More To See Than Theme Parks and Mickey

Sailfish-Islamorada-fishing-tripsSummertime in Florida is more than just Disney World and steamy weather; it boasts several interesting cities, culinary delights and various surprising destinations. Bob Diener, a year round Florida resident and founder of Getaroom.com, has shared with us some insights for those travelers who have a three-day weekend and want to see some sights in “The Sunshine State.”

Bob says:

The Florida Keys aren’t a secret, but they do offer an escape from bigger and busier cities. The Keys are a quick drive from Miami and offer a variety of activities. Key West gives visitors the opportunity to experience Hemingway’s haunts, eat key lime pie, margaritas at Margaritaville, and spot the many free-range chickens that roam around town. Need a place to stay after a bar crawl and sunset watching? Book the Albury Court on Getaroom.com from $129 a night.

Try the other towns in the Florida Keys. Stay in Islamorada for extraordinarily good fishing. The appropriately named Drop Anchor resort is available from $169 a night so you can rest up for a big day out on the water. Pay homage to the Beach Boys in Key Largo where the Marina Del Mar resort starts at $127 a night.

Try the Gulf Coast for less crowds and spectacular beaches. Consistently ranked on top listings of the best beaches in the country, Caladesi Island State Park in Clearwater offers white sand and warm water and is not far from the St. Petersburg / Tampa area. Dining options are abundant on the West Coast, and laws that prevent driving on the beach have protected it from much of the sand erosion that Daytona Beach has seen in recent years. Sunsets are the perfect time to take a walk down the pier and check out local entertainment and artists featuring their works.

Hidden behind the big mouse and his friends are Orlando’s dozens of golf courses for all skill levels. Stay at one of many affordable hotels or vacation rentals, and then splurge on a round at the Harmony Golf Preserve or the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club.

Sunset Cape San Blas, FLBesides the Everglades, Florida has other natural wonders that can be easier to explore. The Apalachicola National Forest is over 600,000 acres and features a wide variety of activities and interesting sites. You can bike or hike through trails, or canoe down waterways to see alligators, turtles, and birds.

Not far from Apalachicola is Cape San Blas, an out-of-the way area that has more than 20 miles of desolate beaches that will take you far away from the madness of south Florida sandy spots. Take the kids and enjoy searching for seashells or scalloping, where you can catch your favorite mollusks and eat them for a beachside dinner at sunset.

The waves in Florida aren’t all miniscule. Go to Cocoa Beach to learn how to surf at the Ron Jon Surf School. Stay at many value-priced locations including a two bedroom suite at the Wakulla Suites from $93 a night. Summer and early fall travel to Florida does not have to mean only Orlando or Miami. It’s a big state and offers many attractions and affordable accommodations to fit the needs of any family.

Photo credits: Larry RobyIslamoradaFishingTrips.com

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