Incredible Outdoor Destinations to Visit in North and Central Florida

Grayton Beach State Park | Credit: Peggy Paulson

Whether you are looking for vast forests, sandy beaches, or tranquil marshes, North and Central Florida have it all. Let’s look at some of the many gorgeous outdoor destinations in North and Central Florida.

Kelly Park-Rock Springs | Credit: Jacksonville Beach Moms

Fort Clinch State Park

Fort Clinch is a large and historic state park at the northern edge of Florida on Amelia Island. This 1,400-acre park is home to Fort Clinch, a significant Civil War fort that visitors can explore. The park also houses a large waterfront, thick forests, and an array of native creatures, making it popular for camping, fishing, and spotting wildlife.

Fort Clinch State Park | Credit: Sonya Tyler

Suwannee River State Park

Suwannee River State Park is a destination for backcountry boating. Visitors go to witness the serene settings among the Suwannee and Withlacoochee rivers. You can canoe and kayak on the rivers or hike along the riverside trails. You can even plan a multi-day trip by booking one of the park’s pleasant cabins. Nearby, explore the city of Suwannee, a historical city that played a role in the Civil War; it includes the remnants of a 19th-century steamship and two ghost towns. 

Kelly Park-Rock Springs

Kelly Park’s main attraction is Rock Springs, a beautiful natural spring with heated waters throughout the year. The park attracts many boaters, who depart from the park’s boat launch, along with those who want to tube down the spring, which is commonly referred to as “Orlando’s lazy river.” Visitors can spend multiple days there by staying at the park’s campgrounds or an RV site. 

Kelly Park-Rock Springs | Credit: Jacksonville Beach Moms

Ponte Vedra Beach

Ponte Vedra Beach is an affluent coastal Jacksonville suburb best known as one of Florida’s premier golf destinations, with upscale resorts, restaurants, and the beach that the town is named after. This beach has white sand shores, turquoise lagoons, and some of the tallest dunes in Florida.

Ponte Vedra Beach | Credit: Josh Moore

Grayton Beach State Park

Grayton Beach State Park is a gorgeous and spacious beachy paradise on the Panhandle. It is widely considered one of the most pristine beaches in North Florida for its clean and sandy shores. The park includes forests, lakes, beaches, wetlands, and many cabins and campgrounds for visitors who want to extend their stay. 

Grayton Beach State Park | Credit: Scott Greer

Ravine Gardens State Park

Ravine Gardens State Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The gardens were built in 1933 and are based alongside two huge, steep ravines, creating a dramatic backdrop for the serene environment. The best time to visit is from January to March, when the park bursts with color as its azaleas bloom, of which it boasts more than 18 varieties. 

Ravine Gardens State Park | Credit: Melissa Parker

Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs State Park is a unique natural wonder that covers approximately 7,000 acres just north of Orlando. The natural spring’s azure water and year-round warm temperatures bring people from around the world to this popular destination. Visitors can swim, canoe, or tube along these calm waters, or they can choose to explore the miles of trails that weave through the park’s dunes, forests, and waterfront settings.

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