Do you want to get away from all the major attractions in Florida?
Florida is definitely one of the more popular states for travel in the US and there are many hidden gems that you may have not seen before.
We asked almost 200 travel bloggers who have personally visited Florida to share their experiences.
Even if you’ve visited this region before, we’re sure you haven’t seen some the following hidden gems in Florida.
Read on to get tips from 15 passionate travel bloggers.
- 1. Venetian Pool
- 2. Swimming with Manatees in Crystal River
- 3. The Salvador Dali Museum
- 4. Bok Tower Gardens
- 5. Robbie’s Restaurant
- 6. Liguus Tree Snails in Big Cypress National Preserve
- 7. Clutch Burgers, Miami
- 8. Dry Tortugas National Park
- 9. African Queen from the Bogart Movie
- 10. Canaveral National Seashore
- 11. Caladesi Island
- 12. Wekiva Island on the Wekiva River
- 13. Juniper Prairie Wilderness
- 14. Learn To Build Sandcastles Like A Pro
- 15. Dolphin Research Center
- 16. The Little Bar Restaurant in Goodland, Florida
- 17. Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center
- 18. Canoe Escape
1. Venetian Pool
Visited by Sam from Checkoutsam.com
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Miami can be sweltering hot.
The best way to get your cool again, is by planning a half-day visit to the Venetian Pool.
This gorgeous swimming pool looks just like the fairytale city in Europe, but here you can actually swim in the canals!
The Venetian Lagoon is located quite close to the city center and you can easily get there by taking an Uber, public transport or even a hop-on hop-off bus.
It has to be one of the most beautiful swimming pools that I’ve ever visited but it still is often overlooked by travelers.
This is the perfect spot to escape the crowds on Florida’s most visited beaches!
- Address: 2701 DeSoto Blvd. Coral Gables, FL 33134
- Opening Hours: Tuesday to Friday 11 am to 5:30 pm; Weekends 10 am to 4:30 pm; Monday closed.
2. Swimming with Manatees in Crystal River
Visited by Chloe from WanderlustChloe.com
Swimming with manatees is the main reason people visit Crystal River.
The water around Three Sisters Springs is bright turquoise, and so clear!
It’s somewhere you can enjoy passive observation with manatees, i.e. snorkel close to them, without disturbing them.
In the winter months, around 600 of the incredible creatures gather in the region.
While there were only a few during my visit, I absolutely loved the experience.
They’re huge creatures to see close up, and not only did we swim close to them, we also saw a mother and her calf cuddling up!
3. The Salvador Dali Museum
Visited by Victoria from AmericanTravelBlogger.com
Located in St. Petersburg, Florida, this museum houses the largest collection of Dali art work outside of Europe.
It was really interesting to discover the hidden meanings behind Salvador Dali’s Surrealist paintings and the building itself is stunning.
The main focal point is the helical staircase.
This recalls Dali’s obsession with spirals and the double-helical shape of the DNA molecule.
There’s also a tranquil waterfront garden overlooking Tampa Bay.
- Address: 1 Dali Blvd, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, United States
- Opening Hours: Daily 10 am to 5:30 pm; Thursday 10 am to 8 pm.
4. Bok Tower Gardens
Visited by Laura from FrugalForLuxury.com
If you’re looking for a relaxing and beautiful day outdoors, only an hour from Disney World, you need to visit Bok Tower Gardens.
Officially a botanical garden, it is so much more than that.
With a 60-bell carillon hosted in a coquina and marble tower, and the best playground in Central Florida, make a full day out of your visit and enjoy a slower pace of life at Bok Tower Gardens – a locals’ favorite!
We visit Bok Tower Gardens every time our family needs a break from busy life.
There, we love being surrounded by the beautiful nature.
The kids can play at the natural playground for hours, while we relax in the hammocks.
Our visit always includes a walk through the gardens, a visit of the beautiful estate (stunning at Christmas time!) and listening to one of the 2 daily carillon concerts after feeding the koi fish!
No visit would be fully complete without the kids rollings down the big hill and running around the large lawn, stick in hand!
This is a locals’ secret and favorite, and we love taking visitors for a day away from the typical Florida attractions!
- Address: 1151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales, FL 33853, United States
- Opening hours: Daily 10 am to 5 pm
5. Robbie’s Restaurant
Visited by Matthew at ExpertVagabond.com
If you’re planning to drive down to Key West, make sure to stop at Robbie’s Restaurant on Islamorada for lunch.
Along with great seafood, you can buy a bucket of bait and hand-feed a group of wild Tarpon who hang out at the docks here.
Growing up to 8-feet long and weighing over 200 pounds, watching these massive fish leap out of the water for your bait is a thrilling experience!
Just be careful, because they might just grab your hand too… as I learned the hard way.
- Address: 77522 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036, United States.
- Opening Hours: Daily 7 am – 9 pm
6. Liguus Tree Snails in Big Cypress National Preserve
Visited by Meg from MappingMegan.com
Found no-where else in the US, the incredibly rare Liguus Tree Snail is a beautifully colored, oversized snail, known for their colorful and jewel-like shells.
Their shells, spiraled with pink, yellow, brown, and green stripes, are incredibly beautiful, though it’s because of this that they have also become very rare.
Human shell collectors (along with crows and ravens) have decimated the snail’s numbers, and very few remain.
While now a rarity, they can be easily found if you know when and where to look.
A short walk through Tree Snail Hammock Nature Trail (off the Loop Road in the Big Cypress National Preserve), during Florida’s dry season, was all it took to see 50 different color combinations of Liguus Snail!
Be conscious of the presence of alligators, who are often out in full force as well
You may find them guarding the entrance to the Nature Trail, willing only the most adventurous souls to dare pass!
- Address: 33100 Tamiami Trail E, Ochopee, FL 34141, United States
- Opening Hours: Daily 9 am – 4:30 pm
7. Clutch Burgers, Miami
Visited by David from DavidsBeenHere.com
Who doesn’t love a good burger now and then?
If you’re like me and prefer delicious, high-quality burgers over fast food, then you have to stop by Clutch Burger in Miami.
Their motto is “never basic, always clutch” and they mean it.
They offer 13 upscale burgers, and most of them are made from the best wagyu beef in South Florida!
I recommend getting their signature Clutch Burger, which comes with 2 wagyu beef patties, taleggio cheese fonduta, arugula, tomato, American cheese, and hand-breaded onion rings.
It’s the best burger in town, hands down!
They also sell an amazing turkey burger and the vegan Impossible burger, so Clutch Burger literally has something for everyone.
And you can’t beat their mouthwatering appetizers like the grilled pork belly, their cheesy yuca bites, and their succulent sauteed octopus with chorizo.
To top it all off, they also have an amazing selection of wines and local craft beers!
- Address: 146 Giralda Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134, United States
- Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday 12 pm – 10 pm; Friday to Sunday 12 pm – 11 pm
8. Dry Tortugas National Park
Visited by Sanne from SpendLifeTraveling.com
Dry Tortugas is not your standard National Park.
It comprises seven islands, protected coral reefs, legends of shipwrecks and sunken treasures.
It’s one of the most remote National Parks in the US and one of Florida’s gems.
What I love about this place is the diversity of it.
It holds an impressive 19th century fort, Fort Jefferson, boasts incredible snorkeling in Caribbean waters and is famous for bird watching, especially in springtime.
Are you into scuba diving? Then don’t miss out on the Windjammer shipwreck.
You can also have a picnic to enjoy the beauty of this National Park.
Consider bringing a kayak or a canoe to get access to great snorkeling sites and other areas of the park such as Loggerhead Key.
The ferry in Key West gets you to Dry Tortuga National Park in two hours.
Alternatively you can take a seaplane or come here on a private boat, which makes this a popular place for people who are boating in Miami.
Tip: there is a campground right outside of Fort Jefferson if you want to spend more time inside this unique National Park.
9. African Queen from the Bogart Movie
Visited by Chris from AmateurTraveler.com
If you are an old movie buff then you might be interested to know that the original boat used for the filming of the “African Queen” is still around and you can take a tour in it.
On a recent road trip to the Florida Keys I made a stop in Key Largo Florida to see the African Queen.
The boat was not built for the movie but actually saw service in Africa for 40 years before being used in the movie with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.
The African Queen is a steamboat.
That alone makes it an interesting cruise.
You can’t cruise very far, but you can chug around the inland waterways of Key Largo.
Coincidentally, Key Largo was featured in another Bogart movie and still holds an annual Bogart film festival.
- Tour Departures: Marina Del Mar marina, part of the Holiday Inn Complex at mile marker 100 in Key Largo.
- Tour times: 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm, & 6pm
Visited by Amy from TheFloridaTravelGirl.com
Less than an hour away from Orlando is the Canaveral National Seashore, which is one the best hidden gems in Florida for nature lovers.
This National Park is home to over 20 miles of gorgeous sandy beaches and an expansive lagoon to paddle through, right across from a rocket launch pad!
My personal favorite reason to visit the Canaveral National Seashore is to kayak through the bioluminescent waters at night.
You can take a tour or go on your own to experience one of the few places in the world where bioluminescent plankton light up the waters.
There’s plenty of wildlife to see in the day here as well, including dolphins, manatees and plenty of bird and fish life.
If you are spending time in Florida to visit the theme parks, make sure to head here for a day for a real natural Florida experience!
- Location: S Washington Ave, Titusville, FL 32796, United States
- Opening Hours: Daily 6 am – 8 pm
11. Caladesi Island
Visited by Katy from TripandTravelBlog.com
Caladesi Island State Park is located on the island of the same name in the Gulf of Mexico and is one of the best kept beautiful gems of Florida.
Take a passenger ferry or rent your own private boat from the pier on Honeymoon Island to reach this magical place.
Or, if you are at the other end of Clearwater Beach, just walk to Caladesi Island, as it is technically connected to the mainland at this narrow point.
Once you are inside the state park, you will feel as if you have entered a different world.
Formed in a hurricane in 1921, the sand and the land formed a beautiful beach that has a 3-mile nature trail, marina, pavilions and food stall.
There are also many opportunities to watch birds or see other types of wildlife, or go fishing, snorkeling, kayaking or swimming.
Enjoy some time in this true jewel of Florida, which shows that beauty can be created from storms.
12. Wekiva Island on the Wekiva River
Visited by Angie from AngieAway.com
Known as Central Florida’s favorite watering hotel, Wekiva Island is a taste of old Florida not too far from the bustling theme parks.
Just 45 minutes by kayak from Wekiwa State Park, Wekiva Island is an outdoor hangout on a spring-fed river.
There’s a waterfront restaurant and bar, cornhole, volleyball, cabanas, kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards available for rent.
Before massive water parks, this is how Central Florida cooled off in the summertime!
We had a picnic and rented a canoe to paddle down the quiet, scenic river.
Incredibly, you can have that kind of peace so close to one of Florida’s biggest attractions.
- Address: 1014 Miami Springs Dr, Longwood, FL 32779, United States
- Opening Hours: Daily 8 am – 7pm; Friday & Saturday opens til 11 pm.
13. Juniper Prairie Wilderness
Visited by Art from TheBrokeBackpacker.com
There is not a whole lot of excitement on the tree-lined highway drive up I-75 and there’s nothing worse than the heavy midday traffic on I-10 and I-4.
If you’re traveling Florida by car, you’ll want to take a break from the madness to explore the wild landscapes of Juniper Prairie Wilderness – set smack-dab between all the major trans-state highways.
Juniper Prairie is an unimproved wilderness zone in the greater Ocala National Forest.
Lots of popular springs are nearby, but few walk the old firetrails over the dunes in the middle of the wilderness.
Just look for a little line on the map that marks a small trail.
Most paths cross the dunes and intermittent stands of Florida palmetto, loblolly pine, hickory and live oak.
When you go, bring water, sun protection and a picnic.
- Location: East Marion, FL, United States
14. Learn To Build Sandcastles Like A Pro
Visited by Josh from TravelWithBender.com
Rick & Capri Mungeam from Beach Sand Sculptures offer a portable service along the South Walton coastline, helping vacationers build epic sandcastles.
At first this sounds like a pretty strange thing to do, but once you’ve tried it, you’ll never look at this innocent beachfront activity the same way.
The lessons are completely “hands on” and are best suited to a family or group up to 20.
It’s amazing with a little expert guidance what wonders can be created out of sand and water.
Well worth trying on any trip to Florida’s Gulf Coast.
- Location: South Walton, Along Hwy 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Destin, Miramar Beach or Fort Walton Beach
- Duration: 2 hour lessons
15. Dolphin Research Center
Visited by Annette from BucketListJourney.com
Established in 1984, the Dolphin Research Center is one of the most unique research centers in the Florida Keys, and possibly all of Florida.
More than half the sea lions and bottlenose dolphins found in the center were born here, others are rescues who were deemed non-releasable by the government.
If you are keen on interacting with dolphins as they do in the movies (some of the stars from the movie Flipper were actually from here!), this is your chance.
There are interactive classes that the public can participate in.
Believe me, you’ll want to participate in these classes!
The dolphins are friendly, mischievous and all-around fun to play with in the water.
- Address: 58901 Overseas Hwy, Grassy Key, FL 33050, United States
- Opening Hours: Daily 9 am – 4:30 pm
16. The Little Bar Restaurant in Goodland, Florida
Visited by Jill from FindingJillian.com
We love visiting Marco Island and have many favorites there.
Once you cross over that bridge, you set your watch to island time!
Whenever we are in town, we also venture just a short drive away to Goodland, Florida, to make a stop at The Little Bar Restaurant, one of our favorite Florida hidden gems.
This little Florida Gem is a must visit for any traveler who appreciates great service, entertainment, and that hometown, hole-in-the-wall vibe.
Little Bar is a favorite with locals and the boating community.
It’s located on a small canal, so if weather cooperates, opt to sit outside at this waterfront restaurant which features plastic outdoor patio furniture, giant menus written on poster boards and TONS of charm.
Inside, you will find great musical entertainment (check schedule), a full bar and indoor dining area.
- Address: 205 Harbor Pl N, Goodland, FL 34140, United States.
- Opening Hours: Daily 11:30 am – 10 pm
17. Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center
Visited by Dylan from BohemianTravelers.com
Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center is one of the great hidden gems Florida has to offer.
During the colder time of the year, Manatees seek refuge in the power station’s discharge panel, where clean, warm Tampa Bay saltwater flows.
This makes for guaranteed sightings during the right colder season.
The best part is you can visit the manatee viewing center for no cost at all.
Other options for snorkeling or viewing these majestic creatures often come with a hefty price.
If you’re looking to save some money on your trip, this will be a great outing.
Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center also offers other attractions including a mangrove exhibit, a butterfly garden, and a gift shop.
- Address: 6990 Dickman Rd, Apollo Beach, FL 33572
- Open: Nov. 1 through April 15
18. Canoe Escape
Visited by Raymond from TravellingFoodie.net
When it comes to Florida, most people think of amusement parks and beaches.
But Old Florida is known for its raw natural beauty, often overlooked by tourists visiting the destination.
Canoe Escape is a great way to experience Old Florida nature in the best way possible, by paddling down Hillsborough River in a canoe along a 16000-acre wilderness park.
You don’t need to be an adventurous person to enjoy Canoe Escape.
There are different paddling routes for leisure to extreme paddlers making it fun for all ages.
You can canoe at your own pace.
And trust me, you’ll want to paddle slowly as you’ll get to see a lot of wildlife including alligators and birds in their natural habitat.
Bring your camera or binoculars!
During my visit, I noticed locals are quite familiar with this activity, but not tourists so it’s quite a hidden gem!
- Address: 12702 US-301, Thonotosassa, FL 33592, United States
- Opening Hours: Daily 9 am – 5 pm
Have you been to Florida and think we should add another hidden gem you’ve visited?
Drop us an email and let us know what you think!
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