18 Fantastic and Unique Things To Do In North Florida

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Sponsored by Visit Florida

Leave behind the well-known Florida locations and head to a quieter, extra rural expertise in Natural North Florida.

One the place your bliss is kayaking down meandering rivers, cooling off in refreshing luminous-blue pure springs, and catching your personal scallops off the Gulf shoreline.

Things to do in North Florida
Scalloping in Steinhatchee

In the period of concern for well being and security in quieter places, these are the locations in Florida your loved ones can really feel secure and comfy touring via!

When you go to North Florida, you’ll escape the standard Florida crowds and welcome in house and serenity.

During our one week street journey via the Natural North Florida area we explored the areas of Suwanee Wilderness Trail, Cedar Keys, Steinhatchee River, Wakulla Springs, and Monticello.

We skilled a few of our favourite Florida adventures and household moments to this point on our better US street journey and have been surprised we had not heard of this space earlier than.

Despite touring the globe for 22 years, I nonetheless handle to seek out locations that amaze me and hold me tapped into the magic of newness, awe, and surprise.

Our Natural North Florida street journey podcast

We share our highlights and tales from our Natural North Florida street journey in our podcast.

Where is Natural North Florida?

boats docked next to an island
Cedar Key

Natural North Florida is an space that encompasses unimaginable pure range between Gainesville to the east, Sopchoppy to the west, Cedar Key to the South, and the Florida-Georgia state line.

It’s an space that sits between the capital, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville on the Atlantic Coast.  

Part of the enjoyment of our journey running a blog life-style, is we could be launched to areas we now have by no means heard of earlier than, and so we are able to share their less-charted hidden secrets and techniques with you.

Thanks to our paid partnership with Visit Florida and Visit Natural North Florida we have been capable of go to and fall in love with the surprise of this space.

It was a kind of household roads journeys that gave us reminiscences we’ll discuss collectively without end.

Here are our strategies for one of the best issues to do in North Florida.

Explore the Suwanee Wilderness River Trail

Suwanee Wilderness River Trail
Suwannee State Park river stroll

The Suwanee River begins within the Okeefenokee Swamp in southeastern Georgia and travels 246 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Timucuan Indians felt the river was sacred to the Sun God who introduced shade to the flowers of the earth. Its river presents nature lovers the grandeur of unspoiled outdated Florida and the fantastic thing about out of doors journey.

The Suwannee River Wilderness Trail begins in White Springs, Florida’s first vacationer city and is an space that provides exploration of small cities, state parks and pure springs.

The river continues for 170 miles via towering pines, stately cypress lining the riverbanks, excessive limestone outcroppings, salt marshes and gently slowing banks because it widens on its method to the Gulf of Mexico.

For these searching for a singular journey you possibly can take pleasure in a multi-day journey canoeing the river stopping on the river camps spaced a days’ journey aside.

We’re saving that journey for one more day, on this quick journey we visited just a few of the star points of interest within the Suwanee River Wilderness Trail.

Suwannee River State Park

Suwannee River State Park, North Florida
Suwanee River Trail

The Suwannee River State Park is positioned close to the city of Live Oak and presents a number of the finest backcountry canoeing alternatives within the state. 

This Florida State Park presents lovely mountaineering trails via the woods alongside the river and encompasses historic ghost cities, and Civil War battlements, and remnants of a 19th Century steamboat.

Take the straightforward Suwanee River Trail which runs for slightly below a mile alongside the riverbank and presents lovely views of its quickly working waters and the gorgeous reside oaks with Spanish moss dripping over the banks.

Suwannee River State Park, Florida
Suwanee River State Park – simple hikes for youths

You can then proceed alongside the Balanced Rock, which toppled into the water years in the past, and is now solely seen when the water is low.

As it was excessive, we turned again through the Lime Sink Run path which is slightly below a mile and takes you previous a singular Florida freshwater spring and weaves out and in of a hardwood forest lush with a wide range of crops and wildlife.

Take your mosquito repellant!

Swim at Madison Blue Springs

Madison Blue Springs, Florida
Madison Blue Springs – nice swimming spot

About a 20-minute drive from Suwannee River State Park, is what has been dubbed by USA Today, “the best swimming hole in the US” and one of many high north Florida points of interest!

We didn’t expertise the complete glory of Madison Blue Springs State Park and its typical luminous blue shade resulting from rising river ranges and darker shade water, however that didn’t cease us from loving this refreshing method to cool off from a scorching Florida day.

Give your lymphatic system time to regulate to the 68-degree year-round temperature. After the preliminary shock it’s divine.

Madison Blue Springs, FLorida
Fun household exercise

There is a robust present that may push you out to the sting of the Withlacoochee River and you’ll stroll again across the perimeter of the spring and benefit from the views.

Take your float and simply relax. There are picnic tables within the space in the event you needed to make an entire day of it. This was one among our favourite issues to do in North Florida.

Other North Florida’s Natural Springs:

Unfortunately, there had been a little bit of flooding simply earlier than we arrived, which meant most of the springs have been closed due to what’s known as a brown out.

As you possibly can think about the rising river ranges took away the glory shade of the pristine springs.

And due to COVID a number of the boardwalks have been closed.

Based upon our analysis, these are the Natural North Florida springs we now have listed for a return to this space:

Stay: Music Festival Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park and Campground

Suwanee Music Park and Campground
Loved this campsite!

The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park and Campground is 800 acres of outside tenting enjoyable located alongside the banks of the Suwannee River.

Not solely does it provide primitive and powered tenting, it has miles of mountaineering and horseback using trails, disc golf course, and canoeing and kayaking on the river.

You may keep in cabins right here like we did in our 2-bedroom cottage.

Suwannee is not only a spot to pitch your tent, it’s rated as one of many US’s high out of doors music venues. It hosts a number of out of doors music festivals annually, plus common concert events, and campfire pickin’ session.

Suwanee Music Park and Campground, Florida
Many hidden secrets and techniques to find

You know we love our reside music right here and so have pegged this as a spot to return to as soon as the reside occasions begin once more.

We cherished our little self-driving tour of the large property and discovering issues like out of doors amphitheater and phases, lovely fishing lakes, hidden campgrounds, the river, and this gigantic troll.

Is this not the best paintings you’ve ever seen?

Friends let’s meet up right here one 12 months for tenting and reside music and troll hunts!

If you’re on the lookout for a spot to eat, whereas based mostly close to or at Live Oak, the next two locations are really useful.

Big Wood BBQ & Grill

Big Wood BBQ & Grill, Live Oak, Florida
What do you select?

We have been impressed by the scale and high quality of the meals right here. We all selected one thing completely different: blackened shrimp, child again ribs, and rib eye steak, and sliders – all have been improbable.

I used to be impressed by the standard of the grilled greens and baked potato – the seasoning on it was good.

Dixie Grill

Dixie Grill, Live Oak, Florida
Breakfast in Live Oak

If you like pleasant Southern attraction, you’ll love eating at Dixie Grill.

The proprietor Charles walked round to greet every particular person with a fist pump, a coupon chat catch-up, or a dialog to find extra about you (in the event you’re clearly not from spherical right here).

You’ll discover good home-cooked southern meals and beneficiant parts to get you thru the day.

Steinhatchee River

Steinhatchee River, Florida
Steinhatchee River from above

“Slow. Manatees around here.”

The signal on the dock exterior my lodge room immediately informed me I used to be in a cool place.

I hustled everybody out of the room to wander the superbly manicured lawns of the Fiddler’s Resort on the banks of the Steinhatchee River.

We quickly discovered that swimming alongside the manatees are alligators and bull sharks and we’d not be becoming a member of them!

But we actually needed to affix the Key West boats cruising up and down the Steinhatchee River with music blaring and laughter ringing out.

This place will get me.

If you’re on the lookout for locations to go to in north Florida with the right mix between journey and leisure in a shocking pure setting, you get that in Steinhatchee.

Scalloping within the Gulf of Mexico

Scalloping in Steinhatchee, Florida
Wow. What a catch

In Steinhatchee, we had what the ladies dubbed, “essentially the most enjoyable ever!’ We went scalloping out within the Gulf of Mexico with Captain Mike, a non-public constitution captain.

This is among the finest locations in Florida to go to for scalloping, an space referred to as the scallop capital of the US. Every 12 months from June to August, folks can free dive for scallops within the grassy shallows.

We spent 4 hours snorkeling among the many turtle grass, spying the scallops camouflaged and grabbing them with our arms. Pretty quickly you get the cling of it and might spy their mouths opening and shutting.

There are limits on what number of every particular person can catch, and we didn’t even come near that, ensuring we solely grabbed as a lot as we may eat.

Scalloping in Steinhatchee, Florida
The youngsters will love scalloping

I cherished the nearer connection it gave me to nature. You have a a lot deeper appreciation for the place meals comes from while you go to the trouble of catching it your self.

It additionally gave me a deeper sense of gratitude and honor for the scallop that gave me one thing to eat. This is a apply indigenous cultures have world wide – taking time to bless and honor every animal that gave its life so we could eat.

Captain Mike was a improbable information with a simple going, pleasant nature.

He took us to a sand bar on the way in which dwelling – once more waist deep, the place we may swim and hunt although the sand for sand {dollars}.

Scalloping in Steinhatchee, Florida
A enjoyable time out for households

Thankfully, he was capable of finding a pair and we acquired a better take a look at these superbly designed animals.

Captain Mike organized for our sea scallop bootie to be shucked again on the marina, after which Fiddler’s Restaurant at our resort cooked them up or us and we loved them with a chilly drink and reside music on the newly constructed deck overlooking the river.

Recreational scalloping begins on June 15 and ends on Labor Day.

This is unquestionably among the best issues to do in Florida with youngsters!

Read extra: Wild scalloping in Florida

Stay: Fiddler’s Resort

boats docked in the water
Fantastic household lodging

We loved the simplicity of our keep at Fiddler’s Resort. The resort is laid-back and blends in lovely with the beautiful pure setting of its Steinhatchee River location.

Rooms have a screened in porch and grassed sections exterior full of big jenga, corn gap, swinging chairs and hearth pits.

Staff are pleasant and accommodating and have plenty of insights on the encompassing space.

Another should not miss in Steinhatchee is the nightly reside music exterior on their new, spacious deck overlooking the water.

Both artists we noticed have been unimaginable and the right method to finish an excellent day in North Florida having fun with the sunshine and pure magnificence

Eat: McDavid’s Cafe

Places to eat in Steinhatchee, Florida
Local breakfast spot. Donuts for the win

Grab your conventional Southern breakfast at native’s favourite McDavid’s Cafe. Be positive to seize a field of heat cinnamon donuts in your approach out.

The ladies have been delighted to have these to snack on throughout our scalloping journey. (And okay, the following day too as we drove to Wakulla Springs!)

Video: Scalloping in Steinhatchee, Gulf Coast Florida

Explore Wakulla Springs State Park

Wakulla Springs State Park, Florida
Wakulla Springs

Wakulla Springs is among the largest and deepest freshwater springs on the planet. Its sapphire waters are ample with wildlife together with manatees, alligators, turtles, deer, and birds.

The cypress mangroves rising out of the swamp provides it an eerie and ethereal really feel and it’ll really feel acquainted to you.

Hollywood cherished its primeval setting and filmed scenes from Tarzan and the Creature of the Black Lagoon right here.

We have been so upset we couldn’t take the glass backside boat to tour the springs, really useful as one of many high issues to do in north Florida. We may solely glimpse at its magnificence within the distance via the boats lined up on the jetty. It was closed resulting from COVID.

Wakulla Springs State Park, Florida
A soothing day in your North Florida trip

There is a small swimming part out the entrance of the historic Wakulla Lodge, which was in-built 1937.

The water is a refreshing 70 levels and there’s a diving platform for further enjoyable. As it was COVID, we selected to swim in our personal quiet space. The jungled canopied views surrounding it have been beautiful.

Staying at Wakulla Lodge for a few nights was a tranquil expertise and the meals of their eating corridor was glorious.

Gulf Beach: Alligator Point

Alligator Point, Florida
Alligator Point – quiet and exquisite

If you need a hotter ocean swim, a thirty-minute drive from Wakulla Springs will take you to Alligator Point with this white sandy seaside on the Gulf Shore.

The water is the standard brown shade this area is understood for, however nonetheless fantastic for swimming and snorkeling among the many grassy beds.

Tiki bar lovers will take pleasure in grabbing a day drink from the Oasis Tiki Hut simply down the street on the small marina.

We extremely advocate stopping in at The Sieneyard Rock Landing on the way in which dwelling for scrumptious seafood on the water.

Alligator Point, Florida
Tiki Hut & Seinyard

Time it for sundown and you’ll want to reserve a desk!

Historic and Charming Monticello

road leading to a white building
Monticello – charming North Florida city

Monticello was the right finish to our pure North Florida street journey and a chance for us to get to know the historic and cultural heartbeats that make up this lovely area.   

This charming, historic city is positioned 24 miles east of the state capitol, Tallahassee and has a inhabitants of simply 2,000.

It’s the seat of Jefferson County, which is called the Keystone County for its unspoiled magnificence and gentle local weather providing the ‘keys to quality living.’

We found a spot filled with journey, distinctive and pristine magnificence, historic and academic experiences, and a group targeted on supporting native companies and a vibrant life-style.

You can learn extra in regards to the fantastic issues we did in Monticello.

Here are two of them we cherished essentially the most and are particular don’t miss on our Natural North Florida street journey. They are a number of the finest adventures we’ve had within the USA.

Airboat Ride on the Wicassa River

The Wacissa River Florida
A FUN journey for households

The Wacissa River is a primary magnitude clear, spring-fed stream that’s fed by about 20 springs at its headwaters at Wakulla Springs.

Just seeing the fantastic thing about this area is sufficient to fulfill you, however we extremely advocate exploring the springs and the river by kayak or, as we did, airboat – it’s one of many coolest issues to do in north Florida!

One of the distinctive issues to do in Florida is an airboat trip.

We joined Captain Brad Cooley from 5 Rivers Adventure who took us on an 11-mile airboat journey zig zagging over the eelgrass and vibrant inexperienced lilies masking river, navigating via slim channels canopied by Spanish moss cypress and oak bushes, chasing egrets and bald eagles, and quick diving alligators.  

airboat the Wacissa River
The Wacissa River was so lovely

It was an exhilarating journey made all that a lot better by Savannah’s tight grip on my arm and squeals of equal terror and delight. The Wacissa River captured my coronary heart.

It’s really some of the pristine and exquisite locations in Florida (and the USA) I’ve visited.  

You can learn extra of this journey, and the following one, in our in-depth publish on Exploring the Wacissa River and take a look at this different wonderful airboat tour in Sebring, Fl.

Kayaking the Slave Canal

The Slave Canal, Florida
An adventurous kayak journey

We traded our airboats for kayaks and set off on an exhilarating and difficult journey via the Slave Canal, which connects the Wacissa to the Aucilla River.

The Slave Canal was initially constructed by the slaves for plantation house owners to move cotton right down to the Gulf. Blocks of limestone stay and are a reminder alongside the way in which of the arduous work pressured by slaves.

It’s finest to take this journey with an skilled information.

Kayaking in Florida
Head alligator spotter

The Slave Canal is marked however you may simply get misplaced and regardless of the shortly shifting water helping your paddling, it’s fairly a technical paddle as you navigate slim areas, fallen logs and the overhanging branches of historic oaks, cypress and palmettos draped with Spanish Moss.

Keep a watch out of the alligators poking their eyes above the water watching you!

Cedar Key

Cedar Key, Gulf Coast Florida
Cedar Key from above

Step again into the times Hemingway roamed via Key West. Cedar Key on the Gulf Shore is among the most original north Florida seashores experiences that retains outdated world attraction.

There’s no bling or over-development right here. It doesn’t want it. It’s ample with quiet, pure magnificence and journey.

We cherished its small city, fishing village vibe and sloth-like tempo. It’s about sluggish morning dawn begins, light day time paddles, scrumptious seafood, and sundown views.

We have an in-depth publish on issues to do in Cedar Key.

Here are the do-not miss issues to do in North Florida or your street journey cease in Cedar Key.

Kayaking the Cedar Refuge Islands

Cedar Key kayak adventures
Kayak to Atsena Otie

The Cedar Key National Refuge is an space composed of 13 offshore islands jutting into the Gulf Coast.

Cedar Key is nestled amongst many of those small islands 4 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico and about half a mile out from Cedar Key is Atsena Otie, which was the unique village till a hurricane blew it down.

You can kayak over to discover the island. It’s a simple paddle over, and if fortunate, you might have dolphins as your companions.

There is a small seaside for swimming and remnants of the outdated pencil manufacturing facility and cemetery. Those wishing for an extended journey can paddle the additional 1.5 miles across the island and thru the internal marshes.

Cedar Key, FLorida
Fun household exercise in Cedar Key

Ambitious paddlers can go on to different close by islands of the Cedar Key National Refuge. They are stated to have good seashores.

You may discover these islands by boat. Put kayaking right here in your checklist of enjoyable issues to do in north Florida!

Seafood at Steamers, Cedar Key

Steamers, Cedar Key
Clam heaven

One of one of the best issues to do in Florida is eat recent native seafood.

Since 95% of farm-raised clams are harvested within the clear waters of Cedar Key, we advocate grabbing your self a bowl of steamed clams in a white wine sauce at Steamers, a seafood restaurant.

Suspended on stilts over the water, you get prime Gulf views over Atsena Otie and different islands of the Cedar Key National Refuge.

There are giant home windows that permit for views in the event you want to sit inside. However, to make your meal right here a memorable expertise, we advocate grabbing one of many nooks on the deck.

Steamers, Cedar Key
The views right here have been fantastic

The exterior deck is slim so there are about 4 personal nook areas the place you possibly can sit with entrance row seats of the view, the balmy breeze in your pores and skin, and dolphins frolicking in entrance of you.

Cedar Key Sunset

Cedar Key, Florida sunset
Florida sunsets are all the time magical

You could get colours within the sky at Steamers for sundown. Otherwise you possibly can run across the nook to the pink Beach motel for one of the best sundown views in the primary space,

The native’s tip for the last word sundown was the Tiki Bar slightly out of city. It’s an adults solely bar, which is why its on our checklist for a future go to to Cedar Key (with babysitters!)

And Savannah has put her foot down and demanded we come again to Cedar Key for a for much longer Florida Island seaside trip.

Stay: Harbor Master Suites with wonderful dawn views

Family accommodation Cedar Key, Florida
Look at these dawn views – superior household accommodaiton

Harbor Master Suites has entrance row stilted place on D Street with simple strolling distance to all over the place.

We stayed within the two-bedroom, Pearl Suite with a dwelling space and kitchen. We couldn’t imagine we had your entire high deck to ourselves.

We had a spot for morning espresso and dawn views over the Gulf, a spot for afternoon drinks, after which one other hidden screened in porch that neglected the road for later at evening when the ocean views have been gone and the folks watching simply began.

Giving again to Natural North Florida

Meeting the lemurs at the North Florida Wildlife Center
Meeting the lemurs on the North Florida Wildlife Center

As a part of the marketing campaign partnerships we do with native tourism boards, we donate again to native non-profits or native companies that assist the surroundings or native communities we journey via.

As so a lot of our wonderful reminiscences from our Natural North Florida street journey got here from our interactions with the beautiful magnificence we discovered right here, we donated to a few causes that touched our hearts.

The Tall Timbers Research works to guard to preserve land within the Monticello/ Tallahassee Region. No Wal-Marts and subdivisions allowed! Only pure pure magnificence.

The Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida works to guard the area’s excellent animals and crops and the lands and waters they should survive.

The North Florida Wildlife Center in Monticello companions with animal conservation initiatives world wide.

Our ladies fell in love with the endangered lemurs due to our go to right here and need to assist defend them. You can study extra about that have in our Monticello publish.

Watch our Natural North Florida Highlights Video

If you’re on the lookout for enjoyable issues to do in Florida with some pure magnificence, attraction, and recent native delicacies thrown in, take into account Natural North Florida!

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girl kayaking

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