Florida happens to be one of the most happening vacation spots in the US. The popular state is located in southeastern USA with coastlines on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. From beaches to theme parks, the state has something for everyone.
The State of Florida attracts a lot of tourists thanks to its climate. The weather in Florida is balmy and warm throughout the year, with mild winters, which is why it is nicknamed the Sunshine State. Add to that world-class beaches, parks, and natural reserves, and you got yourself a perfect vacation spot.
Apart from popular tourist spots like Disney, Epcot, Universal Studios, MGM, and SeaWorld, Florida is a treasure trove of offbeat tourist spots, and some of these are free to explore. Here we’ll take a look at the top 5 offbeat and free things to do in Florida.
If you are a beach person, there’s nothing better to do in Florida than visit its world-class beaches. Thanks to perfect balmy weather all year round, Florida has an ideal beach climate any time of the year.
The panhandle area in northwest Florida is home to the gulf coast beaches offering crystal clear water and white sand. This area provides an assortment of laidback retirement towns, spring break destinations, and party-oriented boardwalks.
Move to East Florida, and you will get Atlantic Coast beaches with warm weather and eclectic vibes. Some of the best beach towns here include Cape Canaveral (home to NASA launch pads), Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Ft. Lauderdale, and, lastly, Miami – the world-class city.
St. Augustine is the perfect place to visit for history buffs. Dating back to 1565, the city is the oldest occupied European settlement in the US. The site offers options varying from living history museums like Castillo de San Marco to 76,000-acre Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, St. Augustine has it all.
Moreover, the city also boasts 42 miles of beaches, including Ponte Vedra, Vilano, and Crescent beaches. Tourists can enjoy outdoor activities like surfing, surf fishing, wading, and more for a minimal fee.
There’s also the charming St. George street, which is pedestrian-only. The street is lined by cafes, galleries, boutiques, and gift shops. Take a stroll in this quaint street for a walk down memory lane. Indulge in Cuban pastries, homemade flan, artisan chocolates, cinnamon cookies, empanadas, picadillo, and more.
Disney Wilderness Preserve
Apart from the Walt Disney World, Florida is home to several other Disney attractions like Disney Springs, Disney Boardwalk Resort, and Disney Wilderness Preserve. The last one is a free-to-enter, 11,500-acre conservancy ideal for bird watchers and hikers.
An essential part of the Everglades ecosystem, the Disney Wilderness Preserve is home to over 1,000 species of plants and animals. The preserve also comprises 3,500 acres of restored wetlands, which capture rain, filter nutrients, and replenish groundwater.
The land was once an 8.500-acre cattle ranch located at the top of the Greater Everglades watershed. The land was supposed to be developed into a residential and commercial spot in the early ’90s. However, the Walt Disney Co. purchased the property with The Nature Conservancy, State of Florida, and several other groups to save it from the evident doom.
Walt Disney then transferred the ownership to the conservancy to create the nature preserve that exists. To date, Walt Disney continues to back the restoration and wildlife monitoring on the property apart from being a partner on most on-site projects.
Florida Museum of Natural History
Florida’s official natural history museum is situated inside the University of Florida campus. The museum is free to enter and is home to more than 40 million specimens and cultural artifacts.
The USP of the museum is the collection of butterflies and moths, which is the largest in the world. Visitors can see hundreds of live butterflies from around the world in the Butterfly Rainforest Exhibit. Additionally, they can explore Florida’s unique habitats, natural and cultural history. The museum also hosts temporary exhibits on varying topics.
Wynwood —once an area filled with warehouses— has evolved into one of the coolest hangouts globally and is known for being an entertainment district. Home to public murals and art galleries, Wynwood is also known for its art galleries, antique shops, eclectic bars, artisanal eateries, and open-air street art installations.
The street walls in Wynwood are filled with murals by some of the world’s best-known street artists, which makes it an ideal spot for getting gram-worthy pictures. Additionally, craft breweries, chic boutiques, stylish bistros, and late-night bars in this area are a significant draw for the hip young crowd.
Whether you are a nature lover or a party animal, the State of Florida has something to offer for everyone. And the good news is that the above options are entirely free or affordable in an otherwise expensive location.