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A FLORIDA WINTER WONDERLAND
 
(2013 - Fall/Winter Issue)

Writer: DEBI LANDER



No freezing temperatures or ice here!

Those seeking Florida’s warmth and sunshine find the entire state a winter wonderland. Snowbirds are never disappointed by the variety of fall and winter activities available in the 171 Florida State Parks and trails.

On the Gulf Coast

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, near Port St. Joe, was named the No. 1 beach in the nation by Dr. Beach in 2002. The park boasts 16 kilometres of white sandy beaches and some of the tallest sand dunes in the state. Swimming, fishing, shelling, snorkelling and sunset-gazing make it an idyllic winter escape destination.  

Kick off your shoes and head to St. George Island where you can stroll along an uncrowded beach near Apalachicola Bay—renowned for its fresh oysters and seafood. St. George, a quiet barrier island connected to the mainland at Eastpoint, consists of the state park, a public strip of restaurants, bars, small businesses, homes and a public beach, as well as a private, exclusive housing community with its own airstrip. The St. George Island State Park is regularly included on Dr. Beach’s famous list of best national beaches while the park offers a series of hiking trails, boardwalks and observation platforms favoured by birdwatchers. Visitors with reservations also enjoy camping and fishing facilities.

Florida is one of the few places where you find manatees and visitors to Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park can view West Indian manatees year-round at the park’s underwater observatory in the main spring. The park also showcases native Florida wildlife, including black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, American alligators and river otters.

Southern Havens

Head down to the Keys and stop on enticing Islamorada for a special visit to Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park located near Mile Marker (MM) 78.5. Access is by private boat or charter boats at nearby marinas. Gardeners are especially enamoured with ranger-guided tours of the tiny island on the weekends.

Continue south toward Key West and Bahia Honda State Park at MM 37. Encompassing more than 200 hectares and an offshore island, the park offers some of the best snorkelling and beachcombing in Florida. This perfect family getaway features a concession service, kayak rentals and daily snorkelling tours to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary, located 19 kilometres offshore. Fishermen rave over some of the best tarpon fishing anywhere and photographers never tire of the excellent scenic opportunities.

Travel Planner

For more information on the Florida State Parks, visit floridastateparks.org.

 
 
 
 
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