Step Outside - Florida WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 http://stepoutside.org/ Step Outside - Florida 144 144 http://stepoutside.org/ https://cdnstep-americantownscom.netdna-ssl.com/img/stepoutside_logo.gif Wed, 18 Jul 2018 17:05:50 -0500 SPOTLIGHT: Things to Do in and Around Blue Spring State Park Florida vacations don’t usually come cheap, but they don’t always have to put a dent in your bank account, either. Spending some time in the great outdoors offers an inexpensive getaway every age can enjoy. While others are clamoring over theme parks and busy beaches, you can avoid the crowds (and the costs that come with them) with a trip to Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida.

Spanning over 2,600 acres, Blue Spring State Park is home to the largest natural spring on the St Johns River. Tourists and locals alike love gathering here during manatee season (November-March) to watch these amazing animals. During the rest of the year, the park offers swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, boating, and river boat tours. There’s also no shortage of “dry” activities for kids and adults alike, especially since you can camp within the park and not have to leave until your vacation is over.

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Just a seven-minute drive from the park lies Family Fun Town, a high-energy indoor/outdoor fun center that offers activities for every age. Go-karts, mini golf, batting cages, and an arcade will keep you and your family entertained for hours. It’s the perfect spot to remedy “cabin fever” during your stay at Blue Spring State Park, especially on rainy days or during manatee season where watersports are off limits.

Eat in, or take it back to your cabin at Blue Spring State Park—either way, you’ll want to grab a meal from Lelo’s BBQ. This Puerto Rican barbecue joint is serving up authentic flavors you can’t find just anywhere. They feature daily specials as well as menu chock full of chicken, pork, ribs, seafood, soup, and plenty of fixings to complement your meal.

Roasted pork with red beans and yellow rice. Heaven!

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If barbecue isn’t your favorite fare, grab a seat at Fire on the Bayou. This Cajun-focused eatery is dishing out some of the best low country boil and other fiery favorites. They have a large variety of food to choose from, so you’re likely to suit even the pickiest eater in your party.

Dinner was oh sooooo good tonight πŸ¦€πŸ¦πŸ¦‚πŸŒΆ #crawfish #seafoodboil

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About a half-hour’s drive south from the state park is Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Visitors can expect to see a giraffe, cheetah, rhino, leopard, llama, tamarin, cougar, and fossa, among other mammals, as well as a host of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Admission to the zoo also grants you access to the lush botanical gardens. A train, carousel, ropes course, splash park, giraffe feeding, and rhino “petting” completes the experience—it’s more than worth the drive.

I got to feed the giraffe πŸ€“

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Drive 15 minutes north of the state park and experience the Museum of Art in DeLand. This art museum features work from Florida artists and well-known artists, with both permanent and evolving exhibits. The museum now features two galleries in DeLand, each offering a unique experience—you’ll want to visit them both.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/spotlight-things-to-do-in-and-around-blue-spring-state-park http://stepoutside.org/article/spotlight-things-to-do-in-and-around-blue-spring-state-park Fri, 13 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0500
9 Best Outdoor Festivals and Events in Florida Florida is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise and fortunately, there are plenty of ways to celebrate that passion. Across the state, you’ll find festivals dedicated to all kinds of outdoor recreation. From fishing and hiking to water sports and wildlife, come celebrate your passions at these nine best outdoor festivals and events in Florida.

One of Florida’s most high profile festivals is dedicated to all things cycling. Spanning a 44 year history, this epic event has 16 planned routes to choose from, offering an ideal plan for riders of all ages and skill levels. But it’s not all hard work—there’s also music, cash bar, and plenty of local cuisine to go around. A single price grants you entry to the festival, several meals, a jersey, and other goodies. Sponsored by Mount Dora Area Chamber of Commerce , Lake County Agency for Economic Prosperity, this event is sure to be an excellent time.

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Florida’s biggest boat show is one of the most epic celebrations outside of Spring Break. Hosted in the yachting capital of the world, the show brings out an array of boats in all sizes, from inflatables to luxury yachts, alongside a suite of other marine products, builders, designers, and even exotic cars. This show has attracted some of the best names in outdoor lifestyles, including Guy Harvey, Elite Traveler, Southern Boating, and Robb Report.

Hosted by the McKee Botanical Garden, this unique festival celebrates their iconic waterlily collection that’s been intriguing guests since the 1930s. The festival includes a viewing of the blooming lilies and hundreds of other plants, a photo contest, and art demonstrations. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, it’s hard not to be inspired by this delicate array of natural beauty. This even is partnered with the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs,  and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

Hosted by the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, this 12-mile parade is touted as the greatest show on H2O. Hundreds of boats drift through the Intracoastal Waterway decked out in lights, decorations, musical ensembles, and even celebrities. The event has attracted high-profile sponsors like iHeartRadio, Southwest Airlines, the Miami Yacht Show ,  and more. 

Manatees are one of Florida’s most beloved members of the wildlife community, so it’s only fitting they receive their very own festival. This fun, family-friendly festival offers a great viewing of manatees in all their splendor. There’s also plenty of games, face painting, 100+ arts and crafts vendor booths, and live entertainment. The event wouldn’t be possible without the help from a few sponsors, including Central Florida News Channel 13, Orange City Racing and Club Card , Friends of Blue Spring State Park, and the Central Florida Zoo and Botanicals, among others.

The only event of its kind in Florida, this show is all about the off-road and airboat lifestyles. Vehicles like trucks, Jeeps, buggies, side by sides, ATVs, and airboats will be tricked out and on display. It’s a total immersion in the fast-paced world of off road riding, including a variety of parts and accessories vendors on site to show you the latest and greatest in the industry. The event also includes sponsorship from 74 Family Fun Park, Florida Motorsports, Florida Diesel, Florida Country Magazine, and Everglades Motorcycle Service , to name a few.

Englewood Beach experiences an invasion of paddlesports each November as paddlers take to the water in droves. SUP-ers and kayakers can take part in races of varying lengths or simply enjoy a few days on the water with fellow paddlers. Prizes, a hot tub and pool party, and local cuisine are a big part of the experience, and you’ll want to see and do it all. This event is backed by Paradise Exclusive Real Estate, Punta Gorda Engelwood Beach, and Charlotte Country.

Florida Sportsman Magazine hosts one of the biggest outdoor expos in the state. Chock full of seminars and exhibitors, you can find the best in industry expertise and products in a single location. A boat showcase, fishing seminars, demonstrations, a kid’s fishing derby, and hands-on instruction are just a few of the highlights you can expect each year. The Big and Wild Outdoors show will be broadcasting live from the event, so you might just get your 15 minutes of fame here, too.

Though this event has passed for this year, you’ll want to mark your calendars for next year’s event. Cortez is one of the state’s oldest fishing villages, and its annual festival helps to maintain its Old Florida charm and heritage. The event attracts around 25,000 people each year for a weekend of seafood, exhibits, live music, arts and crafts, and a walk through the historical village. There’s also opportunities for camping to get the full outdoor experience. This festival is help put together by the Anna Maria Island Sun, Bradenton Herald, Tobacco Free Florida, and Compass Self Storage.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/9-best-outdoor-festivals-and-events-in-florida http://stepoutside.org/article/9-best-outdoor-festivals-and-events-in-florida Wed, 13 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Winter Hikes in Florida Florida’s mild winters make it one of the best hiking destinations in the country. You can enjoy the great outdoors without the shivers—and without the sweltering heat of a Florida summer. Some may argue there’s no better time for a hike in Florida than the winter. You be judge—step outside to these 10 best winter hikes in Florida. 

There’s no better place to start the winter hiking season than Seminole Ranch. The Seminole Ranch trail is a smaller segment of the sprawling Florida Trail, spanning just over four miles, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. This trail gives you a high chance of spotting area wildlife due to its proximity to the wildlife preserve, including white tail deer, wild turkey, and a variety of birds.

Located in Myakka State Park, winter is prime hiking season for the Myakka River Hiking Trail. Clocking in at almost 39 miles, you’ll need to plan for backcountry camping or end your trip early via the many crisscrossing roads. The trail offers a diverse ecosystem of marshes, pine flatwoods, and prairies, all of which are teeming with wildlife and picture-perfect backdrops.

Acting as the gateway to the Florida Birding Trail in the panhandle region, this national wildlife refuge spans over 70,000 acres with more than 43 miles of wild shoreline. The area features several hiking trails, including a long portion of the famed Florida Trail, where hikers can get clear views of birds, alligators, and other wildlife. If you aren’t looking for a backpack camping hike, stick to one of the shorter trails, like the Levee or Tower Pond trails, each of which is a mile or less.

Only one of two nature trails in the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, the Panther Trail spans 1.3 miles (a whole mile longer than the other trail in the preserve). While most of the refuge is closed to the public, these trails offer your only inside look into the area, with the exception of potential guided tours in the winter. If you want your best chance of seeing panther tracks, deer, or bear, plan your visit for early morning or late afternoon.

The grasslands of the Kissimmee Prairie offer a unique combination of flora and fauna you won’t find anywhere else in Florida. Deer, snakes, and bald eagles are all known to make appearances here. The park offers over 100 miles of dirt roads for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. If you visit in the winter, you can also take advantage of a ranger-led buggy tour that takes you to lesser-seen areas of the preserve.

Florida Trail: Day 13 /Mile 172 of 1100 Am currently working my way North along the Kissimmee River. This was my view all morning, lots of Live Oaks (Quercus virginiana) intermingled with Cabbage Palms (Sabal palmetto). Love the festoon of Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) which isn't a moss at all, is actually an epiphytic bromeliad (pineapple family). Notice as well the Resurrection Ferns (Pleopeltis polypodioides) on the oak limbs, lots of amazing stuff to see. #bpmag #longdistancehiking #hiking #hikingadventures#hiking #thruhike #camping #backpacking #thruhiking #trail #traillife #wilderness #getoutside #earthpix #earthofficial #nakedplanet #wildernessculture #aroundtheworldpix #optoutside #beautiful #travelawesome #theglobewander #roamtheplanet #bestvacations #wildme #lonelyplanet #AOV #visualscollective #floridatrail #flordia

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A good hike doesn’t have to consume your whole day, and the casual 2.5-mile nature hike at Lower Wekiva River proves it. Just 50 minutes of walking will lead you to wildlife hot spots along the wetlands and blackwater streams. Bears, otters, and alligators call this park home, so you’ll have plenty of company along your hike—even if you don’t realize it!

As the state’s largest backpacking loop, this trail will keep you traveling for over 43 miles if you like. It’s not without its challenges, either: sinkholes, rolling sandhills, and rocky paths make your walk in the woods anything but simple. If you do plan on backpack camping, you’ll need to plan for four days’ worth of supplies, including water since this is considered a “dry” trail. If you’re not up to the four-day challenge, this trail is easily broken up into several enjoyable day hikes.

Located in the Osceola National Forest, this short-and-sweet 1.6-mile trail is one of the best spots for viewing red-cockaded woodpeckers. This section loops with the Florida Trail, giving you a chance to extend your hike as long as you wish.

Starting at Hobe Sound Beach, this 63-mile trail is unique in every way. Each mile offers a new ecosystem of flora and fauna, giving you one of the most diverse hiking experiences in the state. The trail terminates at Lake Okeechobee, with prairies, swamplands, flatwoods, and other scenery making up the middle.

Nestled in the Apalachee Wildlife Management Area, the mild temperatures in the winter make it an ideal time to traverse the nearly-four-mile Garden of Eden Trail. The WMA plays home to whitetail deer, fox squirrels, and gopher tortoises, along with a heaping helping of bird species. The trail itself isn’t for the faint of heart. At some points, you’ll swear you were in the Georgia mountains, so plan accordingly.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-winter-hikes-in-florida http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-winter-hikes-in-florida Thu, 25 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0600
10 Best Watersport Retailers in Florida Florida’s never-ending coastline gives you every opportunity to enjoy your favorite watersports. From jet skiing and boating to stand up paddleboards and everything in between, there’s plenty of ways you can love the water. Fuel your passions and grab your gear at one of these 10 best water sports retailers in Florida. 

Kiteboarding is in their name for a reason: they’re the experts when it comes to choosing your equipment and learning how to use it. This place is your one-stop shop for all things kiteboarding, stand up paddle boarding, and surfing. You can book private lessons with their amazing instructional team, get your kite repaired, or find the best gear and accessories to suit your skill level. You won’t find a more knowledgeable, high-quality place anywhere in Florida.

With two locations in Florida, you can stock up on everything you need for a day of water sports. Their main passion is kiteboarding, and they offer private lessons for you to experience it yourself. What sets them apart is that everyone on their team has a personal love for all things watersports, meaning you get honest, expert advice and recommendations every time you shop.

Dedicated to all things watersports, you can find your new paddleboard, surfboard, apparel, or accessories in a single trip. They’ve got everything you need to perfect your performance, including surf watches, wetsuits, fins, paddles, and other high-quality, brand name items. Need a lesson on how to get the most from your purchases? They offer free sessions every Saturday morning for all ages. 

For best-in-class brands, you’ll want to stop here. They’ve got all your favorites, from O’Neill and Rip Curl to Dakine, Hurley, and more. They’ve been one-on-one with the surfing industry for well over 35 years, ensuring you get the most from their in-depth knowledge and personal experience. 

New Boards ! Now All We Need Are Waves !!! #PrayForWaves

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Wakeboarding, kayaking, windsurfing, kiteboarding—Watersports West knows it all. They’ve got all the gear to help you get started on a new path or continue your existing passions. Their fans love them because they also offer rental equipment, giving them a chance to try out new things before they commit to buying.

Watersports is only their second specialty here—the first is their service to their customers. This team is truly dedicated to helping others enjoy the wonderful wild world of water sports. They offer retail sales, rentals, group trips, and demos to help you get the experience you’re craving. They’ve even been known to open up shop outside of normal business hours just to make sure you get what you need.

If you love wakeboarding, you’ll never want to shop anywhere else than right here. They’re fellow wakeboarders who know how to help you get the best experience possible. Their huge inventory includes, boards, bindings, ropes, and other gear for every stage and skill level. You can also find a nice selection of SUPs, kneeboards, skis, tubes, wakeskates, and other watersports equipment and accessories to make a full day of adventure on the water.

Whether you’re seeking windsurfing gear, or would rather try before you buy, you’ll find what you need at Calema. They offer windsurfing lessons and rental goods to let you experience the sport for yourself, in addition to kid’s camps and performance clinics. It’s also your source for filling your SUP, sailing, and kayaking needs.

Whether you’re new to watersports or having been enjoying them for years, you won’t find a better place to practice your skills than Aktion Parks. With two locations, the on-site pro shops can help you suit up before you hit the practice arena. They’re known for carrying all the basics and the little extras that stand between you and a good time. You can rent your gear to “try before you buy,” and if you purchase your rental setup that day your rental fee will be credited to your purchase.

Touted as Central Florida’s largest kayak showroom, there’s no way you won’t find a quality kayak here. This mega store specializes in all things kayaks and SUPs. You can request a demo by appointment to see how they work and make sure you’re getting the best one for your money. They’re also well known for building custom fishing kayaks so you can get the one-of-a-kind experience you want.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-watersport-retailers-in-florida http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-watersport-retailers-in-florida Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0600
10 Best Archery Outfitters in Florida Florida has some of the best of everything when it comes to outdoor living, and its supply of archery shops is no exception. Throughout the Sunshine State, bow hunting is essential to the hunting lifestyle, especially since Florida has ample and diverse wildlife. If you’re looking to hone your skills, or you’re picking up a bow for the very first time, you can’t go wrong with a visit to one of these 10 best archery outfitters in Florida. 

Offering some of the best brands in the industry, you won’t find a better shopping experience than at the Deer Camp. Geared specifically toward the Florida hunting lifestyle, the folks here are eager to share their expertise to help you find the best bow and other supplies for your needs. Among their top-quality brands you’ll find familiar names like Mission, Mathews, and PSE among others.

For archers on a budget, you’ll love the low prices at Tallahassee Archery Center. They carry some of the best brands in the industry to complete your experience and guarantee you get the lowest possible price on everything you buy. While you’re there, you can sign up for a professional archery class that will help you hone your skills.

This is Tampa’s largest dealer for Mathews and Hoyt bows, so there’s no doubt you’ll find only the best when you walk into the store. Their customers love the family-style atmosphere at the store, which keeps them coming back. In addition to top-quality gear, you can get your bows serviced and repaired here, too. 

With two locations, Adventures Archery is the first step to an epic archery experience. From a practice range to classes to equipment sales and service, you can get everything you need all under one roof. It also helps that you’ll be dealing with fellow archers who share your passion for the sport.

Britton’s is a small archery shop and enclosed range that caters to archers of all ages. Fans love this place because of the attentiveness to their needs, quality products, and archery classes. Being treated like family is just part of the experience, plus you get the benefit of working with a true professional who knows the sport inside and out.

Featuring the best of guns and bows, this archery pro shop is the complete outdoors outfitter. Compound bows, crossbows, fishing bows, accessories—if you need it, chances are they have it or can get it. They’ve also got a rigging area and archery setup on site to help you get the most from your purchase before you leave the store.

Family time 😍 @gapollonio @nicapollonioo

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If brand matters, you’ll want to make Blessed Archery your first stop. They carry best-in-class brands like Mathews, Hoyt, PSE, Mission, Diamond, and Bowtech. Even better, they keep a huge selection of inventory on hand to help you get what you need when you need it.

The name says it—this place is an archer’s haven. Though small on the outside, there’s lots to be seen on the inside. Bows, targets, custom arrows, and other accessories are all backed by some of the friendliest service in the business.

Though commonly known for hosting concealed carry classes, Mor-Guns’ archery pro shop is not to be overlooked. They feature a variety of archery accessories to keep you stocked, as well as a laid-back attitude that makes shopping a breeze (and less intimidating for newbies). 

This small, family-owned business has passion for archery at its core. They specialize in both new and used bows, handcrafted arrows, and other gear and supplies to ensure you can get everything you need in a single shopping trip.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-archery-outfitters-in-florida http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-archery-outfitters-in-florida Mon, 18 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0600
10 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in Florida If you’re looking for the best fishing in the country, there’s no better place to be than in sunny Florida. Tourists from all over the world flock to the state in droves each year for its fishing opportunities. Of course, to catch the best fish you need the right bait and gear, which can be found at one of these 10 best bait and tackle shops in Florida. 

With three locations (in Fort Pierce, Stuart, and Vero Beach), White’s Tackle happens to be one of the oldest tackle shops in Florida. Having opened in 1925, they’ve built their foundation on knowing what Florida fishermen need to get the best catch possible. As a result, you get the right bait and gear the first time from fellow fishermen who share your passion.

Specializing in both live and artificial bait, you’ll want to come here for firsthand knowledge of fishing in the area. They also carry all the extras you need for a successful day on the water, including beer, ice, sunglasses, sunscreen, snacks, and more. 

This no-frills shop is open bright and early to help you maximize your fishing time. Offering both live and frozen bait, ice, and tackle, you’ll get everything you need in one trip, no matter where you’re planning to fish.

This full-service fishing shop gives you much to look forward to. They offer rod and reel repairs, charters, and the largest inventory of fishing supplies and gear in the area. You’ll never need to make another trip elsewhere.

If your passion for fishing is deeper than your pockets, you can get good quality gear at great prices at Southeastern Fishing Tackle Liquidators. This discount warehouse offers name brands you’re familiar with, such as Shimano and Yeti, usually at lower-than-retail prices. You can also find a quality selection of used equipment to stretch your fishing fund further.

The fish don’t take a day off, so why should you? One of the biggest benefits of shopping here is that they’re open every day of the week, starting bright and early each day. Located in an area that’s prime for trout, redfish, and grouper, you’ll find everything you need to take home some of the best catches in the area.

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No matter what type of bait you’re looking for, Bitter’s has it. They don’t just sell bait—they hone and refine it until you get the perfect fish magnet to suit your needs. Each one is specially crafted for its unique application to give you the best chance of hooking what you came for.

Personalized service, extensive product knowledge, and a huge variety are just a few of the things that set Stuart Angler apart from other area shops. No matter what kind of fishing you plan to do, be it inshore, offshore, or fly fishing, they’ve got an unbeatable selection of tackle and bait to help you reach your fishing goals. They also offer fishing guide services for those who want a little extra expertise along for the ride.

Customers love the quick in-and-out service they get at Perk’s. They carry a wide variety of bait and tackle and some of the best service in the area to help you get on to your next fishing adventure as fast as possible.

They offer one of the largest saltwater fishing product lines in Florida, so there’s no doubt you’ll find what you need for an epic day of fishing. Located in the Florida Keys, this full-service tackle shop is just a stone’s throw from some of the best fishing in Florida.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-bait-and-tackle-shops-in-florida http://stepoutside.org/article/10-best-bait-and-tackle-shops-in-florida Mon, 18 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0600
9 Best Winter Cabin Camping Spots in Florida Though the weather outside might be far from frightful, there’s still nothing like cozy cabin camping in Florida. Sure, a tent will do the job just fine, but the cabin experience will make your adventure feel more like winter (even if it’s 70 degrees and sunny!). Start your winter getaway at one of these nine best winter cabin camping spots in Florida. 

There’s no better place to camp in the winter in Florida than Otter Springs. Their indoor heated pool makes every stay feel like summer, no matter how cool outside it gets. The park features a natural spring that hovers around 73 degrees year long. If you’re craving an all-natural environment, Otter Springs is sure to spoil you.

Touted as St. Pete’s hidden jewel, this KOA campground leaves you wanting for nothing. Just minutes from white sandy beaches and nestled along the Pinellas Trail, guests can enjoy games like bocce ball, mini golf, and volleyball. They also feature a pool that’s open year-round.

When the stars were bright, campfire was warm, and laughter was loud, those were the most magical of moments // #kamp2k17

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If you want a high chance of seeing wildlife during your stay, you’ll want to book at a cabin at Lake Louisa State Park. This pristine natural area is a hot spot for animals like bald eagle, wading birds, white-tail deer, bobcat, and other amazing wildlife. Their selection of cabins offer beautiful views of Dixie Lake and feature all the comforts of home to make your stay enjoyable.

Camping on the beach… in winter? Yes, please! This fun, decorative camping resort has color-popping cabins mere steps from the water’s edge. On site, you’ll find a fitness center, laundry station, and camp store, with shopping and restaurants just minutes away. The beach is enjoyable in the winter but usually less crowded, which makes it the best time to visit.

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There’s no shortage of things to do within Grayton Beach State Park, even in the winter. This beachfront park offers both freshwater and saltwater fishing, nature trails, hiking and biking trails, and a boat ramp to take your adventures seaward. Their cabins feature gas log fireplaces during the winter to help create the cozy winter camping experience you didn’t think was possible in Florida.

Located on a barrier island, this charming state park is only accessible by boat so you’ll need to pack lightly. On your journey, you may catch signs of wildlife like dolphins, manatees, and birds. Once you arrive on the island, you can relax to the sounds of nature on the trails, on the shoreline, or from inside your rustic cabin.

Made it. Our home for the week. #Cabin5 #cayocostastatepark

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Tucked against the Suwanee River, fans of Fanning Springs love this crystal-clear spring that sets the backdrop for the beautiful park. Manatees tend to make winter appearances at the park, a must see for any animal lover. With your cabin reservation, you can enjoy the sand volleyball court, picnic area, playground, and trail system that shows you the best sights of the park.

Canoeing and river trips don’t stop in Florida when January comes knocking. If you’re looking for a little adventure with your cabin camping, Ocklawaha has it. You can rent a canoe during your stay at one of their luxury log cabins to make your trip even better. Each cabin features all the amenities you need to make you feel right at home, including cable TV, full bathroom, kitchenette, and heating and air. 

The island is only accessible by boat or ferry, but getting there is part of the experience. Once you arrive on the island, you can explore the vestiges of Native American living or learn more at the Visitor’s Center. Your cabin rental includes access to the picnic areas and playground, and you can rent a canoe or boat slip to round out your trip.

Out cabin camping for @iamthewoodhouse bachelor party trip #hontoonisland #indians #haunted #florida

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http://stepoutside.org/article/9-best-winter-cabin-camping-spots-in-florida http://stepoutside.org/article/9-best-winter-cabin-camping-spots-in-florida Thu, 07 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0600
7 Best Motorsport Retailers and Rentals in Florida Whether you’re a full-time resident or simply like to visit the Sunshine State, you know that adventure in Florida often means a ride on the wild side. There’s no end to outdoor scenery and activities to help you have a good time, especially when it comes to heading off road. There’s also no shortage of amazing motorsport retailers and rental places that can help you set your sights on adventure. Your ATV, UTV, or dirt bike off-roading journey begins at these seven awesome retailers and rental places in Florida! 

Adults aren’t the only ones who love the thrill of the ride, which is why Croom ATV Rental offers tracks dedicated exclusively to young riders. In fact, they’re the only ATV rental place around that lets kids drive their very own vehicle. Of course, there’s also plenty of fun for adults too, with over 2,600 acres of riding areas, including a sand bowl, groomed trails, and hills galore. 

For service and sales, you can’t do better than Solano Cycle. Though largely specializing in two-wheeled powersports, they also carry the highly-acclaimed Trail Master line of ATVs, UTVs, and go karts to help you find the off-roading vehicle of your dreams. They feature four locations in Florida to help riders near and far enjoy the excitement of the off-roading experience.

#SundayFunday in #StAugustine !!

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Whether you’re a seasoned rider or just starting to find your passion, you can learn more in a day at Revolution Off Road than you could on your own. Book a tour on an ATV, buggy, or Mucky Duck, which includes your vehicle and safety gear for an epic adventure. Tours offer official guides to help you learn the basics in a safe environment.

Fun times for the whole family! #GetDirty #OffRoad #ThingsToDoInOrlando #LongWeekend

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If you’ve ever ridden an ATV or dirt bike, you know this shop’s name doesn’t lie. They’re fully loaded with high-quality new and used motorsport machines to give you your next adrenaline rush. Manufacturers like Textron Off Road, Suzuki, and Intimidator are just a few of the lines you’ll find here. They also offer owner financing so that nothing can stand in your way of pursuing your passion for all things off-roading. 

Little air time at Florida cycle park #rideyellow #sarasotafunmachines

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Polaris and Kawasaki dominate the motorsport vehicle selection at Kissimmee Motorsports. This is your one-stop shop for supplies, parts, and service to keep your purchase running like new. 

This family-owned business near Tampa is just as dedicated to the ride as the customers they serve, which is why you can expect nothing but a fun experience here. They rent ATVs for you to use at three area ATV parks: Croom and Peace River Campground, among others. They’ll even deliver your ATV to the park for a small delivery fee! 

Bring your own vehicle, or choose one from their fleet—either way, you’ll love the ambitious trail system at Florida Tracks & Trails. Florida’s largest outdoor adventure park features 1,000 acres of twists, turns, mud tracks, wooded areas, and plenty of scenery to make every visit unique. When you’re had your fill of riding, you can join in on a game of paintball or enjoy live music and other occasional events. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/7-best-motorsport-retailers-and-rentals-in-florida http://stepoutside.org/article/7-best-motorsport-retailers-and-rentals-in-florida Wed, 29 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0600
Start Your Trek: 7 Unbeatable Hiking Retailers in Florida When it comes to Mother Nature, Florida’s got it all: oceans, lakes, swamps, camping, wildlife, and plenty of hiking trails that take you to see it all. Prepare yourself in the best possible way with a trip to one of Florida’s dedicated hiking retailers. Visiting a specialty hiking shop means you’ll find all the fine details that can make a real difference in your hiking experience. It also means you get the added benefit of shopping with someone with real expertise and knowledge of the area to help you get the most from your purchases. Visit one of these seven awesome hiking stores in Florida, and set your sights on adventure. 

As the leaders in local adventure, the folks at Tampa Bay Outfitters know how to help hikers and adventurers of all sorts get the most from their experience. They carry all the clothing, footwear, sunglasses, and gear you need for a day on the trails, and can help you avoid making a second trip elsewhere. Choose from favorite brands like Patagonia, the North Face, Osprey, and dozens more.

Peter Glenn Ski & Sports features several locations throughout Florida in addition to an online store to help hikers get high-quality gear no matter where they roam. For hikers, they offer poles, boots, and clothing for the whole family, along with sunglasses, gloves, mittens, socks, and other accessories. Stock up on trusted brands like Camelbak, the North Face, and HotHands.

Looks like @peterglennsports is going to stay cozy and warm for the holidays! #winterfjord

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No one knows hikers’ needs like fellow outdoor enthusiasts. That’s why you’ll never want to go anywhere else for your apparel or gear than Trail & Ski. Locally owned and operated, the team here knows the area well and can direct you to the best trails and other outdoor hot spots. In addition, they back up their products with real experience to ensure you get the right stuff the first time. They’re proud to carry favorites like Marmot, Patagonia, and Mountain House for their fellow hikers. 

No matter where you roam, Intracoastal Outfitters can help you get there in the best possible way. You’ll find best in class brands like Keen hiking boots and Chaco wearables to help you get what you need in a single trip. They also specialize in comfort footwear, offering orthopedic inserts, custom fitting, shoe stretching, and other services to help you continue your passion for hiking.

New ENO daypacks. New style. Old school look. Digging these. #eno #outdoorgear #backtoschool #enohammock #pensacolavibes

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Just a stone’s throw from Destin, this local outfitter can meet your hiking needs every bit as much as a big-name store. With a special level of personalized service, you’ll find all your outdoor needs from backpacks, to clothing, to medical kits, to hydration. Brands like Saloman, Life is Good, and Hydro Flask are known to dominate the shelves, along with other top-quality labels for the best possible hiking experience.

Who says a walk in the woods means you have to sacrifice style? Columbia Sportswear knows how to outfit hikers from head to toe in the most fashion-forward way possible. Their stores are dedicated specifically to the Columbia Sportswear brand, offering essentials like jackets, accessories, and clothing for layering. 

When it comes to outdoor quests, no one knows your needs like the North Face. They make clothing and backpacks perfect for whatever weather Mother Nature throws at you, and can help you stay prepared. When you invest in a good jacket and backpack like these the first time, chances are they’ll last you for many years to come. 

Mai getting her new winter coat! #mai #japanesegirl #wintercoat

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http://stepoutside.org/article/start-your-trek-7-unbeatable-hiking-retailers-in-florida http://stepoutside.org/article/start-your-trek-7-unbeatable-hiking-retailers-in-florida Wed, 08 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0600
5 Wonderful Birdwatching Hikes in Florida If you’re big into birdwatching, there’s no better place to roost with your binoculars than in Florida. The Sunshine State’s abundance of state parks, islands, coastlines, and varied ecosystems make it an attractive spot for birds, which means you’ll find plenty of viewing spots to glimpse some of your favorite species. Florida is home to hundreds of native birds, along with plenty of migratory birds. You’ll have to be quick, though—the hunt is part of the fun, and you only get a few short seconds to spot and identify before they’re in flight once more. If you love birdwatching, you’ll love these five best birdwatching spots in Florida—make sure you bring your camera!

Originally created to protect migratory birds, this refuge plays home to much more than feathered friends. Hosting a diverse population of more than 350 bird species, visitors can expect to spot birds of prey, shore and wading birds, waterfowl, and migratory birds. Bald eagles have been known to make their appearance here, as well as hawks, herons, egrets, warblers, blue jays, and others. One of its mainstays is the threatened Florida scrub-jay. The refuge holds one of the state's three stronghold populations of this species, whose habitat is under constant threat.

#floridascrubjay #bird #florida #merrittislandnationalwildliferefuge

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Free and open to the public, this former wastewater property is now dedicated to fostering nesting and roosting. Visitors can enjoy the .75-mile boardwalk that winds over water and near islands that play home to over 175 bird species. This spot is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, and offers prime viewing of birds in their natural habitat. Wading birds are in abundance here, as well as plenty of birdsong to accompany you on your stroll around the park.

This particular park focuses on the treatment, rehabilitation, and needs of raptors. Here you can get up close and personal with bald eagles, owls, ospreys, kites, and falcons. The park offers a boardwalk that takes you to the nearby lake for more bird and wildlife spotting opportunities. The center here offers a chance for citizens to become part of a bald eagle monitoring program, where participants can find, monitor, and report on nests in the wild. Or, you can visit the Magic of Flight barn that gives you a first-hand look into the rehabilitation efforts of these magnificent birds.

Given the abundance of wildlife in this area and its system of trails and observation areas, it’s no wonder that Tree Tops Park has established itself as a must-visit for birdwatchers. There are three trails in the park, one of which leads to a 28-foot-high observation tower that offers magnificent birding views. In addition, the park’s varied marshes, lake, and wooded area make it attractive for many different bird species. Wading birds, waterfowl, raptors, and woodpeckers have all been known to frequent the area, especially in and around the Pine Island Ridge portion of the park.

Explored by none other than William Bartram himself, this magnificent park is one of Florida’s premiere sites for birdwatching. Combing marshes, wetlands, hardwood hammocks, flatlands, and swamps into a single experience, birdwatchers can count on seeing one of the most diverse bird populations in the state. Sandhill cranes are viewable year-round, but fall through spring bring the most variety: winter sparrow, waterfowl, hawks, warblers, and other species frequent the area during migration. In total, there are about 270 bird species throughout the year, along with other wildlife to keep you company.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-wonderful-birdwatching-hikes-in-florida http://stepoutside.org/article/5-wonderful-birdwatching-hikes-in-florida Fri, 03 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0500
Camping Done Right: 7 Essential Outdoor Stores in Florida Whether you’re just stepping into the wonders of camping or you’re a seasoned camper who’d never be caught in a hotel, you know that having the right camping gear can make or break a camping trip. No worries— Florida is chock full of quality outdoor stores dedicated to campers’ needs. From primitive backcountry camping to tent sites within a camping resort, you never realize exactly how many things you use on a daily basis until you’re without them on a camping trip. Find everything you need to make your next trip enjoyable when you stop by these seven essential outdoor stores in Florida. 

From clothing to gear, your next camping trip will be fully loaded when you stop at Travel Country Outfitters first. They carry all the best names in camping, like Big Green Egg, Marmot, Patagonia, and Osprey. They’ve got something for every camper, from fishing coolers to Girl Scouts’ supplies to strollers and carrying packs for tiny campers.

When you think outdoors, there’s no greater name than REI. They understand what campers need, and can usually personally attest to the gear they sell to help you find the right stuff the first time. They cater to campers of all types, from family-friendly adventures to backpackers and even canine campers. Kelty and North Face are just a few of the famous faces you’ll find on its shelves.

The name says it all: you can survive anything if you’re well prepared. This store features brands like Streamlight, Coleman, and Surefire to ensure you get every piece of equipment you need for the best camping trip ever. Make sure you stock up on those easily-overlooked accessories, like first aid kits, spare batteries, and matches.

They’ve thought of everything, right down to the perfect socks to wear in the great outdoors. Between the obvious tents and sleeping bags to unique cooking gear, whistles, and tools, this place is a camper’s paradise. Inside you can expect brands like Kelty, Coleman, and Camelbak, along with all the little details that make the biggest difference in your home away from home. 

Nebo Old Red Lantern

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Whatever you need for outdoor survival, Environeers has it. Check out their tents, sleeping bags, high-quality outerwear, lights, and more. Brands like Patagonia, the North Face, and Osprey can transform your next adventure into an unforgettable one. Shop online or in store—either way, you’ll never have to go without. 

If you have ever wondered about what I do for a little living, I play with some sweet gear! @environeerssrq

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There’s something for every camper in this store, including the smallest adventurers and man’s best friend. Their food supply section saves you an extra trip to the grocery store, plus they sell all the “extras” like bug spray and batteries. Solar showers and rain covers can be found alongside staples like tents and stoves. Osprey, Eureka! Tents, and JetBoil kitchenware provide high-quality, reliable equipment you’ll be able to use again and again.

If you want the best camping experience, no one knows better than the locals. The folks at Naples Outfitters have a natural affinity to the great outdoors and know the area well to help you get the most from your trip. Stop by to stock up gear like Big Agnes tents and PocketRocket stoves, both of which are lightweight to make for easier trekking.

Packs on packs on packs #Osprey #GetOutside #Backpacking

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http://stepoutside.org/article/camping-done-right-7-essential-outdoor-stores-in-florida http://stepoutside.org/article/camping-done-right-7-essential-outdoor-stores-in-florida Fri, 03 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0500
Making the Most out of Highlands Hammock State Park Florida is known for having some of the best vacation spots, best restaurants, best theme parks, and a never-ending list of places worth visiting. Add Highlands Hammock State Park to that list. This amazing state park is somewhat of a hidden gem, despite being one of the oldest official state parks in Florida. There’s no better way to get back to nature than a trip here.

Situated on 9,000 acres of cypress swamps and flatwoods, this park has been delighting visitors for over 86 years. If you’re looking for Florida wildlife, you’ll most likely see it here—visitors report seeing black bear, Florida panther, alligators, deer, turtles, and myriad birds throughout the year. The park features activities for all ages, including boardwalks, tram tour, picnic pavilion, hiking, camping, and recreational rental areas. There’s no park in Florida quite like it.

Eight out of nine of the park’s hiking trails are accessible via the loop drive, enabling trekkers to extend or shorten their walk as they wish via connecting and inter-looping pathways. Trails travel through multiple swamps and flatwoods areas that offer plenty of shade and solitude. However, don’t think you’re ever truly alone—wild eyes are often nearby, and hiking this trail gives you your best chance at spotting them in their natural habitats. 

Hop aboard the tram that takes you to places you’d never see on foot. Guided tours take you through the cypress swamps and into restricted areas, giving you all-around views of the park. Along the way, you’ll see some of the park’s residents, such as alligators, wading birds, and other wildlife. The tour lasts about an hour and 15 minutes, and costs just $5 for adults and $3 for children ages six to 12. 

Highlands Hammocks is a popular camping destination for good reason: They offer just about every type of camping for every type of camper. Choose between primitive campsites or equestrian camping, or bring the RV and avoid sacrificing your modern conveniences. The campground here is family friendly, and features restrooms, showers, dishwashing area, and free Wi-Fi.

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Whether you’re an artist yourself or simply appreciate the works of others, you’ll want to check out the Highlands Museum of the Arts. Exhibits change regularly, and have often included a variety of media, such as painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, and projection. You might even stumble upon a class or art show while you’re there.

Back at it again

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Cowpoke’s makes for a truly glorious spot to fill up your belly after a long day. You’ll love the food. You’ll love the décor. You’ll love the atmosphere. At Cowpoke’s, you’ll find a unique tiki bar, live music, and enough space for almost 300 people. The menu consists of lobster tails, mahi mahi, tuna, mussels, oysters, scallops, catfish, shrimp, and even frog legs! Their cuts of steak are absolutely to die for. 

#Frogs 🀐🀐🀐🀐

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A 1926 railroad depot plays home to this railroad museum. One of the top attractions of the museum is their beloved dining car, which is available for scheduled events and luncheons. The museum also features a variety of exhibits depicting all things railroad and the growth and prosperity of Avon Park. 

If you’re not planning to camp in Highlands Hammock State Park, consider resting your head at the Jacaranda, a true Florida original and charming piece of history. This once booming inn was built in Avon Park’s heyday, before the rise of interstate system rendered the town an off-the-beaten-path stop. However, the Jacaranda never lost its appeal, and its grandiose statement still inspires in small-town Avon Park. The hotel owners have preserved its rich history, offering a pleasant, unique experience to its guests.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/making-the-most-out-of-highlands-hammock-state-park http://stepoutside.org/article/making-the-most-out-of-highlands-hammock-state-park Wed, 01 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0500
5 Energizing Hikes in Florida While Florida may be better known for its beautiful beaches and ocean views, the state also offers an incredible hiking scene that shouldn’t be ignored. There’s nothing quite like the therapy of a walk in the woods to clear your mind and help you escape the sights and sounds of everyday life. Even better, a good hike is just as healthy for the body as it is for the mind. If you’re looking for a challenging yet enjoyable hike, these five energizing hiking trails in Florida are just what Mother Nature ordered.

Myakka River State Park features over 38 miles of looped trails with plenty of crossovers that help you make your hike as long or short as you like. The trail system offers a variety of terrain, everything from dry prairie to marshes to heavily-wooded areas. Late fall is the perfect opportunity to traverse the area as summer heat here can be extremely hot, especially in the prairie lands. For an invigorating hike, start at the trailhead just off North Road (on the left if you’re coming from the North Gate). Here you can embark on a hikers-only trail that can take you deep into the park. Beware the alligators!

Located in Lake Kissimmee State Park, this seven-mile trail takes you deep through some of Florida’s most beautiful wonders. Full of wet prairies, oak hammocks, and pine flatwoods, hikers will marvel at the variety of habitats and terrain along the way, including the abundance of deer in the area. The trail itself isn’t especially difficult, but its length signals you should be in decent shape if you want to make it from start to finish.

Just east of Tampa lies one of Florida’s most surprising, best kept secrets: whitewater. Take the Alderman’s Ford Nature Preserve Trail to see it for yourself. This trail winds over three miles through the 10,000-acre preserve, showing you glimpses of the Alafia River as it crashes over limestone boulders and shows you a side of the Sunshine State you may have thought you’d only find in the mountains.

Take your pick between the four-mile loop or its shorter 2.2-mile counterpart here—they’re both equally scenic and enjoyable. The trailhead begins in the midst of Babcock Ranch, so you’re likely to see cattle roaming free. In fact, these free-range cattle are what make this trail so interesting (in addition to other wildlife, such as deer and raccoon). You may even see real cowboys wrangling them as you traverse the area, giving you entertainment as you enjoy your fairly moderate hike. 

This hike could go on for over eight miles if you wanted it to, but it’s been divided into two separate trails because of a land dispute. If you prefer a shorter hike, the down-and-back trail provides a total of nearly six miles of Florida beauty. As one of the most scenic hikes in the northern part of the state, this trail parallels the glistening Withlacoochee River at certain points and takes you through the ghost town of Ellaville. If you’re looking for them, you’ll also see remnants of other historic structures along the way, including the Drew Mansion Ruins. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-energizing-hikes-in-florida http://stepoutside.org/article/5-energizing-hikes-in-florida Mon, 23 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0500
ATV Off-Roading Adventure at Lazy Springs Recreation Park Beaches, theme parks, swamplands, seafood—it seems like Florida’s got it all. Though the ATV off-roading scene isn’t quite as popular as its coastal splendor, it should be! Throughout the Sunshine State you’ll find a variety of fun off-roading spots filled with adventure. Of course, no day of off-road exploring is complete without soaking in the best spots of the local area. If you’re looking for an epic day of off-roading in Florida, your adventure begins here. 

Start your engines at Country Roads Cafe, one of the best breakfast spots in town. This homey little downtown diner has all your favorite morning fuel-ups, from eggs and bacon to country fried steak. It’s just like Grandma used to make, loaded with flavor and southern hospitality.

Don’t let the name fool you—you’ll be working plenty hard on your off-roading ride here. This sprawling park has a little something for everyone, including fishing, zip lines, mud pits, obstacle course, motocross, and rocky hills to challenge every rider. If you want to get your days’ worth, you can bring along the tent for an overnight camp. 

Located within the hotel that you will be staying the night in, 1st Street Deli is delicious and open 24 hours! Their hot deli sandwiches will be the perfect thing to quench your hunger after a long day on the trails. Try their Southern fried shrimp po’boy made with fried breaded shrimp on a French baguette with lettuce, tomato, garlic pickles, and remoulade sauce. 

Once you’ve satisfied your appetite, you can relax and unwind after a long day of off-roading. Enjoy a few cocktails in the casino, try your hand at Lady Luck, take a dip in the pool, or enjoy a live show to cap off your adventure. The accommodations here are clean and cozy so you can get a restful night’s sleep after a long day of riding.

Before heading home, be sure to enjoy the surrounding area just a little bit more. The Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch is a truly fascinating historical site. Since it was first settled in 1872, the Immokalee community has been home to hunters, trappers, cowmen, missionaries, and many others. This former home of cattleman Robert Roberts is now a sprawling, 13-acre historic site—and is actually the longest-running ranch in South Florida. The exhibits are captivating and on the site, guests will find 15 wonderfully preserved original buildings, illustrating what the lives of cow hunters, ranchers, and pioneer families were like. 

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http://stepoutside.org/article/atv-offroading-adventure-at-lazy-springs-recreation-park http://stepoutside.org/article/atv-offroading-adventure-at-lazy-springs-recreation-park Fri, 13 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0500
5 Awesome Trail Running Spots in Florida Running has amazing physical benefits, but when you add trail running into the mix, your workouts become even more rewarding. Trail running ups your running game by injecting various terrain and challenges into every run, forcing you to get a little creative to keep your focus. As a result, you can expect to improve your surefootedness and balance while getting an effective workout surrounded by beautiful natural scenery. These five awesome trail running spots in Florida will forever change what you thought running could be! 

Nestled in Wekiwa Springs State Park, this moderate to difficult trail is excellent for trail runners. At 10.2 miles, trail traffic is typically light, giving you free and clear access. Throughout your run you’ll be encircled by some of Florida’s best natural scenery, with wildlife sightings a very high possibility. The trail travels over a variety of terrain, everything from palm scrub to boardwalks to pine tree terrain. 

This trail inside Shingle Creek is the perfect spot to glimpse the headwaters of the Everglades. Though short and sweet, this trail provides beautiful scenery and easy terrain for a refreshing run. Shingle Creek flows alongside the trail for the most part, which means you have a high chance of seeing some of Florida’s wildlife while you’re here. Best of all, the trail gives off a secluded, tucked-away feeling that can make your run as relaxing as it is energizing.

If you’ve ever wanted to travel through the Everglades, the Shark Valley Tram Road is your prime opportunity. In addition, the trail offers an excellent workout as you enjoy all the sights and sounds of the beautiful ecosystem here. The trail itself is easy enough, however, if you plan to enjoy the trail in its entirety, you should know you’re in for a good 15-mile trip. Along the first half of the loop, you’ll have ample opportunity to glimpse alligators and native birds as you’re rushing by. Many trail runners opt to turn around at the midway observation tower, as the second half of the loop isn’t nearly as scenic. 

Easy and simple is the beauty of the two miles of trails at Jacksonville Arboretum. Here you’ll pass by some of the most beautiful sights in the arboretum and gardens, including a lake and wooded areas. Known to locals as one of the most beautiful places to hike in the area, the various terrain is also a perfect opportunity for trail running. Some sections of the trails remain flat, while one quarter-mile stretch features 25 feet of elevation changes. It’s not a difficult or long run, which makes this an attractive spot for beginner trail runners.

You’ll want to use caution on this trail, as runners have reported numerous sightings of Pygmy rattlesnakes. Despite the potential wildlife dangers, this trail makes an awesome opportunity for runners to experience the Estuarine Research Reservation. The 9.2-mile loop is divided into various sections, so you can make your run as lengthy as you can handle. The trail itself is relatively flat throughout, and it takes you along boardwalks over marshes, alongside waterfronts, and through some of the state’s most beautiful nature scenes. This is one trail you’ll want to visit again and again.

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http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-trail-running-spots-in-florida http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-trail-running-spots-in-florida Wed, 11 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0500