Florida Off The Beaten Path

  • View from the observation tower
    View from the observation tower
    by Ewingjr98
  • coral castle
    coral castle
    by doug48
  • St. George St-the main avenue
    St. George St-the main avenue
    by BruceDunning

Florida Off The Beaten Path

  • State Parks, Animals and Nature

    Orlando Off The Beaten Path

    Northwest of Orlando, at the edge of the sprawl, the unfortunately named Kelly Park is just an unassuming dot of a county park. But it's actually fantastic. This is the sort of thing that you would love to see at a theme park but never do, because theme parks can't recreate it properly. Think of swimming in a huge, clear, cool pool with a lazy...

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  • Cemetery and Ghosts

    Key West Off The Beaten Path

    An African cemetery appears on an Army Corps of Engineers map drawn in 1861. It is labled "African Cemetery with nine small Xs. This location probably has up to 295 graves extending from under the West Martello Tower out onto the beach toward the east (i.e. toward Miami) According to the website below (melfisher.org): "Many of the Africans were...

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  • The Beach

    Fort Lauderdale Off The Beaten Path

    1) Big parking lot at Las Olas and the beach. Lots of locals, lots of bars and some shops. Hidden local tip: Park for less under the bridge that carries Las Olas over the Intercostal, then walk three blocks to the beach. 2) For less noise, but still cool wide beach, walk South from Las Olas for 1/4 mile to the intersection of the side road...

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  • Miscelaneous

    Miami Off The Beaten Path

    This cafe/bar is truly unconventional. Having lived in cities like Seattle and Chicago, where eccentric non-corporate cafes abound, I was dismayed to find nothing of the sort in Miami. Until I stumbled by chance into Luna Star Cafe in North Miami one day after I had visited the Museum of Contemporary Art. It is a quiet neighborhood, you would think...

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  • Downtown

    Tampa Off The Beaten Path

    The Christopher Columbus Monument is located just south of the central business district along Bayshore Drive. The statue was created by Albert Sabas, and features a statue of Columbus atop a stone pillar. The statue is located in aptly named Columbus Statue Park which is the northern end of Bayshore Boulevard Linear Park.

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  • Anastasia Island State Park.

    Saint Augustine Off The Beaten Path

    The park area has a lightly wooded section, an ocean-front, beach section and a grassy marsh section, so you can see a variety of wading and shore birds. The park is on a migratory path for many species so what birds you see will depend on the time of year for your visit. (see the "birding" section in the website below for more details). This park...

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  • J.N. Ding Darling Refuge

    Sanibel Island Off The Beaten Path

    The wildlife refuge is a protected area for snakes, alligators, bald eagles and falcons. Unfortunately, I didn't see any while there. I spent a bit of time wandering around the refuge and reading the exhibits at the visitor's center. There are a couple of trails in the area, including one which starts at the visitor's center and leads 4 miles to an...

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  • Beaches

    Jacksonville Off The Beaten Path

    Looking for public access in ritzy Ponte Vedra Beach? Exclusive Ponte Vedra Beach boasts the gargantuan oceanfront mansions of millionaires, world-class resorts including the five diamond rated Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and its sister resort The Lodge & Club, and shopping villages filled with high-end boutiques. It is actually said to be the third...

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  • Palm Cottage

    Naples Off The Beaten Path

    This is Naples' oldest house, built in 1890. It sits in the historic district on 12th Avenue near the pier. Inside, the Naples Histrical Soeicty has restored its 19th century atmosphere to show how some of Naples' first summer tourists lived. It's amazing how many people pass by this place to go by the pier and never give it a second look. I guess...

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  • Pigeon Key

    Marathon Off The Beaten Path

    We first visited Pigeon Key in 1969 when our car (a 1932 Plymouth) broke down on 7 mile bridge. My husband pushed, I steered and we drifted down onto Pigeon Key where he fixed the fault. All that was there when we were there were old boarded up wooden buildings. Now Pigeon Key (like the old 7 Mile Bridge) is on the National Register of Historic...

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  • Beaches

    Orlando Off The Beaten Path

    new smyrna beach is located about 70 miles northeast of orlando. new smyrna is one of the few beaches you can drive on in florida. in my opinion new smyrna beach is much nicer than the more famous daytona beach to the north. just south of new smyrna on US A1A is the northern entrance to the cape canaveral national seashore which offers about six...

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  • Quirky Stuff

    Key West Off The Beaten Path

    One of the things we love to do is to go get some naked wings and then go to Peppers and sample their wares. I recommended it to my aunt for her to go when she was down here, and she not only went, but she bought some of their sauces.

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  • Butterfly World

    Fort Lauderdale Off The Beaten Path

    Butterfly World is one of my personal favorite places in the Fort Lauderdale area. It is easily the most relaxing day you'll spend here off the beach. It is a visual feast with thousands of butterflies fluttering around you in an atrium filled with exotic plants and beautiful flowers all the while soft classical music pipes in around you. Bring...

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  • The Everglades

    Miami Off The Beaten Path

    If you get a chance, do a tour of the Everglades. I was surprised how close they are to Miami. It's merely an hour or so by road. You get to go on a very noisy boat which looks like a hovercraft and you will skim along the water to explore the wildlife. Alligators, birds, etc, are in abundance! The tour also includes a talk about their "friendly"...

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  • Canoeing

    Tampa Off The Beaten Path

    hillsborough river state park is located northeast of tampa near the town of thonotoassa. historically the area was the site of fort foster during the second seminole war. most visitors come to the park to canoe the river's class II rapids and to walk the park's seven miles of nature trails. hillsborough state park is a nice getaway from the urban...

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  • Fort Matanzas National Monument

    Saint Augustine Off The Beaten Path

    Fort Matanzas is a small but beautifully located Spanish fort that was built in the 18th century, and the area has colonial history dating back to the 16th century. A free guided ferry tour can be undertaken from the visitor's center. There is also a short boardwalk nature trail here. We opted to approach the fort via Kayak, putting in at a...

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  • Sanibel Light house

    Sanibel Island Off The Beaten Path

    Located on the east end of the island, part of a wildlife refuge. Don't make a special trip here to tour the lighthouse. There aren't any tours. Best you get is a marker at the base of the lighthouse. It will tell you that the lighthouse was first put into service in August of 1884. I wondered if the lighthouse even existed, as I had to walk...

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  • St. Augustine (45 minutes S of Downtown)

    Jacksonville Off The Beaten Path

    Located a short 45 minute drive south of Downtown Jacksonville, the historic city of St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the continental United States. It was founded by the Spanish in 1565, 42 years before the English colonized Jamestown and 55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Attractions...

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  • Water Sports

    Naples Off The Beaten Path

    Hey, this is worth seeing, especially if you have kids. Even if you don't. At the marina they have pet fish. Big ones!!! If you can find this marina, buy a few shrimp (sometimes they'll give you the dead ones) and walk down the dock. The fish (Snook and Sheepshead) are there in the bay waiting to be fed! Just don't put your fingers in the water....

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  • Seven Mile Bridge

    Marathon Off The Beaten Path

    The original girder bridge was, of course, a railroad bridge which was built: 1908 - 1912. In 1931 the Florida East Coas Railroad went bankrupt and in 1935 the line was damaged in a hurricane and service was abandoned. The State of Florida bought the roadbed from Flagler's widow and converted the bridges into highway bridges for US. Route 1. They...

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  • Other Theme Parks

    Orlando Off The Beaten Path

    The Airstream Ranch is the Stonehenge of campers, not too different from Carhenge in Nebraska. This odd roadside sight was created in 2008 by a man named Frank Bates, who buried eight Airstream campers nose-first into the ground along the highway. Two of the trailers predate 1965. Since constructed, the Airstream Ranch has faced numerous legal...

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  • West Martello Tower

    Key West Off The Beaten Path

    This was truly a "Secret Garden" serendipitous find! My husband was out bird watching, and passed this location at the beginning of Smathers Beach. The fact there was no admission charge got him in the door - the beauty he found inside got him to bring me there. The West Martello Tower is one of three remaining Civil War era structures in Key West...

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  • Cruising the Intercoastal

    Fort Lauderdale Off The Beaten Path

    this is a lovely day trip from fort lauderdale to miami down the intracoastal waterway. even tho it takes three hrs to get to miami, the time does not feel anywhere near that long. you can sit inside or outside. inside, there are lots of open windows, and it has a top so that you don't wilt in the sun. there is a breeze on the water, which makes it...

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  • Versace's Mansion

    Miami Off The Beaten Path

    In 1997, Versace was shot to death in front of his mansion in Miami, Florida. Versace's killer is allegedly a serial killer. The incident happened as the 50-year-old designer returned from the fashionable News Café where he bought breakfast and Italian newspapers.

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  • Beach

    Tampa Off The Beaten Path

    honeymoon island state park is located just west of the town of dunedin north of clearwater. the charming town of dunedin is a very nice place to visit in the tampa-clearwater area. honeymoon island has a beautiful unspoiled gulf beach. from downtown tampa take US 60 (kennedy blvd) west to clearwater. then take US19ALt to dunedin. see my dunedin...

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  • River to Sea Preserve

    Saint Augustine Off The Beaten Path

    This is a wonderful hiking trail that seems to be not very well known. Everytime I've been there, no one else has been around. At the beginning of the trail is a pond with a cute alligator living in it. Frankcanfly and I fed him hotdogs and he seemed to enjoy them a lot. It's right off A1A, across from Marineland and a little south. Just look for...

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  • Water Sports

    Sanibel Island Off The Beaten Path

    There's a few marina's on Captiva which all rent out small watercraft that are easy to handle. That way you can get away from the crowds within 20 minutes and do some secluded shelling north of Captiva, snorkel around Cabbage Key or just go for that all over tan!! They'll provide easy to follow maps and instructions so you don't get lost while...

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  • Kingsley Plantation Historic Site

    Jacksonville Off The Beaten Path

    pictured is a restored slave house on the plantation. these houses were built out of "tabby" tabby is a building material made out of oyster shells and sand. this material formed a type of concrete which was popular in the coastal south in the 1700 and 1800's. the kingsley plantation is a very interesting place to visit when in the jacksonville...

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  • Dolphin Research Center

    Marathon Off The Beaten Path

    We didn't originally plan to visit the Dolphin Research Center, but a rainy afternoon found us looking for a beach alternative. The Center is a treasure. The dolphins are people friendly and very entertaining. We were fascinated by the research and training that the staff is consumed with.

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  • Downtown Disney

    Orlando Off The Beaten Path

    Some VTers included Downtown Disney as "Off the Beaten Path" so I'm adding my wee tip on things to see. Store window displays are fascinating ---if you take time to look at them. We were all adults strolling around the area, no children in tow. So, what did we do in Legoland? I took pictures of their display windows showing famous landmarks from...

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  • Historic OldTown

    Key West Off The Beaten Path

    Although I didn't personally get to see the Curry Mansion Inn, several in our group did, and had nothing but good to say of it. The tour was free and they were able to go all over the building except for rooms where the doors were closed, as in rooms where guests were currently staying. They were even able to go up on the roof and get a good view...

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  • Sawgrass

    Fort Lauderdale Off The Beaten Path

    Sawgrass Recreation Park I was told that you really shouldn’t take an airboat ride through the Everglades, but I couldn’t resist and went here. And I have to say, the term “Redneck” just stuck in my mind while here, if you go you’ll see what I mean. It was enjoyable except that our guide told us about the sawgrass which could slice your arm off,...

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  • Coconut Grove

    Miami Off The Beaten Path

    Date of Erection: 1916-1917 The architect was Clinton McKenzie of New York. Plymouth Congregational Church is significant for its association with the early development of Coconut Grove. In addition, the church is an outstanding example of Spanish Mission style architecture and is particularly noteworthy for the excellence of its design, details,...

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  • Al Lopez Park

    Tampa Off The Beaten Path

    Al Lopez Park consists of 130 acres of woods, grass, ponds, playgrounds, and picnic shelters. The park is well-known as a great spot for tailgating before Tampa Bay Buccaneers football games and New York Yankees spring training games, since their stadiums are directly across the street. The park also has two trail loops one for pedestrians only,...

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  • Golf Courses

    Saint Augustine Off The Beaten Path

    A beautiful course that plays in an among some great homes where you have to negotiate moguled fairways, plenty of water, and some really well placed traps. Not a long course, 6500+- yards but it requires accuracy.

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  • Bailey-Matthew Shell Museum

    Sanibel Island Off The Beaten Path

    Bailey-Matthew Shell Museum exhibits roll shell have played in ecology, medicine, and literature, religion, art, architecture, and food. Gift store too. Closed on Monday, Open 10-4 Tuesday thru Saturday

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  • Amelia Island (45 minutes N of Downtown)

    Jacksonville Off The Beaten Path

    A heavily wooded barrier island boasting broad beaches of white quartz sand, Amelia Island is a quaint blend of the very old, the very exclusive and the very natural. This northernmost island in all of Florida is often grouped with Jacksonville's beaches due to its close proximity. About a 45 minute drive north of Downtown Jacksonville, the...

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  • Museums

    Orlando Off The Beaten Path

    Just a few miles north of Orlando in the city of Maitland (exit 90 of I-4) please visit the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida. It's appropriate for families -- no gruesome images -- and focuses on the stories of local survivors and educating the community about tolerance and character education. It has a modest permanent...

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  • Hangouts and Bars

    Key West Off The Beaten Path

    Yes, we now have a Starbucks in town and if you find yourself about to go in, don't do it. Walk one block down Duval, take a left on Eaton street and you'll find the outdoor tables and front door to "Sippin", a great local coffeehouse with comfortable sofas and chairs, internet access and friendly staff. Another quality Coffeehouse is on the...

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  • Alligator Wrestling

    Fort Lauderdale Off The Beaten Path

    Some Indian reservats are situated in the land-inward suburbs of Fort Lauderdale and can be visited to witness some aligator-wrestling-matches (if you're intrested). Besides this there are little shops where the Indians sell local artwork. Be sure you buy genuine, as there is also some fake stuff sold. The Florida Indians had - because of there...

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  • Key Biscayne

    Miami Off The Beaten Path

    In 1967, we took the kids to the Crandon Park. Crandon Park has a wonderful kid-friendly beach. There is also a little family park My kids rode on the antique carousel (photo 2), which first started spinning in 1950. It has been restored and started up again in 1998 after having been idle for 20 years. They also went to the zoo area - I don't know...

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  • Fort DeSoto...

    Tampa Off The Beaten Path

    when in the tampa area a great place to visit are the pinellas county beaches. fort de soto county park is a beautiful oasis in the tampa-st. pete metropolitain urban sprawl. fort de soto park offers a beautitul unspoiled beach, historic fort desoto, camping, fishing, and a ferry to edgmont key state park. fort de soto park is located on the...

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  • Skateboard & BMX Parks

    Jacksonville Off The Beaten Path

    While Jacksonville's abundant coastline gives surfers a lot to gloat about, the city's skateboarding community also has a reason to be proud. That's because Jacksonville is home to Kona, which now reigns as the oldest operating skateboard park in the country. Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, who occasionally makes an appearance at Kona, even...

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  • Kennedy Space Centre

    Orlando Off The Beaten Path

    Kennedy Space Center is located about 45 minutes east of Orlando near Cape Canaveral. The Space Center is the site of numerous space shuttle launches. If you're lucky enough to visit the area when a launch is scheduled, definitely book tickets to watch from the launch viewing site. Since launches are so rare, this may not happen. But you can...

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  • Beach/Water/Boats

    Key West Off The Beaten Path

    This just in: The Mohawk has been joined by a 300+ foot Coast Guard Cutter "Ingam". The USS Mohawk Memorial Museum Ship is a non profit museum supported only by Veterans and Volunteers. $5 for Adults, $2.50 for Children 10 and up, Children under ten are free. All proceeds go toward restoration. Open 10 am to 4 pm Monday thru Saturday. Closed...

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Florida Off The Beaten Path

Reviews and photos of Florida off the beaten path posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Florida sightseeing.
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