If I learned anything while living here, It's that the entire state is filled with beautiful things to see. More often than not, we are just too busy living in a distracted world. Social media is an amazing tool, but it's also just another thing we are looking down at our phones for, and another moment we aren't looking up. By the end of this blog, I want you to start looking up, I promise it's worth it.
Swim with Manatees! Make the drive to Crystal River, and launch your kayak (or rent) at "The Plantation on Crystal River". Take the short paddle up the river to "Three Sisters Spring". Tie up your kayak and swim into the springs. I've done this a handful of times, and often by myself. Out of the seven or eight times I've been there, I've only not seen manatees in the springs once. You can look up the manatee seasons to help, and sometimes the spring itself is closed, so it's worth calling The Plantation ahead of time to check. The water is always pretty cold, so if you aren't into that kind of thing, I'd bring a wetsuit. Wetsuits also help you float, so they are nice for snorkeling here. The manatees were once protected, and just recently came off the endangered species list. That being said, why haven't you swam with these beautiful creatures yet?
Visit Destin! Destin is known as the “The Luckiest Fishing Village” because the Destin pass allows the quickest access to deep water and deep sea fishing in the entire Gulf. I'm personally not into fishing, so it doesn't matter to me, BUT if you are into fishing you will quickly become obsessed with this place. While visiting here, go to 30A, Crab Island, Okaloosa Island, and some of the other beaches because every single one is amazing. The water visibility is pretty awesome, and the Jetties at the end of Okaloosa Island are to die for. I've spent many sunrises here by myself and the sunrises alone made my 7 hour drive to the panhandle worth it. The right hand side is rough, and the left hand side is calm. Many locals walk to the end of the Jetties and come back with huge fish within minutes. Me personally, I go to the end and jump in the water on the left, it gets deep fast, and I've seen pods of dolphins, schools of fish, and sharks, so bring goggles! The Destin Boardwalk offers amazing food, and water activities as well, so be sure to check that out while in town.
Weekday trips to Ginnie Springs & Devils Den. I say weekday because weekends typically get very busy in these 2 places. Either way, it will be worth it. With camping available, you can turn your trip into a several day thing, and once you are there you will be thankful you did. At Ginnie you can start in one of the crystal clear springs, and float down the river on tubes, with a beer in one hand and a friend in the other. At Devils Den you can witness one of the coolest things Florida has to offer, and a simple google search will prove it. I feel like the people who haven't already been here are just making excuses or acting like "it's too far" from wherever they live. But if you are a Florida resident, thats not the case, you are just making excuses. These 2 sites are by far some of my favorite places to spend my time. I strongly advise you checking them out, as soon as you possibly can.
Miami. If you end up in Miami most of the time you have a reason to be there. If for some reason you have no plans while there, make it a point to see "Wynwood Walls". It's a beautiful area with restaurants and bars all around, and some of the most lovely art the world has to offer. People come from all over the world to paint here, and the diversity you find between the murals will speak for themselves. Make sure to park close to where you are going, and lock your car doors, because cars DO get broken into often in this area. Don't let that scare you away though, most of the area is very busy and you'll be fine. If you are with a handful of people, and are into exploring more, google "RC Cola Factory". Its an abandoned warehouse with junk cars and graffiti throughout. Its across from a little bar thats pretty rad as well.
Just go. Most of these places were just experiences I waited to take advantage of. I've lived here for over 20 years and didn't go to many of these places until the last year or two. I told myself over and over again I'd go, and just didn't. The second I stopped saying no, and just went...
My outlook on Florida changed. This isn't just a state that I've been in for too long, or a place I need to escape anymore. This is my home, and it's the most beautiful place you could imagine. Sometimes it just takes looking up from your day-in, day-out routine, to realize it.