By Caroline Strogis
When people think about vacationing in Florida, theme parks and beaches are often the first things that come to mind. However, if you want to see the beauty of real, old Florida there are many overlooked options that showcase the state’s true natural beauty.
1. Crystal River
Crystal River is a spring-fed river on the west coast. It is home of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and famous for its manatee population. Visitors can snorkel with manatees or dive at the beautiful Three Sisters Springs. Another popular activity is going out to the Gulf of Mexico and diving for scallops.
2. Ocala National Forest
The Ocala National Forest is famous for its beautiful trails where campers can get lost in old Florida beauty. Not only is there camping, but the Ocala National Forest also has over 600 lakes, rivers and springs for swimming, kayaking and snorkeling.
3. Ginnie Springs
Ginnie Springs is a privately-owned park with one of the clearest springs in Florida. Visitors can camp, scuba dive or tube down the Santa Fe River. Ginnie Springs is a great place to get an up-close and personal experience with Florida’s underwater wildlife in its crystal-clear waters.
4. Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, located in Micanopy, is a 21,000-acre savannah. It is a great place to see Florida’s wildlife, including over 300 species of birds. Paynes Prairie is also the only place in Florida to see wild bison and horses. Watch where you walk if you choose to visit La Chua Trail at the north end of the park, you are likely to see multiple alligators.