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According to research done by AAA Travel, 63% of Americans go on staycation, choosing a destination that is relatively local to them, rather than traveling abroad or across states. As a native Floridian however, if you want to staycation, you may find that it is a priority to avoid the crowded tourist destinations, like Orlando, and choose somewhere that is off-the-beaten-track.
Here are some Florida staycation ideas
Fortunately Florida covers over 170,00 km2 and has some of the most diverse landscapes in America. There are some wonderful places where you can staycation with family and friends without being bombarded with tourists.
Florida has no shortage of beaches, but some of them can get quite busy, particularly during the long school vacation in the summer. To get away from the crowds, try visiting the Florida Panhandle beaches in the Northwestern part of the state. Mexico Beach in Bay County is a good choice, as the beachfront is almost entirely free of commercial properties. The sands are a brilliant white, and in the evenings you may spot some sea turtles. St George Island in Franklin County is also the perfect place for a beach staycation, especially if you have a love for wildlife. There are only a handful of hotels within driving distance of the beach, so many people choose to camp. It is a beautiful way to see the stars and be at one with nature.
Many the tourists head to the visitor centers in the Everglades, with the hope of seeing the West Indian Manatees. You can easily explore the glades, however, without needing to join a tour. Head to the beautiful Lake Okeechobee, which is the largest inland body of water in Florida. This lake marks the gateway to the Everglades. From here you can hire an airboat that is perfect for the shallow waters of the glades. Look out for the wading birds in the marshes, including endangered Whooping Cranes and the Great Blue Heron. At the end of your day, make sure you visit Joanie’s Blue Crab Cafe in Ocheepee, which is famous for fried seafood.
Small town charm
Florida’s small towns are the heart and soul of the state and can be interesting places to staycation, where you can learn about local history, have a meal in a mom and pop restaurant and enjoy the Floridian charm. The fishing village of Apalachicola in the panhandle is a lovely place to spend a few days. There are more than 900 historic structures in the village, some of which are 200 years old. Nearby you can also explore Tate’s Hell State Forest. Pompano Beach, 35 miles north of Miami, is another small town that is full of character. There are some quirky shops and restaurants, and you can also enjoy a stroll on the Fisher Family Pier.
Florida isn’t all about the big attractions and theme parks. You can have a fabulous staycation in your home state and find some hidden gems that are away from the big crowds.