Looking for the best-hidden gems in Florida? I got you covered.
Off-the-beaten-path destinations in Florida are unexplored, where travelers can find the Everglades, picturesque clean beaches, a mix of historic landmarks, different landscapes, U-pick own orange from the orange groves, and a lot many more unique attractions. These unexplored sides of the Sunshine State are eye-soothing and mesmerizing.
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Disney World, theme parks in Orlando, pretty springs in Ocala National Forest, and glamorous life in Miami are all worth exploring. But sometimes these places are crowded enough to make you exhausted. Some cool places in Florida offer quick weekend getaways and a relaxing natural vibe full of outdoor adventures to perform.
Have you tried tide pooling in FL, or come to any bungee jumping spots? So, here I’m putting together my 14 favorite hidden gems in Florida and things to do which will raise your thirst for adventure and love for outdoor activities.
Let’s discover some unexplored places in Florida! Before that, don’t forget to check out the essential Florida packing list.
14 Best Hidden Gems in Florida:
1. Unspoiled Beaches on Caladesi Island
Address: 1 Causeway Blvd, Dunedin, FL 34698
How to Get to Caladesi Island?
You can reach Caladesi Island in three ways; get a private boat for yourself from Honeymoon Island, or walk 3 miles from Clearwater Beach, or book a Caladesi Connection ferry service that runs from Honeymoon Island State Park.
Caladesi Island is one of the most beautiful hidden gems in Florida which is perfect to walk barefoot through untouched soft white sand. The water is so appealing and blue that you will get a glimpse of the bewitching marine mammals, and dolphins.
This is a unique beach that offers ample opportunities to go fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, watching diverse flora and fauna. In the days of high tide, you can also explore mangroves or walk to the ruins of the historic Scharrer Homestead. Remember to click photos in front of the impressive architecture that highlights a unique Celtic heritage.
Visit art galleries, antique shops and spend your evening at Dunedin Brewery, and have delicious burgers and fruit smoothies at Cafe Caladesi.
2. Soak in Natural Beauty of Kelly Park Rock Spring
Address: 400 E Kelly Park Rd, Apopka, FL 32712, United States
How to Get to Kelly Park Rock Spring?
You can drive from interstate 4 in Altamonte Springs to Rock Springs Road (CR 435) up to Kelly Park Road. Or, you can follow the “Kelly Loop Trail” signboard and hike till the Kelly Park Rock Spring.
- There are no tube sales or rentals inside the park so carry your tube.
- Kayaking or canoeing happens outside of Kelly Park down at Kings Landing.
- Be aware of bears, alligators, and cottonmouth snakes.
Kelly Park Rock Spring is one of the greatest hidden gems in Central Florida where you can relax and float down for hours. The view of bubbles coming up from underground rivers at a rate of 26,000 gallons a minute feels like soaking in the clear water which is always 68 degrees. If you kayak down the Kelly Park you will witness the Wild and Scenic Wekiva River.
The 325-acre Kelly Park offers 26 shady campsites which are under a dense canopy of pine and hardwood forest. The view is so unique and one of the prettiest places in Florida to spend nights in the wilds. This natural Florida spring is the most affordable and entertaining place to click Instagram-worthy pictures.
You can bring homemade food and set up the picnic table and enjoy time with your family. There are a volleyball court and a variety of playgrounds to spend your day in. After a tiring day, you can have a delicious dinner at Rock Spring Bar & Grill and call off the day.
3. Explore Kampong Botanical Garden, Coconut Grove
Address: 4013 Douglas Rd, Miami, FL 33133, USA
How to Get to Kampong Botanical Garden?
From Miami, you can go in your car to reach Kampong Botanical Garden. Visiting Kampong is a little expensive because the fee of each adult is $20 for adults and reservation in advance is necessary.
Florida’s history is rich with stories of David Fairchild and his wife Miriam. And, this 9-acre tropical garden was their winter home. He was the world’s great “plant explorer”, famous in his life through his writings for National Geographic and his books, who introduced 30,000 plants into the U.S. including soybeans, nectarines, bamboo, pistachios, and nectarines. This is one of the unusual Florida attractions spots among tourists.
Kampong Botanical Garden and Biscayne Bay in Coconut Grove is a hidden gem in South Florida. It is a home of exotic plants like palms, flowering trees, and cycads, and the cornucopia of exotic fruits like egg fruit, candle fruit, cocoplums, and a variety of mangoes. The swimming pool at the side is full of blooming water lilies which is surrounded by Royal Palms.
You can witness fine artwork inside including the Garuda, carved from the roots and trunk of a lychee tree. Make sure you explore Barnacle Historic State Park, Fairland Botanic Garden, historic Venetian Pool, and take a tour to Vizcaya. For a unique experience, go for a twilight tour in the wilds.
4. Snorkeling Into The World of Molasses Reef
Address: United States National Marine Sanctuary.
How to Get to Molasses Reef?
To the southeast offshore of the island of Key Largo and east of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park seats the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Molasses Reef is located within this marine sanctuary. From here you can take a boat snorkeling in Molasses Reef.
There is no place better to snorkel than this hidden gem in the Florida Keys. A vibrant coral underwater reef system is a dream spot for many scuba divers and snorkelers. The world is so mesmerizing inside when you encounter nurse sharks, coral crabs, shrimp, green moray eels, parrotfish, angelfish, spadefish, sea turtles, and small tropical fish.
This place is one of the secret places to visit in Florida and is famous for its clear water, marine life with numerous boulder corals, and abundant colorful fish. It has a well-defined spur and groove system of coral development and is one of the classic outer reefs to witness.
You can go for a glass-bottom boat tour or an unforgettable experience to prepare yourself for an underwater drive. The water here is bioluminescence so keep your lights off and enjoy the natural world out there.
5. Find Shark Teeth Along Amelia Island
Address: 123 Hirth Road Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
How to Get to Amelia Island?
East Coast of the United States from South Carolina lays this hidden beach in Florida which is accessible via air, car, or by ferry. It seats North of Jacksonville on the edge of Georgia. If you’re driving then take a car over the Intracoastal Waterway to Amelia.
The tranquillity of an uncrowned beach welcomes guests with its enchanted rivers, marshes, and soft sands. This 13 miles long and 2 miles wide is a home of beautiful Fernandina Beach which offers plenty of recreation, good restaurants, and friendly people.
You can take an Amelia River Cruise for a scenic tour of the island and witness natural features like sea oats and dunes. This secret paradise also offers a great day trip to Fort Clinch, historic downtown for fun shopping. Along the shore, you can find shark teeth and click amazing photos in front of the Victorian architecture.
You can spend the night here witnessing the best sunset and also can spot manatees while kayaking, wild horses, and dolphins on Cumberland Island. You can also go for CraigCat Boat Tour, eight flag road tour, historical walking tour, and a lot more in this hidden gem in Florida.
6. Visit the Sun Kissed Beach on Shell Key
Address: 801 Pass A Grille Way St. Pete Beach, FL 33706
How to Get to Shell Key?
An island between St Pete and Fort De Soto State Park seats Shell Key. You can reach Shell Key only by boat. You can get a Shuttle at Merry Pier in the Pass a Grille area of St. Petersburg at $25 per adult and $12 for kids under 10.
Shell Key is a hidden gem in St. Petersburg, an uninhabited barrier island with white sands. The unexploited environment is home to native seabirds. It’s a great spot for people who love kayaking and snorkeling. Go for shallow water snorkeling in search of unique shells.
Don’t forget to collect beautiful shells of different shapes and colors and click photos. You can also visit Egmont Key to taste the beauty of St. Petersburg or go on a tour of dolphin watching or explore Fort De Soto. For some great shelling experience, check out the best shelling beaches in Florida.
7. Unwind at The Butler Chain of Lake
Address: 10900 Chase Rd, Windermere, FL 34786
How to Get to Butler Chain of Lake?
Butler Chain of Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Florida. It is made up of 13 lakes and is famous for its amazing water quality and the first lake system in the entire state of Florida to receive the designation of Outstanding Florida Waters from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. It also has 32 navigable canals. The water flow toward Reedy Creek, Okeechobee Lake, Kissimmee River, and finally, meeting the Everglades.
This hidden gem in Orlando is a perfect spot for fishing. You can enjoy a boat ramp on Lake Isleworth in R.D. Keene Park in the evening. Another boat ride is available in Conroy-Windermere Road across from Isleworth. Along with wandering you have great Waterview dining options and spend the evening smoothly with a glass of wine in the hand.
8. Enjoy Your Time in Ybor City
Location: This historic district is located northeast of Downtown Tampa.
How to Get to Ybor City?
You can get to Ybor City by bus from anywhere in Florida.
Bernini in Ybor City is a hidden gem in Tampa. The hippy vibe in downtown Tampa is the most eclectic place with a plethora of Cuban restaurants and cafes, theatres, museums, and many things. The incredible fantastic architecture from Victorian to Art Decoration to small cigar shop is amazing and attention graving.
If you’re here then taste chocolates, Espresso martini, coconut, and other delicious foods. There are a lot of Italian restaurants to hang out or taste Cuban coffee. The nightlife of Ybor City is full of hardcore ska and reggae to fusion jazz and a lot more. A simple strolling around the road, and the nightclub scene, Ybor City has so much to offer to visitors.
Related Post: 12 Great Day Trips From Tampa For Less Than $150
9. Walk Along The Coastline of Dry Tortugas
Address: 110 km west of Key West, Florida.
How to Get to Dry Tortugas?
A small archipelago of coral islands, Dry Tortugas is a 2.5-hour ferry ride from the National Parks Service’s ferry, the Yankee Freedom III. They will leave you for about four to five hours on the island and then pick you up. The only way to reach here is by ferry or seaplane.
Dry Tortugas is a hidden gem in Florida that has beautiful coastlines with pages of rich history. Dry Tortugas National Park is a small group of 7 islands, west of Key West for an awesome experience. Visiting Fort Jefferson, snorkeling or swimming in the virgin beaches, or collecting seashells and conch shells are a must. Shells are so famous here that Key West got a nickname as the Conch Republic.
If you plan for some adventurous activities then stay overnight at camps which requires reservation beforehand but is all money worthy. This unique place in Florida is perfect for snorkeling or watching birds flying over this island. Explore Curry Hammock State Park if you plan to visit this hidden place.
10. Learn Work of Art at Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens
Address: 253 Barcelona Rd, West Palm Beach, FL 33401, USA
How to Get to Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens?
If you’re coming from Palm Beach then cross the Waterway at Royal Palm Way and then head south of Flagler which is a one and half-mile ride to Barcelona Road.
Ann Norton, a sculpture artist whose artwork, sculptures, artifacts, and passion has contributed to making West Palm Beach famous. The Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens is so relaxing and gorgeous. The sculptures in the garden are so perfect that pictures don’t do them justice. The garden is surrounded by large trees, ponds, and sculptures which makes this place beautiful.
This fun, whimsical, colorful place is home to many imported forms of palm trees and flowers from all over the world. The Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens is indeed one of Florida’s hidden gems.
11. Enjoy Falling Water Falls
Address: 1130 State Park Rd, Chipley, FL 32428, USA
How to Get to Falling Waters State Parks?
3 miles south of Chipley, Florida sits Falling Waters, State Park. Take a car and ride to Florida Panhandle and follow the address.
Falling Waters State Parks is surrounded by huge trees leading to Florida’s highest waterfall. Falling Water Falls stands at 74 feet tall and falls into a 20-foot cylindrical pit. The scenic beauty and the trail are perfect for hiking. This Florida hidden gem is very famous among explorers.
12. Gulf Islands National Seashore
Address: Gulf Breeze, FL 32563, United States
Gulf Islands National Park is the best-hidden place in Florida to relax and enjoy the crystal sands beach. This seashore is special because it is part of Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key and is federally protected by United State. You can also explore the coastal town, Pensacola which is home to varied cultures and five stars restaurants.
13. Instagrammable Bok Tower Gardens
Address: 1151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales, FL 33853, United States
How to get to Bok Tower Gardens?
You can take your car or hire a taxi to reach Bok Tower Garden which is an hour drive from the Riverview Tampa area.
Bok Tower Gardens is 250 acres of a luscious garden full of unique plants, flowers, berries, Palm trees, brush with great weather, and the landscape; it is all worthy to get lost in this Florida paradise. This underrated place in Florida is rich in the history of 205-foot Singing Tower and Edward W. Bok. You can also explore the Pinewood Estate mansion if you’re here.
14. Enjoy the Greek Culture in Tarpon Springs
How to get to Tarpon Springs?
Tarpon Springs is the oldest city in Pinellas County. You can get your car and ride 45 minutes north of St. Petersburg or 20 minutes north of Clearwater to reach here.
Tarpon Springs is a romantic hidden gem in Florida to vacation with your partner. This place is influenced by Greek culture and is home to beautiful antique stores and art galleries. It is called as “Sponge Capital of the World” and is known for its famous Sponge Docks.
The above 14 places are the best hidden gems in Florida that offer so many unique perspectives about Florida’s culture, life, and beauty. Depending on your taste and interest you can explore these places at your own pace.
Read Next: 13 Abandoned Ghost Towns In Florida
FAQ – Florida Hidden Gems
1. What is the least visited place in Florida?
A: Manasota Key seats 50 minutes south of Sarasota. It is one of the hidden gems in Florida that is rewarded with gorgeous shells, sugary sand, and shark teeth. It is also the home of nesting turtles on the entire gulf coast. You can surely explore this least visited place in Florida and enjoy its beauty.
2. Where is the hidden gem location to live out your retirement in Florida?
A: In the suburbs of Fort Lauderdale with a population of 3,885, Highland Beach is a great hidden gem for retirees to live in Florida. There are a lot of parks to spend leisure evening and also very liberal society. The median home value is on average $591,500.
3. What are the hidden gems in Ocala, Florida?
A: Silver Springs River is Florida’s treasure in Ocala. The river is fresh crystal clear and great to dip into. You can witness manatees, turtles, fish, and monkeys running around from one tree to another. It’s a fantastic place to spend your weekend.
4. What is the quietest town in Florida?
A: Vero Beach is the best and quietest town in Florida. Along the Treasure Coast lies this lovely charm where you can walk for miles and witness no soul. You can go for kayaking, snorkeling, or explore McKee Jungle Garden and go for Lion Country Safari.