With temperatures dropping rapidly across the northern hemisphere, you may understandably be tempted to retreat to warmer climes. Few places are more suited to escaping the northern cold than Florida, and with a wealth of natural wonders just waiting to be explored, it’s the perfect place to relax and recuperate. The Sunshine State’s exhilarating theme parks are well documented, but Florida is home to some places of outstanding natural beauty, so take a look at our E&V guide to the state’s best country retreats.
Cayo Costa State Park
As a low-lying peninsula sitting on the outer rim of the Gulf of Mexico, it’s not surprising that many of Florida’s national parks are reachable only by boat or seaplane. For a day of wildlife watching, head to the Cayo Costa State Park, located on a small island off the coast of Port Charlotte in southwest Florida. Featuring white sandy beaches, pine forests and mangrove swamps, you can sit back and relax while surrounded by manatees, dolphins and sea turtles, as well as a range of native birds.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Further south you’ll find the Dry Tortugas National Park. Nestled approximately 68 miles off Key West, the only way to reach this small island, which features the largest masonry structure in the western world, is by seaplane or ferry. Fort Jefferson is the 19th Century fortress dominating the park’s landscape; once used as a military prison, it was abandoned by the Army in 1888, before being designated a national monument by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. The island now acts as an excellent base for both divers and birdwatchers, with hundreds of rare and unique species found circling the island and its surrounding coral reef.
Everglades National Park
However, to see some of Florida’s most iconic species, a visit to the Everglades National Park is a must. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park is home to endangered creatures including the Florida Panther, as well as hundreds of other species including American crocodiles and various types of turtle and heron. While it’s possible to travel through the Glades by car, the best way to experience this natural wonder is by airboat.
Ocala National Forest
For a wealth of land mammals, head north to the Ocala National Forest. About an hour’s drive north of Orland in central Florida, this is one of the last remaining forested areas in the state, boasting wildlife ranging from raccoons to black bears, crocodiles to coyotes. There are more than 600 natural lakes, rivers and springs for keen swimmers to explore, all spread across an incredible 383,000 acres of protected greenery.
Florida is one of the most popular destinations for second-home buyers, with ample opportunities for investment in the area. With several offices in the Sunshine State, Engel & Völkers is perfectly placed to help you find your dream holiday home, making it easy to explore the vast expanses of nature that the state has to offer. Visit the E&V website for more information.