PLACES WITHIN 3 HOURS OF
At the main “headsprings” entrance of Rainbow Springs State Park, visitors may swim in the freshwater springs, rent canoes and kayaks, stroll through waterfalls and gardens, and enjoy a picnic area with tables, grills, and pavilions. Tubes are not allowed in the headsprings area of the park. These beautiful crystal-clear headsprings of the Rainbow River are a site of unique history and natural beauty.
Tucked into north central Florida in a region known as "horse country," Ocala offers visitors winding community pathways lined with oak trees and dangling trellises of Spanish moss, and the opportunity to explore miles of untainted nature.
If the prospect of canoeing down a crystal clear stream amid the largest sand pine forest in the world sounds appealing, Ocala and surrounding Marion County are more than worth your time.
Perched between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach along the scenic A1A River and the River to Sea Preserve, Palm Coast offers a perfect mix of golf resorts and lush nature preserves. Tee off on a Jack Nicklaus-designed course or fish in the Intracoastal Waterway; indulge in a rejuvenating spa treatment or stroll through formal gardens in Palm Coast. Nearby marshlands and estuaries in Palm Coast harbor rare and endangered birds along Florida's Great Birding Trail, such as the roseate spoonbill, wood stork, great blue heron and osprey. Dolphins play in the wake of passing boats and manatees herd in the waterway during spring and summer. Eco-tours on water and land introduce you to the rife wildlife of Palm Coast in what has been designated the most productive ecosystem on the planet.
Your perfect getaway awaits in Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches. The sun, the sand, the beach, the food— it’s a beautiful paradise filled with adventures and wonder at every turn. From wandering historic parks and going horseback riding on the beach to enjoying oceanfront dining and fine art, Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches is a jewel in the Sunshine State. With so many exciting things to do, the only question is what to do first!
Matanzas Inlet may just be one of the most picturesque coastlines in Florida.
The inlet, between historic St. Augustine and charming Flagler Beach, is where the lively Atlantic meets the Matanzas Estuary, one of the state’s purest.
Its Atlantic shoreline is a favorite with kiteboarders; the Intracoastal side is a paddle boarding and boating paradise. And all around the inlet, you’ll find history, adventure, and great dining.
Situated halfway between the centuries-old allure of St. Augustine and the ever-growing development of Palm Coast is the Florida Oceanarium Marineland Dolphin Adventure, home to dolphins, turtles and other sea creatures.
Historic Marineland allows visitors to enjoy an up-close interaction with a dolphin, all with an oceanfront view. Choose from experiences ranging from simply watching the dolphins interact with their trainers and other guests to suiting up with the trainers to interact in and out of the water with the sea mammals.
With a variety of programs available, families can experience these animals in a unique setting – have fun, learn and make great family memories too.
The lush park has 60 acres accessible for exploring, including two ravines up to 120 feet deep with steep banks at 45-degree angles.
The ravines were formed over thousands of years through natural processes of erosion, by natural springs located in the park.
The underground water bubbling up cuts into the bank and carries the sand and soil downstream to the St. Johns River. Over thousands of years, the ravines have widened and deepened.
Nestled within a bend of the St. Johns River, one of the few rivers that flow north, Palatka is a historic Northeast Florida city that proudly showcases its past. You can experience Old Florida charm in Palatka while you celebrate Florida’s heritage at the Florida Azalea Festival, St. Johns River Catfish Festival, Blue Crab Festival or Bostwick Blueberry Festival. Bass fishing? Why, certainly. Also camping, canoeing, kayaking the area's eight blueway trails, playing golf, touring historic homes and churches built in the 1800s, hiking or bicycling, and visiting birding sites listed in the Great Florida Birding Trail. Also, don’t miss the Palatka Mural Tour, featuring more than 30 artistic renderings that depict the historical, cultural and natural riches of Palatka and Putnam County.
Located at the headwaters of the Wekiva River, the beautiful vistas within this park offer a glimpse of what Central Florida looked like when Timucuan Indians fished and hunted these lands. Just one hour from most central Florida attractions, Wekiwa Springs offers visitors the opportunity to relax in a natural setting, enjoy a picnic, or take a swim in the cool spring.
Thirteen miles of trails provide opportunities for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Canoeists and kayakers can paddle along the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run. Canoe and kayak rentals are available from the park's concessionaire. Options for camping include a full facility campground and primitive camping areas.
This is a very popular park, particularly on summer weekends. To ensure entrance, we recommend arriving early; otherwise, the parking area will be full and you may not be able to enter.
For a tranquil getaway, here's Amelia Island, along Florida's northeast coast.
Just 30 miles from Jacksonville, Amelia is a world apart. For family fun, there are golden-hued sands and guided horseback rides along the Atlantic Ocean shore. For outdoors adventures, see dolphin and osprey, and maybe even a glimpse of the endangered right whale.
Luxury hotels and a wonderful selection of bed and breakfasts make Amelia Island the perfect spot for gentle recreation and historical exploration (it was controlled by France, Spain and England). A range of restaurants offers fine dining and fresh seafood for foodies.
Known as “The Choice of Champions,” Clermont’s distinct rolling hills, lakes, climate and sports facilities have earned it an international reputation as the training ground for triathletes, runners and cyclists.
But South Lake County also attracts casual hikers, bird watchers and vacationers to romantic cabin rentals overlooking sparkling waterways. Horseback riding, camping, canoeing and kayaking are some of the many activities available for those needing a weekend getaway, and nature enthusiasts can enjoy wildlife viewing at its best while learning about Florida’s only endemic bird at The Florida Scrub-Jay Trail.
For a unique view from above, families can take a trip to the top of the Florida Citrus Tower, an observation deck offering a 360-degree view of eight Central Florida counties. At the base lies the Presidents Hall of Fame, featuring a White House replica and an expansive John F. Kennedy, Jr. collection. For the adventurous types, Revolution Off Road offers eco tours of the beautiful Florida terrain by land and water.
A visit to Clermont is never complete without a stop at Florida's largest premium winery, Lakeridge, to sample wines made from locally grown Muscadine grapes.
With its mix of historic architecture and modern landmarks, a culture infused with Cuban and Spanish flavors, vibrant business districts and beautiful waterways, Tampa is a wonderful place to work, play, and unwind.
Downtown is alive with urban parks, including the gorgeous Tampa Riverwalk, hip bars and innovative restaurants, shopping, and amazing restorations of turn-of-the-century buildings.
For residents and visitors alike, there’s no shortage of family fun in Tampa, whether it’s walking the ecosystems at the Florida Aquarium, enjoying a pro football or hockey game, or riding a thrill-coaster at Busch Gardens.
For outdoors and adventure seekers who want to hike, bike, paddle or see wildlife, hit one of the Tampa area’s many parks and preserves, such as Hillsborough River State Park in Thonotosassa or Lettuce Lake Park in north Tampa.
Tampa is known for being a great city for all ages and tastes, offering places to stay that fit any budget and catering to everyone, including families, outdoor adventure seekers, and foodies and wine connoisseurs.