PLACES WITHIN 3 HOURS OF
Welcome to the Manatee Capital of the World.
When the water temperature drops in the Gulf of Mexico, manatees move to the warmer waters of the Crystal River, followed closely by nature-loving tourists and other visitors.
Located along Central Florida’s "Nature Coast," Crystal River is one of the few places where you can swim with manatees. The springs flow at a constant 72 degrees, making the waters attractive to all sorts of swimmers in the winter.
While there, consider a stop at the Plantation on Crystal River, a place of stately white buildings and true Southern charm. Here, water, golf and fine dining are the primary calling cards.
Heaped with sugary white sand, Fort Myers Beach is a popular destination for visitors eager to engage in watersports such as parasailing and kayaking – or just as eager to simply relax on the inviting beach.
Fort Myers Beach sits on a little barrier island, about seven miles long, and the beach is fabulous – wide, gradually sloping, and thick with the area's justifiably famed sand.
Fort Myers Beach has accommodations in all price ranges and lots to do.
You can go on a dolphin eco-tour via waverunner, or on a fishing charter.
The Slough (pronounced "slew") is over 3,500 acres of wetland preserve. It is home to a diverstiy of plants and animals, a number of which are endangered. Otters, alligators, wading birds, turtles and more can be seen from the mile long boardwalk trail. Migratory birds are visible in the spring and fall seasons.
This is the perfect location for people interested in educational programs and recreational activites that create minimal disturbance to wildlife. Volunteer led guided walks expose the visitors to the hidden beauties of this uniques ecosystem.
Built between 1914 and 1922 as the winter home of farming manufacturer James Deering, Vizcaya is one of the most intact remaining examples from the Gilded Age, when the nation’s most successful entrepreneur-built estates were inspired by the stately homes of Europe. Vizcaya features a Main House filled with a decorative art collection, 10 acres of formal gardens, a rockland hammock (native forest), mangrove shore, and a historic village that is being restored to tell Vizcaya’s full story and provide additional spaces for programs and community outreach, including those on agriculture.
Vizcaya has been a community hub since it opened to the public in 1953; it welcomes 300,000 visitors annually. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a National Historic Landmark that preserves its cultural and environmental resources to engage people in connecting with the past, understanding the present and shaping the future.
The legendary River of Grass is one of the wonders of the world, a vast subtropical wilderness that has been declared a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve and Wetland of International Importance. There are many ways to experience the Florida Everglades National Park – here are nine entry points.
You haven’t really seen Hardee County until you’ve seen Highway 17. Actually, you can’t really see Hardee County unless you’re on Highway 17 because the county’s only U.S. highway is the road that connects Zolfo Springs, Wauchula, and Bowling Green -- which happen to be the only three towns in Hardee County.
The lack of development doesn’t mean you should avoid going. In fact, that’s one reason you should go. Here are a few things to do in Hardee County.