Stave off the winter blues with these seven Florida getaways. With rainfall at its lowest in the winter months, North Central Florida is the perfect place to spend your days with moderate temperatures and plenty of sunshine.
This region of the state truly offers something for everyone. With a huge amount of both geological and biological diversity, the area has some of the state’s best wildlife viewing, hiking and water activities. There are also several historic sites of major significance.
Head to north Florida this year for your winter escape and you won’t be sorry. Discover a truly amazing place away from the crowds, and enjoy one of the best times to visit.
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Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park1 of 8
Paynes Prairie has been delighting visitors since it became Florida's first state park in 1971. It has since been designated a National Natural Landmark, and it's no wonder why: Visitors can spot a variety of wildlife in the park's limits, including alligators, bison, horses and more than 270 species of birds.
The park offers hiking, horseback riding and bicycling, among other activities. Stay overnight or visit for the day—there's plenty to do and see!
Lafayette Blue Springs State Park2 of 8
Located along the iconic Suwannee River, it's impossible not to allow this first magnitude spring to wash away any winter blues. The limestone setting is a stark contrast against the aqua green oasis, outlined by oak trees covered in beautiful Spanish moss.
Overnight visitors can stay in stilted cabins that sit high above the river's banks. Or if the comforts of modern living aren't your style, opt for a more primitive experience in the tents-only campgrounds, available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park3 of 8
This pristine paradise was recently renamed to honor the late explorer, diver and cinematographer Wes Skiles—if that's any indication as to what's in store for visitors to this aquatic wonderland. The park features two major springs, a spring run, and six sinkholes all ripe for exploring.
The park's 33,000 feet of underwater passages attract divers from all over the world. Visitors who wish to take their exploration underground are required to show proof of scuba certifications. For those who prefer to stay on land, an award-winning nature trail twists and turns, tracing a path on the surface that follows the underground caves beneath your feet.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park4 of 8
The Ichetucknee River that flows through the park offers six miles of crystalline relaxation, winding through hammocks and wetlands en route to the Santa Fe River. A variety of vessels are available for embarking on the river, from which visitors can spot white-tailed deer, raccoons, wild turkeys, wood ducks and great blue herons.
Picnic areas are available throughout the park, making sure you have ample opportunity for daylong exploring of some of the most pristine waters in the state.
Suwannee River State Park5 of 8
Wildlife enthusiasts and history buffs alike converge at this park to observe its importance to the state's history. One of the most visible markers exists in the earthwork mounds that were used during the Civil War to guard against Union Navy boats.
Several trails wind throughout the surrounding woodlands offering uninterrupted views of the river, including a high bluff that overlooks where the Withlacoochee River joins the Suwannee. Overnight accommodations include spacious cabins with heating and cooling and screened porches—and all the other comforts of home. Campground reservations can be made up to 11 months prior to your stay.
Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park6 of 8
A step into Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park is a step back in time. Old oak trees draped in Spanish moss stand guard over the handsome cabins that the Civilian Conservation Corps erected in the 1930s. While those cabins offer temporary shelter for park visitors, the nearby lakes and marshes offer a more permanent dwelling for a variety of wildlife in the park's limits.
Modern cabins offering all the amenities of home were constructed more recently, while more than 70 campsites offer additional amenities for when cabins are at capacity—or for those who opt for a more primitive experience.
O'Leno State Park7 of 8
O'Leno State Park is known for its mysterious disappearing Santa Fe River, which runs into a sinkhole and continues underground before reemerging miles downstream. The park landscape offers an array of interesting water features as well as beautiful hardwood hammocks, swamplands and sandhills. Popular activities for visitors include hiking, biking, canoeing and birding.
This full facility campground provides all the necessities for a comfortable, overnight stay. You'll need it to get in all the exploring this park has to offer.