Florida is a great traditional sand, surf, and sun holiday destination, and is also home to some of North America’s most iconic theme parks, such as Disney World and Universal Studios. But this southern state has much more to offer than the sites and activities it is best known for. If you’re planning a trip to Florida and want to see your way off the beaten path, grab your backpack and explore these five unique and exciting sites.

Boating across Biscayne Bay

Biscayne Bay is a protected region of water located in the heart of Miami, and provides visitors with an opportunity to explore the diverse ecosystem of reefs and marine life. Home to bottlenose dolphins and Florida Manatees, there are a few better places to head to experience the natural beauty of Florida’s famed coast.

Discovering the Everglades National Park

Another of Florida’s outstanding natural regions, the Everglades National Park is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States. Home to an array of endangered and protected animals, such as the Florida panther, great blue heron, great egret and more, the park is the perfect place to observe some of North America’s most beautiful wildlife and landscapes while hiking, boating, or cycling.

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Experiencing the eclectic mix of Floridian food

Florida might not sound like a hotspot for delicious cultural cuisines, but the region is home to a mixture of Afro-Caribbean, Southern, Cuban and seafood cuisines that all boast their own unique flavors. Be sure to try some classic favorites, such as the Cuban sandwich, and Conch fritters.

Visiting an ancient Spanish monastery

Newspaper tycoon, William Randolph had this entire 12thcentury monastery moved from Segovia, Spain to North Miami Beach. Today it serves as the St. Bernard de Clairvaux Episcopal Church, and is open for tours to visitors.

Seeing the alligators at St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

Florida is well-known for its local population of fearsome alligators. St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park is the ideal place to head for risk-free encounter with these toothy giants.

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If you’re heading to Florida and are looking to spend some time away from the beautiful beaches, then be sure to check out some of these great off-beat attractions.

Images by Stig Nyaard and Maju_Rezende, used under Creative Commons license

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