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North East Florida Nature, Parks and Outdoors

If you're crazy about wildlife, or want a 'Sea World' experience without the price of admission – Blue Spring State Park is a real treasure. The winter home of a large manatee population, you might also be lucky enough to see Florida scrub-jays, gopher tortoises, or even an alligator or a black bear. Your experience at Blue Spring will depend on the time of year – in winter, November 15 through March 1, it's all about manatees and all water sports are prohibited. In the summer months, you're welcome to swim or snorkel in the warm waters of the natural springs. What else is there do? More than enough for a day's visit:

Choose-your-own-adventure: want another scenic drive, or are you raring to get outside and see some real nature (that is, very likely out of cell phone range). The huge Ocala National Forest spans 300,000 acres and offers plenty of quiet space for post-Disney decompression. Whether you drive through it and see where you end up, or head somewhere specific, do try to spot one of Florida's 2,000 black bears.

What do do

  • Scenic drive: Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway online
  • Canoe rentals (see below)
  • Horses - Cactus Jack's Trail Rides:

Recreation sites and outdoors activities

Each recreation site offers rental equipment for the activities available (e.g. canoeing, kayaking). Larger ones also have guided tours, including glass-bottom boat tours and eco tours.

A huge area covering all manner of parks (city parks, state parks, national parks) and other points of interest, Timucuan is the umbrella reference point for a great variety of destinations. The wildlife and ecology changes tremendously across 46,000 acres – from estuary to deep forest. What do you want to see?

If you like history

Outdoor recreation

Little Talbot Island State Park

  • Hiking, bike trails, bird-watching (194 species)
  • Bike rental available
  • Website: Little Talbot Island State Park online

Big Talbot Island

  • Guided kayak tours: Kayak Amelia online (sunset, full-moon & tai chi tours)
  • BEAKS (Bird Emergency Aid and Kare Sanctuary): BEAKS Facebook

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