January is the best time to visit and hike the many natural attractions found in Florida. The mosquito problem is almost negative and the temperatures may be cool but often refreshing. Even the animal and bird life seems more active in catch the sunshine.
Some attractions need no introduction. This is a good month to travel by automobile, air-boat, or kayak into the Everglades. There is no place this size in the nation – a ninety mile wide shallow river of grass creeping southward to the sea. Outside of the Amazon, it is actually the widest river in the sea and it is minutes from Miami’s urban sprawl.
Florida has a lot of interesting swamps to visit. The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary outside of Naples has amazing 2.5 mile boardwalk into the swamps and hammocks. Well marked and very popular, the boardwalk allows people who might never travel into a swamp the opportunity to see gators and birds, and small animals in their natural setting. The creatures seem to know that humans are not leaving their wooden walkway.
Wildlife At Every Turn
The Florida Keys are instantly recognizable around the world and while the bridges are wonderful and Key West is situated one hundred miles away, visitors should stop off at some of the smaller, less developed keys. This is a decent time to snorkel and scuba even if the waters are cooler.
Florida has more springs than any other place on earth – some 33 first magnitude springs. This time of year is a good time to see the manatees seeking warmer waters at Crystal River or Homosassa Springs, along the Gulf Coast. Wakulla Springs, south of Tallahassee, is not crowded in January.
Three major springs are in Crystal River Springs
A sinkhole may not seem like a good hiking location, but the Devils Millhopper Geological State Park, north of Gainesville and just off I-75, is a unique natural limestone treat. Walk down stairways 120 feet down into another ecological system. Bring a jacket as the temperature will quickly drop!
Go Deep Into The Sinkhole To Another World
If you like just to drive and get out, or take a few bikes with your automobile, you will find many scenic trips in Florida. The Big Bend Scenic Byway, starting south of Tallahassee, winds two hundred miles in and out of the Panhandle’s vast National Forests. There are numerous parks and scenic stops along the road.
You can drive fifty plus miles on the Indian River Lagoon National Scenic Byway along the lovely Indian River Lagoon, an enormous estuary traveling south into the subtropical zone. You can see the vegetation and trees change.
If you like caves, I suggest a visit to Florida Caverns State Park, some three miles north of Marianna on FL166 not far from I-10. It is Florida’s only dry (air-filled) cave open for public tours for people like me who fear caves.
Florida Caverns State Park
I have to include Lake Okeechobee for fishermen and hikers. It is the largest freshwater lake located inside one state in the continental United States. Bugs and humidity will haunt you here in the summer, but the winter is a great time to hike.