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For decades — perhaps even longer — Florida has been a popular destination for domestic vacations. Now, as Americans slowly regain confidence in travel, recent data from travel insurance and assistance company Allianz Partners shows that Florida is firmly top of mind among people planning to venture out this summer. According to the company’s analysis, Orlando is the No. 1 choice for domestic travelers, while Miami ranks 10th on the top destinations list.
Although these cities are tourist hot spots with good reason, the Sunshine State has much more to offer, especially for those in search of an outdoor adventure that’s also perfect for social distancing. To send your clients on a Florida vacation that goes beyond the usual suspects, check out the adventurous activities offered by these North Florida cities.
Set along Florida’s Historic Coast, St. Augustine is known for being the oldest city in the U.S., as well as for the quaint, European-influenced architecture that comes from its centuries-old history. Outdoor enthusiasts, however, will find plenty of opportunities to explore the natural beauty of North Florida here.
With rivers, intracoastal waterways and the Atlantic Ocean all at its doorstep, St. Augustine attracts anglers to its fish-filled waters year-round. It’s not uncommon to see people cast their lines from the sandy shores of the beach or head out in a kayak to fish in the smaller inlet channels. For a chance at catching some of the larger fish in the local waters, the experienced captains of Sea Love Charters and Drum Man Charters take guests on fishing trips through the intracoastal waterways, as well as on deep-sea fishing trips in the Atlantic.
St. Augustine is also home to two species of dolphins — one that lives in the city’s rivers and another that stays in the coastal areas. For a chance to admire these marine mammals, St. Augustine Eco Tours Anastasia Watersports , Ripple Effect Ecotours and Kayak St. Augustine offer guided tours via boat, kayak and stand-up paddleboard through the city’s many waterways.
If clients prefer land-based adventures, St. Augustine also offers opportunities to go hiking and spot the wildlife and native plants at Fort Mose, Anastasia and Faver-Sykes state parks.
Tallahassee may be Florida’s capital city and an infamous college town, but it also deserves some recognition for its wild side. With over 700 miles of trails for hiking, biking, paddling and equestrian adventures, there’s a reason this city is nicknamed “Trailahassee.”
Most of Florida is flat, but in Tallahassee, travelers can find rolling hills perfect for mountain biking, including some highly technical paths. The Lafayette Heritage Trail is a popular option as it offers multiple terrains and a shared-use trail that welcomes runners, hikers, bikers and even paddlers on the nearby Piney Z Lake. St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail is another local favorite, as this 16-mile paved path leads straight to the Gulf Coast. Traveling cyclists who don’t have any gear with them can always rent a bike from The Great Bicycle Shop.
For kayaking enthusiasts, Tallahassee is also home to several spring-fed rivers, such as the Wacissa, Wakulla and St. Marks rivers. Along their journey, paddlers can spot plenty of wildlife — maybe even a gator or two — before they reach the springs, which are a perfectly safe and refreshing spot for a swim. To rent a kayak and even contract a guide to take your clients out on the water, the Harry Smith Outdoors company does it all.
Beyond the many miles of trails, the Tree-to-Tree Adventure at the Tallahassee Museum is also a must for adventure-seekers. Combining manmade fun with Mother Nature, the Tree-to-Tree Adventure is equal parts zipline, ropes course and obstacle course — and it’s all suspended anywhere from 16 to 60 feet above the ground. As guests make their way through the forest by jumping, hopping and sliding from one tree platform to the next, they’ll also have plenty of opportunities to scope out local wildlife, including wild turkeys, white-tailed deer and more.
A trip to Florida would be incomplete without a visit to the beach, and the Panhandle, including Panama City Beach (PCB), has some of the whitest, softest sand in the state.
Although lounging on the shore is a perfectly acceptable choice while in PCB, for a little taste of some adventure, travelers can rent a pontoon boat from Lagoon Pontoons (or from one of several other companies in the area) and venture out into the Gulf waters all on their own. These boats are simple enough that anyone with a driver’s license can captain them.
Clients might consider taking one of these pontoon boats to nearby Shell Island, where people often hop off to do some snorkeling. And because PCB is home to one of the world’s highest concentrations of bottle-nose dolphins, sun-seekers on the way to Shell Island often spot a few of these animals roaming the waters. Lagoon Pontoons even offers guided jet ski and snorkeling trips designed to give people an up-close view of these playful dolphins.
For a change of pace from the beach, visitors can also opt for an airboat tour that explores the backwaters and marshes of PCB in search of alligators and other wildlife. Wild Thang Airboat Tours and Airboat Adventuresare two of the recommended companies in the area; the latter is known for its live gator demonstrations.
The DetailsFlorida Historic Coastwww.floridashistoriccoast.com
Visit Panama City Beachwww.visitpanamacitybeach.com