Awesome places to visit in Florida besides Disney and shopping malls

When we think about Florida, what we first think about is shopping malls in Miami, beaches and Disney and Universal theme parks. This post is a different way of visiting Florida beyond all that. Here you will take a journey to pristine natural spring waters, to Saint Agustin, the oldest city in the United States and to the Art district in Miami.

A different journey in Florida

  1. Alexander Springs in Ocala

Out of the 27 first-magnitude springs in Florida, Alexander Springs is a perfect choice for you to enjoy. Only 3 hours away from southern Florida, these natural springs offer pristine blues and clear waters, natural pools, woods and a lot of wildlife to enjoy at a first sight. Choose when and where to place your tent, because is completely worth it to camp in the park and stay at least one night to make the most out of your visit. Choose what you enjoy the most: bicycling, camping and share music around a fire at night, hiking, fishing, nature viewing, picnicking and of course, water activities that include snorkeling, enjoying wildlife seeing from a canoe (alligators, turtles, otters, beavers, birds…) and connect with nature.

A natural spring pool becomes a natural water park full of fun and family activities when visitors come to picnic, swim and play. The water is a very warm, and in spring or fall, packs of manatees come to visit the park.

2. Saint Agustin the oldest city in the United States

Founded in 1565 by Spaniards, Saint Agustin is the oldest occupied city in the United States. The city served as a capital for Spanish Florida for over 200 years.  The territory changed hands between Spain, Britain and finally the United States in 1819. Because of all that history, this little town in the north of Florida in Jacksonville’s territory is fascinating because of its colonial architecture.

As a Colombian, I am very used to colonial architecture, and in Saint Agustin, I was feeling as in Cartagena, one of the most beautiful colonial cities I have visited, but this kind of buildings are very rare in the United States, considering this is a very young country (founded in 1776), less than 250 years ago.

Only 4 hours away from Miami, and only 1h40 minutes from Orlando, Saint Agustin is the perfect place to visit if you want to discover something different when visiting Florida.

Get lost walking in enchanted little streets full of flowers and balconies, get indulged trying the vast culinary the many restaurants have to offer, go back in time of pirates discovering the stories the town has to tell, visit the Castillo San Marcos, the old jail, the Lightner Museum and finally just sit to watch the sunset in the ocean in front of you, watching time passing by with the sailboats, the waves, and the clouds.

3. Visit Wyndwood: Miami Art district

Wynwood is a white canvas. Art is on every wall, on the roof, it pops up from the ground. But it was not always like that. The area used to be an industrial place of Miami and in 2003 a group of artist, art dealers, and art curators decided to create an open gallery for street art and with an effort to develop the area. The project of Wynwood walls has brought notoriety to Miami, especially because many street artists have passed by Wyndwood living their artistic footprint.

It is a really great pleasure to walk and enjoy each wall, the bright colors, and particularly because Wynwood respects the principal of the white canvas: each time a new artist wants to place his/her new project, he/she can paint it on top of any other painting. This idea makes the pieces of art ephemeral and each time you visit you may be surprised by a new artist and new paintings in the place.

Get there early and enjoy the art galleries (there are very many), the restaurants and bars and keep in mind the place close the doors very early.

 The Wynwood walls is a closed area with great canvas and it has a very special atmosphere. The entrance is free, although it could be special or private events, so check before getting there. In any case, you can walk on the neighborhood and you will still have a blast.

Useful info and links

Have you any other place to enjoy Florida besides the theme parks in Orlando, the beaches, and the shopping malls? Please, share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, help us to share it.