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7 Attractions Off of Florida’s Beaten Path You Should Check Out

for Bradenton, Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch and Beyond

Jul 18, 2016

When someone announces they’re going on a vacation to Florida it’s instantly assumed they’re headed to Disney World, or one of the pristine, white sand beaches that line almost the entire state.

In fact, these attractions draw so many crowds, that the other, lesser-known hotspots in Florida are often overlooked. So if you’re looking to get off the beaten path and spend some time relaxing in the sunshine state where there are fewer crowds, check out these top seven attractions that Bradenton Insurance recommends:

1. Lake Manatee

For those looking to sit back and relax, this freshwater lake is the ideal place for you and the family. Lake Manatee was created in the 1960’s with the building of a dam that spans Manatee River. The area offers terrific fishing, a 60-site campground, TreeUmph Adventure Course, and plenty of wooded hiking and walking trails. Just upriver, above the dam, you’ll enjoy the opportunity to see live manatees with your own eyes!

2. Boca Grande, Gasparilla Island

For those really looking to get away from it all, there’s Boca Grande, a sleepy little historic town on Gasparilla Island . Without the bustle of spring training or vacationing crowds, Gasparilla Island gives you the beautiful sunset and sunrise views unobstructed by any high-rises . Gasparilla Island offers plenty of relaxation, with seven miles of beaches, endless biking paths, a state park, and not a single traffic light in sight.

3. Falling Waters State Park

While images of beautiful blue ocean frontage come to mind when you think of Florida, the state isn’t particularly known for its fresh water. All that changes with one trip to Falling Waters State Park. Here, you’ll find a stream tumbling 73 feet to the bottom of a cylindrical sinkhole that measures 100-feet deep and 20-feet wide. There is ample opportunity to hike the sloping terrain of Northern Florida, a beautiful lake for taking a refreshing dip, and there is even a butterfly garden.

4. Ravine Gardens State Park

Florida has a unique landscape, dotted with sinkholes and gullies caused by temporary flooding. At Ravine Garden State Park , you can explore not one but two permanent ravines, which boast sheer drop-offs and steep banks. Immerse yourself in the unique Floridian flora and fauna while experiencing the park’s extensive hiking trail system. Other features include two suspension bridges spanning the ravines, an amphitheater, and over 146 acres of both formal and natural gardens.

5. Florida Caverns State Park

Escape the heat of a sunny Florida afternoon by going below the surface to Florida’s Caverns State Parkonly dry cave that offers tours. You’re sure to be impressed by the amazing limestone stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones, and draperies. Tours are offered Thursday through Monday (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) and last 45 minutes.

6. Ed Leedskalnin’s Coral Castle

If you’re looking for something more unusual, head to the Ed Leedskalnin's Coral Castle for some serious bragging rights. Though the reasons are vastly unknown, story has it that Ed Leedskalnin, jilted by a lover, began constructing this paradise completely by himself. A feat of strength and nature, Leedskalnin somehow managed to move fossilized coral boulders over 25 feet tall and weighing more than 30 tons, making some of the stones taller than those at Stonehenge, and heavier than those in the great pyramid of Giza. Adding to the mystery, Leedskalnin, a diminutive man of only 5 feet tall and 100 pounds, did all of his construction at night, keeping his methods completely secretive.

7. Weeki Wachee: City of Live Mermaids

If mermaids are “your thing,” you’re in for a treat. In an underwater theater 20 feet below the surface, and in the deepest naturally formed spring in North America, you can watch as “half humans, half fish” swim and dance in live underwater shows. These whimsical performances, full of glittering props and costumes, are sure to impress even the littlest mermaid in the City of Live Mermaids.

The next time you head to Florida, consider getting off the beaten path to adventure to these 7 major attractions recommended by Bradenton Insurance. While troves of tourists will be lining up at Disney’s gates or crowding beaches, these seven, lesser-known attractions are just as exciting!

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