Beach bums, boaters, and outdoor enthusiasts of all types have long flocked to The Sunshine State, especially during Florida’s warm winter months when the rest of the country is left gathering firewood and shoveling snow. On the water or on the shore, outdoor activities in Florida are plentiful.
Disclaimer: Before booking and traveling, make sure to look up and local and government regulations, potential quarantine periods, and travel restrictions that may exist in the county and state.
Outdoor activities in Florida
Florida’s outdoor activities extend far beyond the coastline. Fish on the intracoastal waterways and enjoy catch-and-cook at dock-side restaurants. Tackle a zip-line course through lush marshlands in Florida’s capital. You can even go mountain biking outside of Tallahassee (yes, mountain biking!) through peaceful national forests. Pitch a tent and enjoy beach camping.
We discovered some of the most exciting, COVID-friendly outdoor activities in Northern Florida to help you explore the best of the state. Get to know adorable St. Augustine on the Atlantic Coast with its Spanish Colonial history before heading across the state to Panama City Beach, a laid-back Gulf-front town on the Panhandle. Keep reading to learn more about these good-for-the-soul outdoor activities in Florida.
Outdoor activities in Florida: St. Augustine
Fishing, eco-tours, and more
Head out onto the water to go deep sea or inland fishing with one of the many charter companies in the area. Make sure to stop by the beautiful St. Augustine lighthouse where you can take a tour and learn all about the area’s maritime past, including the haunted history of the lighthouse itself.
Interested in learning more about the ecology of the region? Join St. Augustine Eco-Tours and jump aboard Captain Zach’s boat for a tour. Captain Nick and his colleagues will happily share their knowledge of the local ecosystem that extends from the fascinating behaviors of local dolphins to the Native American history of the region.
Discover downtown St. Augustine
Historical St. Augustine is full of hidden treasures. Horse-drawn carriages transport visitors down brick-lined streets past sprawling courtyard cafes, haunted old schoolhouses, and the stunningly ornate buildings on Flagler College’s campus.
You can also hop aboard an Old Town Trolley Tour to check out the top sights in quaint downtown St. Augustine. During the holidays, their Night of Lights Tour comes complete with 3D glasses that add a psychedelic flair to the town’s many holiday lights while you cruise around to the tune of your favorite Christmas carols.
Explore the outdoors of Tallahassee
Your first thought of Florida’s outdoors is likely its sandy beaches, but the inland of the state is full of its own adventures to be had in the open air.
Even the state capital is surrounded by national forests, state parks, and seemingly endless networks of waterways full of Florida’s unique and plentiful flora and fauna. Mountain biking makes for one of the best outdoor actives in Florida for all ages.
Hundreds of miles of mountain biking trails
While there may not be any towering mountains in sight, bike riders will still find a trail to suit any mood on the hundreds of miles of bike paths in and around Tallahassee.
In the Apalachicola National Forest, you can complete a moderately easy, 8-mile ride on the Munson Trail through the tranquility of the longleaf pine trees. Up for a longer ride? Take the Coastal Trail 12 miles (each way) where you can eventually connect to the system of Sea Trails.
The Tallahassee Museum & zip line ropes course
Whether you prefer your feet on solid ground or enjoy the thrill and challenge of an aerial ropes course, The Tallahassee Museum has 52 acres of different outdoor adventures to be explored.
Wander the elevated boardwalks for a full immersion into the living wildlife, flora, and fauna of Tallahassee. The animals here roam free within the confines of the park so you never know whether you’re about to come across a cute little river otter, a wild turkey, or a Florida panther. (Important to note: the museum only houses animals that would not otherwise have survived in the wild.)
Ready to fly? Try your hand at the aerial ropes obstacles course, complete with thrilling ziplines to transport you across lakes and over the heads of the animals.
The Tree-to-Tree Adventures at the Tallahassee Museum offer a unique physical and mental challenge to guests who will need to balance on swinging steps, edge their way across a tightrope, and leap from platforms over 20-feet off the ground. The longest course includes 25 different obstacles and 16 ziplines.
Kayak explorations on the waterways
Head out on a kayaking or paddle-boarding exploration of the waterways surrounding Tallahassee and reconnect to nature in a big way. The inland waterways are one of the most iconic outdoor activities in Florida and a must-see while visiting.
Companies in the area offer everything from independent SUP rentals, to guided kayak tours that’ll take you off-the-beaten-path to the most lush, tranquil bits of Northern Floridian nature.
Companies like Harry Smith Outdoors have unparalleled knowledge of the ecosystems surrounding the spring-fed rivers and cypress swamps. Depending on your preference, they can guide you to fresh, bubbling springs ripe for swimming, on fishing expeditions, and/or on an informative nature-spotting journey.
Outdoor activities in Florida: Panama City Beach
If you want to come to PCB exclusively to lounge on the sand, swim in the sea, and drink margaritas by the pool, you’ll find plenty of seaside resorts to support you. If you want to spend your days out on the water, jet-skiing, deep-sea fishing, or wandering around remote areas, then you’ve got the sweet spot in Panama City Beach. Traveling with young kids in tow? The family-fun holiday activities here are endless.
Get out on the Gulf
In Panama City Beach you can rent any type of watercraft your heart desires. Rent a boat for the day to visit stunning Shell Island and cruise around the turquoise waters. You can also grab some jet skis to cruise the gulf or fishing kayaks complete with live bait and all the gear you need. However you enjoy the water, keep an eye on the waves– you’re sure to spot dolphins aplenty.
Enjoy the Panama City Beach Pier Park
Wander around the massive outdoor mall at the pier and, if you’d like, pop into any of the 124 shops or grab a quick bite. Craving fresh seafood? Sit outside by the docks at Hook’d Pier Bar and Grill, located on the water across from the entrance to Pier Park. Want to see the view of the whole thing from above? Take a ride on the towering Sky Wheel.
Something for the whole family
Panama City Beach has successfully rebranded in recent years from a Spring Break destination to a wholesome family getaway spot. The options for family-friendly outdoor activities in this Florida city are endless.
Shipwreck Island Waterpark has a wave pool, lazy river, and numerous waterslides of different intensities. The Sea Screamer boat tours are an always-enjoyable choice for families to explore the coastline while kids get to try their hand at steering the boat, encountering critter crabs, and blasting the horn.
Beach Bonfires at Night
Not ready to stay inside after sundown? Bundle up and head back to the beach for a bonfire by the water. If your s’mores supply is running low or you don’t want to haul your own beach chairs, companies like Endless Beach Rentals will do all the work for you.
Choose your package to include a propane fire-pit plus s’mores ingredients, coolers with ice, hammocks, and even beach games! All you need to do is show up, chill out, and enjoy PCB.
Discover where you can go
Making plans to get back out there? Make sure to look up local and government guidelines before booking your travels. Find out whose borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.
FAQs on outdoor activities in Florida
Beyond Tallahassee, St. Augustine, and Panama City Beach, some of the most popular places to visit in Florida include Orlando, Disney World, Miami, The Everglades, Kennedy Space Center, Key West, and Dry Tortugas National Park.
Many of the best outdoor activities in Florida are free of cost! Take a walk through historic St. Augustine, enjoy the water in Panama City Beach, or bring your bike and spend a day on the trails in Tallahassee.
Outdoor activities in Florida are bountiful. Kayak, fish, hike, bike, swim, walk, camp, zipline, jet ski, and more!
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