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5 Tips For Adventuring Responsibly in the Sunshine State

Here’s how to safely enjoy Florida’s spectacular outdoors.

By: Erin Newman-Mitchell + Save to a List

With its inviting climate, countless outdoor recreation options, and year-round access, Florida is a well-established mecca for those who love outdoor adventures. While we all know the physical and mental health benefits of reconnecting with nature, you may be wondering, how do I adventure responsibly these days?

Even the most seasoned adventurers may feel some uncertainty about the proper guidelines and etiquette for getting out in Florida’s wilds this season. Here are five tips for how to explore the Sunshine State’s spectacular outdoors, while keeping yourself and others safe.

1. Research Local Travel Safety Information

Before you head out on your adventure, take a moment to research your destination, even if it’s a place you’ve visited in the past. What hours are they open? Do you need a day pass or permit? Are there any travel restrictions in place? Jumpstart your research by checking out VISIT FLORIDA’s Travel Safety Information.

To avoid crowds, especially at popular outdoor destinations like trails and beaches, a good rule of thumb is to arrive early (before 10:00 AM) or late (after 3:00 PM). You won’t regret that early wake-up call when you have miles of Florida shoreline all to yourself at sunrise, I promise you. Don’t forget your camera!

2. Go Somewhere New

Florida is a diverse and beautiful state. With 175 state parks, 3 national parks, and countless city and county parks, there is adventure around every corner. From the subtropical wilderness of Everglades National Park to the underwater allure of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, you’ll never lack for places to explore.

On your next trip, take a chance and head off the well-beaten path to enjoy the solitude and discover someplace new. Search on The Outbound Collective to uncover a hidden gem, or check out this map of all of Florida’s state park destinations. You never know what you’ll find. 

3. Have Fun, But Be Prepared

Florida is full of visitor-friendly destinations, and while you find most businesses and services open, it pays to be prepared with everything you’ll need for your trip. Stock up your car with essentials, like plenty of water, a lunch or snacks, hand sanitizer, a small first aid kit, and a hat. This can help to limit your interactions as you travel, but also can serve as a backup in case you can’t find that perfect restaurant or the neighborhood store is closed. 

Oh, and be sure to pack that sunscreen. Florida earns its nickname as the Sunshine State!

4. Recreate Respectfully and Leave No Trace

We all have a responsibility to recreate respectfully. Now more than ever, with an uptick in the number of people enjoying the outdoors, we all have a part to play in keeping Florida’s trails, forests, lakes, creeks, and beaches clean and safe.

Be sure to stay on designated trails, camp in designated campsites, and practice Leave No Trace principles. Avoid trampling or picking plant life, and be prepared to carry out all of your own trash, including pet and human waste. 

Many of Florida’s beautiful ecosystems are fragile, and need to be treated with respect. Don’t touch or stand on reefs. Leave all forms of wildlife alone. It’s a favorite pastime in Florida to pick up seashells on the beach and search for shark teeth, but be sure to leave any shells with animals inside where you found them. And please, please, please, don’t touch the manatees!

5. Follow Basic Trail Etiquette and Safety Guidelines

Think Florida is all beaches and waterways? Think again. Florida has hundreds of miles of mountain bike and road biking trails—including singletrack—and countless miles of hiking trails. Whether you’re heading out on your first outdoor adventure or are a seasoned pro, there’s a trail for you here.

Having a great time on foot or bike is as easy as following a few simple guidelines of trail etiquette. First, always stay on the trail. If you must step off the tread to let others pass, be sure to stand on a durable surface, like a rock. These days, it’s best to give people plenty of space. 

Try your best to not disturb wildlife, and always stay aware of your surroundings. To decrease the chance of conflict with other trail users, know when to yield the trail and when you have the right-of-way. The basic guideline is this: everyone yields to horses, bikes yield to hikers, and those hiking downhill yield to hikers moving uphill. 

If you’re unsure what to do on the trail, just use the golden rule, and treat others how you would want to be treated.

Florida is a beautiful and diverse destination with unlimited opportunities to explore off the beaten bath. Get out there and adventure responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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