The Top 10 Best Things To Do in Florida During Spring: A Nature Lover’s Itinerary!

As winter’s icy grip starts to loosen its hold, Florida bursts into vibrant life with the arrival of spring. The state’s diverse landscapes transform into a kaleidoscope of colors, beckoning nature enthusiasts to explore the great outdoors. From sun-drenched beaches to lush forests and crystal-clear springs, Florida offers an unparalleled playground for those seeking an escape into the natural world.

Spring in Florida is a magical time when the state’s unique ecosystems shine. The balmy weather and mild temperatures provide the perfect conditions for outdoor adventures, making it an ideal season for nature lovers to immerse themselves in the state’s breathtaking scenery. From swimming spots that offer a refreshing respite from the warm weather to hiking trails that meander through picturesque landscapes, in this guide you’ll discover many opportunities to connect with the great outdoors.

Dive Into Florida’s Warmest Spring Waters

Best Things to Do Florida Spring 2024

If you’re anything like us, you’ve been counting down the days until you can finally dip your toes into Florida’s inviting waters after a long winter. When that sunshine starts to warm the air, there’s no better way to embrace the spring season than by diving headfirst into one of the state’s many incredible swimming spots. The places highlighted – Jupiter, Miami, the Florida Keys, and springs in Ocala National Forest – were specially selected because they feature some of the warmest waters in Florida during the spring months.

Let’s start in Jupiter, home to some of the most pristine and secluded beaches in Southeast Florida. Carlin Park is a local favorite, offering a long stretch of sugar-white sand perfect for walking, sunbathing, or simply listening to the rhythm of the ocean’s waves. For a wilder beach experience, head to Blowing Rocks Preserve to explore caverns and watch waves powerfully crash against the rocky limestone shoreline. 

Moving south, Miami offers a perfect balance of city life and natural escapes like the Oleta River State Park. Rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the meandering river’s pristine waterways fringed by mangroves before cooling off in one of the blue lagoons.

For the ultimate tropical experience, venture to the Florida Keys. Key West’s Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park boasts some of the most picturesque shorelines in the state. Wade into the sparkling teal shallows or snorkel vibrant reefs teeming with parrotfish, rays and vibrant coral.

If you’d rather avoid the salty ocean, look to the crystalline springs within the lush Ocala National Forest. Juniper Springs is a local favorite for its massive, 109-foot deep pool that stays 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. After a refreshing swim, you can hike or bike along winding nature trails through the woodlands.

Hiking to enjoy the last bit of cooler weather

Best Things to Do Florida Spring 2024

As temperatures increase, spring presents the perfect opportunity to hit the trails and savor those final bursts of cool air before summer’s sweltering heat descends. Lace up your hiking boots and experience two of Florida’s most beautiful and refreshing nature trails.

For an easier hike, check out the 1.3-mile loop around Clearwater Lake in the heart of Ocala National Forest. This well-shaded path winds through a serene landscape of towering pine flatwoods and oak hammocks dripping with air plants and Spanish moss. Listen closely, and you’ll likely hear the distinctive drumming of woodpeckers and calls of other feathered forest residents. Keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed deer, raccoons and other wildlife peeking from the underbrush. After working up a light sweat, dip your toes in the calm, spring-fed waters of Clearwater Lake to instantly cool off. 

In the coastal town of Palm Coast, hike the 1.7-mile trail system at  Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. This classic Florida hike encapsulates the best of the state’s diverse environments as you travel scenic boardwalks and bridges overlooking salt marshes teeming with wading birds like herons, egrets, and roseate spoonbills. Pause to take in the peaceful vision of tidal pools sparkling in the sun before climbing to the top of the Buckingham-Smith Observation Tower. 

Discover Florida’s Wild Side at These Conservation Areas

While World Wildlife Day has passed this year (March 3), every day presents an opportunity to appreciate Florida’s incredible biodiversity and learn how to protect it. From the vibrant coral reefs teeming with tropical fish to the dense wetlands where endangered Florida panthers prowl, the Sunshine State is home to an astounding array of animals, from manatees to gopher tortoises to roseate spoonbills. Make time to visit these fantastic wildlife conservation areas to connect with nature and support their crucial work.

At Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation, you can get up close and personal with rescued big cats, bears and other rehabilitated animals. Take a guided tour on foot or by tram to learn about species like tigers, lions and Florida panthers while ensuring your visit funds valuable conservation efforts.

For a glimpse into Florida’s incredible marine ecosystems, the Marine Discover Center is a must-visit. This non-profit organization rescues and rehabilitates sick or injured sea turtles, dolphins, whales, and manatees. Through interactive exhibits and behind-the-scenes tours, you’ll learn about threats facing these vulnerable ocean dwellers and how you can help protect them.

Both of these conservation areas offer unique educational opportunities to learn about Florida’s diverse wildlife while directly supporting organizations at the frontlines of preservation efforts. An up-close encounter could spark a lifelong passion for protecting our natural world.

Forests to Explore on International Day of Forests (March 21)

As winter fades and the world awakens to spring, March 21 marks an important annual celebration –International Day of Forests. This global event raises awareness of forests’ vital role in our environmental, economic and social well-being. What better way to honor this day than by venturing into Florida’s rich diversity of forestlands? From shady hardwood hammocks to sun-dappled pine flatwoods, these protected areas offer a chance to disconnect from the stresses of daily life and lose yourself in nature’s soothing embrace.

Pack your hiking gear, lace up your boots, and head to one of these spectacular state forests showcasing the true wild heart of the Sunshine State. Let their serene, sprawling woodlands be your chosen refuge as you join the worldwide recognition of forests’ immense beauty and importance.

Indian Lake State Forest

Nestled in the central Florida panhandle, this 19,000-acre forest contains a mosaic of distinct ecosystems waiting to be explored. Traverse undulating sandhill ridges blanketed in towering longleaf pines and gaze across wet prairie marshes shimmering with golden wildflowers. For a unique experience, hit the trails in late spring when the rare white fringed orchids burst into vivid bloom along shady ravines and creeks. Be sure to look and listen for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker as it forages for insects on mature pines.

Tiger Bay State Forest

Best Things to Do Florida Spring 2024

Tiger Bay State Forest, established through acquisitions starting in 1977 under the Environmentally Endangered Lands Program, features swamp areas with embedded pine islands and a large pine ridge. The forest serves as a vital wildlife corridor for endangered, threatened, and special concern species, offering a roaming habitat for the Florida black bear and potential nesting and foraging areas for the bald eagle.

Named after its primary feature, Tiger Bay, an extensive wetland crucial for local aquifer recharge, the forest includes lakes (Indian Lake and Scoggin Lake), ponds (Coon Pond, Rattlesnake Pond, Woody Pond, Ranch Pond, and three unnamed man-made ponds), and 40% pine islands within the hydric swamp forest. Recreational activities in Tiger Bay State Forest encompass hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, picnicking, boating, fishing, hunting, nature study, and photography. Horseback riding and bicycling are restricted to designated areas, including forest roads, permanent firelines, and specified trails.

Little Big Econ State Forest

Best Things to Do Florida Spring 2024

Don’t let the name fool you – at 11,000 acres, this forest just east of Orlando is a true hidden gem. Its boundaries protect miles of shady hiking trails that follow the Econlockhatchee River, carving through steep ravines with towering beeches, magnolias, and oaks. As you immerse yourself in this dense upland hardwood sanctuary, listen for the distinct calls of pileated woodpeckers, barred owls, and other wildlife echoing through the leafy canopy. After your hike, cool off with a picnic along the banks of the “Econ” River as it flows gently over the rocky river shoals.

Four Creeks State Forest

For those seeking a remote backcountry escape, venture to northeast Florida’s Four Creeks State Forest. This sprawling 36,000-acre working forest harbors thriving stands of longleaf and slash pines teeming with diverse plant and animal life. Explore the numerous multi-use trails by foot, bike, or horse to spot resident species like gopher tortoises, fox squirrels, white-tailed deer, and, if you’re fortunate – the elusive Florida black bear. Break from the humid Florida heat by pausing along one of the four shady creek corridors that snake through the interior, giving the forest its name.

No matter which forest you choose to celebrate International Forests Day, you’ll be rewarded with endless opportunities to connect with nature’s tranquility and rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul. 

Embrace Nature this Spring

Best Things to Do Florida Spring 2024

From cooling off in spring-fed swimming holes to hiking shaded trails through lush forests, the opportunities for eco-adventures are endless this season. Whether exploring a wildlife conservation area to learn about protecting vulnerable species or wandering through sweeping woodlands on International Forests Day, each experience connects you deeper with Florida’s diverse ecosystems. Let this spring itinerary guide you to disconnect from daily life in favor of serene beaches, rejuvenating hikes, and unforgettable wildlife encounters.