How to Spend a Day Outdoors in Clay County Florida
Looking for a unique encounter with nature? Then look no further than Clay County Florida. With an abundance of parks, aquatic attractions, and trails for hiking or biking, this destination is ideal for backpackers, RV campers, or family travelers.
If you’re driving through Northeastern Florida and looking for a place to visit that isn’t a tourist trap, consider stopping around Clay County and the surrounding areas and see what kind of outdoor adventure you can find.
Green Cove Springs Park
Green Cove Springs is named after the natural springs that bubble to the surface nearby, along the central portion of the western shore of the St. Johns River. This spot is perfect for nature lovers who want to experience the area’s natural attractions while avoiding overcrowded, touristy destinations in Florida.
While the city of Green Cove Springs has a few small parks, Spring Park is one of the most popular. Locals and visitors alike visit the springs to enjoy the spring-fed pool that is replenished with a continuous stream of cool water at a constant temperature of 72 degrees. There is no better way to spend a hot, Florida summer day than in refreshing, natural spring waters.
Green Cove Springs also features a playground, covered picnic areas, and plenty of swinging benches within sight of the water. The St. Johns River makes for stunning views no matter what time of day. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the day surrounded by nature.
Looking for adventure on the water? Bring your kayak and utilize the South Dock Kayak Launch to explore the surrounding areas of the St. Johns River.
St. Johns Paddling Trail in Clay County
The St. Johns River is one of Clay County Florida’s recreation staples, and paddling is a great way to experience and explore it. Just a short drive from Green Cove Springs, there are dozens of entry points to the river. Not only will you catch breathtaking views as you paddle down the river, but there are a number of significant historical and archaeological sites that are worth checking out along the way.
There is also plenty of wildlife to spot around the river, so don’t forget to bring your binoculars! Wildlife on the river include foxes, whitetail deer, manatees, alligators, river otters, a variety of bird species, and so much more.
Mike Roess Gold Head Florida State Park
One of Florida’s oldest parks, with nearly 2,000 acres that were developed during the Civilian Conservation Corps days of the ‘30s, Mike Roess Gold Head State Park offers various recreational activities. The area in which the park resides is noted for its gentle sandhills and deep ravines, which are fun to explore.
The park features extensive multi-use trails and offers a 5.44-mile stretch of the Florida National Scenic Trail. For aquatic recreation, visitors can swim or fish in the lake, or spend a relaxing day softly paddling on a canoe. If you feel like one day at the park isn’t long enough for you, you can stay at one of the 3 full-facility campgrounds.
Fort Clinch State Park
With nearly 1,500 acres of natural environments and historically significant attractions, Fort Clinch State Park is a magnet for campers, RV lovers, history buffs, and outdoor enthusiasts. The park is located on Atlantic Avenue nearby Fernandina Beach and includes a Civil War-era fort, miles of secluded beaches, and lots of interactive exhibits.
Maritime hammocks with massive arching live oaks provide cool shade and a beautiful backdrop for hiking and biking on the park’s many trails. Wildlife viewing is another popular activity at Fort Clinch State Park, with gopher tortoises, painted buntings, and other wildlife roaming around the park.
The fun doesn’t end with hiking and animal sightings, however. Camping, fishing, shelling, and shark-tooth hunting are just a few other activities you can experience during your visit. Looking to travel back in time to experience a bit of the Civil War? Visit the park during the first weekend of every month when a soldier garrison fires cannons and demonstrates other battlefield skills.
Amazing Grace Family Farms
Looking for a break from all the hiking? Is the weather a bit chilly to be splashing around in the springs? Head on over to Amazing Grace Family Farms for an experience that will brighten your day. With over 15 attractions, like a Jump Pad, Cow Train, and Corn Hole, this farm has fun for the whole family!
If you visit in the spring, the farm has a beautiful sunflower field with an opportunity to pick your own bouquet. Not to mention take some incredible pictures! In the fall, the farm is home to a pumpkin patch and a Crop Maze.
Northeast Florida Scottish Highland Games & Festival
Grab your kilt as Clay County Florida’s countryside comes alive with traditional Scottish garb, food, and music at the Northeast Florida Scottish Highland Games and Festival. This festival is a perennial favorite for those of Scottish descent and is a big hit with visitors of other cultures. There are plenty of activities to enjoy, from the Kilted Golf Tournament and Bag Pipes and Drums competition to Highland Dance shows and Scottish animal exhibitions. It’s an all-day event, so clear up your schedule to experience the festival to its fullest!
There is no shortage of things do in Northeast Florida, so pack your bags and get ready to splash into refreshing springs, hike under massive oak trees, canoe with manatees, and maybe even experience a bit of Scottish culture. What are you waiting for?
Look through our other travel-related blogs for more exciting adventures in ecotourism under the beautiful Florida sun!