How to explore the hidden Florida.
What is the first image that pops into your head when you think about the Sunshine State of Florida? The Walt Disney Resort? The famous Miami Beach? Or something else?
Florida is the third-most populous of the 50 United States. Only California and Texas have more citizens. Some people refer to the state of Florida as God’s waiting room because more than 20% of the population is aged 65-years or older, but there is more to Florida than older folks and sunshine. Much more.
Sports fans are spoiled for choice when it comes to watching an elite team in action. Florida has three NFL teams, two MLB, a pair of NBA teams, a brace of NHL franchises, and two MLS outfits. Florida sports betting is fully legal, meaning you can kick back, place a few wagers, and watch some of the best sports franchises do their thing.
Not everyone is a sports fan, however. Do not worry if you are not someone who enjoys NFL, basketball, or soccer. Florida has plenty of hidden gems that are not as much of a tourist trap as the Walt Disney Resort, Miami Beach, or The Kennedy Space Centre.
Cape Romano Dome House
Those of you looking for something different to do in Florida need to pay a visit to the Cape Romano Dome House. It is an abandoned house consisting of six dome-shaped structures upon stilts.
Retired businessman Bob Lee built the structure in 1979, but he abandoned it by 1992 before selling it to John Tosto for $300,000 in 2005. Cape Romano Dome House is only accessible by boat, although this was not Lee’s intention when he first built the bizarre home.
Lee originally built on Morgan Island, but erosion filled in a small natural channel between Morgan Island and Cape Romano. This resulted in the domes now being on a different island than where they were originally built.
The intense 2005 Hurricane Wilma eroded the area around the dome even more, destabilizing the house’s foundations. A second hurricane, Hurricane Irma in September 2017, hit the area, causing two of the domes to collapse into the sea.
While only four domes remain, they are a sight to behold and brimming with wildlife activity.
Dry Tortugas National Park
You have to really want to visit Dry Tortugas because it is a royal pain to get there; it is only accessible by ferry or seaplane! Dry Tortugas is a small group of seven islands located approximately 70 miles west of Key West.
Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon first discovered the islands in 1513, and he gave the islands the name Las Tortugas (The Turtles) due to the area brimming with sea turtles. The word “Dry” was later added to the name to indicate to mariners that the islands lack springs.
The islands are the site of several historic shipwrecks, which lends the islands to snorkeling aficionados. Dry Tortugas is now a national park that homes the incomplete Fort Jefferson, the largest brick masonry structure in the United States, covering 16 acres and consisting of more than 16 million bricks.
Florida Caverns State Park
Caverns and caves are probably not what you associate with sunny Florida, but the state is home to the Florida Caverns State Park. You find this picturesque beauty spot in Florida Panhandle near Marianna, and it is the only state park in Florida that has air-filled caves accessible to the public.
Stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstones adorn the beautiful limestone caves. Make sure you bring a jacket with you if you chose to go on the recommended guided tour because the caves remain a constant 65 degrees, meaning they can be pretty cold compared to the blistering heat above ground.
There is plenty to do above ground once you have soaked in the sights, including a nine-hole golf course, camping, hiking, and even horseback riding.