Don't Forget To Stop At These Overlooked Spots When Planning Your Next Trip To Florida

Florida is jam-packed with tourist hotspots from Pensacola to the Florida Keys. In fact, Florida sees the most tourists out of all 50 states. There is something for everyone: unique wildlife, hundreds of miles of white sand beaches, world-famous theme parks, sports venues, and even pristine freshwater springs that are great for swimming and manatee spotting all over the state.

It may sound like the whole of Florida is busy. However, between the state's major tourist cities like Orlando and beach destinations like Miami, you'll find plenty of quaint locales, especially near the Georgia border. These small hidden gems include Atlantic Beach, Amelia Island, and Big and Little Talbot Island. The nearby towns date back centuries and the parks have multiple family-friendly activities such as hiking, surfing, and wildlife viewing. Adding often-overlooked places like these can make for a relaxing break if you are including Florida's busier places in your itinerary.

Parks and beaches near Jacksonville offer outdoor activities

Atlantic Beach is the northernmost beach in the greater Jacksonville area. Businessman Henry Flagler began building in the area back in the early 1900s and it quickly became a luxurious vacation hotspot. The legacy of luxury continues in the 21st century with the luxurious One Ocean Resort and the historic, recently refurbished Salt Air Inn & Suites. Atlantic Beach retains its small-town feel even with resorts, but if something more untouched sounds more appealing, the Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park (pictured above) is less than a 20-minute drive from these aforementioned hotels. The park has kayaking, hiking, and biking along with close proximity to a stretch of beach popular with surfers. You can also stay overnight at the park in rental cabins or at the park's RV and campsite.

Another spot for quiet time in nature is the Dutton Island Preserve. The preserve borders the Intracoastal Waterway and is known for its picnic locations, nature trails, and camping. The nature trails are free and teeming with wildlife such as birds and turtles.

Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island has centuries of history

Further north of Jacksonville and its beaches is Amelia Island. This stretch of land is home to the small town of Fernandina Beach. Part of this town is on the National Register of Historic Places and features Victorian-era architecture. The Amelia Island Museum of History in Fernandina Beach showcases the region's extensive history, which even includes a British invasion during the Revolutionary War. South of Fernandina Beach is the Amelia Island State Park, which serves as a wildlife preserve helping to protect nesting areas for coast-dwelling birds like terns and pelicans. Further south still are the Big Talbot and Little Talbot Island state parks. The off-the-beaten-path beaches of these parks have large trees, salt marshes, and kayaking.

Florida is a popular state for road-tripping, as shown by the fact that the majority of Florida's tourists drive themselves around the state. The iconic A1A highway along Florida's Atlantic coast gives convenient access to Atlantic Beach, Amelia Island, Big Talbot, and Little Talbot state parks with views of the ocean along most of the road.