Escape The Cold This Winter With A Trip To This Underrated Florida State Park

If the cold and darkness are starting to get you down, it's time to plan a winter getaway somewhere warm and sunny. And where better to go than The Sunshine State? In the winter months, Florida boasts comfortable temperatures and has some of the nicest weather in the U.S. But with beautiful weather comes crowds. Popular places like Miami and Fort Lauderdale can be especially busy.

But at Florida's Honeymoon Island State Park, you can escape both the crowds and the cold. This delightful state park is a short 35-minute drive from downtown Tampa; there's no need to take a ferry, as the Dunedin Causeway whisks you across the Gulf. Entry to the island costs $8 per vehicle, and once you're in, you can enjoy miles of white-sand beaches, hiking trails and water adventures. Honeymoon Island is like paradise with amenities, making it a great destination for a family-friendly trip.

Wildlife and beaches

Start your trip at the Rotary Centennial Nature Center if it's your first time visiting the park. There, you can learn more about the island's history and nature. The staff can tell you about the wildlife you're likely to see on the island, including gopher tortoises, ospreys, and oyster catchers. One visitor on TripAdvisor wrote that the staff at the center were excellent with their children.

After that, it's time to choose a beach to relax on. The park has four beaches, and Florida Rambler has been to them all. They write that while Main Beach has the best sand (the powdery white that Florida's Gulf Coast is known for), their favorite is the rockier beach to the north of the island, which has fewer people and lovely sand dunes. Several TripAdvisor reviewers recommend wearing water shoes on Honeymoon Island's beaches due to the rocks and shells that line the shore. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas at Café Honeymoon and South Beach Pavilion.

Activities on Honeymoon Island

The island has several trails to discover for those who enjoy exploring on foot. The Osprey Trail looped with the Pelican Trail is a favorite, with 2.5 miles of walking path through pine forests. Users on AllTrails like the views and the chance to see birds, but they warn that the trail is often swarming with mosquitoes.

Several outlets allow you to rent bikes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. Around 4.5 miles of tracks are open to cyclists in the park. If you're looking for a longer ride, you can also pedal over the Dunedin Causeway. One reviewer on TripAdvisor brought their own bikes into the park across the causeway and called the route "wonderful."

As for kayaking, if you want a bit of an adventure, why not paddle out to nearby Caledesi Island? It takes just 20 minutes to get across the water from the Honeymoon Island Causeway, though Florida Rambler warns that you need to be careful of passing boats. The waters around the island are teeming with fish, and you can catch mackerel, sea trout, and more from the beach.