If you’re craving a little R-and-R in the Sunshine State after a long, tiring year, you’re not alone. Recent surveys found that tourism levels in states like Florida have reached or even exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Increasingly higher numbers of Americans are venturing back to tourism hotspots after more than a year and a half of government-mandated lockdowns and self-imposed isolation.
While it’s still of the utmost importance to take safety precautions such as avoiding crowded areas and wearing a mask, looking after your mental wellness is also essential. Traveling can be a balm to an anxious soul or a boost to the spirits, and many studies support this.
If you’re planning on taking a soul-satisfying vacation to Florida but want to avoid the usual tourist traps, here are some ideas for places to visit and activities to try:
Explore Amelia Island
A visit to Florida isn’t complete without a trip to the beach. Unfortunately, most tourists share this belief. However, some spots in Florida aren’t too crowded, especially during the off-season.
Amelia Island is a tranquil slice of paradise and one of Florida’s best-kept secrets. Situated on Florida’s Atlantic coast, it has more than 13 miles of dune-strewn beaches as well as sparkling rivers and verdant greenways. It’s a wonderful place to do nothing at all but relax and bask in the beauty of nature.
For those of a more adventurous bent, the island also offers plenty of things to do. You can charter a pontoon for a fishing or nature trip, play volleyball on Main Beach, take a guided kayaking tour, or hang-glide for a bird’s eye view of the island.
Amelia Island is open to visitors year-round, but if you want to stay far from the madding crowd, consider booking your visit for spring.
Discover Art and Architecture in South Walton
Despite having more than 23 miles of white-sand beaches, South Walton isn’t as crowded with tourists as other Florida destinations. This is especially true in the fall when the weather is not too hot. Just make sure you keep an ear out for hurricane warnings, as hurricane season begins in June and ends in November.
Apart from the pristine beach and sparkling waters, South Walton has plenty to offer, especially those who love art but not museum crowds. Many galleries, boutiques, and market shops showcase local art inspired by the area’s natural beauty. You can find photographs, prints, jewelry, and handmade decor, too.
To destress, book a massage or a body wrap at one of South Walton’s wellness facilities. Some yoga studios also offer guided yoga and meditation on the beach.
Go Off the Beaten Path in Lovers Key State Park
Nestled between Fort Myers and Sanibel, Lovers Key State Park is a peaceful oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city. While the beach can be a little crowded during the summer months, there are plenty of other places in the park to visit.
You can explore tidal lagoons and canals, observe wildlife, walk the park’s five miles of trails, and go kayaking. Another excellent option is to go on a sunset boat tour or a dolphin cruise.
Go Antique Shopping
Instead of going to the hotel souvenir shop along with other tourists before you leave for home, why not end your trip on a high note with a shopping trip to Florida’s famous antique stores? The state is home to many transplants and immigrants who’ve brought their treasures along with them, which may explain why Florida is bursting with quirky shops selling all kinds of secondhand goodies.
There is an entire street of antique stores in Orlando, while Mt. Dora boasts dozens of little shops that sell everything from Asian art to vintage dolls. There are also huge antique malls throughout the state.
Shops like Antique Mall are not your typical secondhand stores selling chipped vases and out-of-fashion clothes. Housing a collection of specialty shops and booths, it’s your go-to for everything retro, vintage, and boho. Unique decor, hundred-year-old cabinets, Italian chandeliers, and rare glass figurines are some of the things you’ll find when you check these stores.
Give Yourself a Wellness Boost Through Travel
Whether to Florida or some other destination, taking a vacation reconnects you with nature while allowing you to disconnect from the stress and monotony of your daily pandemic routine. Thankfully, the easing of restrictions in many states has finally made traveling possible again.
By taking precautions and visiting less-crowded places, you can get your holiday fix safely, boosting your mental well-being and quenching your thirst for adventure at the same time.