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Featured Attractions - North Florida
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Bird Watching - Gulf Islands National Seashore
The diversity of wildlife habitats including open beaches, dunes, freshwater marshes, maritime forests, and salt marshes has attracted over 300 species of birds to the Gulf Island National Seashore...read more»

Diving and Snorkeling - North Florida
Barrier Islands are the predominant coastal form within the Florida Gulf Islands National Seashore. The southside of Santa Rosa Island has sandy bottoms exposed to tidal changes and surf action. Many marine creatures swim or drift through the waters or live on or within the bottom sands. Most divers find these areas to be a "barren desert." On the bay side of the island are shallow areas of scattered marine grass in which the snorkeler can find pinfish, pipefish, seahorses and other interesting species....read more»

Fort Clinch - Amelia Island
The site on Amelia Island at the entrance to the St. Marys River and the Cumberland Sound has been occupied by various military troops Since 1736. Construction of a fort, later named Fort Clinch, was begun in 1847. A pentagonal brick fort with both inner and outer walls, Fort Clinch was a safe haven for blockade runners during the Civil War. Briefly occupied by Confederate forces, its recapture by Federal troops in early 1862 gave the Union control of the adjacent Georgia and Florida coasts. The fort was used in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, but was abandoned until the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) restored it in the 1930s. A Florida State Park, Fort Clinch is interpreted as the base of Union operations in the area throughout the Civil War.

Fernandina Historic District
North of the present city of Fernandina Beach off North 14th Street

Fernandina Beach Historic District
The north end of Amelia Island in the city of Fernandina Beach - roughly bounded by Sixth, Broome, N. Third, Escambia, Seventh, Date, and Ash Streets

Fort Caroline National Memorial
12713 Fort Caroline Road, Jacksonville, FL
Can be reached by traveling east on Florida 10, turning on St. Johns Bluff Road, then Monument Road, and proceeding east on Fort Caroline Road.
Fort Caroline National Memorial was created to memorialize the Sixteenth Century French effort to establish a permanent colony in Florida. After initial exploration in 1562, the French established "la Caroline" in June 1564. Spanish forces arrived 15 months later. Marching north from their newly established beachhead (San Agustin) the Spanish captured la Caroline in September, 1565. Nothing remains of the original Fort de la Caroline; a near full-scale rendering of the fort, together with exhibits in the visitor center, provide information on the history of the French colony, their interaction with the native Timucua, and the colonists' brief struggle for survival.

Hiking and Nature Trails - North Florida
There is extensive hiking throughout the Florida District of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. A wide variety of habitats can be explored from beach to forest. You can walk the beautiful white sand beaches or take a stroll on one of the many trails through barrier islands, maritime forests or wetlands. Self-guided trails help hikers discover the park's natural resources....read more»

Jacksonville Zoo
Tucked away on the north side of Jacksonville, Florida snuggled up against the Trout River is one of the city’s hidden jewels, The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. The zoo sprang from modest beginnings. It grew along with the city to become the exquisite 120-acre jewel it is today. It all began on May 12, 1914 with one red deer fawn at its first location in the Springfield section. That was soon followed by a monkey island and other animals and rapidly grew until in 1925, it moved to its present location. One of the most significant acquisitions of that early zoo was a black jaguar they named Zorro. Zorro produced many offspring during his 19-year life span. These were sent to zoos all around the country and in 2003, a survey showed that all of the captive born black jaguars in North American zoos were a descendant of Zorro.....read more»

Kingsley Plantation - Fort George Island
East of Jacksonville off Florida A1A
Includes the plantation house, a kitchen house, a barn, and the ruins of 25 of the original slave cabins. The history of the island spans more than 1000 years beginning with the Timucuan Indians. The structures at the site, however, date to the plantation era of the island. The Kingsley Plantation was named for one of several plantation owners, Zephaniah Kingsley, who operated the property from 1813-1839. Kingsley operated under a "task" system, which allowed slaves to work at a craft or tend their own gardens once the specified task for the day was completed. Proceeds from the sale of produce or craft items were usually kept by the slaves. Purchased as a slave, Kingsley's wife, Anna Madgigine Jai, was freed in 1811. She was active in plantation management and became a successful business woman owning her own property. As an American territory, Florida passed laws that discriminated against free blacks and placed harsh restrictions on African slaves. This prompted Kingsley to move his family, impacted by these laws, to Haiti, now the Dominican Republic, where descendants of Anna and Zephaniah live today.

Merritt Island

Bicycling Trails, Hiking Trails, Horseback Riding Trails, Boating, Hunting, Fishing and Camping in Apalachicola National Forest Recreation Areas - Camel Lake, Fort Gadsden, Leon Sinks, Silver Lake and Wright Lake

The Panhandle - Parks and Recreation

Florida Parks Along the Panhandle's 98
by James Richardson

Visiting Florida later this year? Traveling across the Panhandle of Florida to get to its big peninsula? Looking for excellent beaches without having to go to Miami, St. Pete, Daytona, or Jacksonville? The sun is just as bright and the sand is whiter in the Panhandle. U.S. Highway 98 follows the coastline of the Gulf and the "real" Florida, as the brochures say, is the state parks. They are sprinkled like the white sand along the Florida Panhandle's Highway 98.

Florida has nearly 120 state park areas, some of which are designated as parks, some recreation areas, and others as reserves. Some are operated as museums and gardens. Some parks are important because of their geologic or historic significance. Florida has divided the park system into nine regions. The Panhandle is composed of two of these regions -- the Northwest and the Big Bend. U.S. Highway 98 passes through both regions. Twelve state areas are located on the coast and ten are along 98, but only six designated as parks or recreation areas have camping facilities. These six are the focus of this article: Big Lagoon, Grayton Beach, Saint Andrews, Saint Joseph Peninsula, Saint George Island, and Ochlockonee River...read more»

Stretching from the Panhandle to Jacksonville, North Florida offers many historical sites and museums for visitors and residents to enjoy. If stuck on Jax Beach, Amelia Island, or Ponte Vedra in a rainstorm, check out the Museum of Science and History, more familiarly known as MOSH, in downtown Jacksonville. The museum offers a wide variety of attractions for all ages including Atlantic Tails: Whales, Dolphins & Manatees of North East Florida, Kidspace, the Prehistoric Park, and the Universe of Science. When your tee time is rained out on the golf course, head to the World Golf Village, home to the World Golf Hall of Fame. Inductee Exhibits are on display and the WGV is home to an IMAX Theatre, a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. St. Augustine, the first permanent European settlement in the continental United States, has been “guarded” since the late 1600s by The Castillo de San Marcos. Although control of the fortress has been in the hands of the British, the Spanish, and the United States, it has never been taken by military force. Tour this outpost, made a National Monument in 1924, to get a glimpse of the very beginning of the history of Florida. Visitors to Pensacola and its surrounding areas can tour the National Museum of Naval Aviation and its notable Aircraft Collection. The Museum also houses a memorial to Naval Aviation Pilots from 1916 to 1947, a life-sized Hangar Bay to tour, and the NC-4 flying boat, the first aircraft to take on and conquer the Atlantic Ocean. Check out local Visitor Centers for more information and other indoor activities....read more»