Florida’s Non-Disneyworld Side: Wildlife, Nature & Animals

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Ocelot

Florida is a popular place amongst tourists for decades. There’s a wide range of beaches along the Florida peninsula with warm sea waters and powder fine sands – they’re the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun.

Walt disney world RailRoad Photo Credit – Recently the park celebrated its 40th Birthday

In addition, there’s a wide range of tourist spots and popular attractions, from the fantastical Walt Disney World in Orlando to the buzzing nightlife in Miami. But away from the crowds of tourists and hotspots there lies a wilder side to the sunshine state.

The semitropical climate and varied environment provides a rich home for a range of different animals and wildlife. If you’re thinking of exploring the landscapes and discovering the wildlife for yourself, here are some places you might like to visit.

Paynes Prairie

Possibly the best place to see bison, cracker horses and alligators as well as a range of different bird species is Paynes Prairie. This geologically unique area became Florida’s first state preserve in 1971. There are eight trails for hiking, horseback riding and cycling through the reserve as well as 50-foot-tall observation tower – offering visitors a panoramic view of the area.

Everglades National Park

Despite only being a short distance away from the buzzing metropolis of Miami, the Everglades couldn’t seem further away from a busy urban centre. Covering 2,500 square miles of land, this swampy environment is home to a whole host of wildlife.

Marine wildlife at Everglades NP FL Photo Credit

Adventurous explorers will enjoy walking the mile-long Anginga Trail through the marsh land, which offers the opportunity to see the wildlife up close.

Big Cat Rescue

This huge sanctuary is home to a number of nature’s wildest felines. Working to protect these majestic creatures from being held in miserable zoos or being kept as pets, the sanctuary offers visitors an educational tour through the park.

Ocelot kitten receives its first veterinary exam at a US Zoo Photo Credit

Here, you’ll learn all about the wide range of felines in the sanctuary including bobcats, lions, tigers, leopards, lynx and ocelots. You can even take a tour of the sanctuary at night, to really see these fascinating creatures in the wild.

St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge

This unique refuge was established in 1931 and provides a safe habitat for migratory birds. A patchwork environment of marshland, islands and creeks, there’s plenty to discover here. Between October and November, the monarch butterfly inhabits the area, surrounding the old lighthouse – which is truly a sight to behold.