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5 Cool Places in Florida You Probably Didn’t Know About


In the heart of Oakland Park lives an Instagrammer who uses the handle @TravelingJones. As the name implies he does get around quite a lot! In his travels, he indulges in photography and shares the results with his 15K+ followers on Instagram. 

From the cats Leah and Carmen that he met in Royal Palm Park to scenery from all around the the state and the country TravelingJones’s photos are simply beautiful. 

So when I wanted to write an article about cool places to visit in the State of Florida, I turned to this traveling expert and he sent me a list of these 5 cool places in Florida you probably didn’t know about: 

Solomon’s Castle (Ona, FL)

Photo: David Boing

Photo: James G.

One of the last things you expect to emerge out of the Florida wilderness is a castle. But if you are traveling the country roads just northwest of Arcadia that might just happen! 
 
Deep in the Florida woods, Howard Solomon, a well-know sculptor built his dream home, a castle. Three stories high with 12,000 square feet of Solomon’s creations this castle attests to his genius as an abstract artist.
 
Sheathed in metal printing plates formerly used in the production of newspapers, the exterior of the castle is like nothing you have ever seen. Adding to its uniqueness are the stained glass windows created by Solomon. 
 
The castle also houses Solomon’s workshop, an art gallery, exhibition rooms, an inn and the boat on-site even has a restaurant! 
 
Solomon bought the property in 1972. He and his family lived in a trailer on-site while he built his dream home. Up until his death in 2016 the castle was constantly changing. 
 
Solomon’s castle makes for a great day trip. If you feel like you want to spend more time, just make a reservation at the castle’s inn and take your time admiring the lifetime work of Howard Solomon.


Matlacha

Photo: AFAR Travel Magazine

Photo: Visit Florida

If you are heading over to the West Coast plan to do a little side trip to Matlacha. Pronounced Matt-luh-SHAY by locals this colorful fishing east of Pine Island is a site to see.  This vibrantly painted artists’ redoubt has art galleries, waterfront restaurants, independently owned stores and fish markets. 

If you decide you just can’t leave Matlacha after a day trip there are lodgings as varied as the villate. Stay at a cottage or waterfront inn. Enjoy a trip to the barried islands nearby or take a trip along the paddling trail. These are just a few of the things you can enjoy in Matlacha. Ask the locals about what else this funky little place has to offer and you will sure have plenty to do. 



Circle B Bar Reserve (Lakeland, FL)

Photo: Life ReEnvisioned

Photo: KBA Photography

Are you looking for 6 miles of Florida trail where you can hike, enjoy birding and see some big gators?? Well if you are you must check out the 1,267 acre Circle B Bar Reserve.

Back in the early days of Florida’s existence the Circle B was a cattle ranch complete with cowboys and all!  While now longer a cattle ranch Circle B Bar Reserve can now boast being one of the 51 Great Places to See Wildlife (USA Today Travel).

In addition to the wildlife Circle Ba offers nine trails for hiking and mountain biking and great photo opps. There is no shortage of birds, gators, eagles, ducks, ospreys, boars, butterflies and much more to photograph. When you take great photos tag them tag #visitcentralfl.

Tram tours also available for those less inclined to venture along the trails. 

If you are traveling to Circle B pick up a trail map and information at the Polk Nature Discovery Center. At the Discovery Center you will also find interactive exhibits and information about the ecosystem of Central Florida. 

Keewaydin Island

Photo: Marco Island Beach Getaway

Photo: Florida’s Paradise Coast

Keewaydin island is a local hotspot not very well know to people outside of Marco Island, making it one of the area’s best kept secrets.  On the weekends Keewaydin is filled with locals enjoying the life on the sandbars. If you want to experience a getaway in true Florida style then head over to Keewaydin Island.  

Besides being a great place to soak in the sun Keewaydin Island has a nature preserve island, the Rookery Bay Reserve. In accessible by cars, road or bridges a little jaunt over to this beautiful and private place can  truly take you away from your worries for a day. 

If you don’t have a boat of your own you can use the Hemingway Water Shuttle or rent a jet ski or boat to get over there.



Wakodahatchee Wetlands (Delray Beach, FL) | The Green Cay Wetlands (Boynton Beach, FL)

Wakodahatchee Wetlands | Photo: Palm Beach County

The Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach, opened in 1996. This 50 acre man-made wetland preserve is constructed on wastewater utility property. Wakodahatchee has a three-quarter mile boardwalk which allow the visiting public to observe the over 178 bird species there. Visitors can also see alligators, rabbits, fish, frogs, raccoons and other Florida wildlife.

The boardwalk has signs and gazebos along it so you can take your time to enjoy all that Wakodahatchee Wetlands has to offer.

PLEASE NOTE: No pets are allowed on the boardwalk.

Green Cay Wetlands | Photo: Florida Hikes

Opened in 2002, the Green Cay Wetlands in Boynton beach encompasses 100 acres. Like the Wakodahatchee Wetlands Green Cay has a 1.5 mile long boardwalk. Visitors can walk along the boardwalk and enjoy various habitats and wildlife along the way. Green Cay is home to a variety of birds, alligators, turtles, rabbits, bobcats, river otters and much more.

Visitors can use QR signs posted all along the boardwalk in order to get more information about which zone they are in. Along the way there is also Seminole chickee, benches and gazebos. 

At the Nature Center visitors can enjoy different exhibits, the theater and the gift shop. 

To learn more about events at the Green Cay Nature Center, visit the Parks and Recreation website.

PLEASE NOTE: No pets are allowed on the boardwalk.

Following @TravelingJones

If you want to learn about more amazing places around Florida and around the country, hop on Instagram and follow Oakland Parker @TravelingJones. 



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About the Author

Désirée Ávila has called Oakland Park her home for over 31 years. In addition to publishing LivingInOaklandPark.com , Désirée publishes three other blogs and has been featured in print publications, locally and abroad.  Désirée was an award winning teacher for 10 years and has a doctoral level education in Educational Technology.  She is currently a licensed Florida Realtor® and is committed to a high-level of professionalism and to helping others with their real estate endeavors through education.  Désirée is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian.

 

 

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