10 Must-Visit Places in Florida That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

By Kara Franker

Ready for an adventure? Forget following the crowds. From secret gardens to wildlife havens and funky bars to quirky shops, here’s our list of 10 must-visit hidden gems along Florida’s coastline.

Tucked away in the residential community of Amelia Island Plantation, Walkers Landing is a stunning secret spot to watch sunset. Wood benches and swings overlook the salt marsh and dock where residents keep kayaks. There’s also an elegant-meets-rustic lodge that can be rented out for events and weddings through the neighborhood association or Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. 11 Beach Lagoon Road, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

No Name Pub

No Name Pub in Big Pine Key

Everyone knows that Key West is home to some of the most colorful and historic watering holes in the Sunshine State. But in-the-know travelers start the pub crawl a few islands up the chain on unassuming Big Pine Key, home of the National Key Deer Refuge. No Name Pub got its start in 1931 as a general store and bait and tackle shop. In 1936, the owners added the bar, and patrons started hanging dollar bills on the ceiling and walls. As the locals like to say, “it’s a nice place, if you can find it.” 30813 Watson Boulevard, Big Pine Key, FL 33043

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Vero Beach

Home to bird rookeries, fish spawning sites, a butterfly garden, and juvenile sea turtle nurseries, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge consists of 5,400+ acres of protected lagoons and marshes frequented by endangered species. This National Historic Landmark became the first federal area set aside specifically to protect wildlife. Join a guided nature walk or explore on your own and keep an eye out for bobcats, river otters, manatees, dolphins, and more. 4055 Wildlife Way, Vero Beach, FL 32963

Cortez Historic Fishing Village

Cortez Historic Fishing Village in Cortez

Located on a little-known peninsula that juts off the coast of Bradenton, the Cortez Historic Fishing Village is where you’ll find one of the few remaining commercial fishing fleets on the waterfront in Florida. Head to a 1920’s era fish house called Star Fish Company where you’ll find a dockside, hole-in-the-wall-style eatery and market where the catch of the day was swimming just minutes before hitting your plate. 12306 46th Avenue W., Cortez, FL 34215

Kampong Botanical Garden in Coconut Grove

The Kampong Botanical Garden in Coconut Grove

Most of Miami has no idea that The Kampong secret garden exists (it’s camouflaged by layers of rare and exotic plants and guarded by a red gate) in the quirky Coconut Grove neighborhood on Biscayne Bay. Sprawling over 11 lush acres, towering palms and moss-draped oaks provide an umbrella to the former home of Dr. David Fairchild (1869-1954), one of the most famous horticulturists in history. As you explore the Asian-inspired main house, cottages, and grounds, you’ll take a step back into time and maybe even find a little Zen along the way. 4013 Douglas Road, Miami, FL 33133

The Banyan Tree

The Banyan Tree in Islamorada

Tucked away in a tropical garden with orchids, succulents, and a towering Banyan tree, The Banyan Tree is a hidden oasis in Islamorada. Wander through the garden, shop for a Florida Keys-inspired outfit, or take a painting class. The boutique and gardens feature clothing, accessories, jewelry, home décor, and more. On the second Thursday of every month, show up for Creative Plant Night, where you can design terrariums and flower arrangements with friends. 81197 Overseas Highway (Mile Marker 81.2) Islamorada, FL 33036

Grayton Beer Company

Grayton Beer Company in Santa Rosa Beach

Capitalizing on that easy-going, Gulf-Coast state of mind, Grayton Beer Company’s taproom features a 25-tap draft wall of their small-batch brews that are all handcrafted on site. Not sure where to start? We love their Beach Blonde Ale. On Saturdays, there’s a killer food truck line-up, live music, and a great group of fun-loving folks. 217 Serenoa Road, Santa Rosa Beach, FL

Historic Sponge Docks

Historic Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs

Located north of Clearwater, Tarpon Springs is a hotbed of Greek culture and a sponge harvesting industry that dates back more than a century. At the Historic Sponge Docks, you’ll find shops and a collection of authentic Greek restaurants. Pop into Spongeroama’s Sponge Factory where you’ll find a large selection of natural sea sponges, Greek gifts, a museum, and boat tours. 510 Dodecanese Boulevard, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

Gordon River Greenway

Gordon River Greenway in Naples

In Naples, locals know and love the Gordon River Greenway, an elevated nature trail and one of the last unspoiled areas in the region. Weaving through the mangroves, the Greenway features paved pathways, canoe and kayak launches, scenic overlooks for wildlife viewing, and a hidden entrance near the Naples Zoo and Conservancy of Southwest Florida. 1590 Goodlette-Frank Road, Naples, FL 34102

Shiny Fish Emporium

Shiny Fish Emporium in Anna Maria Island

Find your inner artist at Shiny Fish Emporium in Anna Maria Island, where you can decorate sand dollars with owners Rebecca and Dan. You’ll get the perfect keepsake to take home from vacation, and it’s a great activity for the whole family. Equal parts artisan haven and tropical boutique, you could spend hours shopping for unique gifts like colorful kimonos and funky ukuleles. 306 Pine Avenue, Anna Maria, FL 34216