There are plenty quiet and magical places sans crowds in Florida if you know where to look — places we like to refer to as Florida’s hidden gems. Rest assured that when Ponce de León first arrived in Florida in 1513 he wasn’t greeted by Walt Disney or Mickey Mouse. You too can get to Florida and not just find theme parks or senior citizens’ specials. The Sunshine State has hidden gems that whisk you way beyond the expected.

Leave the tourist hordes behind

To discover a world beyond theme parks and tour buses, you have to leave behind the likes of International Drive in Orlando or Jimmy Buffet’s “Parrotheads in Paradise Festival” in Key West. If you can do that, you will soon escape the madding crowds.

Late fall and winter can feature some of the best weather in Florida – at just the time you may need a break from cold, snow or rain in other places. And spring and summer is the perfect time to start planning.

HI Travel Tales recently hit a few of Florida’s hidden gems in Miami, Miami Beach and Key West, with a drive along a back road in the Everglades. It was November and there was plenty to see – without one sugary Disney song. We took a day’s adventure to the Dry Tortugas National Park — another of Florida’s hidden gems. Next time, we plan to camp overnight at Dry Tortugas – highly recommended! – since once the day trekkers leave by mid-afternoon, you have the island to yourself! But for those days you are hanging around Key West, we share in our story a number of great free things to do in Key West.

Check out some of our videos of both Key West and Miami Beach here.

10 of Florida’s hidden gems revealed

Here is an introduction to a few of Florida’s hidden gems revealed in the infographic, below, which was shared with us by our friends at Netflights.com — cool tips to help you discover Florida’s history, nature, and great off-the-beaten path food and festivities. Adios Mickey!

The Florida Travel Map

Florida Travel MapThere is so much to see and do in Florida! Use our travel map of Florida, in tandem with our many articles like this one, to help you decide where to go, what to do next, and even find your way from one fantastic sight, restaurant or place to stay to the next.