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 — cool tips to help you discover Florida’s history, nature, and great off-the-beaten path food and festivities. Adios Mickey!

Florida's hidden gems for travelers infographic

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Disney World

Epcot Center

Castillo de San Marcos

Blowing Rocks Beach

Coral Castle Museum

Monkey Jungle

Christmas - Orange County

Daytona Beach Drive-In Christian Church

The Presidents Hall of Fame

Gasparilla Pirate Fest

Azucar - Little Havana

The World's Smallest Police Station

Cuban Coffee Queen

Yankee Freedom Dock

Dry Tortugas National Park

Eco-Discovery Center

Key West's Oldest House & Garden Museum

Historic Hellings House

West Martello Tower

Mallory Square Sunset Celebration

Sunrise at Dog Beach

Heads up! This information on Florida’s hidden gems was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). Please be sure to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, request for perfect weather during your entire visit, and any other important details before your adventure.