How to Cool Off in the Corridor This Summer
With average temperatures in the upper 80s, here’s how to escape the brutal Florida summer heat and humidity.
When your sunglasses fog up the second you walk outside, you know it’s officially summer in the Sunshine State. Even if the thick, muggy humidity makes you want to hide inside with the AC on ‘blast’, there are a ton of outdoor adventures that will help you cool off while having fun. From stargazing with views of the Milky Way to snorkeling in refreshing springs, here are a few ways to cool down in the Florida Wildlife Corridor this summer!
You don’t need to travel to the Bahamas to experience crystal-clear waters and snow-white sands — the Corridor has an island of its own! Dr. Julien G. Bruce St. George Island State Park is a 20-mile-long barrier island tucked in between the Apalachicola Bay and Gulf of Mexico. It often ranks as one of the top beaches in the U.S. By day, you can cool off by swimming or paddling in the teal waters. You might even spot dolphins playing in the surf, or sea turtles digging their nests on the shore—be sure to keep your distance to protect their nesting!
Live Wildly Fact: This state park features 2,023 acres of different habitats and ecosystems and 300 different bird species.
Once the sun sets, camp out to experience out-of-this-world stargazing. The island sits 70 miles away from any cities, giving you a light pollution-free display of the night sky. Climb up to the observation deck for a 180-degree view of constellations, Jupiter and Saturn. You may even see the hazy, colorful glow of the Milky Way.
For a relaxing day by the lake, head to Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park — one of Florida’s first state parks. The park features a mix of landscapes, including rolling sandhills, longleaf pines, marshes and scrubs. Get a respite from the heat by swimming in freshwater Little Lake Johnson or rent kayaks or canoes for $4/hour. Stretch your legs on a shaded hike along a 5.44-mile portion of the Florida National Scenic Trail, where you may spot Bald Eagles and white-tailed deer.
The park also offers incredible stargazing. You can either camp overnight or, if you have an annual pass, you can get exclusive after-hours access to the park for the stellar views.
Live Wildly Tip: Check out our Cool Sun Shirts for a day on the water. The lightweight and moister-wicking material keeps you cool and protects you from the sun. Plus, all proceeds go directly to protecting and connecting the Florida Wildlife Corridor!
With 825 miles of coastline, Florida is not lacking beaches. In the Panhandle, Grayton Beach State Park boasts one of the most beautiful beaches in the Corridor. If you’re a fan of the heat, sunbathe on the porcelain sands before cooling off in the emerald Gulf Coast waters. Or, just steps away from the beach, you can explore Western Lake, a 100-acre coastal dune lake open for paddling and boating. Rent kayaks or canoes to cool down by this coastal dune lake — one of the few that exist around the world.
Live Wildly Fact: Coastal dune lakes occur when fresh groundwater and ocean saltwater mix to form a body of water, constantly flowing in and out from each other. They only exist in Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand, Oregon, and right here in the Corridor!
What better way to cool off and relax than on a real-life lazy river? At Blackwater River State Park, you can sit on your tube and allow the refreshing, transparent waters to carry you down the river. Canoe and kayak rentals are available, too, for those looking for a little more “wild.” Along the ride, stop at any of the 30 white sand beaches on the river to sunbathe. Keep an eye out for herons, white-tailed deer and the rare, local red-cockaded woodpecker.
Live Wildly Fact: About 62% of the length of Florida’s major rivers run through the Florida Wildlife Corridor, with about half in protected areas. Learn more about how protecting the Corridor benefits Florida’s waters.
Did you know Florida is home to nearly 900 freshwater springs? These hidden oases transport you somewhere magical. Visit Madison Blue Spring State Park this summer to cool down and experience the magic firsthand. Voted the No. 1 swimming hole by USA TODAY, this teal-toned, first-magnitude spring — the largest type of spring in Florida — is surrounded by towering hardwood and pine forests. The shaded swimming hole remains around 72 degrees year-round, providing ideal conditions for swimming (bring your own floaties and tubes!) or snorkeling. If you’re certified, the park allows cave diving in its expansive underwater caves.
Live Wildly Tip: For more ways to cool off in Florida’s springs, check out our list of the best swimming holes in the Ocala National Forest.
What’s your favorite way to cool off during Florida’s summers? Let us know @LiveWildlyFL on Instagram and Facebook!