Wilder’s been a large part of the Florida RVer community for decades, so you know a Wilder recommendation is informed and doesn’t come lightly. When visiting Florida, there are some smaller destinations that can be difficult to find, but the memories are oh so worth it. Sure, Disney is an experience that most wouldn’t consider passing up, but what about the Sunken Gardens in St Petersburg or Duke Energy’s Manatee Viewing Center & Preserve? We’re huge fans of these kinds of destinations at Wilder, and we know which ones are worth the trip. Read on for some captivating Wilder-recommended destinations, and to learn how Wilder is growing with the community!
#5 - Sunken Gardens - St Petersburg
Starting off the list is one of the more popular destinations in the area, Sunken Gardens. Located in St Petersburg, Sunken Gardens is in many ways similar to Central Park in New York. The difference? More flowers, less joggers. With beautiful trails bordered by waves of exotic trees, ferns and flowers, a trip to Sunken Gardens can be for something as lavish as a wedding venue or for something as nonchalant as a morning stroll. You’ll leave the grounds feeling refreshed, though your wallet may have something to say about the $10 adult admission fee. Because the gardens are in downtown St Pete, It’s definitely worth having lunch or visiting the Dali museum while in the area!
#4 - Circles Waterfront Restaurant - Apollo Beach
Just 10 miles out from Hawaiian Isles RV Resort is Circles Waterfront Restaurant. An incredibly lively place, Circles serves mouth-watering grilled fish and pasta dishes over a gorgeous Apollo Beach waterfront view. Dishes range from $10-$15 and a full family dinner could get a bit pricey, but this is a great eating experience to check out while on vacation. If you’re planning on visiting some of the other Wilder recommended destinations, your wallet will thank you!
Boasting a totally free adventure, the Manatee Viewing Center in Ruskin- Just 10 miles from Hawaiian Isles RV Resort- really is the best place to catch a glimpse of some Manatees. Duke Energy, which owns all the land and facilities in the area, has an energy plant based right on the bay shore, and treats the land as a true nature preserve. The energy plant supposedly does not pollute the surrounding wildlife, instead, it only discharges plumes of white steam and propels heated water into the bay via an underwater pipe. This is where things get interesting. The water propelled out of Duke’s energy plant is warm, so warm that over the years, Manatees have learned to trust and appreciate the surrounding warm waters- they even breed here! After years of knowing this, Duke Energy revamped its already clean energy plant to be a totally free Manatee viewing and education facility. Parking and getting in is totally free, you won’t have to spend money here unless you’re hungry! Beautifully designed and full of nature, the Duke Energy Manatee Viewing Center is a great place to take the kids.
#2 - Fort De Soto - Tierre Verde
Fort De Soto is a very special park in Florida. Coming in at 2nd on the list, the park is about a 30 minute drive from a handful of Wilder RV Resorts. Admission is totally free, though there is a $5 parking fee. The park is incredibly commendable. With lush greenery and clean, open beaches, it’s clear the parking fee is for a good cause. You won’t find any litter on the ground here, only dogs. Why? Fort De Soto park is known for it’s unique and free off-leash dog beach. The park is huge, boasting multiple walking & biking trails, a small bistro and yes- a separate beach just for dogs to run around! This is a great destination for all the Snow Birds and their four-legged companions to stretch out and relax, assuming your RV isn’t a castle on wheels.
#1 - the Villages - Ocala
Less than 7 miles from Blue Parrot RV Resort is the Villages – a Florida community where the fun never ends and the musicians never sleep. Visiting the Villages for a day is like Disney for adults. There’s no rides or costume-cloaked workers, but every street has a bar, a grill or live entertainment. Every passerby is happy right where they are, and why shouldn’t they be? The Villages is a complex community that was created to serve one purpose for lots of people- to entertain. The Villages is the number one Wilder recommended attraction because almost everyone can have an amazing, relaxing and fulfilling time here. So long as you like bars, grills and live entertainment.
That’s Wilder’s top 5 hidden gems list, but there’s an incredible amount of things to do and check out in Florida. Wilder Resorts are built and tucked away in stunning locations across Florida, following Interstates and the hidden gem destinations scattered along the way. Our resorts feature clean pools, shuffleboard courts and tons of other amenities, so that when you’re too tired to travel, there’s still plenty to do right at your home away from home.
Looking for more attractions in the area? Click here.