Trek along the trails: Forever Florida
At this 4,700-acre wildlife haven the real attraction is the topography; we're talking nine beautifully preserved ecosystems, to be exact. The easiest way to check out the sprawling conservation area is the way the founding settlers did, on horseback. As you mosey along the trails, some of which were set by native Americans in the 1500s, you'll pass bromeliads above, neon-green duckweed crowding the ponds below and native animals galore.
In fact, the ranch is home to the largest herd of Spanish colonial cattle in the state, a critically endangered breed that the ranch owners are committed to protecting. Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles, snakes, bobcats, Florida scrub-jays, sandhill cranes and gopher tortoises.
4755 N. Kenansville Rd., St. Cloud, Florida; www.foreverflorida.com
Stand up and paddle: Jax Surf Training
One of the best ways to scope out Florida's teeming marine life is to skim across its waters. More specifically, sign up for a stand-up paddle boarding lesson with Jax Surf Training. Participants hop aboard super sturdy, extra-long boards and scoot several miles down the St. John's River.
Expect up-close encounters with manatees, dolphins, pelicans and fish of all sorts as you glide along. If you are in Jacksonville on July 4, catch a glimpse of expert paddle boarders making their way toward the Jacksonville Landing as part of Expedition Florida 500. After spending 185 days on the water circumnavigating the state, XF500 paddle boarders will mark the halfway point of their expedition. Oh, and there will be plenty of fireworks, too.