Even though living in Florida can feel like an endless hot summer, once fall kicks in there is usually a small bit of relief from the 90-degree temps.
Take advantage of the cooler weather and head toward the northern part of the state to enjoy some leaf-peeping. Florida’s fall foliage isn’t a myth. It really exists. And your best bet to see it is from late October to mid-November.
Though the Sunshine State may not be able to give you the vast variety of autumn leaves as you may find in Vermont, it won’t disappoint either. You just need to know where to look. So strap on your favorite pair of hiking shoes and follow our guide as we take you on a tour of Florida’s fine fall foliage.
Torreya State Park west of Tallahassee is one of the most scenic places in the state. Named after a rare species of Torreya tree, it is one of Florida’s original parks and was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.
Situated on a high bluff above the Apalachicola River, with a topography similar to that of North Carolina, you will find hardwood forests full of southern sugar maple, sweetgum and sourwood trees that blaze red, orange and yellow beginning in late October. Though it is picturesque throughout the year, the landscape becomes colorful and breathtaking during the fall.
Check-in with the park about the availability of trails as Torreya is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Michael.
South of Tallahassee, a river cruise through Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, offers sights of red sugar maples, the tan leaves of beech trees and beautyberry bushes that turn purple in cooler weather.
Home to one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs, measuring 315 feet in diameter, the vent is approximately 82 feet wide, 50 feet high and 185 feet deep. The primal qualities of the cypress swamps once set the scene for old Hollywood movies such as Tarzan’s Secret Treasure and Creature from the Black Lagoon.
If the weather doesn’t chill you, perhaps the bones of prehistoric animals, including mastodons, that are still scattered over the springs’ bottom, will.
On the more than 30-mile Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail, the site of changing leaves may be accompanied by glimpses of dolphins and whales for a unique “only in Florida” fall experience. Enter south of Flagler Beach and north of Daytona Beach. Traverse along the Halifax River and delight in the beauty of red maples and pignut hickory trees, through canopies of moss-hung oaks.
The loop goes through four state parks and six local parks near historic homes and a sugar plantation that was destroyed during the Second Seminole war. At Bulow Creek State Park, you can picnic near the 400-year-old Fairchild Oak, one of the Florida”s oldest and largest.
Less than an hour from Tallahassee Three Rivers State Park offers stunning views of crimson-colored pine trees. You can see the vibrant changing hues while walking along Lake Seminole, which is 37,500 acres. Bring friends and family along to canoe, kayak or camp and take pictures of the evening sunset.