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Ecotourism in America: Georgia and Florida eco-itinerary

In the fifth installment of the family ecotourism series, consider an eco-getaway to Georgia and Florida. With a remarkably easy setup, Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources website allows for the interactive search of state parks as well as reserving of rooms at any of the state’s Lodges. Florida’s State Parks website has a search engine that lists all beaches and rivers within a 100-mile radius of your selected city. With plenty of opportunity for fishing, horseback riding, hiking, biking, swimming, and visiting nature centers, the Southeast packs a pleasant surprise for all.

Guided Kayaking through the Florida Everglades

The Amtrak Silver Service / Palmetto line services many cities along the East Coast. With its sleeping, dining, and private bathroom accommodations, it may offer a fun alternative to driving along Route 95. Once at your destination, you could rent a hybrid car from Enterprise, Budget, or Hertz.

Suggested family ecotour itinerary:

  1. Okefenokee Swamp Park near Waycross, Georgia is located on the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge where daily boat tours are offered that traverse original Indian and wilderness walkways and Pioneer Island. You can also rent canoes.
  2. The Suwannee River Wilderness Trail near White Springs, Florida on the south side of Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge offers multi-day hiking, horseback riding, biking and paddling adventures complete with six river camps located along the trail.
  3. The Apalachicola National Forest located on the Panhandle of Florida is the state’s largest forest. In addition to biking, horseback riding, fishing, hiking, paddling and swimming, the forest contains the Leon Sinks, which is an unusual geological area of caverns and sinkholes as well as the Apalachee Savannas, which is an open prairie near the Apalachicola River.
  4. Everglades National Park also offers guided birding and kayaking excursions through the area. Read my review of our kayaking trip.

Suggested green lodging:

  1. Little St. Simons Island Hotel – although a bit pricey, this Green Globe certified all-inclusive hotel sits on a private barrier island off of the Georgia coast. With over 10,000 acres of maritime forest and marshlands, guests have the pleasure of exploring the island with the help of naturalist guides.
  2. The Wakulla Springs Lodge – this Florida Department of Environmental Protection Green Lodging property is listed on the Natural Register of Historic Places and designated as a National Natural Landmark. The Lodge is situated in the Wakulla Springs State Park, which contains one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world, and is near the Apalachicola National Forest allowing for plenty of hiking, birding, diving and swimming opportunities.

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