DC > Orlando > ?Relaxing-Semiadventurous-Nature? > DC
November 5, 2017 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Where should I travel to for a few days in late February? Must have direct access from Orlando, and returning to DC. International ok, but not required.

I’ve committed to doing my first Disney run in late February. My birthday is a couple of days later, and I’d like to go someplace not in Orlando. I like nature, trees, mountains, and a general sense of peacefulness. I like beaches, but more for looking out at the beauty and walking along - not to lay out in the sun or for a busy atmosphere. I also dislike bugs and humidity. Basically, I like pretty nature things with a balanced dose of exploring and relaxation.

Any recommendations that would fit my weird, specific criteria?
posted by raztaj to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total)
Try heading west over to the St. Pete Beach/Clearwater area. The Gulf of Mexico beaches there are SO lovely -- far nicer, in my opinion, than the wide, busy Atlantic beaches -- and you will find a place you can relax and take nice walks and enjoy the sunsets and shore birds without being all wrapped up in commercial craziness.

Look on the map for St. Pete Beach and then look directly north or south from there along the barrier island. The area has some neat, old-school beach motels (rather than high-rises) and amazing seafood restaurants. It won't be *deserted* in February, as there is a robust snowbird community, but it will be nothing like Miami Beach/Fort Lauderdale.

Per GoogleMaps, it's 99.7 miles from WDW to St. Pete Beach, interstate the whole way. TOTALLY worth the short drive, you will love it!!

There is also this not too far away -- sort of makes a triangle with Orlando and St. Pete -- which is a fun, cheesy Old Florida thing that also has some lovely paddling opportunities to get you into nature.

posted by mccxxiii at 9:42 AM on November 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

In late February, you can totally do things like camp in the Ocala National Forest without much trouble from humidity and bugs. Might get chilly, though. There are some relatively secluded state parks farther south if that's an issue, but it will be more humid and there will be more bugs, though it's usually not bad that time of year.

If you don't mind the possible chill in the air, I found even the easiest beaches to access in Cocoa were pretty deserted that time of year, precisely because it's colder than most people consider ideal for beach walking. Never mind that just about anything with sleeves is fine if the sun is out and it isn't literally freezing.
posted by wierdo at 4:05 PM on November 5, 2017

I agree, unless you want to connect through Mexico or something you may as well explore Florida. It's just a 1.5 hour drive to the Cape Canaveral/Cocoa Beach beaches, which are pretty empty in February except for a few snowbirds. The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is nearby and is a neat way to see lots of migratory birds. Bugs will be minimal especially near the ocean. You might see manatees and dolphins in the Banana River.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:15 PM on November 5, 2017

There's a lot of great nature in Central Florida and it won't be very buggy or humid in February.

I'm a huge fan of Washington Oaks State Park. It's a pleasant garden park with lots of nature trails and a gorgeous rocky coquina beach across the street.

Bok Tower Gardens is another lovely day trip.

If you go the other route, and head towards Weeki Wachee, a little further north is Homosassa Springs.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 8:55 AM on November 6, 2017

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