Wildlife Drives In Florida

Off the Beaten Path: 10 Unique Wildlife Drives in Florida

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Looking for an exciting new way to explore Florida? If you love animals and the outdoors, then you’ll love Florida’s wildlife drives! You can see alligators, turtles, and birds all in their natural habitat. It’s a great way to get up close and personal with nature.

And there’s nothing like a Florida sunset to end your day.

Wildlife drives are great for seeing all sorts of different animals in their natural habitat. They are educational and fun for the whole family!

Florida is home to many different species of animals, so you’re sure to see something new and exciting on a wildlife drive.

 You never know what you might see! Alligators, turtles, and a variety of birds are just some of the many animals that call Florida home.

So what are you waiting for?

Grab your camera and hit the road on one of Florida’s many wildlife drives.

1. Black Point Wildlife Drive – Titusville

The driving time is about 45 minutes.

On this 7-mile, one-way nature road near the east coast, tourists can sightsee and spot alligators, hundreds of kinds of birds, turtles, snakes, and perhaps even an otter or two.

It is a part of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

The wildlife season, which runs from October to March, is when it is most active. $10 per vehicle is the admission fee (cash or checks only); a $25 annual pass is also available to visitors.

Near the entry, there is a self-guided pamphlet available.

Black Point Wildlife Drive – Titusville
Photo Credit: Rusty Clark

To view the wildlife exhibits, watch an educational film in the theater, tour the boardwalk area, and shop in the bookstore, first-time visitors should stop by the visitor center.

Kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge and complete a scavenger hunt along the boardwalk. The drive is open from sunrise to sunset year-round.

Restrooms are available at the visitor center as well as Cruickshank Trail hiking trails are accessible along the drive as well.

2. Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area – Christmas

The driving time is about two to three hours.

The natural wildlife of Florida, such as a variety of wading bird species, turkeys, white-tailed deer, and of course many alligators, can be seen year-round on this 18-mile loop track.

You can park in a number of locations and go on foot or stop for a picnic while doing so. The entire region is open to fishing, so bring your gear and cast a line.

On Long Bluff Road, there are two lakes for fishing as well as canals and rivers that connect to the St. Johns River.

Visitors must pay $3 per vehicle for a daily use pass at the gate (cash or check only). There are restrooms provided at a few sites along the route.

3. Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive – Apopka

The driving time is about two hours.

This 11-mile drive-through wildlife refuge, which is FREE, open to the public, and a favorite among locals, is regarded as one of the top three birding locations in the state.

Prepare to be amazed by a plethora of alligators lazing in the sun, as well as the rare otter or bobcat.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive – Apopka
Photo Credit: Rodrigo.Argenton

Along the route, there are several places to pull over and take a break. At the pump house, there are also portable restrooms and picnic shelters.

On the LAWD website, you can find an audio tour, birding checklists, and butterfly checklists.

The drive is open on federal holidays and from Friday to Sunday from 7 am to 5 pm. Plan to arrive no later than 3 pm since vehicles must leave by 5 pm.

4. Ocala National Forest – Ocala

The driving time is about two to three hours.

With nearly 100 miles of paved roads and more than 600 lakes and ponds, the Ocala National Forest is a peaceful place to drive.

The Ocala National Forest serves as the focal point of the well-known Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway, which extends from Silver Springs to Ormond Beach.

Visitors have a decent possibility of seeing one or two Florida black bears along the journey because this region has the highest density of the species.

Keep an eye out in the trees as the Forest is also home to troop after troop of free-range monkeys.

The forest is also home to numerous natural springs, including Salt Springs, Alexander Springs, and Juniper Springs.

5. Wild Florida Drive-Thru Safari Park – Kenansville

The driving time is approximately one hour

The 2-mile safari park at Wild Florida offers visitors the chance to observe both domestic and exotic creatures ranging freely, including bison, wildebeest, alligators, crocodiles, antelope, zebras, giraffes, and more.

Wild Florida Drive antelope

At the end of the journey, visitors can meet and feed the giraffes on a raised platform, or they can go around the nearby Gator Park to see more animals and take in a variety of informative animal presentations.

Florida residents can benefit from a ticket bargain that costs $23 for adults and $18 for children aged 3 to 12 and includes entry to both the gator park and the drive-through safari.

It is advised to buy tickets in advance because the park frequently sells out, particularly on weekends.

There are restrooms outside of the entrance to the safari drive.

6. Safari Wilderness – Lakeland

Approximate drive time: 1 hour

A safari through the Lakeland wilderness is an exciting way to see some of Florida’s most beautiful wildlife. Located between Orlando and Tampa, this exotic animal reserve is now offering drive-thru safari tours from the comfort of your own vehicle.

These drives take you through some of the state’s most pristine natural areas, where you can see alligators, bald eagles, and even Florida panthers in their natural habitat.

Wildlife drives are a great way to learn about the different species that call Florida home. You can also get up close and personal with some of the state’s most iconic animals.

Alligator Alley, for example, is a great place to see alligators in their natural habitat. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a Florida panther!

This limited-time experience allows you to drive through the 260-acre ranch, which is home to more than 400 animal species including zebras, camels, water buffalo, lemur, and more.

Prices are $125 per vehicle. Food buckets are sold for $10 each.

Safari Wilderness – Lakeland
Photo Credit: VisitCentralFL

7. Giraffe Ranch – Dade City

The driving time is approximately one hour.

Looking for an exciting way to spend the day in Florida? Look no further than Giraffe Ranch in Dade City! This unique ranch offers visitors the chance to take part in thrilling wildlife drives.

During these drives, guests will have the opportunity to see giraffes up close and personal. They’ll also get to feed the animals, which is a truly unforgettable experience.

There’s nothing quite like getting up close and personal with some of Florida’s most majestic creatures. And at Giraffe Ranch in Dade City, you can do just that!

Whether you’re cruising through the ranch on a safari-style vehicle or taking a leisurely stroll, you’re sure to see plenty of giraffes, zebras, and other animals. You might even get the chance to feed them!

Giraffe Ranch is just one of many wildlife drives in Florida where you can get an up-close look at some of the state’s most amazing animals.

Drive-thru safaris with a guide are available at Giraffe Ranch. You can see rhinos, pygmy hippos, antelope, deer, zebra, primates, otters, camels, and of course, giraffes at this 46-acre ranch!

Additionally, there is a cheetah breeding facility.

Tours cost $150 per vehicle and are only offered via reservation. Feeding experiences with lemurs and otters are chargeable extras.

So whether you’re a local looking for a new adventure or a visitor from out of state, be sure to check out one of these drives for an unforgettable experience.

8. Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Naples

Just south of Naples, Florida, is a 10,000-island paradise waiting to be explored.

The Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge is home to an incredible array of wildlife, including alligators, manatees, bald eagles, and ospreys.

Wildlife Drives In Florida ospreys

Visitors can explore the refuge by car or boat. There are several marked trails that wind through the mangrove forests and offer stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico.

Keep your eyes peeled for alligators sunning themselves on the banks or swimming in the waters.

The best time to visit the refuge is during the winter months when migrating birds are in town. You might even spot a rare roseate spoonbill!

Take a canoe or kayak trip of the area to see if you can identify any of the 35,000 acres of crucial mangrove habitats that are home to endangered species like the peregrine falcon, wood stork, and green and Atlantic loggerhead turtles.

So pack your binoculars and head to the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge for an unforgettable experience.

9. Paynes Prairie Preserve, Micanopy

Paynes Prairie Preserve, Micanopy
Photo Credit: Michael Rivera

Paynes Prairie Preserve in Micanopy, Florida is a must-see for any nature lover. The preserve is home to a variety of wildlife, including alligators, bison, and wild horses.

Large swaths of uninhabited wilderness may be found in the Paynes Prairie Preserve in Micanopy, where wild horses and bison can be seen roaming the stunning panoramas.

The Florida National Natural Landmark has approximately 20,000 acres of ecosystems to explore, with a variety of unique habitats and fauna.

A day of hiking, biking, or horseback riding through its forested trails, attractive lake regions, and picturesque wetlands will be a delight for wildlife lovers.

There are several ways to explore the preserve. Visitors can take a driving tour, hike or bike the trails, or go canoeing or kayaking on one of the many lakes.

No matter how you choose to explore Paynes Prairie Preserve, you’re sure to see some amazing wildlife.

10. Shell Island, Panama City Beach

Looking for a place to see some of Florida’s amazing wildlife?

Look no further than Shell Island in Panama City Beach!

This beautiful island is home to a variety of birds, mammals, and reptiles, making it the perfect place for a nature-filled day trip.

Whether you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of an alligator or just want to relax and enjoy the stunning views, Shell Island is sure to please.

Be sure to bring your camera, as you’ll definitely want to snap some photos of this incredible place!

Shell Island is the place to go if you like to watch dolphins in their natural habitat rather than in an aquarium.

Shell Island, an uninhabited island situated between the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay, is reachable by boat from St. Andrews State Park.

Here, where local pods of bottlenose dolphins frequently cruise its waters, residents frequently interact with snorkelers.

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