Some of the books on their list with themes that fit both Florida and the outdoors include:
Turtle Summer, Mary Alice Monroe
Because of Winn Dixie, Kate DiCamillo
Hoot, Carl Hiaasen
The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise, Michael Grunwald
Losing It All to Sprawl, Bill Belleville
The Yearling, Marjorie K. Rawlings
The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
Of course, there’s nothing like reading a book and then getting out there to experience for yourself! Here are a few ideas for parents to match these books to outdoor adventures:
Turtle Summer – Take a turtle walk along the Atlantic Coast at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge just south of Melbourne. Guided walks are available in June and July through the Sea Turtle Preservation Society
Because of Winn Dixie – This book is set in a fictional town near Clermont along SR 50. Visit the Lake Minneola Scenic Trail for a bike trip between downtown Clermont and Minneola to experience the older residential communities between them.
Hoot – Real live burrowing owls can be seen in Cape Coral, but you can only see them from the roads. Look for undeveloped lots in the residental communities … chances are, burrowing owls “own” that piece of property. This map shows locations marked by the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife.
The Swamp – Visit Shark Valley! No matter the time of year, this is a place to play in the Everglades right along the Tamiami Trail. If it’s terribly hot, take the breezy tram ride through the River of Grass; if not, bike the 15 mile loop or walk along the Bobcat Boardwalk. Mind the alligators, they love the warm paved trail.
Losing it All to Sprawl – Bill’s book recounts the loss of his homestead to what’s now a bunch of strip malls along SR 46 in Sanford, but he describes some nearby places of incredible beauty that you can visit on foot. After seeing what’s become of the community he describes, head west on SR 46 and stop at Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park for a short walk through the sandhills, or at Seminole State Forest for a longer trek on the Florida Trail to the very prehistoric Shark Tooth Spring.
The Yearling – In the Ocala National Forest, you can walk a 3.5 or 5 mile loop on the Yearling Trail around the old Long homsteads, or just stop in at Silver Glen Springs for a splashing good time with a swim and a very short walk to pretty Jody’s Spring (at the end of the Spring Boils Trail), where Jody placed his fluttermill.
The Old Man and the Sea – The southernmost trails in the continental United States are at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West. The Fort View Trail isn’t very long, just a connector atop a tall berm through a tropical forest between the fort and the parking area. But from the top, you can see quite a ways — just not all the way to Cuba! There’s the Sand Hog Trail, too, at the beach. Take the time on the way home to visit the Hemingway Home and Museum, too.