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You-pick produce, nature walks and more sustainable summer activities

Keep an eye out for eco-friendly adventures on your Florida vacation. By Erin Feitsma, Times Total Media Correspondent
A sample of the natural beauty waiting to be enjoyed at Bramble Creek Farms in Brooksville.
A sample of the natural beauty waiting to be enjoyed at Bramble Creek Farms in Brooksville. [ Bramble Creek Farms ]
Published May 27|Updated Jun. 1

Pinellas County

Have some fun in the sun and help create a more spotless shore with Pinellas’ Baskets for Beaches initiative. Bright yellow baskets sprinkled along Fort De Soto, Fred Howard and Sand Key Parks make it easier than ever for beachgoers to pick up their trash (or any surrounding litter, for that matter) after a day spent by the sea. Bonus point: the more trash you pick up, the less likely it is that you will get attacked by a flock of bloodthirsty seagulls. They know that you know they are willing to risk everything to nab a single stale french fry buried in a fast-food bag. Yellow baskets, to the rescue!

If you’re looking to secure luxurious overnight lodging that is also eco-friendly, make sure the hotel you choose is part of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Green Lodging Program. Establishments that bear this designation have committed to conservation with a focus on creating environmentally friendly practices in their day-to-day operations. Local Florida Green Lodging hotels include the Sheraton Sand Key Resort and the Sandpearl Resort, both on Clearwater Beach, and the pastel pink castle that is The Don CeSar on St. Pete Beach. Not traveling here? Don’t fear: There are over 300 establishments in the state that are designated Florida Green Lodgings.

Pasco County

If you’re looking for an immersive outdoor challenge that will put you right in the thick of the forest, visit Dade City’s TreeHoppers Aerial Adventure Park. TreeHoppers has nine different climbing courses that use zip lines, bridges and ladders to give participants a thrilling trek through the treetops. Little climbers ages 1-6 years old have their own miniature course for an exciting expedition they are sure to enjoy. Tree Hoppers is a fun alternative to visiting a theme park, which typically features attractions that contribute to air pollution.

Paddle through gorgeous natural landscapes on a guided ecotour led by the team at Salty Dog Kayak Rentals in Port Richey. Enjoy a private two-hour tour as you glide through the waters of Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park. All tours are run by a professional naturalist, who will teach you about the park’s history and its environment. Animal lovers are in luck: You might just encounter a critter or two on your journey.

Hillsborough County

For a sustainable staycation, have an at-home spa day with the help of Lüfka Refillables Zero Waste Store. Lüfka is the first refillable shop in Tampa, offering eco-friendly and handcrafted wares like face masks, body butters and scented bath bombs. The business has storefronts in Seminole Heights, South Tampa and Wesley Chapel.

Make your world a better place with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, an environmentally conscious program dedicated to taking care of Tampa Bay’s natural ecosystems through service projects and special events. Volunteer with the organization this summer to clean up your community, one piece of trash at a time.

Hernando County

Enjoy a trip to Brooksville’s Bramble Creek Farms, 12 sprawling acres with spaces for visitors to pick their own blackberries, passion fruit and figs. The farm also sells natural products like goat milk soap, homemade jam and Florida-made honey.

A short drive away is Sweetfields Farm. Inspired by the owners’ passion for sustainability, Sweetfields sells produce from organic crops grown onsite that guests can pick and purchase. Delicious homegrown offerings include butternut squash, cucumbers, watermelon, zucchini and more.

If you’re looking to go off the grid, take a restorative walk through the woods. Connecting with and preserving the natural world is what it’s all about at Brooksville’s Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area, a peaceful preserve with multiple trails that offer miles of marsh and uplands to explore through its Big Pine and Conservation Center Tracts. If you’re in luck, you may catch a glimpse of a slow-going gopher tortoise or scampering deer. To learn more about Florida wildlife and ecosystems, visit the Chinsegut Conservation Center and take part in any of its informative programs.

Monroe County

Nothing will delight your inner child more than the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, where live butterflies fly free and are more likely than not to land on your shoulder for a tiny hello. The conservatory is as educational as it is enchanting and gives visitors insight into all things butterfly.

Keep the Keys clean: If you happen to be in Big Pine Key, enlist in the Conch Republic Marine Army, a nonprofit organization that preserves the Florida Keys’ mangroves through weekly volunteer clean-ups. The Conch’s collective mission and manpower have made a difference: The organization has cleaned up over 400,000 pounds of detritus to date.


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