Hernando County is home to 52 miles of rivers, including the Withlacoochee, Little Withlacoochee, Weeki Wachee and Mud rivers—plus plenty of creeks and other waterways ideal for kayaking, canoeing or stand-up paddleboarding. One fun option: the 1.7-mile Bayport-Linda Pedersen Paddling Trail, which follows Jenkins Creek between Bayport Park and Linda Pedersen Park along the Gulf Coast. Paddle past swaying cordgrass, cabbage palms and mangroves, and keep an eye out for bald eagles, wood storks, herons and spotted sandpipers. (Pro tip: The trail is also a great place to spot manatees—the gentle giants that swim in Florida’s natural springs and spring-fed rivers. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park’s self-guided kayak and paddleboard tours offer opportunities for manatee sightings.) If you’d rather get on the water with less effort, hop onboard the Island Rose, and let this riverboat replica take you on a lunch cruise or sunset dinner cruise on the Gulf Coast waters of Hernando Beach.
4. Explore culture and history on land.
Florida’s Adventure Coast is packed with Florida charm—including one of the state’s original roadside attractions. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park has been hosting its famous mermaid show for more than 70 years. (Pro tip: Seating for the show is limited. If you want to score a seat, get there when the park opens.) Weeki Wachee also offers wildlife shows; a river boat ride; and Buccaneer Bay, Florida’s only spring-fed water park.
In Brooksville—which dates back to the 1850s—you can stroll brick-paved streets lined with art galleries and antiques shops and admire the downtown murals that are part of the Florida Mural Trail. While you’re in town, visit some of the eight sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Overlooking downtown, the Victorian-style May-Stringer House Museum was built in 1855 and is considered one of the most haunted places in Florida. Schedule a ghost tour to see for yourself! On Russell Street, check out the circa-1885 train depot and the one-room schoolhouse. And just a few minutes outside of downtown, the Chinsegut Hill Retreat and adjacent Chinsegut Hill Historic Site, operated by the Tampa Bay History Center, are worth a visit, for an hour or for the weekend. Tour the historic manor house and grounds Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.