Hernando County beckons with rolling terrain, lush forests and plenty of authentic Florida charm. Bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the west and the Withlacoochee River to the east, the county is known as Florida’s Adventure Coast for good reason: It’s filled with opportunities for outdoor escapades, with 170,000 acres of protected parklands and about 20% of the area covered in water (think springs, rivers and lakes).

Ready to get outside? Here are six ways to enjoy nature on Florida’s Adventure Coast, Brooksville-Weeki Wachee.

1. Pedal the trails.

Two of Florida’s longest paved trails snake through Hernando County: the 42-mile Suncoast Parkway Trail and the 46-mile Withlacoochee State Trail. Riders can also explore the Good Neighbor Trail, a 10-mile urban greenway that starts in the historic city of Brooksville. At the Russell Street Park trailhead, check out the circa 1885 train depot and one-room schoolhouse before heading into the countryside and the Withlacoochee State Forest, where the trail joins with the Withlacoochee State Trail. Eventually, the Good Neighbor Trail will be connected with the Suncoast Trail as well.

2. Paddle the waterways.

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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 coastal paddling trail that 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.

3. Seek out marine life.

For those who like to drop in a line, the fishing experiences along Florida’s Adventure Coast are plentiful. You could go deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico for grouper, cobia and snapper; try flats fishing for tarpon, trout and redfish; or hit the lake for the chance to pull up largemouth bass, bream and crappie. If scallops are more your taste, visit during scallop season—usually July through late September—and go snorkeling or diving for the delectable mollusks along the coast. If you’d rather simply watch local marine life, look for the manatees that populate the area’s rivers and springs. Bird watchers will enjoy eight locations along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.

4. Catch a thrill.

Feeling the need for speed? For high-flying thrills, the FLG X Adventure Course in Brooksville challenges you to tackle zip lines and treetop obstacles like rope swings, scrambling walls, hanging nets, wobbly bridges and more. Or get your adrenaline pumping at the Croom Motorcycle Area at Withlacoochee State Forest. Nearby Croom ATV Rental will supply an ATV or dirt bike with all the safety gear you’ll need for a safe and exhilarating ride. Miles of trails at this 2,600-acre property wind past hardwood hammocks, across scrubland and over jump areas created from mining pits. There are separate trails for BMX and mountain bikes, as well as training for all ages and skill levels. You can also head to Lead Foot City in Brooksville to take a spin on the burnout track.

5. Get a taste of Florida culture.

One of the state’s original roadside attractions is still charming visitors to Florida’s Adventure Coast: Weeki Wachee Springs State Park (check to make sure it has reopened) has been hosting its famous mermaid shows for more than 70 years. There are also wildlife shows, a river boat ride and Buccaneer Bay, Florida’s only spring-fed water park. In the town of Brooksville—which dates 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. Add a bit of rustic charm to your stay by choosing one of the area’s campgrounds or RV parks.

6. Pick something sweet.

Just about any time of year is harvest time on Florida’s Adventure Coast, and the area’s many u-pick farms let you get outside and enjoy the bounty firsthand. December through April is strawberry time, while blueberries are ready in April and May and blackberries in June and July. If you pick more than you can eat, make an appointment at the Little Rock Cannery in Brooksville, which has been helping people preserve their food since 1974.

As travel restrictions continue to evolve, please call ahead to confirm the status and hours of any place you plan to visit.

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