Here's an idea for the new year: Why not resolve to be a tourist in your own state?

Think about it. Florida's the place where people who don't live here want to live, and honestly, who'd blame them? The weather's beautiful most days, there's no state income tax and its 663 miles of beaches offers a plethora of sand-in-your-toes memories.

Luckily, we are residents of the Sunshine State, so it's simple to make plans to explore some of its lesser-known jaunts.

Here is a list of some of Florida's hidden gems, those tiny towns and under-the-radar spots you might never have heard of but are worth checking out. In other words, they're a lot less popular than the House that Mickey built, but could be more fun.

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Matlacha (Lee County)

This funky, Old Florida fishing village, population 700, is nestled neatly between Fort Myers and Pine Island in southwest Florida.

Upon entering Matlacha, pronounced mat-la-SHAY, visitors' senses are put into overload as they're greeted with lime-green art galleries, bright-pink boutiques and cheery teal cottages on the tiny island.

The community of artisans and fishermen is regarded as one of the best fishing spots in the world. It's home to "The World's Fishing-est Bridge," after all. Anglers line the bridge over Matlacha Pass and regularly catch snook, redfish and even tarpon in season.

Speaking of fish, are you In the mood to throw mullet? Matlacha hosts the annual Southwest Florida Mullet Toss Championship, which takes place every March at its community park, 4577 Pine Island Road N.W. Sponsored by the Greater Pine Island Chamber or Commerce, the mullet toss is open to all ages, and if you win, well, you've got bragging rights for the next year.

Bok Tower Gardens (Lake Wales)

There's beauty all around Florida, and it's not just relegated to beaches.

About an hour south of Orlando is Bok Tower Gardens, 1151 Tower Blvd. in Lake Wales, that encompasses 200 acres founded by Edward and Marie Bok as a bird sanctuary. Today, the gardens are home to more than 100 species of birds.

The "gardens" are ferns, palms, oaks and pines against a backdrop of flowering foliage such as azaleas, camellias and magnolias. Pathways lead into the core gardens, and other paths lead to the tower.

That "tower" is a 205-foot structure called the Singing Tower. It's composed of eight levels that include a workshop, research archives, the founder's room, water cisterns, a carillon studio, a library, the playing cabin and the bell tower.

There are spring bloom walking tours through April 15. The tour is free with admission to the gardens. There are many different events throughout the year, too.

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Leon Sinks Geological Area (Tallahassee)

Take a deep dive into Florida at the Leon Sinks Geological Area near Tallahassee.

The area, part of the Apalachicola National Forest, is covered by a layer of limestone that's been eroded and dissolved by rainwater and groundwater to form caverns, holes and tunnels called "karst."

Because of the erosion, there now are sinkholes, depressions, natural bridges and a disappearing stream.

There are several trails throughout the area, so be on the lookout for gopher tortoises, deer, turkey, hawks, raccoons, snakes and salamanders. Learn more about karst geography at an interpretive site, and then take a break for lunch at several picnic areas.

The Leon Sinks Geological Area is on U.S. 319, 7 miles south of Tallahassee.

Treaty Oak Park (Jacksonville)

Now that's a big tree, and it looks like an octopus.

The Treaty oak, a 70-foot live oak, is in Jessie Ball duPont Park, 1123 Prudential Drive in Jacksonville, just south of the St. Johns River. Its trunk is more than 25 feet around and it shades a circular area of about 190 feet.

Historians say the oak is more than 200 years old, which means it's older than the city itself.

But where does the name come from?

To rescue the live oak from destruction, reporter Pat Moran wrote an article in the early 1930s claiming that native Floridians and early settlers had signed a treaty at the site, according to the Florida Times-Union.

But alas, the name is based on a myth.

Winter Garden Farmers Market (Orange County)

Winter Garden's motto, "Where good things grow," almost guarantees its farmers market will be one of the best, and biggest, in Florida.

Located in historic downtown Winter Garden, the farmers market, 104 S. Lakeview Ave., offers locally grown produce, baked goods, homemade soaps and candles, fresh flowers and more.

Open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, there's live entertainment, too.

Another cool part about the farmers market: it has discontinued using plastic bags, cups, utensils, straws and other single-use plastics. Instead, all plastics have been replaced with biodegradable options.

Gordon River Greenway (Naples)

Birders, nature photographers and environmental enthusiasts take note: There are more than 2 miles of trails meandering through six different native-plant communities in the heart of urban Naples.

Those trails — along with canoe and kayak launches, interpretive sites, benches, picnic areas and even an entrance to the Naples Dog Park — are part of the Gordon River Greenway, a 140-acre ecological corridor that opened in 2004 to show off Southwest Florida's natural beauty.

The 12-foot-wide pathways and 10-foot-wide elevated boardwalks are ideal for walkers, hikers, joggers, cyclists, in-line skaters and skateboarders.

Zora Neale Hurston Dust Tracks Heritage Trail (Fort Pierce)

Author, anthropologist, storyteller and dramatist Zora Neal Hurston — whose best-known work, "Their Eyes Were Watching God," is considered a classic of Harlem Renaissance — lived in Fort Pierce during the final years of her life.

The Zora Neale Hurston Dust Tracks Heritage Trail commemorates the life and times of Hurston, who moved with her family to Eatonville, Florida, an incorporated, self-governed, all-African American town north of Orlando.

Three large kiosks and eight trail markers, all in full color, and an exhibit and visitor center chronicle Hurston's travels through Florida and the Caribbean, according to the city of Fort Pierce.

Hurston died in 1960 and was buried in an unmarked grave until 1973, when Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker ("The Color Purple") marked it as Hurston's. Today, it is the Garden of Heavenly Rest Cemetery on Avenue F and North 17th Street in Fort Pierce.

Cayo Costa State Park (Captiva)

This spot is a true "hidden" gem because the unspoiled Gulf Coast island, Cayo Costa — home to the state park of the same name — is accessible only by water.

The former fishing ground of the Calusa Indians features 9 miles of undeveloped shoreline for swimming, snorkeling, shelling, fishing, birdwatching and exploring, along with several walking and bicycling trails through the island’s interior.

Don't worry if you don't own a boat or a kayak. A ferry runs to the island from several mainland locations. There are cabins, too, for overnight camping.

Historic Cocoa Village (Brevard County)

This might be a popular destination for Space Coast residents, but when out-of-towners visit Brevard County, they usually head to Kennedy Space Center or Ron Jon Surf Shop.

But just 7 miles west over the causeway from "the world's largest surf shop" is historic Cocoa Village, a tree-lined street of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues that reflects so much of the Space Coast's charm.

Need to buy a unique gift? From antiques to records and from toys to jewelry, there's no way you'll walk out empty-handed. Hungry? Hit up one of the bakeries, bistros or bars, or settle in to one of the coffee shops, cafes or casual dining spots.

There are several historic sites in the village, too, including the Cocoa Village Playhouse, the Porcher House and St. Mark's Episcopal Church. Learn more about the history of Cocoa Village here.

Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens (Port Orange)

There's more than meets the eye at Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens.

Yes, there are lush gardens and plant collections such as azaleas, camellias, ivies, magnolias, native plants, palms and succulents, but the gardens and plants surround the ruins of a 19th century sugar factory, which contains the most complete sugar-grinding machines in the country.

But there's more!

Throughout the gardens, 950 Old Sugar Mill Road in Port Orange, are huge stone dinosaurs, remnants of Bongoland, an amusement park created inside the grounds during the late 1940s.

Other interesting features are a children's garden, an Asian garden, a human sundial and a Florida-shaped herb garden.

Pensacola Scenic Bluffs Highway (Escambia County)

Designated the first scenic highway in Florida, the Pensacola Scenic Bluffs Highway offers breathtaking views of Escambia Bay, so remember to bring a camera.

Southern live oak, saw palmetto, longleaf pine, sand pine, scrub pine and other native and invasive species surround visitors as they drive north along the 11-mile stretch of U.S. 90 from its southern terminus at Bayou Texar bridge to just over the Escambia River.

There are several parks and scenic points to explore along the way.

Bay Bluffs Park has a boardwalk that leads to the base of the giant cliffs, and Bayou Texar Boat Launch Park shows off views of the bayou.

At Old Chimney Park, visitors can learn about the 50-foot common brick chimney, a remnant of a pre-Civil War sawmill, and dazzle in the rich diversity of flora and fauna at Gaberonne Swamp.

Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens (West Palm Beach)

Have lunch or check out a seminar at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, an extension of the Norton Museum of Art.

Visitors are in luck, too, because the gardens, 253 Barcelona Road in West Palm Beach, and its big brother just underwent major updates.

Get an earful during a concert, including gospel and jazz, at the gardens. There is a speakers series, garden tours and family events, too.

Ringed by 8-foot hedges, the grounds of the sculpture gardens are immaculately maintained, and might be one of the best-kept secrets in West Palm Beach.

Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park (Gainesville)

As visitors descend 132 steps into a sinkhole, rich vegetation surrounds them and it's like they're in a miniature rainforest as tiny waterfalls, which feed into the limestone sinkhole, flow nearby. There's a drastic temperature change, too, because of the thick canopy of trees shading the site.

That's what it feels like to walk into the Devil's Millhopper Geological Site, a 120-foot sinkhole near Gainesville that was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1976.

Geologists have learned a lot about Florida's history by studying fossils and shark's teeth found in the walls of the sinkhole.

A new boardwalk and stairs recently were completed at Devil's Millhopper, just 7 miles northwest of Gainesville at 4732 Millhoppper Road. There are picnic spots and interpretive displays to learn more about the site.

Palm Beach Post staff writer Kristina Webb contributed to this report. Follow her on Twitter, @KristinaWebb.

This story originally published to, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network.