January is the perfect time of year to get outdoors in Southwest Florida. It’s the coolest month of the year (a balmy 74-degree average), and, you’d probably rather be out taking a walk than fighting traffic on I-75.
A growing body of research is finding that time spent in nature can significantly reduce stress and anxiety—even more so then say just taking a walk around your neighborhood or at the gym. The key is finding a place to totally disconnect. A nice thing about Southwest Florida is its opportunities to find nature, whether that’s on a beach or out among the greenery. Below are some unique ways you can truly disconnect in our little slice of paradise.
Night Walks at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
6-8:30 p.m. Jan. 8
Corkscrew Swamp is a sight to behold during the day. But at night, you’ll experience a different world. The monthly night walks take visitors on a guided tour around the two-mile boardwalk where they’ll be serenaded by the calls of owls, gators and nocturnal insects. corkscrew.audubon.org.
Backcountry camping in the Everglades
OK, this might sound a little stressful. But it’s one for the bucket list. If you come prepared, you’ll get an amazing experience. Backcountry camping will require a bit of a hike—or even a kayak ride—but once you find your spot, you’ll be in seclusion on, say, a pristine beach in the Ten Thousand Islands for a night under the stars. nps.gov/ever
Hiking on Cayo Costa State Park
This is another destination that’s definitely worth the time it takes to get there. You’ll have to take a boat (either your own or a ferry) to get to this barrier island 12 miles off Cape Coral. Once there, you’ll find untouched beaches and six miles of hiking trails. Your anxiety will slip away as you wander among mangrove and palms listening to the faint roar of the ocean. Stay the night in either a tent or in one of the primitive cabins. floridastateparks.org.