Taking a trip to Florida’s panhandle? Enjoy some of the excellent free things to do in Marianna, which is located slightly west of the capital of Tallahassee. In this part of Florida, you will find yourself in CST central time, which may come as surprise to some! The panhandle of Florida has varying landscapes, including a slight bit of elevation, and some underground experience as well. See below for some of our favorite inexpensive and free things to do in Marianna.
1. Florida Caverns State Park – $5 per vehicle
The top of out list for camping, swimming, trail riding, or cave tours, is the big state park in Marianna. Florida Caverns State Park is a stop you won’t want to skip if you are in the the area. The park has a small campground, that is quiet and peaceful. Nearby are several miles of biking, hiking, and equestrian multi-use trails.
If you want to go the caverns, you’ll have to pay a steeper price than the entrance fee. We have done the tour and it is worth the cost. It’s still fairly inexpensive per ticket – $11 for adults, and $5 for kids age 3-12. On the tour which takes about an hour and a half, you’ll walk through the lighted caverns with a guide. Pictured above is the stairs leading down to the entrance of the cave. If you’re lucky, you might see some bats on the tour. You’ll want to try their online reservation system if you plan to go in the afternoon. In the morning, they have first come first serve tickets.
A second bonus to this state park, if visiting in the summer, is blue hole springs. This small springs swimming hole is 35 feet deep. There is a dock leading up to the swimming area and also several shallow areas where you can get in. While smaller, the water is cold year-round and you can bring a float or a picnic to spend the day there.
Next on our list of things to do in Marianna, is this smaller recreation area. Hinson Conservation area has trails the boarder the river. It’s quiet a wooded. If you like to kayak or float, you can cruise the clear waterways at this park. The hiking trails don’t have too much wildlife to see, but you may come across some small caves along the trail. The 4 mile trail is the most scenic.
3. Blue Springs Recreation Area – $4 per person
This popular summer destination is nationally known as a fishing spot. Blue Springs Recreation area has everything you need for a fun day in the water. The springs water is cool year-round. While there you can lay on the beach, play volleyball or basketball, or float in a tube. Many things are available to rent for a reasonable price – such as tubes, canoes, and paddleboats – or bring your own equipment to save some money! This spring is open 7 days a week in the summer, and during the rest of the year, it is open on the weekends. The admission fee is $4 per person.
4. Torreya State Park – $3 per vehicle
Just east of Marianna, be sure to stop to take a hike at Torreya State Park, know as the “Florida Mountains.” The park has one of the highest elevations in Florida (which really isn’t saying much). I wouldn’t quite say mountains, as we have hiked in North Carolina, Tennessee, and New Hampshire, but it definitely had changed in terrain.
The trail here has two loops, one is 5 miles and one is 6. The terrain on this hike was awesome for Florida! The trail starts and ends from the historic Gregory House (view from the back of the house pictured below). This is a good place to park when you are going out on the trail. It’s a large historic house and they have a restroom on site. Behind the house, just at the start of the trail, you will also find several cannon encampments from the civil war.
That’s a wrap on things to do in Marianna! While you are visiting the panhandle, be sure to stop by the capital city of Tallahassee as well. Check out our page on free things to do in Tallahassee. Or read more details on our last panhandle trip in our blog post here.