I LOVE living in Florida. I’m a midwesterner by birth and was a southerner for the past decade. But I’ve always been a lover of sun, sand and water. And since we shook up our lives a few months ago and took a chance on moving to paradise, I constantly pinch myself to remind me this is my real life.

This recent post on my @beautiful___today Instagram account sums it up.

Snip20160928_21.png“I know I post a lot of pics of clouds and palm trees. But since I moved from a city to the gorgeous open spaces of SW Florida, I just can’t get over the enormous joy I feel each time I look up and see them. It makes my heart full. I wish everyone could spend more time in their own version of paradise. I’m blessed to now live in mine.”

When we arrived, it was important to me to immerse myself in our new home and to get outside and soak in the beauty all around me. And a free and fulfilling way I’ve found to do that is to take advantage of all the great public parks.

img_7590This is one of my favorites, Centennial Park in Ft Myers. It’s at the top of my list because of its free two-hour parking close to the River District and this gorgeous sculpture.

img_7743And the kids love the playground. It also has pavilions for gatherings and a beautiful view of the river.

img_7770It’s water and clouds for days in this beautiful view from Laishley Park in Punta Gorda. This park is pretty big with a splash pad for the kids and lot of green space. I love the benches along the water, perfect for relaxing and soaking in this view. It also has a fishing pier.

img_7780Laishley Park also has this unique sculpture. The Spirit of Punta Gorda Sundial was built to commemorate Hurricane Charley making landfall there in 2004 and the strength of the community in rebuilding.

img_7413This is the incredible view from one of my other favorite parks, Horton Park in Cape Coral.

snip20160928_22There’s not much to this park, except a boat launch. But my favorite part is the small path of benches along the water. And the best part is the path is wonderfully shaded so you can relax for a while before needing a break from the Florida heat.

img_7671And just on the other side of the Midpoint Memorial Bridge from Horton park is this incredible Iwo Jima Memorial and other monuments honoring U.S. veterans. It’s part of Four Mile Cove Ecological Park also known as “Eco Park.”

img_7665The preserve’s walking trail begins near the memorial. The focus of the preserve is to protect the wildlife so biking and jogging and pets are not allowed.

img_7808North Shore Park in North Ft Myers has a great view of Ft Myers across the Caloosahatchee River. I like to stop here sometimes on my way to run errands in Ft Myers to soak in the great view and the breeze on the small fishing pier.


You can see the theme in my park choices, great views and benches. That’s why they’re my happy places.

Get outside, check out the parks near you and soak up the natural beauty.

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