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Adventures in Florida: 5 killer outdoor experiences in the Sunshine State

Modern Nomad is a weekly column dedicated to mobile gear, must-see world destinations, tips for life on the road, and traveling better through technology.

Beach, pool, margaritas, repeat. Florida vacations are often predictable, but they don’t need to be. There’s more to the United States’ most sunshine-centric outpost than getting drunk and sunburned in Miami Beach. There’s shark-diving and jet skiing the Florida Keys, but what about truly unique experiences that really get your heart pounding? Here are five of our favorite outdoor Florida experiences that don’t involve the beach.

#1: Flyboarding

Remember those childhood daydreams of flying like Superman? Flyboarding is the closest we’ve come to making those dreams a reality. At St. Augustine’s Extreme Water Adventures, riders don a water-powered jetpack and rocket boots that are tethered to a Jet ski. The machine’s high-powered discharge propels the rider through the air like a superhero. While it looks like an express train to the emergency room, EWA promises to have even newbie riders up and safely flying in a matter of minutes.

#2: Fly the Zero-G “Vomit Comet” Plane

One of the world’s most famous and exciting adrenalin experiences takes off from Miami and Cape Canaveral. While once reserved exclusively for astronauts in training, the Zero-G “Vomit Comet” as it’s affectionately known is now open to the public. Visitors board a heavily modified 727 to experience up to 20 parabolic maneuvers that create a feeling of complete weightlessness. Each maneuver lasts only 15-30 seconds but, short of visiting the ISS, it’s the only way most of us will ever experience a zero-g environment.

#3: Drive an Exotic Supercar in Miami

Few things in the world are more exhilarating than driving a car that costs as much as most houses at speeds north of 150 mph. At Miami’s Exotic Race Car Driving Experience, visitors climb into the driver’s seat of a 500+ horsepower supercar. Alongside a racing professional, drivers can push the limits of the world’s most exotic street legal racecars, including a Lamborghini Gallardo, Audi R8 V10, and Ferrari F430.

#4: Soar Like a Bird

Hang gliding is the closest man has ever come to seeing the world through a bird’s eyes. It’s the ideal way to float, dive, and fly like you have wings of your own. Miami Hang Gliding offers amateur and professional fliers the opportunity to soar more than 1,000 feet over the South Florida coast. The views of South Beach and the downtown skyline are unparalleled.

#5: Skydive with the Best

These days, it’s possible to skydive just about anywhere. But the small town of Zephyrhills near Tampa claims to be the country’s busiest dropzone. Every year, the world’s most elite parachuting event – the World Canopy Piloting Championships – is held here. Travelers looking to jump with the best needn’t look further than the experts at the area’s Skydive City. After a jump from more than 13,000 feet, during a full, minute-long free fall, divers will max out at 120 mph!

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Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
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