About Us

Meet Susan and Terry


We know Florida—especially the parts you might not find on your own. We’ve run our own independent freelance writing businesses since 2000 and decided to team up to launch Florida Beyond, a website designed to introduce you to some of our favorite places and experiences across the Sunshine State. This is Florida by two Floridians. And we’re glad you’re here. 

We developed FloridaBeyond.com to take a deep dive into all Florida has to offer, from insiders’ perspectives. From cool hotels and resorts to hidden beaches to well-known spots and only-in-Florida moments, we’re ready to share our Florida expertise with you.

More about us

Who we are

Terry Ward

After having more fun than should be legal at the University of Florida, I spent time sampling the beach and city life across the state before deciding to settle in Tampa. I’ve lived in Orlando, Cocoa Beach and Jacksonville (as well as several places overseas) along the way. And while traveling the world as a freelance writer since 2000, I’ve reported for such publications as CNN, The Washington Post, National Geographic Travel and Scuba Diving Magazine. For now, South Tampa, where I live with my husband and our two young kids, is home. You can see more of my work on my personal website, terry-ward.com. 

Q&A with Terry

You might imagine it would be the Florida Keys. But my favorite snorkeling spot in all of Florida is the artificial reef submerged in the Intracoastal Waterway at the Blue Heron Bridge in West Palm Beach. It’s one of the most amazing places in the U.S. to see marine life in shallow water. Things like eagle rays and sea turtles regularly cruise by and underwater photographers come from around the world to shoot here. 

When it’s really hot, I like to ditch the beach and head inland to one of Florida’s freshwater springs. They’re our answer to Mexico’s cenotes—crystal clear blue-green oases that stay a constant 72 degrees year round and wind through shaded hammocks and wetlands. Itchetucknee Springs, near Gainesville, is gorgeous and has the state’s best tubing run. At Devil’s Den, you enter the underground oasis via a series of steps cut through the rock with this ethereal light streaming in from above.

It’s true that it would take a lifetime to do all there is to do in this state. Up along 30A in Northwest Florida, you can go paddling in coastal dune lakes that only exist in New Zealand, Australia, Madagascar and here. I’m dying to check them out during a road trip along the coast hopping between Grayton Beach State Park and South Walton.  

After graduating from Missouri State University in Springfield, I moved to Orlando for my first taste of the working world. From there, I headed to Washington, D.C. for several years, and have made Tampa my home since 2001, along with my husband and miniature schnauzer, Scout. Moving to Florida also marks the start of my writing career. Over the years my byline has appeared in regional and national outlets, including AAA Going Places, Allrecipes.com, Condé Nast Traveler, Global Traveler, National Geographic Travel, Southern Living and USA Today, among many others. I’m also an active member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Society of American Travel Writers. You can see more on my personal website, travlingirl.com

Q&A with Susan

Our beaches and theme parks are probably top of mind for most, but one thing that surprises people is the well-established horse country in the rolling hills of Ocala, in the middle of the state. In the wintertime, professional polo is played in Wellington, near West Palm Beach.

Here in Florida we’re fortunate to have miles of coastline that can get pretty dark, but for the ideal setting, head south to the Everglades for miles of uninterrupted night sky. 

I’ve wanted to visit Dry Tortugas National Park (70 miles west of Key West) since moving to Florida 20 years ago. Maybe this year will be the year to make it happen!

Susan Barnes