The 17 best National & State Parks of Florida
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Florida has around 200 state and national parks. This makes it terrifyingly fun to reduce the total number of parks down to 17.

Florida has beautiful barrier islands, vast swamplands and all the rest. Your options are endless when it comes to hiking, biking and kayaking, as well as relaxing in the warm Gulf of Mexico.

Florida’s diverse landscapes make it possible for national parks and state parks to be just as different. Sunshine State’s history includes both Native American and Spanish colonizations. Many protected parks have examples of these two types, including ancient mounds and forts. Many of California’s most beautiful parks combine culture, history, and nature perfectly.

17. Blue Spring State Park

(c) Shutterstock

For the state park to become a reality in 1970s Florida, it was only possible because of migrating manatees that researchers were able to find Blue Spring. This was a stroke of luck that has allowed the preservation of one of the most beautiful natural springs in the State.

Blue Springs State Park visitors can count on water temperatures of 72 degrees. You can then swim up the spring, where the limestone rocks warm the water.

This state park is still one of the most popular spots to see manatees wild. The calm river can be accessed by tube. You may also go snorkeling or take a paddle and set off in a kayak.

16. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Fort Zachary Taylor(c) Dreamstime

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park allows visitors to fully immerse themselves into history, taking them back to the Civil War. This state park is located at the southern tip of Key West. Construction began in 1840s.

You can visit the fort today to learn more about the history of the Confederacy and its role in the Spanish American War. The fort served as a deterrent to Confederacy sea invasions during the Civil War. The largest collection of weapons from war can be found here.

After that, you can visit one of the most beautiful beaches in Key West which is located within the park.

15. Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island State Park c) Shutterstock

Caladesi Island State Park can be found along the Gulf Coast on an unexplored speck that is awash with natural beauty. You can only reach this area by boat. You can stroll along the beautiful beach, which offers the most amazing beach combing in the entire state.

You can hike to Scharrer Homestead for a glimpse into early human history. The turquoise waters of the ocean will soon call you, inviting you to dive and snorkel. You can also take a kayak out to explore the amazing coastline, which includes mangrove tunnels that are home to exotic birds.

14. Fort Clinch State Park

Fort Clinch State Park c) Shutterstock

Fort Clinch State Park is a wonderful place to enjoy a mix of history and nature. A full range of activities will keep history buffs as well as outdoor enthusiasts busy. You’ll feel like you are both.

You’ll also find hundreds of old cannons throughout the park that recount the story of the Civil War. You can visit the fort and experience the life of a Union Soldier in 19th-century America. Regular demonstrations are held of historical weaponry.

The rest of the park, however, is an expansive preserve with maritime hammocks, ancient oaks, and trails that offer memorable views.

13. Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs State Park(c) Dreamstime

Wekiwa Springs State Park in central Florida is the ideal escape from Orlando’s organized chaos. After days spent on rides, the state park is a refreshing change. The springs can also be reached from farther afield.

You can hike for miles through the natural beauty of the area. These trails help to show beautiful scenery that soon disperses to reveal sparkling lakes, streams, and springs. You can swap your hiking boots for kayaks to enjoy the park’s waters, or you could add snorkel gear for better views.

The 60 camping sites allow you to stay over night. Concession stands are available for mid-day meals.

12. Gulf Islands National Seashore

Gulf Islands National Seashore Dreamstime

The Gulf Islands National Seashore is located just minutes from Pensacola, and it’s one of the most protected coasts in America. You can access the seashore by crossing one of two bridges. In a matter of minutes you will be in paradise and leave behind all the troubles.

You can enjoy long walks, spectacular sunsets and magnificent beach days with the golden sand. You can relax here away from all the hustle and bustle, with no signs of modern development. The lush, blue-colored beaches are only part of a rich ecosystem that is home to a variety of bird species like herons and ospreys. A trio of historical forts interrupts them briefly.

11. Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs State Park Dreamstime

Locals can make great day trips to the many springs around Florida. Silver Springs State Park is the best choice if you are traveling to Florida. Silver Springs State Park was one of Florida’s first attractions. It was located here around 150 years ago. Its popularity has not diminished.

The park can be explored in the same way as it was back then, whether you’re a boatman or a kayak-sailor. You will find a wide variety of fauna and flora in the springs and waterways surrounding them. You can gaze through the clear water to see manatees, or you may be able to catch wild monkeys swinging around in the canopy.

10. Canaveral National Seashore

Canaveral National Seashore National Park Service

Canaveral National Seashore is a protected barrier island on the East Coast of Florida. It features dunes, hammocks, and beautiful beaches. You can escape from nearby Titusville and New Smyrna by exploring this undeveloped coastline. This is a refuge for fauna and flora, as well as an intriguing glimpse into the daily lives of Timacua residents.

Enjoy the stunning coast and spend most of your time there. Don’t think about resorts or beachfront bars. It will be a beautiful, uninhabited beach. This is assuming you do not count hundreds of bird and animal species.

Check out nature trails that take you to the coastline, featuring over 1000 plant species, and ancient Native American mounds.

9. Apalachicola National Park

Apalachicola National Forest Dreamstime

Apalachicola National forest is located close to Tallahassee. It has a mix of swamps, rivers and lakes, as well as cypresses and longleaf Pine. All of it comes together to create the largest Florida forest, but as you would expect there is just as much water to be done.

There are over 80 miles worth of trails in the national forest. You can hike the top trail for multiple days, as you travel through the heartland of Bradwell Bay Wilderness Area. A half-dozen shorter trails offer interpretive information that will help you see the beauty of this park.

Two other popular activities include kayaking and swimming. You will find white sandy beaches at the Silver Lake’s edge, as well as picnic areas and campsites nearby.

8. Biscayne National park

Biscayne National Park(c) Shutterstock

You may not be able to grasp how close Biscayne National Park to Miami’s Art deco and nightclubs can be. It’s not the distance or beauty that make it a great day trip from Miami, but it is.

Water makes up 95% of Biscayne National Park. You will find tiny specks in the emerald waters, vibrant corals, and baby blue water. It is a true wonderland. You can camp under the stars or take guided tours to Elliott Key.

Make sure you have your swimming gear with you so that the ocean beneath can be explored and paddle along the coastline of the Keys.

7. Henderson Beach State Park

Henderson Beach State Park(c) Dreamstime

The Henderson Beach State Park, located in Destin, Florida along the Gulf of Mexico is home to stunning sand dunes. There are 35 dunes towering above the Gulf water, making for a memorable day on the beach.

You can view the dunes from far away on the nature trail, which reaches a height of over 30 feet. You will be taken by the dunes, and then through some of the most beautiful coastal scrub in Florida.

It’s also a great place to go fishing. You will find large areas for picnicking with BBQ grills, and restrooms. The beautiful waters are inviting to a dip. You may also spot dolphins or turtles.

6. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Castillo de San Marcos Dreamstime

The stunning scenery of Florida’s protected areas revolves around breathtaking views from the land as well as the sea. But Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, in St. Augustine, offers travelers a different experience.

The construction of the castle started in 1672. It is now over 350 years old. This castle is one of Florida’s oldest and was constructed to prevent an invasion by what was Spanish territory.

The fascinating history of Florida’s beginning will be revealed to visitors. You’ll be guided by rangers through this impressive fortress. Along the way, you will learn about the history of weapons and the daily life inside the fort.

5. Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Preserve c) Shutterstock

Big Cypress National Reserve, which is larger than Rhode Island, is the United States’ first national reserve. Visitors can discover unexplored territory in this vast, wild swampland.

For centuries the preserve was home to the Seminoles, Miccosukees and other communities that played an important role in the creation of the preserve. You can now enjoy the beautiful nature as well as the rich culture, along with many stories from past eras.

Kayaking is the best way to travel. You can enjoy the diverse nature and bird life from the water. Keep an eye out for the graceful panther.

4. Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda State Park(c) Dreamstime

Bahia Honda State Park is often overlooked in the splendor of Florida Keys. We are here to say that you should not miss it while you’re on the way to Key West. This beach is one of the most beautiful in the region, with incredible stretches of sand. There are plenty of cabins and campsites for those who want to be in the middle of paradise.

Calusa Bach is the name of Calusa Bach’s beach. The crescent-shaped beach has glistening turquoise waters that are as transparent as glass. Enjoy amazing visibility by kayaking or snorkeling on the calm, flat surface. Paddling enthusiasts can even venture as far as Little Bahia Honda. Bahia Honda Bridge is another notable site.

3. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park c) Shutterstock

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park covers 70 miles. It was the US’s first such park. It is located approximately one hour from Miami on Highway 1, which leads all the way up to Key West. This park offers incredible snorkeling and diving opportunities.

Don’t get discouraged if you are tired of hiking. You can have all the adventure here under water. Get out your hiking shoes and put on some snorkel gear to start exploring. You’ll also find rich mangroves and tropical hammocks that are teeming in marine life. You can also jump aboard a glass-bottomed boat to see all of it and keep dry.

2. Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park Dreamstime

Dry Tortugas National Park spans seven beautiful islands. It is home to Fort Jefferson, a 170-year-old fortification.

Although the trip south to Miami is quite long, it is worth the effort and ferry ride. You’ll find a tropical paradise after you have walked the Keys. You’ll find vibrant marine life and prismatic reefs as the golden sand surrounds these islands.

Explore the Fort, the largest masonry structure in America, after you have seen turtles. You don’t need to hurry to get back to the mainland, as there are eight camping sites in Dry Tortugas National Park.

1. Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park Dreamstime

The Everglades National Park, which is not in Florida but is quite distinct and vastly important to the nation’s conversation, should be forgotten. This is a vast area of land that’s unlike any other in the country. You can spot alligators lurking below the surface, and you can kayak through the swampy areas leading to sparkling lakes.

It is wild and constantly changing, but it feels so Florida. The Everglades is warm and jungle-like, and it attracts many animals both fodder and prey. There are many trails for biking and hiking that lead you through the diverse ecosystems. You can also take tours to get closer to the natural world and many bird species.

You can also kayak along the Wilderness Waterway, which is a large portion of the park’s wetlands.

Florida Map showing National and State Parks

Faqs

– Silver Springs State Park, North Central Florida (Ocala)
– Myakka River State Park, Southwest Florida (Sarasota)
– Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Southeast Florida (Hobe Sound)
– Bahia Honda State Park, Florida Keys (Big Pine)
– Grayton Beach State Park, Panhandle.

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