Are you already tired of winter? Or are you a snowbird already in Florida? If you’re looking for a place to escape the winter blues, here is our list of the 10 Best State Parks in Florida.
Florida is known for its tropical climate, and with that comes some amazing vacation getaways. There are plenty of the resort getaways in Florida, but there are some amazing natural wonders within Florida too.
That’s why we created this list of the Best State Parks in Florida.
The Florida State Parks are not only full of geographic wonders with some of the beaches in the world, but also are full of all kinds of creatures ranging from Manatees to Bald Eagles. If you’re looking for a place to relax, and explore at the same time, this list of the Best State Parks in Florida is a great place to start!
Read this list and let us know what you think! Did we miss a great state park in Florida? Or did we get all of the best state parks in Florida?
1) Gasparilla Island State Park
Gasparilla Island State Park is located on the west coast of Florida and is home to the Boca Grande Lighthouse. The main activity at Gasparilla Island State Park is to swim as it has a beautiful beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Bring your snorkel gear (or Fathom One!) if you decide to go into the water too since you never know what you might see underwater! Tortoises, manatees, and bald eagles pass through the area and call it home.
There is a small visitor center at Gasparilla Island State Park, but it’s mainly there to support the Boca Grande Lighthouse since that’s a museum now. If you’re feeling up to a stair workout, the Boca Grande Lighthouse can be a great experience!
Gasparilla Island State Park made our list of the Best State Parks because of the beautiful beaches and all of the different activities available. There are natural trails, beautiful beaches, and even a historic lighthouse to explore. It’s a great balance of being able to be active and relax at the same time.
2) Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is on our list of the Best State Parks in Florida for almost one reason – Mermaids! It’s home to mermaids. No, really.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is pretty much a small amusement park. It’s home to a submerged 400 seat auditorium where you can watch mermaids perform the famous Disney movie, The Little Mermaid.
Besides the mermaids, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is home to the deepest freshwater cave system in the United States. In addition, one can kayak, go on boat tours, or even play on the water slide at the park. If you have children, this can be of their favorite florida state parks.
3) Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is on our list of the Best State Parks in Florida because of its most popular activity, tubing on the Ichetucknee River, the abundance of wildlife, and because it’s the perfect place to be outside and cool off in Florida.
Currently, you cannot tube on the Ichetucknee River since the area is a bit flooded, but when it’s not flooded, you can rent a tube and float down the river. It’s a great activity if you just want to sit back and relax. There’s plenty of wildlife to watch as well. Alligators, otters, and manatees all call parts of Ichetucknee Springs State Park home.
Lastly, Ichetucknee is a great place to cool off as the year-around temperature is normally around 72°F while the rest of Florida is normally much warmer, especially in the summer months.
4) Florida Caverns State Park
The Florida Caverns State Park is on our list of the Best State Parks in Florida because it’s one of the most unique State Parks not only in Florida, but also in the United States. It’s the only Florida state park that has open air caverns available to the public.
There are large underground rooms that were chiseled out in the 1930s, and in some places, you can still see the chisel marks in the walls. It’s a place full of stalactites, and stalagmites.
If you’re a golfer, there’s even a 9-hole golf course. Not in the caverns, but above them. Underground golfing might be a bit tough.
5) John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is for those that love to be underwater. It’s on our list of the Best Florida State Parks because of its underwater attractions. If you’re looking for a great state park to use a Fathom One, this has to be the top state park.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first undersea park in the United States and is one of the most visited Florida State Parks every year. It’s a state park where it’s perfect for any level of underwater activities, from glass bottom boats to full scuba diving, you can see underwater in all sorts of ways.
If you decide to scuba dive or snorkel though, you have to check out the Christ of the Abyss. It’s an 8.5-foot-tall statue of Jesus Christ sunken in 25 feet of water.
6) Manatee Springs State Park
Manatee Springs State Park is similar to many of the Florida State Parks, however, one feature stood out to us, the 800-foot boardwalk that isn’t on coast, but within the forest that overlooks the magnitude springs.
The magnitude spring within Manatee Springs State Park pushes out 100 million gallons of water daily, so the park is always full of cooler water compared to some of the other bodies of water within Florida.
You can swim and dive within the spring, however, in the fall and winter, parts of Manatee Springs State Park are closed due to manatees using the springs as a shelter from the winter waters. This is because manatees can’t live in cold waters.
If you’re looking for a spot to enjoy nature and cool down a bit, Manatee Springs State Park is a great place to visit!
7) Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is on our list of Best State Parks in Florida mainly because its home to one of the best beaches not only in Florida, but also in the United States. The beach at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the United States by numerous publications.
Similar to Gasparilla Island State Park, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is home to a historic lighthouse too, the 1825 Cape Florida Lighthouse. This lighthouse is known for its breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean once you reach the top of the lighthouse. Be ready for a stair workout though!
8) Honeymoon Island State Park
Honeymoon Island State Park is on our list of Best Florida State Parks because it’s the most visited state park in Florida, and has to be one of the best state parks for bird watching.
It has 3 miles of trails through its slash pine forest, and 4 miles of beach to walk too. If you’re looking for a place to escape from the city life of Tampa, this is a great place to just get a breath of fresh air. The beaches aren’t the most scenic beaches within Florida, but the entire park itself is quite the place to explore.
9) Fort Clinch State Park
Fort Clinch State Park is on our list of Best Florida State Parks because similar to Florida Caverns State Park, it’s incredibly unique as it’s a brick fortress.
It was built as a fort in the Second Seminole War, and was a base for the Union in the Civil War. If you love history, this is a state park you have to visit. You can see what life was like for civil war soldiers, and even learn battlefield techniques.
If you love nature too, Fort Clinch State Park also has nature trails where you can view wildlife and search for shells and shark teeth!
Fort Clinch State Park is a great park for a variety of activities, so if you need a great day trip for a family, this is a great place to go.
10) Anastasia State Park
Anastasia State Park is on our list of Best Florida State Parks because of the amount of wildlife and that it has over 1,600 acres of beaches, marshes, and sand dunes to explore.
If you love to watch wildlife, especially birds, Anastasia State Park is a great place to sit back and watch what wildlife is doing. Eagles and Osprey are the most significant birds at Anastasia State Park.
One tip though, watch where you sit. Anastasia State Park’s unofficial mascot is the Anastasia Beach Mouse. They are an endangered species, but can be found in the beach vegetation. They can blend right into the sand as they have a white fur, so if you see something move on the beach, it’s most likely an Anastasia beach mouse.
That’s our entire list of the Best State Parks in Florida! Have any thoughts for us on this? Send us a message by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love feedback!
If you’re in Florida, go embrace the deep with your Fathom One at some of these spots!