With so many different attractions to keep you busy on vacation in Florida, it’s easy to overlook the natural beauty of the state. The state parks offer a peaceful escape and day out from the theme parks and crowds you may experience elsewhere. Today I’m going to share my top picks for state parks to visit in the Sunshine State. Some of these offer the chance to stay onsite, so it’s also an alternative vacation destination for your next trip.
Best State Parks in Florida
Oleta River State Park is located north of Miami and offers a great day out for anyone who loves to spend time on the water. Enjoy renting a canoe to check out the full extent of the park, or you can enjoy a spot of fishing off the pier. There’s a beach on site for swimming, and you can bring bikes with you to explore the trails. This is the perfect escape from the city and crowds of Miami and is a great day out for families with children.
The first undersea park in the US, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park spreads across seventy nautical miles. This is the perfect place for avid scuba divers and snorkelers to visit. Cannon Beach has a Spanish shipwreck to explore just 100 feet from its shore. Tours go out onto the water four times a day, however, if you prefer to stay dry, check out the glass-bottomed boat tours on offer. There is also an aquarium on site and forty-seven campsites with facilities.
For adventurous travelers, check out Big Shoals State Park, which has the largest white-water rapids in the state. Featuring Class III rapids, you can canoe or kayak down the waters on a thrilling adventure. If you prefer something a little calmer, consider hiking, horseback riding or biking around the trails. The nature here is fantastic, and you can expect to see a variety of species of birds. I also love spotting the tortoises that live here near the riverbank.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park in Fort White has stunning turquoise waters which are perfect for kayaking or swimming in. During my visit here I saw butterflies, birds and turtles, so it’s the ideal park for nature spotting. One of the most popular activities at this park is tubing. It’s one of the best places to relax and spend an afternoon appreciating the beauty that this state has to offer.
Finally, for a unique day out, visit Florida Caverns State Park. Here you can join a guided tour that lasts about 45 minutes, which will take you inside the caverns. The stalactites and stalagmites here are fantastic and one of the most distinctive sights you will see on your trip. After your tour enjoy the six miles of trails the park has to offer, where you can cycle or hike while spotting alligators, beavers or herons.
The state parks in Florida are by far some of the best in the country, offering adventures and animal encounters for all of the family. If you enjoy spending time in nature on vacation, how about joining an inshore fishing charter for a half- or full-day Cape Coral Fishing Charter. Whichever state park you visit on your next trip, I’m sure you’ll be impressed by the beauty Florida has to offer.