20 Florida Keys State Parks

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Many people heading to Florida will choose to visit the Florida Keys. There are a total of 800 keys (or islands) that stretch over 180 miles. You may be wondering how people get to all of these islands. You can drive from Key Largo to Key West along the Overseas Highway.

There are 10 Florida Keys state parks for you to explore that showcase the stunning natural beauty of this part of Florida. Where else can you find an underwater state park, silky smooth beaches and turquoise waters? From Key West to Key Largo, these are the top 10 state parks in the Florida Keys. Be sure to check out these Florida Keys state parks when you are next in southern Florida.

Florida Keys State Parks

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20 State Parks In Florida Keys

1- Dagney Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

Idyllic palm beach In Islamorada On Florida Keys
Palm trees on a beach in Islamorada.

The first of these Florida Keys state parks is on one of the northernmost popular islands in the Keys.

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park (what a mouthful) is at Mile Marker 106 on Key Largo, open from sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year.

It is also super affordable and only requires a $2.50 donation into the park’s honesty box to enter.

This park is home to one of the largest areas of West Indian tropical hardwood hammocks in the entire U.S.

And we are not talking about hammocks you can sit in, we are talking about the most spectacular canopy of forest.

This state park is also home to 84 protected plant and animal species, and you might be in with the chance of seeing crocodiles.

One of the best activities in the park is exploring the six miles of nature trails.

You can head out on a walk or take your bike along these trails, which are also wheelchair accessible.

Put on bug spray before you get there in the summer, as insects can be extreme.

In many Florida Keys state parks, there is mosquito control spraying but not in this park because it’s a botanical park.

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park is at County Rd 905 & Mile Marker 106, Key Largo, FL 33037.

2- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Photo Of A Tropical Fish On A Coral Reef
Explore coral reefs in the state parks in the Florida Keys.

Another Key Largo state park is John Pennekamp Coral Reef (entrance is at mile marker 102.5), where you can claim that you have been to the “first underwater park in the United States”.

This park has two sections: the mangrove swamps and tropical park are well worth exploring but most visitors head to the incredible coral reefs.

There are many ways to enjoy the underwater environment at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

You can take a glass-bottom boat tour on the park’s Spirit of Pennekamp boat, go scuba diving and snorkelling, or rent kayaks and canoes.

There’s also Cannon Beach.

Around 100 feet offshore, you can dive underwater and see a 17th-century cannon and anchor from a shipwreck.

This area is great for spotting colourful fish like parrot fish, sergeant majors and large barracuda.

Two short hiking trails around the park and a kayaking trail meanders through the mangroves.

Head to the visitor centre with a 30,000-gallon saltwater aquarium and an array of exhibits.

This famous Florida Keys state park is open daily from 8 am until sunset.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is at Mile Marker 102.5 Overseas Highway Key Largo, FL 33037. Coral Reef Private Snorkel Tour – out to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

3- Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park

Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park is the site of a former quarry.

This geological state park is on Windley Key, just a four-minute drive from Islamorada’s downtown at mile marker 84.9.

The park opens from Thursday to Monday (8 am to 5 pm) and there’s a $2.50 entrance fee.

This state park is all about geological history, so if you enjoy learning about the places you visit, you’ll love this fascinating state park in the Florida Keys.

The old quarry was used to build the Flagler’s Overseas Railroad during the 1900s.

While visiting, you get to walk along an 8-foot-high quarry and discover sections of ancient coral.

There’s also a self-guided trail where you’ll be able to learn a lot about the geology and local vegetation.

There are also samples of the old quarry machines preserved in the park.

Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park is at 84900 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036.

4- Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park

Head further south along the Overseas Highway, and on your right, you will see the Lignumvitae Key State Park, which can only be reached by boat.

This is the place to be if you are searching for a tropical hideaway in the Florida Keys.

The island is surrounded by stunning turquoise water and covered in hardwood hammocks.

The park is open between 8 am and 4 pm (Thursday to Monday), so plan your trip accordingly to avoid disappointment.

In 1919 a chemist by the name of William J.

Matheson bought this small island and built a caretaker’s home and a windmill for electricity.

Today this small home has turned into a visitor centre.

You can paddle out on kayaks from Robbie’s Marina to visit this island.

Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park is at 77200 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036.

5- Indian Key Historic State Park

Aerial view of one of the state parks in Florida Keys
Indian Key is one of the lovely state parks in Florida Keys.

On the opposite side of the Overseas Highway to Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park is the much smaller Indian Key Historic State Park.

This is another Florida Keys state park you can only reach by boat.

You will find the boat launch at Indian Key Fill.

This tiny island became the first county seat for Dade County in 1836.

It might have been small, but the island was the home to a lucrative business that salvaged cargo from shipwrecks in the area.

The island has been untouched since then, and when you explore, you’ll be strolling the same paths of the shipwreckers.

There are ruined buildings surrounded by thick vegetation creating a fun jungle-like adventure.

Though exploring on land is fun, you should pack your snorkels and water shoes.

The surrounding area is covered in dead coral, so it’s a little sharp but once you are in the water you are in for a treat.

Keep your eyes peeled for schools of fish.

The park is open between 8 am and sundown, 365 days a year.

The entry fee is $2.50, so it’s a super affordable Florida Keys activity for the family.

Indian Key Historic State Park is at Indian Key State Historic Site Outstanding Florida Water, Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036.

6- San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park

This isn’t your usual state park.

This state park is 18 feet underwater and around 1.25 nautical miles south of Indian Key.

At this underwater preserve, you will be treated to a submerged shipwreck that is the perfect spot for diving and snorkelling.

In 1733, the San Pedro (a 287-ton Dutch ship) sank in the surrounding area because of a hurricane.

It wasn’t until 1960 that the ship’s remains were discovered in Hawk Channel close to Indian Key.

Though most of the shipwreck has been salvaged, marks of its history remain.

Seven replica cannons with an anchor have been placed at the site to give visitors an idea of what the scene may have looked like.

San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park is at Mile Marker 78.5 Islamorada, FL 33036.

7- Long Key State Park

shelves with kayaks in Long Key
Another of the popular Florida Keys state parks is Long Key.

Long Key was once the playground of the rich and famous.

During the early 20th century, people used to flock to Henry Flagler’s Long Key Fishing Camp on the road to Key West.

Both celebrities and some of the best anglers in the world came to fish the saltwater shores of the Florida Keys.

Disaster struck in the form of the 1936 Labor Day Hurricane and destroyed the entire place.

Today the park has transformed into a haven for wildlife.

Recreational opportunities in the park include kayaking, snorkelling, hiking, birding, picnicking and flat fishing.

Bring your kayaks or rent them from the ranger station.

Paddling along the shoreline, birdwatching and peering through the mangroves is a fun way to spend the day.

You can also enjoy camping at Long Key State Park; it’s the perfect place to return to nature.

The entry fee to this park is $4.50, but for two or more people, it’s $5.50 plus $0.50 per additional person.

The park is open from 8 am until sunset, 365 days a year.

Long Key State Park is at 67400 Overseas Hwy, Layton, FL 33001.

8- Curry Hammock State Park

Key Largo is one of the Florida Keys state parks to tick off your list.

When visiting the Florida Keys, many people will miss Curry Hammock State Park as it’s a bit of a hidden gem.

A lot of the surrounding area is known for its development, but Curry Hammock is tucked away and extremely beautiful.

It’s the largest uninhabited parcel of land between Key Largo and Big Pine Key.

Local and migratory species call Curry Hammock home, and the park is mainly known for its record number of peregrine falcons, which arrive every fall.

The park is covered in mangrove swamps, rockland hammocks and seagrass beds.

It’s a wonderful place to kayak and explore the surroundings of Little Crawl Key.

One of the more adventurous activities you can do at the park is kiteboarding.

There is also a sandbar which is the most picturesque slice of paradise.

Curry Hammock State Park is at 56200 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL 33050.

9- Bahia Honda State Park

Colorful Sunset Or Sunrise With Broken Bridge
Beautiful colourful sunset or sunrise over the broken bridge in Bahia Honda state park in the Florida Keys.

Bahia Honda State Park is between Marathon and Big Pine Key and the place to go for stunning beaches in the Florida Keys.

This is the ultimate Florida Keys state park for relaxation and fun.

Palm tree-lined beaches and magnificent waters make this an excellent spot to relax all day. And what’s more, you might catch a spectacular sunset.

Sitting on Bahia Honda State Parks beach, you can marvel at the unusual bridge Henry Flagler built.

Though the bridge today has a gaping hole, it could conjure up images of a rather dramatic car chase from a movie.

You know, one where the main characters escape the police by driving their car off a bridge!

The bridge that is the main view of the water was used until 1972.

This is an excellent state park for kayaking, fishing, snorkelling on the coral reef and camping.

It’s one of the best campsite spots in the Florida Keys, with three campgrounds with 80 pitches.

You can also stay in stilted cabins that overlook the park’s lagoon, but you may need to book a cabin up to a year in advance.

This is one of the most popular state parks in the Florida Keys, so it’s a good idea to head there early.

When the park reaches capacity, they will close to limit numbers. The park is open between 8 am and sundown all year round.

Keep in mind that there are not many areas with shade in the park, so bringing a sunshade or renting from the park’s concession stand is highly advisable.

The park costs $8 per vehicle to enter.

Bahia Honda State Park is at 36850 Overseas Highway Big Pine Key FL 33043.

10- Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Fort Zachary Taylor Moat At The National Historic State Park, Key West, Florida
Fort Zachary Taylor moat at the National Historic State Park, Key West, Florida, United States.

The final state park is at the southernmost point of the Florida Keys.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is 532 km from Cuba and a combination of beautiful scenery and a rich history.

Fort Zachary was completed in 1866 and predates the Civil War.

It is also a National Historic Monument and has one of the world’s largest collections of Civil War armament.

You can walk the corridors of Fort Zachary and discover cannons and gun ports.

Several interpretive panels depict the fort’s role in both the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.

If you visit on the third weekend of each month, you’ll want to check out the local reenactors showing the crowds’ historical demonstrations.

There’s also a wonderful beach and great opportunities for snorkelling and swimming.
If you paid to enter the Fort, keep your ticket and return to watch the sunset.

The park is open from 8 am to sundown, 365 days a year, but the fort closes at 5 pm.
Entry is charged at $6 per vehicle.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is at 601 Howard England Way, Key West, FL 33040.

Old Cannon Balls At Fort Zachary Taylor National Historic State Park, Key West, Florida
Old Cannon balls at Fort Zachary Taylor National Historic State Park, Key West, Florida, United States.
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harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!