The Sunshine State of Florida is the country’s first-ever four-time winner of the National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA) Gold Medal award for the best state park system. Florida has 175 state parks, historic sites and trails to explore. There’s plenty to see from spectacular wildlife, springs and coastal parks in Florida. So, check out the best Florida state parks for stunning and varied landscapes, manatees, alligators and more.
- Florida State Parks
- 20 Best State Parks In Florida
- 1- Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park
- 2- Little Manatee River State Park
- 3- Ichetucknee Springs State Park
- 4- St Andrews State Park
- 5- Bulow Creek State Park
- 6- Torreya State Park
- 7- Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park
- 8- Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
- 9- Weeki Wachee State Park
- 10- Anastasia State Park
- 11- Bahia Honda Key State Park
- 12- Blue Spring State Park
- 13- Washington Oaks Garden State Park
- 14- Big Shoals State Park
- 15- John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
- 16- Ravine Gardens State Park
- 17- Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
- 18- Florida Caverns State Park
- 19- Crystal River Preserve State Park
- 20- Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
- 20 Best State Parks In Florida
Florida State Parks
20 Best State Parks In Florida
1- Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park
Step into Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and feel like you are entering another world.
This Florida state park is in the south of Florida, around 92 miles northwest of Miami, and is the largest state park in Florida.
Open from 8 am to sunset, this state park has some incredibly unique plant and animal species that can be found nowhere else in the continental U.S.
The park is home to four big attractions.
Firstly, the Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk, a 2,500 feet long section of boardwalk, is an excellent way to explore the swamp and alligator pond.
Next up, there’s the East River, where you can launch a canoe.
The Jones Grade Lakes and Trail is a wonderful place to fish, canoe, and kayak but remember, no swimming is allowed.
Finally, there’s the Janes Memorial Scenic Drive, which is a great place to access some of the park’s hiking routes.
Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park is at 137 Coast Line Dr, Copeland, FL 34137.
2- Little Manatee River State Park
The Little Manatee River State Park is close to Tampa Bay and around 30 miles south of Tampa.
This state park’s main focus is the blackwater river.
The start of the Little Manatee River is near Fort Lonesome and after around 40 miles, it empties into Tampa Bay.
This state park is also part of the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve and has been designated an Outstanding Florida Water.
Hiking is one of the best ways to get out and explore the park.
Take a 6.5-mile loop trail that allows you to explore the northern part of the park’s wilderness.
The Oxbow Nature Trail is also excellent for taking in the park’s sites.
The trail leads you along the main river and the Oxbow wetland.
As the park’s name suggests, it is sometimes possible to see manatees, but you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled and cross your fingers.
Little Manatee River State Park is at 215 Lightfoot Rd, Wimauma, FL 33598.
3- Ichetucknee Springs State Park
The Ichetucknee Springs State Park is a 2,241-acre park and National Natural Landmark around four miles northwest of Fort White.
The spring-fed river that meanders through the park has become a popular spot for swimming, paddling and a gentle float down the river in a doughnut ring.
The river is even more beautiful because of the surrounding trees that have formed a canopy over the river.
Animals like beavers, otters, softshell turtles, and turkeys call the Ichetucknee Springs State Park home.
Before a dip in the water, check out the park’s nature trails that guide visitors through the park’s forest of longleaf pines.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park is at 12087 Southwest, US-27, Fort White, FL 32038.
4- St Andrews State Park
St Andrews State Park is on the barrier in front of Saint Andrew Bay in front of Panama City.
The park is at the tip of the barrier island, where the inland water flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
For those wanting a stunning beach location for their next Florida trip, check out St Andrews State Park.
This is the ultimate place for people wanting swimming, surfing and snorkelling opportunities.
You’ll walk and relax on whiter-than-sugar sand and swim in turquoise waters.
Before cooling off in the beautifully refreshing waters, why not stroll around the pines and coastal dunes?
There are a variety of coastal plant species to discover, and depending on when you go, it’s a popular migratory bird stopover.
St Andrews State Park is at 4607 State Park Ln, Panama City, FL 32408. Try this Small Group Guided Shore Dive in St. Andrews State Park for a cool experience.
5- Bulow Creek State Park
Bulow Creek State Park is around 15 miles north of Daytona Beach along Florida’s Atlantic coastline.
Of the park’s 5,600 acres, more than 1,500 are considered submerged lands.
The park is known as having one of the last stands of southern live oak forest on the east coast of Florida.
Fairchild Oak is the most famous tree in the park and is more than 400 years old.
You can stroll along the park’s many trails to see this unique landscape.
This is a free Florida state park, so if you want something fun and cheap, this is the place to go to.
Bulow Creek State Park is at 3351 Old Dixie Hwy, Ormond Beach, FL 32174.
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6- Torreya State Park
Torreya State Park is on the banks of the Apalachicola River, around 50 miles west of Tallahassee.
The park is named after the Torreya tree, which can also be found in the park, growing along the bluffs of the Apalachicola River.
The Civilian Conservation Corps developed this Florida state park in the 1930s.
This is a popular park for hiking, camping and picnics.
The park is also an excellent place for nature lovers, with more than 100 species of birds found in the park.
It’s an incredible experience to visit during fall because the colours of the hardwood trees pop into existence.
There are a variety of hiking trails that allow you to explore the park, as well as some beautiful scenic vistas.
Another popular activity at the park is the Gregory House.
This 1849 historic house allows you to look back in time and see what life was like in this part of Florida two centuries ago.
Torreya State Park is at 2576 NW Torreya Park Rd, Bristol, FL 32321.
7- Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park
Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park is just outside of Gainesville in northern Florida.
This fascinating geographical area is well worth visiting and has attracted visitors since the 1880s.
This area is highly unique not just because of its on offer at the park but also because of the rest of Florida’s landscape.
Florida generally has sandy terrain accompanied by pine forests but in the Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, there is a 120 feet bowl-shaped cavity that leads to a small and highly unique rainforest.
Lush vegetarian and small streams blossom in this limestone sinkhole.
This site is a geologist’s dream, with shark teeth fossils, marine shells and the remains of extinct animals having been found in the sinkhole.
The park has many interpretive displays that let you discover more about this fascinating park.
Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park is at 4732 Millhopper Rd, Gainesville, FL 32653.
8- Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
This Florida state park is on the island of Key Biscayne off the coast of Miami.
Though this park is on an island, it’s still accessible via an oversea highway.
Bill Baggs is a very popular Florida state park as its beauty and proximity to Miami have made it a popular place for locals.
It’s best to arrive early at the park because there is a limit on the number of people, and when full the park will close for two hours.
This state park allows you to take in the views of the Atlantic Ocean as well as Biscayne Bay.
You don’t just get to see the views from the ground. You can head up the 1825 Cape Florida Lighthouse.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is at 1200 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne, FL 33149.
9- Weeki Wachee State Park
Weeki Wachee State Park is a popular tourist attraction in Weeki Wachee.
If you are travelling to Florida with kids, this is a great place to visit because there are mermaids!
Weeki Wachee is a spring where mermaids perform for visitors in the natural pool.
There are mermaid shows at 11 am, 1:30 pm and 3 pm.
A swimming area is open between March and May, with water slides and a kiddie pool.
If mermaids aren’t quite your thing, remember that this state park is home to the deepest freshwater cave system in the county, and there’s an abundance of wildlife to discover.
You can take a kayak trip down the spring, which is a great way to escape the crowds and immerse yourself in nature.
Weeki Wachee State Park is at 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606.
10- Anastasia State Park
This state park is truly stunning and open from 8 am till sunset every day of the year.
Anastasia State Park has over 1,600 acres of unspoiled beaches, marshes and ancient sand dunes.
This state park is around 3.5 miles from St Augustine Beach on another of Florida’s barrier islands.
Sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Salt Run, it’s quite a diverse landscape.
Ospreys and eagles frequent the skies, as do warblers and painted buntings, making it a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Visitors can stroll along the beach or canoe or kayak.
You can also step along the Ancient Dunes Nature Trail.
This is also a wonderful place to go camping, with 139 campsite spots just a short walk from the beach.
Anastasia State Park is at 300 Anastasia Park Rd, St. Augustine, FL 32080.
11- Bahia Honda Key State Park
Bahia Honda Key State Park is on one of Florida’s 800 keys.
This beautiful state park is closer to Key West than Key Largo along the Overseas Highway.
Nothing will quite prepare you for a visit to the Florida Keys, where endless ocean views and beautiful sandy beaches create a feeling of paradise.
Due to its popularity, this is another state park that has a maximum capacity and will close when it reaches that figure, so it’s best to get there when the park opens at 8 am.
Water activities are a must in the park.
There are concession stands offering snorkel and kayak rentals and snacks.
Palm tree-lined beaches are the perfect backdrop for lolling around in the glistening waters of the Florida Keys.
Bahia Honda Key State Park is at 36850 Overseas Highway Big Pine Key FL 33043. Check out this tour: Half Day Snorkel Trip on Reefs in the Florida Keys.
12- Blue Spring State Park
Blue Spring State Park is one of the best state parks in Florida for seeing the bulky yet majestic creature that is the manatee.
The waters at Blue Spring are 72 degrees and are located along the St. Johns River, around 35 miles north of Orlando.
This park was established in 1970, but two years previous to this, researchers tracked 14 manatees in the spring.
Through the park’s conservation efforts, by 2005, manatee numbers grew to 200 and by 2022, there are now a record 724 manatees.
If you are dying to see the amazing “cows of the sea,” this is the place to be.
Several other services at the park include a gift shop, ecological boat cruises and concession stands.
The park also offers tubing, swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing and hiking opportunities.
Blue Spring State Park is at 2100 W French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763. Check out this Manatee and Natural Spring Adventure Tour at Blue Springs.
13- Washington Oaks Garden State Park
In between Jacksonville and Orlando on the Atlantic coast is Washington Oaks Garden State Park.
Also, a marine protected area, this state park is well worth a visit.
If you love gardens, this place is well worth a visit.
At the centre of the park are the formal gardens, which display non-native and native plant species, including bird of paradise, camellias and azaleas.
Stroll around the gardens passing by the reflection ponds and covered from the scorching Florida sun by imposing oak hammocks.
It’s not just the formal gardens at Washington Oaks, there’s also the unique shoreline along the Atlantic beach.
The Coquina rocks at Washington Oaks are part of the Anastasia rock formations that stretch from St Augustine to Palm Beach County and date back to the Pleistocene era (12,000 to 2.5 million years ago).
Washington Oaks Garden is the perfect blend of nature and history.
There are some short hiking and biking trails around the park and a visitor centre to learn more about the area’s history and geology.
Washington Oaks Garden State Park is at Palm Coast, FL 32137.
14- Big Shoals State Park
Big Shoals State Park is 75 miles west of Jacksonville in northern Florida and home to the largest whitewater rapids in the state.
Through the park runs the Suwannee River.
The limestone bluffs that flank the river are 80 feet tall, providing incredible views of the surrounding area.
You shouldn’t attempt to canoe or kayak on the shoals, this should be left for experienced individuals.
Instead, you can view the rapids by parking at the Big Shoals parking area and hiking along the Yellow Blaze trail for one mile.
28 miles of woodland trails create hiking, biking and horse riding opportunities.
Big Shoals State Park is at 11330 SE Co Rd 135, White Springs, FL 32096.
15- John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
Head north for around 8 miles from West Palm Beach and you will reach John D. MacArthur Beach State Park.
This is another of Florida’s state parks that is on an Atlantic Ocean barrier island.
The park has 1.6 miles of pristine beach ideal for swimming, snorkelling and wandering.
There’s also a nature centre to learn about the area’s plants and animals.
Why not rent paddle boards or kayaks and explore the estuary and the surrounding landscape?
Pack a picnic, hit the hiking trails, lie on the beach and frolic in the cooling waters.
This is a fantastic Florida state park and a place to feel truly at peace.
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park is at 10900 Jack Nicklaus Dr, North Palm Beach, FL 33408.
16- Ravine Gardens State Park
The Ravine Gardens State Park emerged during the era of the New Deal in the 1930s.
This park is close to the St. Johns River and 43 miles east of Gainesville.
The park has two 120 feet ravines with 45-degree angle banks.
These ravines are a permanent feature of the landscape and even have a spring-fed creek that doesn’t dry up.
Over the course of thousands of years, these ravines have depended and widened, creating what you see today.
In 1933 the Works Progress Administration transformed these ravines into stunning gardens.
You can explore the gardens along the 1.8-mile paved road.
Stop off for a picnic at their grill and picnic table sites.
The best time to see the park is in the azalea season, between January and March.
Ravine Gardens State Park is at 1600 Twigg St, Palatka, FL 32177.
17- Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is around 16 miles south of Tallahassee.
This is one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater springs.
Not only is there a spring but there is also an ancient cypress swamp surrounding the spring.
The waters of Wakulla Springs are teeming with manatees, alligators and other diverse plants and wildlife.
The water temperatures reach around 70 degrees.
Today you can swim at the park or paddle around in canoes.
You can also take a historic boat tour, which offers insight into the local history and nature.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is at 465 Wakulla Park Dr, Wakulla Springs, FL 32327.
18- Florida Caverns State Park
In the north of Florida, there is the Florida Caverns State Park where you can venture underground to explore the geological wonderment of Florida’s caverns.
The park is open between 8 am and sundown 365 days a year, but the cave tours are only offered from Thursday to Monday.
You can move between the enormous underground rooms on your tour of the caves.
This limestone cave is brimming with stalactites and stalagmites, with an LED lighting system set up to make the experience even more breathtaking.
This is a unique activity to do in Florida and is something that kids will love.
Florida Caverns State Park is at 3345 Caverns Rd, Marianna, FL 32446.
19- Crystal River Preserve State Park
The Crystal River Preserve State Park faces the Gulf of Mexico and is around an hour and 40 minutes’ drive from Clearwater.
Crystal River Preserve State Park is one of Florida’s most biologically diverse estuaries.
There’s a mix of freshwater spring-fed rivers and saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico.
The park borders over 27,500 acres of pinewood, hardwood forest, mangroves, scrub and salt marshes.
Whether you are looking to hike, kayak, paddleboard or birdwatch, the park has something for you.
Take boat tours along the Crystal River, learn about the area’s ecological heritage and be sure to hike the seven-mile loop trail for unforgettable views.
Crystal River Preserve State Park is at 3266 N Sailboat Ave, Crystal River, FL 34428. One of the things to do in Crystal River is to go on a Manatee Snorkel Tour with a Divemaster/Photographer.
20- Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is just 10 miles outside of Gainesville. When you think of Florida, you probably don’t picture the landscape found at this state park.
There’s nowhere quite like this in Florida. Visit the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and you will see herds of wild bison and horses roaming the land.
Around 300 species of birds call the park home as well as deer and alligators.
There are eight trails around the park, including the 16-mile Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail.
This trail allows you to explore the park’s fascinating landscape while climbing a 50-foot-high observation tower with panoramic views.
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is at 100 Savannah Blvd, Micanopy, FL 32667.
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