15 Florida State Parks for Outdoor Recreation and Exploration

From canoeing and kayaking to hiking and swimming, discover the perfect outdoor recreation and exploration destination at Florida state parks.

Florida State Parks are the ideal destinations for anyone looking for a getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With over 175 state parks and trails scattered throughout the Sunshine State, there are outdoor adventures waiting to be had!

From hiking, biking, and kayaking to swimming, snorkeling, and bird watching, visitors to a Florida state park will find plenty of activities to keep them busy. With numerous camping options available, you can enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep under the stars or on a roof.

So, if you are also looking for outdoor recreation and exploration, check out all that Florida state parks have to offer!

Florida State Parks Offering Outdoor Fun

1. Myakka River State Park (Sarasota)

The Myakka River State Park is a beautiful destination for kayaking in Florida. Located in Sarasota, Florida, the park combines wetlands, prairies, and pinelands.

Two lakes are also part of the park; they make excellent spots for boating and fishing. Myakka River State Park contains over 37 miles of foot trails for you to explore and primitive campsites for those who wish to extend their visit.

Additionally, the park offers airboat rides and a canopy walk, which allows you to explore the treetops. Myakka River Park is ideal for those who enjoy the outdoors and the natural world because it offers many different activities.

2. Blue Spring State Park (Orange City)

Blue Spring State Park is a beautiful and serene spot in Orange City, Florida. It is known for its crystal-clear spring water, a refuge for the endangered Manatee, and various birds, fishes, and other wildlife.

Many activities are available in the park, including swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. Hiking and nature trails are also available in the park, allowing you to appreciate the unique landscape and abundant wildlife.

You can also enjoy various educational activities, such as guided tours and educational programs available in the park.

The Blue Spring State Park is an excellent spot for you to experience the outdoors in a safe and beautiful setting as one of the best Florida state parks.

3. Caladesi Island State Park (Dunedin)

If you’re looking for a perfect day of fun in the sun, look no further than Caladesi Island State Park. This beautiful barrier island is located off Florida’s Gulf Coast and offers many activities to enjoy.

This lovely park has activities for everyone, including kayaking, swimming, and hiking.

For those who prefer a more relaxing experience, you can take strolls along the shoreline or take advantage of the stunning views from one of the many lookout points around the island.

There are also plenty of birdwatching and wildlife photography opportunities, allowing you to get up close and personal with nature.

You can rent beach equipment such as umbrellas, chairs, and kayaks from nearby vendors to make the most of their time in this beautiful island paradise.

4. Anastasia State Park (St. Augustine)

Anastasia State Park is one of the most popular parks in Florida for outdoor recreation. The park offers various hiking trails ranging from easy to moderate difficulty.

The park has over four miles of pristine, white-sand beaches, perfect for beachcombing, swimming, and sunbathing.

Furthermore, the park’s hiking trails take you through various habitats, including maritime hammocks, coastal dunes, salt marshes, and ancient sand ridges. The trails are well-maintained and provide stunning views of the Atlantic Coast.

The park also has a primitive campsite and a boat ramp, making it an excellent destination for camping, fishing, and boating.

5. Cross Florida Greenway Park (Ocala)

The Cross Florida Greenway Park is a unique and stunning park in Ocala, Florida. Spanning over 110,000 acres, the park offers outdoor recreation and education to tourists and locals.

Hiking, biking, paddling, fishing, and camping are all available activities. The park also offers educational programs and guided tours that allow you to explore the park and its cultural and ecological significance.

The park is home to various plants, animals, and ecosystems, making it an ideal spot for nature enthusiasts. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for you to learn about the area’s rich history and diverse cultures.

With its abundance of activities, scenery, and educational opportunities, Cross Florida Greenway Park is a fantastic destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

6. De Leon Spring State Park (De Leon Springs)

De Leon Spring State Park is an idyllic destination in De Leon Springs, Florida. The park features crystal-clear freshwater springs, rivers, and cypress-lined lakes, making it an excellent destination for outdoor recreation.

There are also historic sites, including a sugar mill, which are perfect for exploring. You can enjoy the park’s natural beauty while also having the chance to explore its cultural history.

7. Manatee Springs State Park (Chiefland)

One of the best locations in the state for scuba diving is Manatee Springs State Park.

Manatee Springs is a must-visit for anyone interested in wildlife or nature photography because of its wealth of aquatic species and crystal-pure spring water.

After a long day exploring the springs, treat yourself to some authentic southern barbecue at one of the many local restaurants in nearby Palmetto.

8. Crystal Lake Play Park (Lake Wales)

Crystal Lake in DeSoto County is an excellent destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Located near the town of Arcadia, the lake offers a variety of activities for anglers, boaters, and bird watchers alike.

The park is perfect for fishing or simply taking a boat ride. The lake is home to several species of fish, including largemouth bass, bluegill, and sunfish, making it an ideal spot for catch-and-release fishing.

And if you get hungry after a long day outdoors, head to nearby Arcadia for some world-famous fried catfish. Numerous nature trails provide breathtaking views of the lake, surrounding forests, and wildlife.

Crystal Lake is an excellent spot for a family outing, a romantic getaway, or an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of nature.

9. St. Andrews State Park (Panama City)

St. Andrews State Park is a must-see destination for anyone looking for a relaxing vacation or day trip. The park is located on the beautiful white-sand beaches of Panama City Beach, Florida, and offers plenty of activities and amenities to enjoy.

This park even has its own resident population of sea turtles that make their way to the park’s sandy shores each summer to lay eggs.

This makes it an excellent destination for anyone interested in learning more about these fascinating creatures or just wanting to take in the beauty of nature up close.

10. Boyd Hill Nature Preserve (St. Petersburg)

Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is one of Florida’s most beautiful state parks. The park is located in St. Petersburg and offers an ideal outdoor recreation and exploration setting.

The park is also the site of special events such as educational seminars, guided nature walks, and birdwatching excursions.

11. Bahia Honda State Park (Florida Keys)

Florida’s Bahia Honda State Park is an amazing destination for families, adventurers and and anyone looking to get outdoors. This pristine beach park stretches out over 500 acres of Florida Keys paradise, with stunning beaches, breathtaking views and plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained.

There are miles of nature trails through the pine forest and over bridges to explore, stunning vistas from the observation tower and plenty of swimming, fishing and snorkeling opportunities to take advantage of with shallow waters that make it a great spot for all ages.

12. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park (Key West)

Florida is home to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, an iconic Florida landmark steeped in rich history and culture. Found in Key West, this Florida state park contains the largest collection of 19th-century military fortifications open to the public in Florida.

The fort has served as a safeguard for Florida since it was built in 1845, seeing action during both the Civil War and Spanish–American War. You can go back through time with guided tours that reveal fascinating stories of battles fought at the site and descriptions of Florida’s culture during Florida’s early years as a state.

Additionally, you have access to popular features such as the pristine beach located inside the park; perfect for swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing! Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is a must-visit attraction for lovers of Florida history and culture.

13. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (Key Largo)

Florida is home to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park – a maritime treasure at Florida Keys. The park contains some of the most breathtaking coral reefs in the world, and it is the only living reef in North America that can be explored by anyone via snorkeling or diving.

The crystal clear waters are also an ideal playground for canoeing, kayaking, and windsurfing. Above all, this beautiful spot provides a safe habitat for protected marine life like sea turtles, dolphins and sharks.

Put simply, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park offers more than just a visual experience; it is an opportunity to connect with nature and appreciate its beauty like never before.

14. Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (Homosassa)

Florida boasts many amazing natural places to explore, one of the most remarkable being the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. You can experience Florida’s past with a trip on board the glass bottom boats and take a look into Florida’s Native American heritage.

The lush landscape of the riverside is home to an array of diverse wildlife species, such as West Indian Manatees, American Bald Eagles and Florida Panthers. With nearly seven miles of nature trails and boardwalks, the park is sure to both thrill and educate its visitors.

15. Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park (Naples)

Located in North Naples on the Gulf of Mexico, this gorgeous beach park is known for its white sand beaches, clear emerald seas, and stunningly unique coastal habitats. The park’s marine-estuary ecosystem supports an abundance of Florida wildlife species, including dolphins, tortoises, manatees and various types of birds.

You can explore the area’s archaeological sites dating back to the Paleoindian period 12,000 years ago; or take part in activities like swimming, fishing, boating or even scuba diving. So if you’re looking for a Florida destination that will please both the naturalist and beach lover – look no further than Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park!

Visiting Florida State Parks

Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts can explore a wide range of state parks in Florida. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to camp, a spot to go bird watching, or just a place to relax and enjoy nature, Florida state parks have you covered.

Featured image credit: [@jctabb/DepositPhotos]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
15 Florida State Parks for Outdoor Recreation and Exploration
Stephanie Jonson

Stephanie is a freelance content writer. She’s a loving mother to her two children and is passionate about traveling and blogging. She is an avid traveler and loves surfing and the natural way of life.