Florida is known as the Sunshine State; therefore it's a great place to spend a day outdoors so it should come as no surprise that there are over 150 state parks in Florida. We have beaches, marshes, dunes, wetlands, hammocks, and tidal marshes to explore. While exploring you may see everything from an Osprey or Bald Eagle to a dolphin or a manatee. There's a lot to do in and around the water too; from snorkeling to windsurfing, kayaking, or a tour in a glass bottom boat. You can lie on a beach, or walk along it picking up shells or simply pull up under a beautiful palm tree for a picnic, the choice is yours and the options are almost limitless.
Anastasia State Park
Anastasia State Park welcomes thousands visitors from all over the world every year to enjoy its many natural wonders. Anastasia's four miles of beautiful beaches attract walkers, joggers, fishermen, surfers, kayakers, bicyclists and water sports enthusiasts.
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Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River. It’s a little over 30 minutes south of St. Augustine
. The beaches at the Park are spectacular. They are famous for the unique shoreline of coquina rock formations both on and for a short distance off shore. The gardens are well known for their, camellias, azaleas and roses and they have exotic species like bird of paradise and all are beautifully covered by an oak hammock.
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Blue Spring State Park
The park is a very popular tourist destination; you can go hiking, wildlife watching, fishing
camping, kayaking, canoeing, SCUBA diving and swimming. Humans aren't the only ones who enjoy the spring tho'. Blue Spring is a designated Manatee Refuge and the winter home to a growing population of West Indian Manatees.
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Bill Baggs State Park
Bill Baggs State Park is lush and beautiful, a wonderful place to spend a day on the beach with your family or to tour and learn some of Florida's amazing history. Here's one more fun fact about the park; it has been recognized as a site within the U.S. National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, it was a stop on the trip to the British Bahamas by escaped slaves and it's still worth a stop today no matter where else your trip takes you.
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St. Andrews State Park
Nestled in the Panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico in Panama City Beach
, this 1,260 acres of state park is one of the most popular state parks in Florida. What a gem this place is. You can explore the natural coastal dunes, wetlands and forests of this place forever. Should you choose to go camping here, you can fish, go boating, they have a ramp to accommodate larger boats, go swimming, take out a canoe or a kayak, go bird watching and have a picnic. At St. Andrews State Park you can also hike the nature trails, scuba dive, go kiteboarding or snorkel.
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Fort Clinch State Park
Fort Clinch State Park is located on a peninsula near the northernmost point of Amelia Island
, at the entrance to the Cumberland Sound. It covers 1,100 acres and includes Fort Clinch, one of the most well-reserved 19th century forts in the country. It's made up of sand dunes, plains, a maritime hammock and an estuarine tidal marsh. It's been a part of the park system since 1935 and it opened to the public in 1938.
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Amelia Island State Park
An easy drive from Jacksonville
, Recreation Area on Amelia Island
is 8 miles south of Fernandina Beach. The park consists of 200 acres of beautiful beaches, salt marshes and coastal maritime forests. Amelia Island State Park is one of the few places on the east coast where you can horseback ride right on the beach it also offers riding tours along the shoreline. If you like to fish you can fish along the shoreline or toss a line in from the mile-long George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier
which spans Nassau Sound.
Bahia Honda Key State Park
The Florida Keys
park offers many things to do and activities to enjoy. Swimming or snorkeling, in either the Atlantic Ocean or Florida Bay, is always popular because of the Keys' clear water. The water here is shallow, the currents are very mild, and temperatures in the summer reach the upper eighties.
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Long Key State Park
Long Key State Park revolves around the water. There are designated areas where one can snorkel, swim, or fish. Fishing in the Keys
is a popular year-round sport, and this area is known for its spectacular bonefishing. If you’re coming to Long Key State Park, plan to spend a few days camping at one of the park's 60 full-facility campsites overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Every campsite has a ground grill, picnic table, water, and electricity hook-up.
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John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Over a million people come from around the world to enjoy the water, trails and camping facilities. Activities around the park include camping, fishing, swimming, picnicking, canoeing, kayaking, snorkeling, diving, and glass bottom boat tours. If you’re interested in a diving trip, several options are available. A full service PADI dive shop, across the marina from the main concession building, runs reef trips on the Reef Adventures, a custom-built 35-passenger catamaran.
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Lovers Key State Park
Lovers Key is a pristine barrier island and a state park, which gives it solitary beaches and long nature trails. For years the only way to get there was by boat, which kept it remote and a great place to steal away and spend some time with your significant other. It hasn't been developed, so there are still a lot of secluded romantic places to relax and unwind, for just the two of you.
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Talbot Island State Park
Big Talbot Island State Park is located on Big Talbot Island which is part of the unique Sea Islands chain and is just 20 miles east of downtown Jacksonville
and just south of Amelia Island
The park is primarily a natural preserve and is an excellent location for nature study, bird-watching and photography.
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Sebastian Inlet State Park
Sebastian Inlet State Park is located south of Melbourne and is one of the most popular state parks in Florida. Sebastian Inlet is famous for surfing, fishing, skimboarding, snorkeling and swimming. Other park features include camping facilities, a bait and tackle shop that sells fishing licenses, The Sebastian Fishing Museum, The McLarty Treasure Museum, a boat ramp, the mile-long Hammock Trail, picnic areas, a restaurant and wildlife viewing opportunities. Sebastian Inlet State Park near Melbourne, Florida has so many things to do it sometimes it's hard to decide, luckily the park offers more than you can do in one day.
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Suwannee River State Park
The Suwannee River rises in the Okefenokee Swamp, emerging at Fargo, Georgia. The river then runs southwest into Northern Florida, dropping in elevation through limestone layers resulting in Florida’s only whitewater rapids. There are five trails in the park, ranging from a quarter mile to 18 miles, looping through surrounding woodlands and provide spectacular views of the rivers. The trail is easy to walk with rolling elevations and foot bridges across the rougher terrain.
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Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is a great place in Key West
for water sports such as swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing and picnics. You can plan a wedding
and all kinds of other events to take place on the grounds. You can tour the historic Civil War Fort and enjoy lunch or a snack at the Cayo Hueso Café. Built in 1845 the Fort now covers 87 acres of land and is a National Historic Landmark. In 1850 the fort was named for President Zachary who had died in office that year.
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County, City and Other Outdoor Parks and Recreation Areas
Port Canaveral's Jetty Park
Jetty Park is a great place to spend the day or weekend. You can hang out on the beach, fish on the jetty, have a picnic or camp overnight. Jetty Park is located in the southeast corner of Port Canaveral
. The park is 35 acres with a 4.5 acre family beach with designated areas for swimming and surfing, lifeguards are on duty year round.
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Hanna Park is 17 miles east of Jacksonville
. It's over 450 acres are made up of sandy beaches, freshwater lakes, wooded camping sites and natural dunes. It has a water playground with fountains for the kids, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and is known for excellent surfing. Most of the land has been left in its natural, wooded state.
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Fort De Soto Park
Fort De Soto Park is made up of five offshore islands and located at the southern tip of St. Petersburg
and are accessible by a toll road from the mainland. There are two swimming areas, North Beach and East Beach, picnic areas and a camping area with a store, restrooms and laundry room.
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Lummus Park - South Beach
Lummus Park is a sunny Palm tree filled place where you can sit back and relax on one of the many benches provided or you can ride your bike, skate, jog or power walk along the paths provided. One of Florida's most popular beaches features natural white sand and excellent water quality. Whether you're wave watching or people watching, its sandbars are a great place to kick back and catch some rays.
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National Parks, Monuments & Recreation Areas
Everglades National Park
The Everglades are wetlands called "The River of Grass" because they are created by a slow-moving river that originates in Lake Okeechobee. If you're a nature or wildlife lover and want to see the heart and soul of 'the real Florida' the Everglades is a must-see, but with so many places to go, you can spend a few days with plenty to do. The Everglades National Park is known for its vast wildlife. Hundreds of species of birds such as the roseate spoonbill, great blue heron, white ibis, anhinga or 'snakebird', a variety of egrets, and osprey call the Everglades home. The marine life in the Everglades' includes alligators and many fish such as largemouth bass, redfish, snapper, and catfish.
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Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge provides a range of seven different habitats, from coastal dunes, saltwater estuaries, freshwater impoundments and marshes, to dunes, hardwood hammocks, pine flatwoods and scrub. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge a major destination for birders from all over the world. There are over 320 species of birds that have been documented here. Hundreds of thousands of migratory birds use the refuge for the entire winter season or as a temporary rest stop, which creates excellent birding opportunities, you'll also see plenty of alligators.
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Canaveral National Seashore
Canaveral National Seashore is a 58,000 acre park located on a barrier island you can access through New Smyrna Beach to the north and through Titusville to the south. Canaveral National Seashore was created by an act of Congress in 1975 and is home to more than 1,000 plant and 310 bird species. The park has 24-miles of beaches which is the longest stretch of undeveloped beach on the east coast of Florida.
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Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
After pirates ransacked the city, this fort was built of native coquina rock. Determined to protect the city, the fort's builders made sure that the entrance to Castillo de San Marcos was heavily fortified and surrounded by a moat. Likewise, this fort at St. Augustine
was never taken by force, only by treaty. Six different flags have flown over Castillo de San Marcos including the Spanish flag and the U.S. flag twice. Historic weapons demonstrations including canon firings occur most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
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Fort Matanzas National Monument
Fort Matanzas National Monument located on Anastasia Island which is 14 miles south of St. Augustine
. The Fort was built in 1740-1742 of coquina, which is a common shell stone in the area. It was built to guard Matanzas Inlet which can be used as a back entrance to the city of St. Augustine's Castillo de San Marcos.
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By Beverly Martinez-Collins – PlacesAroundFlorida.com