Top 7 State Parks to Visit when in Florida

Planning on exploring state parks in Florida? There are plenty of reasons why you should. Florida State Parks have been named the nation’s best a record four times, an honor no other state can claim to have. So you’d be spoiled for options in the Sunshine State.

A visit to any of Florida’s 175+ state parks won’t only help you reconnect with nature. Whether you want to spend some time on the bench, in the middle of lush green trees with no soul to disturb you, or on the edge of ocean waters, these state parks will fill your sense of adventure. 

1)    Alafia River State Park

The Alafia River State Park is a dream come true for cycling enthusiasts. Located at a 45-minute bike ride southeast of Tampa, this state park lets you trade in Florida’s famous flatness for dozens of miles of hills and mountain bike trail tracks.

Check out the site of a reclaimed phosphate mine if you’re in the mood to put your legs through the wringer. The jagged terrain here will test the mettle of biking amateurs and professionals alike. Don’t forget to take help from the on-site bike shop if the landscape proves too rugged for your bike.

2)    Myakka River State Park

The Myakka River is one of the oldest state parks in Florida. Spanning over some 58 square miles, it zigzags through pinelands, hammocks, prairies, and wetlands. A variety of Florida wildlife, including white-tailed deer and birds such as limpkins and osprey will also be there for you to see.

However, the park’s main attraction has to be the canopy walkaway. It was created as an outdoor laboratory to give the visitors the chance to see the wildlife and trees up close. And if it’s your lucky day, you may even see a large alligator occupying the middle of the road.

3)     Grayton Beach State Park

The Grayton Beach State Park offers you an excellent option for camping on the Gulf. It boasts 59 fully-equipped campsites with amenities such as running water, electricity hookups, and laundry. Some of them even organize night functions to give visitors the full value of their money.

To take your overnight game to the next level, check out one of the park’s 30 cabins. Each of them has two bedrooms where at least four persons can easily spend the night. Both the bedrooms share a bath, kitchen, and a fireplace. Small wonder, then, that they book up well in advance. 

4)    Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Did you know that Bill Baggs’ coast is constantly ranked among the top 10 beaches worldwide? This shouldn’t come as a surprise as, in addition to sparkling clean sand and lots of sunshine, the beaches offer mind-blowing views of the Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

But visitors don’t come only to lay their backs on the sand. The state park also offers walking and biking trails, fine dining, and rich fauna and flora. You can also pay for guided tours through the keeper’s cottage or the 1825 Cape Florida Lighthouse.

5)    Rainbow Springs State Park

Legend has it that the Rainbow Springs State Park was first visited 100 centuries ago. Its rich heritage doesn’t mean that the park has chosen to cling to it. Instead, as its three RV destinations and 44 plots that take RVs show, this state park has moved with the times.

One tip for the tent campers – the floor is rugged to make sure to bring a thick groundsheet. A separate tip for RV campers – The Wild Guides offers excellent information about the ins and outs of RV camping. So make sure to check their website before driving your RV to Florida.

6)    Jonathan Dickinson State Park

The Jonathan Dickson State Park offers something for every type of visitor. History buffs have every reason to fawn over the secret World War II training camp within its boundaries. Snapchat users will find plenty of eye-catching reasons to get a photo at the park’s highest natural point.

Nature enthusiasts might appreciate the wealth of knowledge the Elsa Kimbell Environmental Education and Research Center hides within itself. Plus, there are 140+ campsites, the Loxahatchee River for your water sports excursions, and 8 miles of horse-riding trails.

Also read: 5 Adventurous Destinations in Spain to Add to Your Bucket List

7)    Hillsborough River State Park

Always wanted to see the Florida you read about in the history books? Then a visit to the Hillsborough River State Park should be near the top of your to-do list the next time you visit the Sunshine State. Being one of Florida’s first state parks, it is rich with natural beauty and history.

All in all, if you love seeing nature in the wild, the Hillsborough State Park won’t disappoint you. Bring a portable power station – something like the Jackery Explorer 1500 – in case you are in the mood to spend the night under the stars but won’t mind having your devices fully juiced up.