Must-Visit State Parks in Florida

Maxwell Tylim

The U.S. is known for its almost infinite amount of State Parks/Nature Preserves that boast some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery and are home to thousands of species of animals and plants exclusive to North America. While the state of Florida has almost become synonymous with ‘beach’, it is home to some of the most naturally beautiful and unique state parks in the country. We check out five of the best.

Florida Manatees

1. Wakulla Springs State Park

Park

Home to the largest and deepest freshwater spring in the world, Wakulla Springs State Park is truly one of North America’s natural treasures. Year round travelers from all corners of the globe visit this natural wonderland, dubbed ‘The Real Florida’, to enjoy its vast nature trails, freshwater springs and various species of animals and plants unique to Florida. During the summer take an inspiring walk through the evergreen nature trails and then cool off in the crystal clear refreshing waters of the main spring that hover at a cool 70 degrees year round. During the cooler months of fall and winter enjoy a peaceful glass bottom boat tour down the Wakulla River and keep an eye out for the packs of Florida manatees grazing on their favorite plants. Don’t be alarmed by the multitude of Florida alligators bathing on the shores of the rivers, they are less surprised to see visitors than the visitors are to see them.

2. Cayo Costa Island State Park

Park

Sitting off Florida’s Gulf Coast on the Island of Cayo Costa, this state park is only accessible by private boat or ferry, making it one of the most remote nature preserves in the country. With 9 miles of beaches, mangrove swamps and nature trails there is no shortage of things to do and see for travelers of all ages. Rent a canoe and enjoy a peaceful ride through the island’s vast mangrove swamps, inhabited by various species of native birds and fish, or go snorkeling in the coral reefs off the coast of the Islands and keep your eyes peeled for pods of Dolphins playing in the shallow waters. For the adventurous spirits, pitch a tent on the beach, enjoy the sunset, start a campfire and listen as the island comes alive with natural sound.

3. Sebastian Inlet State Park

Museum, Park

Sebastian Inlet State Park

Known as the surf mecca of Florida, this park is a must visit for surfers and water sports lovers alike. Don’t fancy surfing? No problem, try out some of Florida’s other favorite pastimes such as skim boarding, paddle boarding and wake boarding or just relax on the beach and watch the experts practice their craft. The inlet is also one of Florida’s premiere fishing spots where fisherman nationwide come to catch snook, red fish, blue fish and Spanish mackerels. Escape the heat and check out the McLarty Treasure Museum and learn the history behind the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet. Canoeing and Kayaking down the Indian River Lagoon are also favorite pastimes of nature lovers visiting the park.

Sebastian Inlet State Park, 9700 S Hwy A1A, Melbourne Beach, FL, USA, +1 321-984-4852

@RicymarPhotography/FlickrIchetucknee Main Spring | © RicymarPhotography/Flickrcommons

4. Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Park

Ichetucknee Springs is another of Florida’s unique natural treasures, drawing families from around the country with its pristine crystal-clear spring fed waters. Rent a tube or bring your own and float lazily down the swimming-pool like Ichetucknee River while keeping a lookout for the various species of turtles sunbathing on its shores. For the adventurers, throw on some scuba gear and explore the extensive cave systems that make up the foundations of the springs.

5. Honeymoon Island State Park

Park

5. Honeymoon Island State Park
© Marco Verch / Flickr | © Marco Verch / Flickr
As implied by its name, this state park is the perfect destination for a honeymoon or a quick get-away with a significant other. Lovebirds from around the world come to enjoy the privacy of this remote state park that is said to have some of the quietest beaches in Florida. During the day visitors can enjoy snorkeling, fishing, kayaking and picnics on the beach. For the nature lovers, take a walk through one of the last virgin slash pine forests in Florida and keep your eyes peeled for the native Ospreys and various shorebirds that inhabit the island. In the afternoon, take a bike ride along the coast with your better half and stop to take in the romantic Florida sunset. After enjoy a quiet dinner at the Honeymoon Café.
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