Florida State Parks Activities
With its abundance of great camping grounds, The Sunshine State certainly lives up to its name! At Lake Kissimmee State Park, fall asleep under a canopy of towering oak trees and wake up to a stunning sunrise over Lake Kissimmee. Campers fond of outdoor activities and nature trails will also love the many routes found at this park, which wind through pine flatwoods, marshlands, and more.
The large swimming pool and playgrounds near the campsites at Hillsborough River State Park are great for a family holiday! Camp at one of Florida’s oldest state parks and explore the bustling city of Tampa located just a short distance away.
Sites at Collier-Seminole State Park are also almost always fully-booked! Surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and offering the opportunity to paddle through beautiful mangrove tunnels, camping at this park is definitely an experience to remember.
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Florida has plenty of hiking trails that take you through the state’s diverse terrain and ecological habitats. In particular, Torreya State Park boasts of two popular hiking trails: the seven-mile Torreya Trail and the six-mile Rock Creek Loop. With thrilling descents and steep climbs, both these trails are extremely challenging, perfect for intermediate and experienced hikers. The trails also allow hikers the opportunity to come across the endangered Torreya tree, as well as the rare Florida yew. Plus, enjoy a stunning view of the Apalachicola River at the end of the route.
The four-mile trail at Little Talbot Island State Park is another popular excursion as it takes hikers through five different ecosystems with plenty of diverse nature and wildlife. Unlike the Torreya Trail and the Rock Creek Loop, this trail isn’t very difficult so it’s perfect for hikers of all ages and skill levels.
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The 39-mile Myakka Hiking Trail at Myakka River State Park is every backpacker’s favorite adventure, taking you through sprawling and diverse habitats ranging from open prairies to lush oak hammocks, and more. This three-day, two-night backpacking trip that winds through the longest loop trail found in Florida is undoubtedly an adventure to remember!
For backpackers who prefer a shorter trip, the 6.9-mile Buster Island Loop at Lake Kissimmee State Park is perfect for you! The trail offers incredible views of oak hammocks, lakes, and waterways, making it the ideal adventure for those who wish to explore the quiet beauty of Central Florida.
Images From Florida State Parks
Florida is one of the premium destinations for fishing due to the various bodies of water found there. Lake Kissimmee State Park is an angler’s paradise as its lake teems with catfish, chain pickerel, bluegill, and more. In addition to the 35,000-acre lake, anglers can also fish in the nearby canal banks, marina, and dam.
The Ochlockonee River at Ochlockonee River State Park is also another favorite fishing hole, famous all over the United States for its incredible redbreast sunfish and catfish. Fishing enthusiasts everywhere flock to this park all year round!
Those who prefer fishing in saltwater bodies should head on over to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park where anglers can show off their catches of sheepshead, grunt, king mackerel, and more. Take care not to fish in the park’s mangroves or coastal dune lake, though!
Geocachers visiting Florida should try their luck at locating the geocaches cleverly hidden all around Blackwater River State Park. With hundreds of concealed caches registered on the hobby’s official website, you’ll be spending the entire day – or two – trying to track them all!
Day Use Areas
The Sunshine State lives up to its name and has plenty of unforgettable spots perfect for an afternoon picnic. At Lake Louisa State Park, enjoy your meal while taking in an incredible and peaceful view of the lake and its surrounding wildlife. The park also features a sizable playground so parents can keep an eye on their children while relaxing on the many picnic tables scattered throughout the area.
The 24 picnic tables found at Oleta River State Park are also in high demand. There are plenty of grills and pavilions found in the park so a great day of fun for the entire family is guaranteed!
Those who want a different sort of picnic should take a look at the day-use areas found at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park in Palm Coast. Choose between picnic tables that offer stunning views of the beach or those situated in lush garden settings. The picnic facilities at this park are simply unmatched!
The six-mile main loop at Fort Clinch State Park features unpaved terrain with steep dunes and dense forests, perfect for intermediate and highly-skilled riders. During high tide, visitors can even cycle on the hard-packed sand along the Cumberland Sound, although watch out for the children collecting seashells!
For a more unique cycling experience, head on over to Florida Caverns State Park where trails wind along floodplains, sinkholes, and rivers. While on your ride, try and catch a glimpse of the many deer and forest fowl found inside the park.
The seven bike trails of varying lengths found at San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park are also extremely popular. These single-track trails are extremely fun and challenging, meandering through old-growth hardwood canopies, sinkholes, and other kinds of complicated terrain.
Those who are up for a challenge should visit Alafia River State Park, named by the International Mountain Biking Association as an “Epic Ride.” The 17 miles of trails are categorized into four different skill levels and the most advanced ones feature steep climbs, thrilling drops, and precarious rock ridges. Only the most adventurous biker would dare take this on!
Located just a few miles south of Cape Canaveral, Sebastian Inlet State Park is a go-to destination for many boating enthusiasts! Explore the brackish waters of the Indian River Lagoon, the salty waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and the freshwater Sebastian River. The park’s marina also offers boat dockage space so you don’t have to worry about the security of your vehicle while you’re out and about.
Bahia Honda State Park is another great boating site in Florida, offering owners two ramps to launch their boats from, as well as 19 boat slips available for rent. Make sure to reserve your spot early, though, as these slots fill up fast!
In Florida, Birding is second only to beach-related activities as a form of outdoor recreation for residents and visitors alike. There are plenty of Bird-watching hotspots in The Sunshine State and one of the best ones is Tomoka State Park where hundreds of species, including wood storks, wading birds, and bald eagles, have made their home. Grab your binoculars for the best possible view so you can capture the incredible detail of these birds in their natural habitat.
The nature trails found at Blackwater River State Park are also a great way to spot a number of unique species. Besides sightings of great blue herons and wild turkeys, visitors should keep an eye out for the river otters and white-tailed deers found within the park. Remember birding does not have to be expensive when you get a set of budget binoculars at a reasonable price.
One of the best swimming holes and beaches in Florida are the Blue Hole Springs at Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Its crystal-clear spring waters are great for beating the summer heat and visitors can also choose to go on a thrilling tubing adventure while there. After an exhausting day of swimming, relax and unwind on the many shaded oak hammocks found along the springs. Two things can make for a great time at the beach with your kids. The first is a full face snorkel mask and the second is a metal detector for kids. These two beach items can keep them entertained and active for hours.
The Madison Blue Spring at Madison Blue State Park is also a favorite swimming spot for residents and visitors alike. The spring features refreshing deep-blue waters and sits in an 85-foot wide limestone basin. A mixture of hardwood and pine trees are scattered around the spring, perfect for those who desire a tranquil swimming experience.
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While there aren’t a lot of mountains in Florida, the state still offers several rock climbing opportunities. Try your hand at the only freestanding boulder in the state at Myakka River State Park. At only nine feet tall, the climb isn’t very long and challenging, but the views from the top are breathtaking and shouldn’t be missed.
Climbing enthusiasts can also check out Egmont Key State Park, which lies on a secluded island at the mouth of Tampa Bay. The ruins of an old fort found inside the park make for an easy bouldering experience, perfect for climbers starting out at the sport or wishing to test their skills.
Blackwater River State Park boasts of over 53 miles of trails for off-road vehicles. The wooded and loose-dirt trails make for a day full of fun! Children interested in trying their hand at driving ATVs and OHVs can even do so at the park’s small training tracks.
Equestrians from all over the country enjoy the many horse riding opportunities found in Florida. Explore the beauty of the state at Amelia Island State Park where riders of all skill levels can avail of the park’s guided tours. As you ride through the park on horseback, keep an eye out for the many dolphins, whales, and shorebirds found throughout the park!
There are also over 40 miles of scenic trails at Blackwater River State Forest, making it the perfect destination for horseback riding enthusiasts. The nearby Blackwater River State Park also has camping facilities for equestrian use so you won’t have to worry about the comfort and security of your beloved horse.
Recreational Equipment Rentals
Big Lagoon State Park located on the northwestern Florida coast has plenty of equipment rentals to choose from! In addition to canoes, the park also offers kayaks, that range from single to tandem, at affordable prices. Additionally, those who want to hold large-scale events at the park can avail of one of its many facilities, which include a Governor’s Pavilion that can sit up to 250 people and the stadium-style Amphitheater.
If you’re looking to explore some caves while in The Sunshine State, then Florida Caverns State Park is perfect for you! Take a guided tour of the underground dry caverns, which feature stunning rock formations that date back to 38 million years ago. It’s also a great way to cool off in the summer as the caverns’ temperature stays at a comfortable 65° all year round.
Restaurants and Dining
Inside Hugh Taylor Birch State Park lies Park & Ocean, a beachside bar and eatery with plenty of yummy offerings! The restaurant itself sits amid a shady grove and gives diners a great view of the surrounding ocean. Their menu features a unique mix of farm-to-table meals and their in-house brewery, which offers specialty beers made with locally-harvested fruits, is a favorite among residents and out-of-town visitors alike.
History buffs and those wanting to take a step back into the past will enjoy the many historical state parks found in Florida. At Collier-Seminole State Park, discover the origins, history, and culture of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, one of the federally-recognized Seminole tribes in the country.
On the other hand, the Fort Mose Historic State Park, which stands on the site of the first free black settlement in the country, explores the lives and experiences of the African-Americans who had sought to escape their oppressive situations in the early-18th century.
Those who want a more immersive experience will enjoy Dudley Farm Historic State Park, a fully-functioning farm modeled after those that existed in the 1880s, allowing visitors the opportunity to see what life back then was really like. The park also features sites that explore the American Civil War and its impact on the nation and its people.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
Near Bill Baggs Cape State Park lies the DEMA Trader, one of most famous wreck dives in the United States. Diving enthusiasts will love exploring this wreck with its fascinating wildlife and easy access.
Those who prefer a more traditional diving experience will find the Looe Key Reef, located a few minutes away from Bahia Honda State Park, more to their liking. This region is a popular spot in Florida and attracts divers from all around the globe. Marvel at the diverse fish species found darting in and out of the well-preserved corals in one of the most beautiful reefs in the world. It also has a wide variety of depths, making it enjoyable to divers, no matter their skill level.
Florida has been named one of the best surf spots in the world so the state is definitely a must-visit when you’re a fan of the sport. Try your hand at the huge waves of Blowhole, found at Anastasia State Park in the town of St. Augustine. These peaks are unmatched and will challenge even the most experienced surfer!