On Florida’s west coast, the township of Brandon sits close to the heavily populated, bustling metropolis of Tampa.
That makes this growing community ideally located to take advantage of a variety of activities in and around the large city, including state parks.
State parks are plentiful in Tampa, with options around every body of water. Find some of the less crowded options near you for some peace and quiet.
Try spending a weekend camping in one of Florida’s gorgeous state parks for exceptional beauty in diverse landscapes. Each has its own set of attractions, such as canoeing, hiking, natural springs, and more.
We found the six best parks to help you figure out which park will best suit your or your family’s needs.
Whether you would prefer the ocean, creeks, lakes, or rivers, you can find adventure all your own.
Also, the fees are all of the parks are quite reasonable for visiting and camping.
You can buy an annual pass for one for just $60 a year or a family for $120, making the parks workable for any budget, even those who venture into the wilderness often.
Find your favorite park right here.
Map of State Parks Near Brandon FL
Here is a map of the Florida state parks covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Brandon
Here are each of those state parks with distance from Brandon and the feature that make each unique.
1. Hillsborough River State Park
Location: 15402 US-301 N, Thonotosassa, FL 33592
Hillsborough River State Park is one of the oldest in Florida, and it’s only about twenty miles from Tampa, making it an easy destination for a long weekend.
Fishing, canoeing, and kayaking are all available at this park. Anglers will have a great time catching bass, bream, and catfish.
In addition, hikers and bikers have access to seven miles of nature trails where they may take in the breathtaking scenery. On sweltering summer days, the park’s swimming pool and the river are significant draws!
RVs are welcome, and the park’s 112 full-hookup campsites are a popular overnight stop. Bring a hammock to a few of the campsites and make sure everyone has access to electricity.
Each site includes water, a fire ring, a picnic table, and access to bathrooms, showers, and laundry.
Visit the ranger-led tours are available at the Fort Foster State Historic Site, then head to the store and a café. After, take the kids to the playground or try your hand at fishing, swimming or visit the wildlife center to make the most of your stay.
2. Caladesi Island State Park
Location: 1 Causeway Blvd, Dunedin, FL 34698
Caladesi Island State Park is only accessible by boat and is just shy of thirty miles from Tampa via Honeymoon Island, which is connected to the mainland.
On the other hand, both islands remain pristine, with spectacular natural beauty and numerous opportunities to see native flora and animals.
Most visitors come to swim, relax, tan, stroll, and seek shells or fish, all of which are wonderful activities to do on these beautiful preserves.
Ferries run every half-hour in the winter and every hour in the summer, starting at 10 a.m., and the ferry fare covers the park’s cost. When you arrive on the island, go trekking or simply relax and enjoy the crystal clear sea without the people.
The fact that you can only camp on a boat rather than on land distinguishes this park from others nearby. Finally, take advantage of the boat dock, showers, and facilities on the island.
Anclote Key Preserve State Park, which has a similar setting, including a lighthouse, is also close by. You will also find Honeymoon Island State Park nearby with a similar set up if you do not want to leave the beauty of the bay behind.
3. Alafia River State Park
Location: 14326 S County Rd 39, Lithia, FL 33547
Alafia River State Park is home to some of Florida’s most difficult mountain biking tracks. The peculiar geography of the reclaimed area, which was originally a phosphate mining site, presents some of Florida’s most dramatic elevation changes.
There are almost twenty miles of horse trails and biking paths, ranging from beginner to advanced. Birdwatchers will stand in awe of the hardwood forest, pine Flatwoods, rolling hills, and the wealth of animals, including a variety of fowl.
The Alafia River’s south fork, as well as the park’s several lakes, give great options for canoeing and fishing. Picnic pavilions, a playground, a horseshoe pit, and a volleyball court are all available too for a peaceful time with nature.
The park features a full-facility campground with rustic and RV camping and equestrian-friendly campsites for overnight stays.
After setting up for camp, take the boat out on the water for some fishing or simply picnic in a beautiful location before your next adventurous hike.
4. Little Manatee River State Park
Location: 215 Lightfoot Rd, Wimauma, FL 33598
Just over thirty miles from Tampa, the forty-mile Little Manatee river travels through Manatee State Park. With unique plants and habitats, and uncommon trees, this park will delight the entire family.
Add in options to enjoy kayaking and canoeing to make this a must-see destination. Of course, most people visit this park to visit the manatees who find refuge here between December to March. All this for just a five-dollar entrance fee per vehicle.
Add fifteen miles of hiking trails, equestrian routes, picnic spots, and two children’s playgrounds directly on the riverfront for an unforgettable holiday.
Anglers must have both a freshwater and saltwater fishing license because the river is an estuary.
Little Manatee River State Park offers some of Florida’s most serene camping sights amongst the thick curtain of greenery with either a tent or an RV. Each site includes a picnic table, fire ring, water, and electricity. Whatever your camping trip entails, you will appreciate this park’s peaceful beauty.
5. Colt Creek State Park
Location: 16000 State Rte 471, Lakeland, FL 33809
Colt Creek State Park is located forty miles from Tampa in Central Florida. Wetlands, cypress domes, lakes, and longleaf pines can all be found here.
Among other Florida natives, the park is home to fox squirrels, white-tailed deer, American alligators, red-shouldered hawks, and various wading birds.
The park, which is largely made up of pine Flatwoods, cypress domes, and open pastureland, is located inside the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve and Colt Creek.
Take a boat ride on three separate lakes or go fishing from the pier before returning to land and hiking on the twelve-mile trail system.
If you are taking the kids along, try geocaching, paddling, or picnicking to really appreciate the natural surroundings and all of its beauty.
With 27 full-service campsites and six tent-only sites in the park’s pine Flatwoods, anyone can find a haven for their travels.
Horses are welcome to camp at any of the ten sites that also have access to a bathhouse with showers, a family area, washers, and dryers, making this a fantastic way to enjoy time outdoors.
6. Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park
Location: 4335 Firetower Rd, Haines City, FL 33844
People who enjoy primitive camping and hiking will love the Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park.
Unique plants find refuge at the preserve include scrub morning glory, scrub plum, pygmy fringe tree, and cutthroat grass are, among the unusual flora found in the preserve.
In addition, Florida scrub-jays, bald eagles, gopher tortoises, and Florida scrub lizards are among the endangered animal species protected in the park.
Prepare yourself for the harsh conditions that are typical of this type of natural ecosystem best suited for experienced hikers. Take a hammock as the park allows for this style, along with primitive backpack camping.
You will also need a fishing pole as Catfish Creek Offers several ponds, and you can enjoy geo-seeking too for additional adventures.
Finally, take your horse out to the park too or enjoy the wildlife already in the park for a peaceful encounter with nature.