You might not have been aware of this, but Florida has been honored with the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence, with regards to the management of their state park system, on no less than four occasions. That is very impressive considering they are responsible for almost 175 state parks!
Florida’s state parks are unlike any other states in the country. Possessing everything from raging rivers, and deep caverns, to beautiful botanical gardens, and isolated islands, that have resisted the human touch for thousands of years.
Many of these state parks are situated in, or relatively near Fort Myers. So they make perfect day trips, or longer vacation getaways, for locals and tourists alike.
If you need some time away from the fastest growing city in the USA (according to WalletHub), there are plenty of options available to you.
But this list of 5 state parks near Fort Myers are the ones we think you should prioritize a visit too.
Map of State Parks Near Fort Myers, FL
Here is a map of the state parks in Florida covered by this post:
List of State Parks Near Fort Myers
These five state parks near Fort Myers all offer excellent outdoor recreational activities, beautiful scenery and splendid opportunities for camping.
While several are not really close to Fort Myers, they can also easily be reached via a straightforward drive over various amounts of time from the city too.
1. Lake Kissimmee State Park
Location: 14248 Camp Mack Rd, Lake Wales, FL 33898
Located some 2 hours and 30 minutes north of Fort Myers, Lake Kissimmee State Park is a popular 5,930-acre park that is situated about 15 miles east of Lake Wales.
Featuring a diverse landscape of forest, floodplain, hammocks, prairies and flatwoods, the park also offers close proximity to Lake Rosalie, Lake Tiger and Lake Kissimmee. These means its a mecca for those who love fishing, canoeing , kayaking and boating.
The park also boasts over 13 miles of hiking trails, 6 of which are open to equestrians, and is home to a wide range of animal life including bobcats, turkeys, bald eagles, white-tailed deer and sandhill cranes.
Presenting 60 campsites that come with water and electricity, as well as a selection of other primitive and equestrian camping options, there is also a playground, boat ramp and marina onsite too.
2. Tomoka State Park
Location: 2099 N Beach St, Ormond Beach, FL 32174
At 4 hours and 15 minutes Tomoka State Park is a little bit further away from Fort Myers, but it is well worth the drive northeast.
Once home to a thriving tribe of Native Americans, the park is a haven for bird-watchers, with over 160 species residing within it. Most of which can be seen along a half-mile nature trail that leads you through a hardwood hammock.
Fishing is also a popular past-time too, with more than 90 different species of fish, including the red drum, tarpon, common snook and sheepshead found in the Tomoka River.
There are also plenty of opportunities for activities like canoeing, boating, paddling, hiking and biking, whilst the park is also a noted spot for geocaching too.
In terms of camping, Tomoka offers 100 campsites that each come with an electric hook-up, water, table and grill. There are also three restrooms with hot showers, two of which have wheelchair accessible facilities.
3. Long Key State Park
Location: 67400 Overseas Hwy, Layton, FL 33001
Traditionally a famous tourist spot for US presidents and other notable celebrities, Long Key State Park lies a 4 hour drive south of Fort Myers.
While you might not spot too many celebrities there today, you will see plenty of birdlife, as well as the stunning Atlantic Ocean.
You will also have plenty of opportunities for recreational activities like biking, kayaking, fishing, snorkeling and picnicking. While two excellent hiking trails showcase a wide array of flora and fauna that should pique your attention.
Sadly Long Key State Park suffered significant damage to its campsites during Hurricane Irma in 2017. So while work is ongoing to restore the oceanfront accommodation, at present there are a number of tent-only sites available. Each of which is equipped with a picnic table, hammock stand, grill. There are also restrooms with cold outdoor showers too.
If you do camp here overnight, however, you will be able to enjoy star gazing with such clarity, as the park has little in the way of light pollution.
4. Hillsborough River State Park
Location: 15402 US-301 N, Thonotosassa, FL 33592
Situated just minutes from downtown Tampa, the Hillsborough River State Park offers you the opportunity to be close to the city, but sufficiently far enough away from it to be in a completely different world.
Reached via a 2 hour and 15 minute drive north from Fort Myers, the stunning park features seven miles of nature trails, as well as plenty of chances to spot wildlife.
Noted for its raging river rapids, as well as historic pavilions that date back to the 1930s, Hillsborough River State Park offers two excellent bicycle trails. In addition its Class II river rapids are perfect for canoeing or kayaking.
There are also over 7 miles of trails to explore, either on foot or by horse, which will take you through various terrain including grassy ponds, hydric and hardwood hammocks, cypress swamps, pine flatwoods and floodplain swamps.
In terms of camping, you will find 112-sites here. Each of which is equipped with a fire ring, water and picnic table.
5. Lafayette Blue Springs State Park
Location: 799 Blue Springs Rd, Mayo, FL 32066
It will take you 5 hours to drive north to Lafayette Blue Springs State Park but the chance to paddle in the first-magnitude spring should definitely not be missed.
If you like fishing or canoeing, the Suwannee River will also provide you with plenty of opportunities to do so, whilst those who are in to scuba diving will love to explore the Green Sink cave system that features over 12,000 feet of underwater passageways.
Hiking, bicycling, swimming, star gazing, paddling and wildlife viewing are also popular pastimes here too.
For those planning an overnight stay, there is a tent-only campground here, as well as primitive youth camp and a river camp for paddlers, which is situated along the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.