The US state of Florida has mussel-strewn beaches, historic forts, nature reserves, cultural centers like Miami, theme parks, and more. No wonder it calls travelers from all over the world. Here are just 12 of Sunshine State's state parks where you'll fall in love with Florida.
Florida State Parks you will love!
1. Anastasia State Park
This park in St. Johns County extends over 1,600 hectares. It is popular for its beaches, hammock forests and swamps. Here you can go cycling, bird watching, boogie boarding, kayaking, paddling, swimming and surfing.
You can also hike the popular Ancient Dunes Nature Trail, camp at one of the 139 campsites, and eat in the park's restaurant. Entry is $ 4.00 per car. Campsites cost $ 28.00 plus tax per night. Seniors over 65 receive a 50 percent discount.
2. Fort Mose Historic State Park
This historic park in St. Augustine was the first official, sanctioned, free African settlement in the United States. The fort was built in 1738 to defend itself against invading British soldiers. Visit the interactive museum and learn how Fort Moses was actually a forerunner of the subway. Entry to the museum is $ 2 per visitor. Children under the age of six are free. Entry to the park is also free.
3. Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
This Flagler County palm coast park is famous for its 200 year old living oak trees covered in green Spanish moss. Near the Matanzas River you will find a picnic area, a playground and a maritime hammock forest. Visit the three-quarter-mile-long beach, see the Coquina rock formations, and the formal gardens with azaleas, birds of paradise, camellias, and roses. You can also go cycling, hiking and fishing here. Entry for cyclists and pedestrians is $ 2.
4. Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
This park near Tallahassee includes one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs ever. A prehistoric-looking cypress swamp surrounds the springs and is ideal for swimming at a year-round temperature of 70 degrees. Enjoy a guided river cruise and hike on the nature trails. You can stay in the lodge with 27 rooms and eat there in the restaurant. Entry is $ 2.00 per cyclist or pedestrian and $ 4.00 per single vehicle.
5. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
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This park is located in Spring Hill on the Gulf Coast, less than an hour's drive north of Tampa. It is best known for the 72 degree fresh water springs and the mermaids. Visit the 400-seat submerged theater, built in 1947, and see the performance of “The Little Mermaid”. The source here feeds the popular Buccaneer Bay water park. Enjoy swimming, snorkeling and kayaking, or go on a river boat ride. Adult admission is $ 13.00.
6. Silver Springs State Park
This 4,800-hectare park in Marion County, east of Ocala in central Florida, is home to one of the largest freshwater springs in the country. Here you can see Mammoth Spring, admire the underwater sights from a glass-bottom boat, visit the gardens, visit the historic buildings, paddle down the Silver River and hike through the forest. Treat yourself to a bite to eat in the restaurant and learn something at the educational Silver River Museum and the Environmental Education Center.
7. Caladesi Island State Park
You will find this park on the Gulf Coast west of Dunedin and northwest of Clearwater. You must either have your own boat or take the ferry from nearby Honeymoon Island to reach it. Here you can picnic under the palm trees, go cycling, fishing or hiking on the nature trail and see what is left of the parrot Homestead. Hit the white sandy beach there. Look for gopher turtles and admire the shells and sand dollars.
8. Lovers Key State Park
Here in Lee County, this 712-acre park is known for its barrier islands, beaches, cottages, mangrove forests and resorts. It contains Lovers Key and three other islands: Long Key, Inner Key and Black Island. The two-mile-long beach is great for shooting, watching the sunset, and even weddings. Look for manatees and dolphins while paddling or kayaking through the lagoons and canals. Go fishing, hike the Black Island Trail and also visit the Welcome and Discovery Center.
9. Gasparilla Island State Park
This barrier island off the state's Gulf Coast is popular with fishermen around the world. The fish stocks here date from the 18th century. To this day, grouper, redfish, snake, tarpon and whiting fishing is excellent all year round. If you're not a fisherman, you can shell, snorkel, swim, or go for a walk on the beach. There are also picnic areas and the striking and educational lighthouse and Port Boca Grande Museum from 1890.
10. Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park
If you go to Naples, you have to see this almost 200 hectare park. 80 percent of them are underwater or unexplored mangrove swamps. Therefore, it is a great place for bird watching and kayaking.
You can also paddle, picnic or sit back on the beach. It's about a mile long and is mostly made up of white quartz sand. Look for the 275 pound turtles on the beach and also enjoy the beautiful sunset.
11.Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Climb the 109 steps to the top of the historic Cape Florida lighthouse, dating from 1825, and enjoy incredible views of Miami South Beach and Biscayne Bay. This is just one way the park combines natural and state history. Other highlights include the beautiful beach, coastal fishing, nature trails, a bike path and a harbor for boat campers. Dine in the Lighthouse Cafe.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
The fort in this park in Key West dates from before the Civil War. It was built in 1845 the day Florida officially became a state. Named after President Zachary Taylor after his death in 1850, it was used during the notorious civil war, the Spanish-American War, both World Wars, and even the Cuban Missile Crisis. Not a history buff? Have a picnic. Walk along the beach, go fishing, swimming and snorkeling.