With nearly 200 state parks, Florida sure knows how to offer visitors a vast array of options when it comes to choosing what to do.
Whether you’re up for a wild adventure under the ground, swimming in crystal-clear springs, or exploring secluded islands on the Pacific, Florida’s state parks system has all of that to offer and more.
No matter the adventure you’re after, you’re bound to find a spot to suit your needs.
With so many state parks on its menu, though, choosing which one to visit first can get a little bit tricky, so we decided to shorten the list up a bit and share the 26 best state parks in Florida that absolutely need to make it on your bucket list!
26 Best State Parks in Florida
1. Big Talbot Island State Park
Unspoiled nature is the staple of Big Talbot Island State Park. This untouched barrier island on the Florida North Coast is a nature preserve, but it’s also a wonderful spot to head to if you enjoy hiking, fishing, biking, and wildlife photography.
Home to a variety of ecosystems, including maritime forests, beaches, estuaries, tidal marshes, and coastal scrubs, the island boasts a vast array of wildlife.
Reptiles, deer, raccoons, and bobcats are just a few of the animals you may get to see while on a hike, and birding is considered especially fabulous here, with barred owls, brown pelicans, terns, and piping plovers being just a few of the highlights.
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2. De Leon Springs State Park
Once home to Mayaca Indians who dubbed the park Acuera (“Healing Waters”), De Leon Springs State Park is one of the best state parks in Florida to visit if swimming in azure-tone waters surrounded by views of a lush subtropical forest sounds like your idea of a perfect day.
Aside from swimming, snorkeling is also a popular activity here, but if you prefer to explore above the water, canoes, paddleboats, and kayaks are available for rent.
After you’re done enjoying the spring, you can continue adventuring by following the park’s paddling trail, which will take you all the way to the nearby Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, where you can explore creeks, marshes, and lakes!
3. Caladesi Island State Park
Caladesi Island State Park is one of the few untamed islands along Florida’s Gulf Coast, and while a boat trip is required to reach it, once you get there, it’s definitely worth the extra effort.
Enjoying the island’s beautiful beaches is an absolute treat, but if adventure is what you’re after, you’ll find plenty of that, too.
Kayaking or paddling the island’s mangrove tunnels is a must, and there are also nature trails aplenty, where you’ll get the chance to spot tons of wildlife and enjoy the island’s unique flora.
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4. Silver Springs State Park
Home to the largest spring in the United States and the first artesian spring ever discovered, Silver Spring State Park is more than just one of the best state parks in Florida, but it’s also one of the state’s most famous landmarks.
The best thing to do at Silver Springs is, undoubtedly, hopping on a glass-bottom boat tour through the crystal-clear waters of the spring, where you’ll get to see tons of wildlife underneath, including alligators, turtles, manatees, and more!
5. Koreshan State Park
Sitting on the banks of the Estero River, Koreshan State Park is a wonderland of majestic oak trees and historical goodness.
As you explore the park’s fairytale-like setting, you’ll get to glimpse into the life of the Koreshan Unity, a somewhat eccentric group of pioneers that made the land their home back in the 19th century.
Today, the park is home to several historical buildings and gardens from the late 1800s and early 1900s, all of which you can explore in order to learn about this unique religious group that believed the universe was located on the inside of the Earth.
6. Rainbow Springs State Park
Rainbow Springs State Park boasts one of the most beautiful springs in Florida.
Thanks to its sapphire blue-toned waters and the lush mossy hammocks and ornamental gardens that surround it, taking a swim here feels almost like getting transported into a storybook setting.
Even though the park today has been shaped by developers and volunteers, the spring’s history actually dates back to over 10,000 years ago, when Native Americans in the area would visit the spring.
Swimming, snorkeling, paddling, and tubing are just a few of the ways to explore this humongous spring.
Hiking is also a treat here, with leisurely strolls available that will take you to several waterfalls through gardens shaded by oaks, magnolias, and azaleas.
7. Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
Made up of fossilized coral, Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park is an island that offers visitors the unique opportunity to walk over 8-foot quarry walls to see ancient coral as well as learn about the state park’s unique history and its importance to Florida.
The main activity to do at Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park is hiking.
Its 1.5 miles of trails wind through the park’s tropical hardwood hammock and will give you the chance to see flora and fauna unique to the Florida Keys as well as see preserved quarry machinery that was used back in the 20th century to extract Keystone!
8. Honeymoon Island State Park
Located close to Tampa (a lovely beach town in Florida), Honeymoon Island State Park may sound like one of the most romantic Florida state parks. While that may very well be true, this striking spot is a perfect day outing even if you’re single.
Home to more than four miles of pristine shoreline, you’ll find all sorts of beach-related activities here (including a pet beach if you want to bring them along!).
Moreover, Honeymoon Island also boasts a three-mile trail that traverses one of the last virgin slash pine forests in the world, making it a perfect place in Florida to visit if you want to combine a beach day with adventures out in nature.
9. Grayton Beach State Park
Known for being one of the best state parks in Florida and one of the most beautiful beaches in the United States, Grayton Beach State Park boasts white sands that are perfect for a day spent under the sun, be it by simply sunbathing along the shores of Western Lake, going for a swim, paddling, surf fishing, and more.
For those keen to explore on foot, you’ll find four miles of trails to stroll through the coastal forest around the lake.
Make sure you don’t miss out on the trail that starts at the beach parking area – this trail will take you through an ecosystem of dunes before having you circle back through pine flatwoods!
10. Florida Caverns State Park
Being one of the few spots in Florida where dry caverns can be found and the only state park that offers cave tours to the public, Florida Caverns State Park is truly one of a kind.
This insanely unique Florida state park features mazes of cave systems and hidden chambers. While exploring, you’ll get to weave your way through an underground world of dramatic stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstones that will make you feel as though you were transported into an entirely different world.
11. Myakka River State Park
With the glorious Myakka River flowing right through it, Myaka River State Park is a world of centuries-old oaks and arching palm trees lining the glorious teal-colored waters of a river.
While the river may be the star of the show, the vast array of landscapes it flows through is also worth seeing.
During your visit, you’ll be able to choose from exploring unspoiled wetlands, hammocks, pinelands, and prairies, all while you get to see wildlife like never before, including rare bird species and alligators.
Boating, canoeing, and kayaking are the favorite way to explore the park for most visitors, but hiking and cycling are also popular activities for those who want to explore the ecosystems in the park beyond the water.
12. Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park
Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park is one of the best state parks in Florida for history lovers.
Back in 1964, the largest Civil War battle in Florida took place here, a five-hour-long fight that resulted in the retreat of Union troops to Jacksonville.
Today, visitors can visit the state’s first historic site and take a walk along a trail that features interpretative signs that describe the event.
13. Anastasia State Park
Home to more than 1,600 acres of unspoiled white-sand beaches, maritime hammocks, ancient sand dunes, and tidal marshes, Anastasia State Park is one of the best state parks in Florida for wildlife lovers.
Birding is a popular activity at Anastasia, with roseate spoonbills, osprey, eagles, warblers, and painted bunting being just a few of the species you can easily spot here.
Moreover, wildlife viewing is also a treat here, with dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, crabs, and fish being easy to spot around the park’s estuarine tidal marsh.
Moreover, the park is home to the endangered Anastasia Island beach mouse, which you can find at the park’s sand dunes!
14. Big Lagoon State Park
Whether you’re on the lookout for a relaxing day spent swimming and sunbathing or you want a day filled with adventure, Big Lagoon State Park provides visitors the chance to do either (or both!).
Big Lagoon State Park is home to a vast variety of landscapes, which range from pine flatwoods to saltwater tidal marshes.
One of the biggest adventures to have at the park is kayaking Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, a 1,515-mile kayaking journey around the state that begins at Big Lagoon.
If you’re not exactly in the mood to kayak around the entirety of Florida, though, there are plenty more adventures to have at Big Lagoon, be it boating, hiking, paddling, swimming, or simply relaxing by the water.
15. Lovers Key State Park
As its name suggests, Lovers Key State Park is one of the best state parks in Florida to visit for those looking for a romantic getaway.
Once a cluster of remote barrier islands, today, reaching this state park is easily done via road. The park is a popular wedding destination, but if you want to visit it as a simple getaway, you’ll find plenty of activities on its menu for you to enjoy.
Aside from making the most out of the park’s glorious beaches by lounging under an umbrella, you can also enjoy the islands by shelling, hiking, cycling, paddling, and more.
Make sure you explore its canals and lagoons on a boat trip, where manatees, dolphins, and shorebirds can be easily spotted from!
16. Curry Hammock State Park
Made up of a group of islands in the Florida Keys, Curry Hammock State Park is absolute paradise, especially if underdeveloped locations are your jam.
The park encompasses several habitats, including rockland hammocks, seagrass beds, mangrove swamps, and more.
Because the park’s waters are pretty shallow, it is considered a great spot for kayaking, which will give you the chance to spot manatees, dolphins, stingrays, sharks, and more.
Exploring on land is also a treat, with many hiking and cycling trails available as well as an oceanfront campsite!
17. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
Located on Key West, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is the southernmost state park in the United States and a wonderful place to immerse yourself in both nature and history.
Home to a red-brick fort that dates back to the Civil War, a visit to this state park and National Historic Monument is all about strolling through its corridors to gaze at cannons, gun ports, and interpretative panels to learn about the importance of the fort during the Civil War and Spanish-American War as well as get a pretty good idea of how soldiers lived back then.
Aside from the historical goodness, you’ll find at the fort, the park is also home to one of the best beaches in Key West, where you’ll be able to sunbathe, go for a swim, or explore underwater by snorkeling.
Pssst: Read more about all national parks in Florida here. We talk about Dry Tortugas National Park, Everglades National Park, and more.
18. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Ever dreamed of seeing real mermaids? As one of the best state parks in Florida and one of the state’s oldest roadside attractions, Weeki Wachee State Park has drawn visitors from all over the world ever since the 1940s in order to see its famous mermaid show.
Aside from the allure of getting to see mermaids swimming in the spring, Weeki Wachee Springs is also interesting to visit due to the fact that it is home to the deepest freshwater cave system in the United States.
While here, you’ll get to see mermaids swimming about, hop on a riverboat cruise to explore the river to see wildlife galore, and swim in the crystal-clear waters of Buccaneer Bay.
19. Bahia Honda State Park
Once a remote island, today, Bahia Honda State Park is easy to reach and provides a paradise of tropical adventures.
Bahia Onda boasts some of the most quintessential Florida Keys vistas, with palm-fringed beaches, unbeatable sunsets, and crystal-clear waters to match the scenery.
While sunbathing at one of the most beautiful beaches in South Florida is reason enough to visit this glorious Florida State Park, you can also opt to explore further afield by renting a kayak or hopping on a boat.
For those who love spending time under the water, snorkeling gear can be rented, and if you’re up for an adventure of a lifetime, make sure you book yourself a tour to the reef for the ultimate snorkeling excursion!
20. Sebastian Inlet State Park
If snorkeling is your jam, you’ll find yourself in heaven at Sebastian Inlet State Park. Known for homing “First Peak” and “Monster Hole” waves, this park has long been the go-to spot for avid wave riders.
Surfing isn’t the only thing to do here, though. Aside from catching waves, visitors love strolling the inlet’s pristine beaches, observing turtle nests, and kayaking the nearby lagoon’s calmer waters.
If you’re into history, you’ll also find two museums within the park, where you can learn about the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet and the history of the region’s fishing history.
21. Falling Waters State Park
Tucked away by fern-blanketed sinkholes and humongous trees, Falling Waters State Park is home to the highest waterfall in Florida.
Falling Waters Sink is a 100-foot waterfall that cascades 70 feet down into a sinkhole, with the water’s final destination still remaining a mystery to geologists.
To reach the waterfall, you’ll need to walk over the Wire Grass boardwalk trail, which will take you to various viewpoints of the falls while also having you pass some of the park’s largest sinkholes, a true natural phenomenon you’re not bound to find anywhere else in the world.
22. Blue Spring State Park
Set around 50 minutes north of Orlando, Blue Springs State Park is home to the largest natural spring on the St Johns River and just happens to be one of the best state parks in Florida to see West Indian Manatees!
In order to explore this massive spring, you can either swim, kayak, or go on a canoeing adventure. If you’d rather not get wet, though, there’s also a 1.3-mile boardwalk you can stroll over in order to get to the spring’s source on the river, where you’ll get some of the most scenic views in the entire park.
Come winter, Blue Spring State Park becomes the favorite hangout spot for manatees as they love taking shelter from the ocean’s cold waters here. Moreover, the park also attracts a variety of bird species like wading birds, kingfishers, ospreys, and eagles, which makes it a haven for birdwatchers!
23. O’Leno State Park
Set on the banks of the Santa Fe River, O’Leno State Park is one of the oldest Florida State Parks and a glorious spot to visit for incredibly unique landscapes.
O’Leno features hardwood hammocks, river swamps, mysterious sinkholes, and sandhills, providing a pretty interesting array of terrain, all of which you can explore by hiking or biking the park’s shaded trails, swimming, or even by hopping on a canoe and paddling your way through the river.
24. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Home to a part of the 3rd largest barrier reef in the entire world, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is one of the best state parks in Florida to explore the underwater world that resides under Key Largo’s waves.
It spans seventy nautical miles over corals reefs and protected marine life.
While at this undersea park, you can explore the park’s waters by hopping on a glass-bottom boat. If you want to get a more up-and-close experience, though, you can instead opt to go on a snorkeling or diving adventure in order to explore further afield.
Moreover, hiking is also a treat here, with three different trails available in order to help you get to know the small percentage of the park that’s actually set on land!
25. Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Famed for being the place where you can go tubing down the Ichetuknee River, this wonderful state park also offers visitors the rare opportunity to see eight different crystal-clear springs, all of which are spread along the river!
As if spending a day relaxing on the water or adventuring the river isn’t enough, Ichetunknee Springs also happens to be one of the best Florida state parks for hiking in search of wildlife, with beavers, otters, gar, wild turkeys, and limpkin being just a few of the species that call it their home.
26. Jonathan Dickinson State Park
As the largest state park in southern Florida, Jonathan Dickinson State Park boasts an insanely wide array of rare environments, including upland lakes, scrub forests, coastal sandhills, and the ever-alluring Loxahatchee River.
Aside from the gorgeous nature spread all over the park, Jonathan Dickinson is also a great spot to hit if you’re into history.
While here, you’ll get to see a secret training camp from World War II, learn the story of John Dickinson, a shipwrecked Quaker merchant, and “meet” Trapper Nelson, the Wild Man of the Loxahatchee.
During your time at Jonathan Dickinson, you can opt to explore the park on land or over the water via hiking trails, mountain biking, horseback riding, boating, geo seeking, and more!
More Florida State Parks Worth Mentioning
- Hillsborough River State Park
- Alafia River State Park
- Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
- Big Shoals State Park
- Amelia Island State Park
- Cayo Costa State Park
- Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
- Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park
- Ochlockonee River State Park
- Little Manatee River State Park
- Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne
Have you ever visited any of these Florida State Parks? If so, which one did you find the most interesting? We’d love to know your favorites, so please feel free to drop them in the comment section below!