11 Florida State Parks You Have to Visit

From caves to springs to beaches, Florida really does have it all. Don't forget the camera!

August 11, 2014

Cayo Costa State Park

Boca Grande, near Fort Myers
Fishing, kayaking, camping and snorkeling abound on this tree-laden island, which is only accessible by ferry from Pine Island or private boat.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

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Spring Hill, north of Tampa
Flirt with mermaids during their kitschy underwater shows, or ride water flumes (open seasonally) into the springs.

Honeymoon Island State Park

Dunedin, near Tampa
Some of the best—and quietest—beaches of any state park can be found here, hence its appeal to lovebirds.


Ichetucknee Springs State Park

Fort White, northwest of Gainesville
Under live-oak and cypress trees, float lazily along the crystal-clear Ichetucknee River. Rent tubes from private vendors outside the park, or bring your own.

Sebastian Inlet State Park

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Sebastian, south of Melbourne
One of the state’s surf meccas, this beach is also popular with fishermen, who like to cast off the pier, and treasure hunters, who come for the 1715 Spanish fleet that wrecked just offshore.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

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Key Largo
Bring your scuba tanks and snorkel gear, or ride a glass-bottom boat to see some of the state’s best shallow-water reefs and the colorful marine life they attract.


Rainbow Springs State Park

Dunnellon, southwest of Ocala
Stroll through the park’s gorgeous gardens, full of native plants and waterfalls, and then take a refreshing dip. Visit in early spring to see the blooming hot-pink azaleas.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Key Biscayne, near Miami
In the shadow of the 109-step lighthouse, swim in the gentle waters along the park’s shore, or rent a four-person canopied bike and enjoy views of Biscayne Bay.

De Leon Springs State Park

De Leon Springs, near Orlando
Home to the Old Spanish Sugar Mill, known for its popular make-them-yourself pancakes, this state park also has a four-mile looping hiking trail and is home to Ponce De Leon’s fabled Fountain of Youth.

Caladesi Island State Park

Dunedin, near Tampa
Arrive by ferry to kayak through winding mangroves, hike jungle-like trails and picnic on a beach with maybe a few more people—maybe.

Florida Caverns State Park

Marianna, west of Tallahassee
Follow the trail underground for a 45-minute guided exploration of a damp world loaded with stalagmites (rising from the ground) and stalactites (dripping from the ceiling) that took millions of years to form.


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