Best State Parks For The Beach
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park boasts tangles of mangrove swamps, trails that meander through canopies of trees, and a vast walkway that traverses a lagoon never mind almost two miles of unspoiled Atlantic beach. Bahia Honda State Park has the best beaches in the Florida Keys, legendary snorkeling, a bounty of shore and wading birds, and a plentiful underwater population that will keep anglers smiling. Big Talbot Island State Park is home to Boneyard Beach, a unique, eerie and strangely striking stretch of sand strewn with the bleached skeletons of dead trees. Theres a simple explanation for the phenomenon: Live oaks and cedars, some a century old, grow on Big Talbots dunes. As the dunes erode, the trees tumble onto the beach below. Lovers Key State Park promises two miles of natural beach, thick with white sand, thats perfect for shelling, swimming, picnicking and sunbathing. You might see manatees swirling in its waters, dolphins leaping from the surf, or bald eagles soaring on the salty currents of air. Grayton Beach State Park, a wonder of nearly 2,000 acres in South Walton, encompasses one of the most stunning, unblemished beaches in the United States. The park also encompasses Western Lake, a rare coastal dune lake thats ideal for both freshwater and saltwater fishing, and for canoeing, kayaking and paddle-boarding.
Grayton Beach State Parksanta Rosa Beach Florida
If you like swimming in warm, Gulf waters and soaking up the sun on pristine, sugar-white sand, Grayton Beach is the place for you. This park consistently ranks among the top beaches in the US.
There is a rare gulf lake to explore by paddle boat, and hiking and biking trails meander throughout this 2,000-acre state park.
Devils Millhopper Geological State Park
4732 Millhopper Rd, Gainesville, FL 32653 955-2008
Why go: This huge sinkhole contains a gorgeous miniature rain forest.
Devils Millhopper Geological State Park is an ideal way to spend a few hours discovering a place so remarkable it has been attracting visitors since the 1880s. Bring a picnic and slow down to enjoy this National Natural Landmark
The limestone sinkhole is 120 feet deep and 500 feet across. A half-mile trail with 232 wooden steps takes you down into the bowl, past trickling streams, lush ferns and wild orchids. At the rim, there are picnic tables and a visitor center with information about how it formed.
The park was originally developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps watch for the limestone entranceway, which is one of the remaining items built by the CCC.
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Camping In Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Hobe Mountain, an ancient sand dune, is home to some truly rare ecosystem: its not found anywhere else in the world. While a day visit to is certainly worth it at this Florida state park, camping is highly recommended: theres simply too much to see and do in one day.
There are 132 campsites for RVs and tents 10 of those are cabin sites.
Paynes Creek Historic State Park
888 Lake Branch Road, Bowling Green FL 33834863-375-4717
Why go:Go for the peace the river and the feeling.
The Peace River forms one border of this park, which indeed offers a quiet and peaceful setting plus natural beauty for hiking, paddling and picnicking. Lovely little Paynes Creek winds through the park into the Peace River. Its fun to walk across a bouncy suspension bridge and gaze into the clear creek and cypress forest. There are several trails along the creek and through the woods and its a good spot for birding.
The historic part of the park is a monument placed in 1895 to commemorate the deaths of two settlers at the hands of Seminole Indians. A small well-done museum tells the story of that incident and how it helped justify the Second Seminole War.
- Florida Rambler story on the driving route, the Cracker Trail, a story that includes Paynes Creek State Park
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Camping In St Andrews State Park
A part of what is known as the Emerald Coast, camping at this Florida state park means youll be enjoying soft, impossibly smooth white sand beaches and shimmering, clear waters. It means you get to enjoy the amenities of a resort town during the day, while tucked into the oasis of natural Florida at night. Youll have access to trails, dunes, sun, and sand. Theres even a shuttle boat that takes daily trips to Shell Island for further separation from civilization.
If you prefer campsites that are a bit more spaced from other campers, consider reserving a spot on Pine Loop.
Bahia Honda State Park
Image from The Dyrt camper Megan K.
The drive to Bahia Honda State Park is an enchanting experience. The Overseas Highway, which leads to the park, links mainland Miami to Key West with views of aqua blue water, white sand beaches, and mango trees along the string of islands that make up the Florida Keys.
Bahia Honda State Park sits at mile-marker 37 and is a list-topper for a reason. The beach at Bahia Honda State Park is noted as being one of the best beaches in Southern Florida and invites visitors to lounge on the natural white sand beaches, directly accessed from the campsite. This RV park is particularly known for some of the best scuba diving and beach combing available in the area. Amenities at the state park include a gift shop, a snack bar, kayak rentals, snorkeling tours, and the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary.
There are 42 RV sites available with electric hookups and pets are allowed. Some notable attractions include a marina and boardwalk, a butterfly garden, canoeing, nature trails and a nature center.
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Weeki Wachee State Park
Weeki Wachee State Park, just north of Tarpon Springs, is a still-standing monument to the Florida tourism of yesteryear. Part state park and part entertainment haven, this is one of the most unique state parks in Florida.
Did you know that you can see mermaids at Weeki Wachee? Okay, mermaids arent actually real, but you can see professional divers don mermaid tails and swim in the waters from the spring! This entertaining show is magical and sure to bring wonder to the whole family.
Weeki Wachee is actually a set of natural springs in Florida where you can go swimming, tubing, and kayaking! When the manatees migrate to warmer waters in the winter months, you will more than likely encounter some poking their heads out to say hello.
Weeki Wachee is also home to Buccaneer Bay, a water park for all ages whose water comes directly from the springhead! Because the water is 72 degrees year-round, this is a truly natural way to beat the Florida heat!
St Andrews State Parkpanama City Beach Florida
Note: Hurricane Michael was highly destructive to this area of Florida. As such, there are extensive and ongoing reconstruction efforts at the state park and surrounding areas. Closures are expected throughout the year, and beyond. Check the parks website for updates on camping availability, construction and hours.
More typically known amongst college students for its Spring Break scene, Panama City Beach is also home to St. Andrews State Park, a much quieter, more tranquil area of this beachside town.The state park itself is tucked into a stretch of land with the gulf on one side, and St. Andrews Bay on the other. Shelling, boating, swimming, and fishing are all popular activities at this park. Magnificent sunsets are a show-stopper here, too, as the sun sets over the Gulf.
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Honeymoon Island State Park
Just a few miles from Tampa, beach lovers and adventure stickers can find this natural island, home to eagles, osprey, great horned owls, and much more!
The island covers 4 miles of beaches and 3 miles of hiking trails with picnic areas equipped with restrooms and playgrounds.
The facilities at Honeymoon Island State Park are top-notch. Although, the beach access can be a bit rough now and limited due to erosion caused by Tropical Storm Eta.
The center also counts with ranger programs, fishing areas, biking trails, and -one of our favorite ones a dog beach!
Pro-tip: keep in mind that this is a natural park and not a tourist place exactly. So the beach can be a bit rocky, but it can be easily solved by packing a pair of water shoes!
Also, be ready to learn about the parks history and its natural resources so you can enjoy it to the fullest!
Little Manatee River State Parkwimauma Florida
This park is a hidden gem on the outskirts of Tampa. Little Manatee River has been designated as an Outstanding Florida Water, in addition to being a part of the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve. What does this mean? Due to the quality of the water and the states efforts on preservation, Little Manatee River State Park offers visitors the chance to observe rare ecosystems found in this park.
There are superb hiking trails, full service camping, and over 15 miles of multi-use trails .
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Camping Near Me: Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is located 68 miles west of Key West and protects seven Dry Tortuga Islands, the most isolated of the Florida Keys, and Fort Jefferson. Set in the Gulf of Mexico, Dry Tortugas National Park has pristine coral reefs, beautiful white sandy beaches, an abundance of sea life, large breeding grounds for tropical birds, and legends of shipwrecks and sunken treasures. The park offers a variety of activities, including camping, picnicking, snorkeling and scuba diving, fishing, canoeing and kayaking, and birdwatching. Dry Tortugas National Park is only accessible by boat or seaplane and is part of the Everglades and Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve.
Florida, Phone: 305-242-7700
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Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo
Experience the wild west at this south Florida RV park and rodeo, just an hour south of Orlando. The resort showcases the western heritage of Old Florida, a state once dominated by cowboys and cattle ranchers. The ranch sits on 1,700 acres of land overlooking the shining Kissimmee River. The resort went through a multi-million dollar renovation in 2013, so you wont be roughing it during your days at Westgate. Guests can acquaint themselves with horseback rides and the award-winning Saturday night rodeo. Dont forget to check out the nearby Trap and Skeet Range with big sky views.
There are 15 RV sites available at the ranch, all with access to bathroom facilities and showers. Enjoy lunch with your friends or loved one at the picnic table that sit on every site. The resort conveniently carries firewood, charcoal and other camping supplies in the General Store.
Westgate River Ranch Resort is an awesome destination with camping, skeet shooting range, rodeo, petting zoo, mini golf, swamp buggy rides, swimming, dining, lodge and much more. We were there several years ago and had a blast. The camping area is wooded with hookups. They recently renovated the whole place and I cant imagine it being better than it was. The boys loved the rodeo that was held on the weekend. They even got to participate in chasing the calf to win a prize. Would love to come back and visit again since I am a cowgirl at heart! The Dyrt camper Christy C.
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Faqs About State Parks In Florida
Whats the largest state park in Florida?
Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, known as the Amazon of North America, is with its 77, 000 acres the largest state park in Florida. Its mostly swamp forest containing around 160 partial state parks.
How long can you stay in Florida state park?
You can stay in most of the Florida state parks for up to 14 consecutive days. However, some of the state parks have established their own weekly/monthly limits but the maximum that you can stay in one park is up to 8 weeks within a period of 6 months.
How much is the annual Florida state park pass?
You can get an individual annual pass for all Florida state parks for about USD $60 per person and USD $120 per a 6-member family.
What is the oldest state park in Florida?
Myakka River State Park and Fort Clinch State Park are the 2 oldest state parks in Florida.
Big Talbot Island State Park Northeast
Big Talbot Island is just East of Jacksonville near the Northern Florida border. This park is beloved by birders and hikers alike, and photographers will never run out of subject matter here!
Go for a hike on Boneyard Beach. Take your mountain bike down one of the many trails available, or find a spot in the picnic pavilion to enjoy the sun and the views.
Be ready to pack out whatever you bring in, as Big Talbot is primarily a nature reserve, meant to be explored and treasured.
Be aware that Big Talbot closes at sundown, though the boat launch is open 24 hours. You will need to get a spot for your RV outside the park. Here are the best campgrounds in Jacksonville.
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Oleta River State Park Near Miami
Oleta River State Park is just north of Miami and offers visitors a bit of wilderness with plenty of access to city amenities. The park is crisscrossed by many waterways, including the Oleta River.
You can rent a canoe and check out the deeper recesses of the park, or fish off the pier and enjoy relaxing along the water.
Theres a great beach for a quick dip, shower facilities for cleaning up, and plenty of wildlife to study. Bring your bike and check out the trails. Dont forget your binoculars so you can scope out the birds.
Oleta River State Park is a great spot for families with children. If Miami is feeling a bit too crowded, you can easily escape to Oleta for a quiet walk or paddle among the mangrove trees. Thanks to the sandbar to the east, the coast of this park is protected. If youre a novice kayaker or paddleboarder, you can test your oars here!
You can bring in a picnic and set out a table at one of the pavilions, or just spread a blanket on the beach.
Camping In Anastasia State Park
A Florida state parks camping trip at Anastasia, means youll have the chance to explore ancient sand dunes, tidal marshes, maritime hammocks, and a plethora of bird species . One can also explore the coquina quarries, and learn of both Florida history as well as history specific to St. Augustine.
The 139 campsites at Anastasia State Park are within a short walk to the beach. RVs and tents are both allowed. Fishing is informative here for those that arent familiar with native Florida fish: fishing on Salt Run features an informational kiosk for identifications of fish, as well as a bin for monofilament disposal and a cleaning station.
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Henderson Beach State Parkdestin Florida
On a protected strip of the Emerald Coast, Henderson Beach State Park is known for its impressive 30 foot white sand dunes. The park was actually established for the preservation of the last remaining coastal scrub area in Destin, Florida. The trails that meander around the sand dunes and coastal scrub areas, make this spot a well-loved Florida state park.
Camping In Long Key State Park
Camping here means youll be camping in one of sixty oceanfront campsites that gaze out of the Florida Keys. Whats more, there is excellent paddleboarding along Long Key Lake, walking trails through rare Florida habitats, and a chance to fish the famous flats of Long Key.
While camping here is closed through 2019, when the campground reopens, be sure to book well in advance. This is a very popular Florida state park.
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Sunshine Key Rv Resort & Marina
Its hard to avoid putting several of the Florida Keys campgrounds on this list, but they are truly an iconic part of the south Florida experience. Sunshine Key Resort is unique in that it has an adjoining marina and is a gateway for plenty of ocean activities. Bahia State Park is located on the next island south, so there is plenty of nature access as well.
There is a swimming pool, fitness center, pickleball court and tennis court available for guests. Dont forget to try out one of many exercise classes, creative arts and craft classes, and Bingo sessions. Guests can stay here daily, monthly or annually.
I spent a month there in my fifth wheel with my mother and my kids. There was something for everyone. Good fishing on the old bridge, nice little marina and pool. The manatee like to hang out in the marina. Large spaces. Electric golf carts only if you have one. Bring the bicycles. The Dyrt camper George S.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Near Miami
Set on the tip of Key Biscayne, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is a popular alternative to Miamis city beaches. In fact, this park is one of the most visited state parks in the area and its coast is ranked among the top 10 beaches nationwide.
But visitors dont come only for the Florida sunshine. The state park also offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay, rich fauna and flora, fine dining, as well as a plethora of other activities to engage in.
Walk or bike the trails, fish, rent a boat or a kayak. You can also delve into history on guided tours through 1825 Cape Florida Lighthouse or the keepers cottage.
Note that Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park gets crowded at the weekends. Therefore, we recommend you arrive early or come on a weekday.
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