Best National And State Parks In Florida
Aug 28, 2023 By Juliana Daniel

Florida is home to several vibrant ecosystems, from the legendary Everglades wetlands to remote barrier islands and coral reefs. The national and state parks provide the ideal destinations for those seeking to experience Florida's untouched natural splendor.

This guide will traverse Florida to reveal the top national and state parks, where you will find plenty of adventures. So, let's explore the best national and state parks in Florida.

Best National Parks in Florida

1. Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, spanning over 1.5 million acres in southern Florida. This iconic wetland ecosystem contains many habitats, including sawgrass marshes, mangrove forests, pinelands, and cypress swamps.

It’s also a vital wildlife sanctuary. The Everglades provide a home for numerous protected species, such as the American alligator, American crocodile, West Indian manatee, and over 350 species of birds.

One of the best ways to experience the magic of the Everglades is by canoeing or kayaking along the park's lush water trails. Paddling through the shallow river waters allows you to spot wildlife up close, from basking alligators to vibrant wading birds stalking the shores.

Hiking is also popular, with short trails like the Anhinga Trail winding through sawgrass, where you can often see alligators and other wetland creatures. For those seeking a longer adventure, the park has overnight backcountry camping.

2. Dry Tortugas National Park

The top national park in Florida is Dry Tortugas National Park, located 70 miles west of Key West. The 100-square-mile marine reserve consists of seven small islands.

The most notable island is Garden Key, home to the 19th-century coastal fortress Fort Jefferson. As the largest brick masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere, this hexagonal fort is a sight with its towering walls and scenic surroundings.

The isolated islands provide a tranquil escape for snorkeling, scuba diving, birdwatching, and exploring historic Fort Jefferson. All these spots are only accessible by boat or seaplane.

This national park is almost 99% water and contains Florida's only pristine coral reef ecosystem. It’s also bustling with vivid coral, sea turtles, and hundreds of fish species. Brilliantly-hued coral formations can be appreciated through glass-bottom boat tours.

On land, birdwatching is superb, with species like frigatebirds, boobies, and tropicbirds lining the beaches.

3. Biscayne National Park

Situated just south of Miami, Biscayne National Park protects one of Florida's most crucial marine environments. Encompassing 172,000 acres, over 95% of the park is water showcasing a vibrant subtropical ecosystem. Biscayne is a heaven for snorkelers and scuba divers and contains incredible coral reefs, shipwrecks, and mangrove forests.

The preserved coral reefs are the main draw, flaunting brain corals, elkhorn corals, and multicolored tropical fish. The Maritime Heritage Trail offers opportunities to explore six shipwrecks from the 18th-20th centuries. Numerous outfitters offer snorkeling and diving tours to sites like the Mandalay Shipwreck, sunk in 1966.

For those who prefer to stay dry, glass-bottom boat rides provide panoramic viewing of the reefs and shipwrecks from above.

Best State Parks in Florida

1. Honeymoon Island State Park

On a scenic barrier island along Florida's central Gulf Coast, Honeymoon Island State Park is beloved for its peaceful beaches, nature trails, and abundant wildlife. Stretching across the island's northern tip, the park features over 4 miles of beachfront dotted with picturesque dunes and palm trees.

The main beach offers swimming, shell hunting, and spectacular sunset views each evening.

Nature lovers will enjoy exploring the park's Osprey Trail, a loop trail that winds through pine flatwoods and along the shoreline. The trail is excellent for birdwatching, with sightings of osprey, pelicans, herons, and egrets common.

At the island's north end, the Pelican Cove Nature Trail takes you through mangrove wetlands home to fiddler crabs and shorebirds.

2. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was the first undersea park in the United States. It’s located in the south of Miami in Key Largo.

The park contains 70 square nautical miles of coral reefs and mangrove swamps to explore. The reefs here are part of the continental US's only living coral barrier reef system.

Snorkeling and scuba diving at John Pennekamp offer stunning underwater views of the protected reefs. The reef is home to over 260 species of fish and 80 species of coral.

The park also offers thrilling glass-bottom boat tours that provide sweeping views of the coral reefs below. On land, nature trails wind through mangrove forests where white ibises, egrets, and roseate spoonbills are often spotted.

The park has campgrounds along the waterfront for visitors wanting to spend the night. Camping is available on 47 oceanfront sites, letting you fall asleep to the sound of lapping waves.

3. Anastasia State Park

Nestled along a secluded peninsula just south of St. Augustine, Anastasia State Park offers miles of beaches, rich wildlife, and peaceful trails. The park spans over 1,600 acres, with a 4-mile beachfront that provides visitors with plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the sand and surf.

The beach has sparkling, clean water and is known for its abundant coquina shell deposits. They make a satisfying crunching sound as you walk along the shoreline. Beach activities include swimming, surfing, kayaking, and relaxing in a quiet environment.

Anastasia is also an important sea turtle nesting site. It allows you to spot nesting loggerhead turtles during nesting season.

Inland, meandering nature trails like the Ancient Dunes Trail take you through maritime hammocks. You can spot white-tailed deer, gopher tortoises, and migratory birds if you are lucky enough. The park also features a campground, providing the chance to spend the night surrounded by dunes and beachfront views.


Florida is a nature lover's paradise with its incredible biodiversity and landscapes. Within these protected State and National parks, you can spot iconic wildlife, hike through lush forests, snorkel vibrant coral reefs, and unwind surrounded by natural beauty.

As long as these best nature parks in Florida remain relatively untouched, visiting them is the perfect way to experience Florida's abundant wildlife and habitats up close.