If you need a little time to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, there is no better place than the National Parks in Florida. With some of the most beautiful views and natural habitats in America, these parks are sure to be a breath of fresh air!
Many of the most popular national parks in Florida offer visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and explore some of the most beautiful views and natural habitats in America. With everything from stunning caverns and botanical gardens to mesmerizing flowing rivers and untouched islands, national parks in Florida offer something for everyone.
From kayaking through mangrove mazes to spotting alligators on glass-bottom boats or going in search of the next island on a park that’s 99 percent water, here’s a look into some of the most unbelievably unique national parks in Florida you need to see to believe.
So put on your hiking shoes, grab your camera, and explore one (or all) of these 10 best national parks in Florida today!
Incredible National Parks in Florida You Won’t Believe Exist:
Here are the top Florida National Parks to check out right now!
12. Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a beach and nature combo. Located in the alluring Florida Keys, Biscayne National Park is 95% underwater, which pretty much means you need to go below the surface to truly experience it.
If you’re not a fan of getting wet, you can explore Biscayne National Park by booking a glass-bottom boat tour. This will give you the chance to see under the surface and explore all that the park has to offer.
95% of the park is set underwater, but the remaining 5% that’s on land is still worth exploring! The islands spread throughout the park have trails for hikers to enjoy as well as wildlife sightings and beautiful sunsets.
There is no entry fee for this national park in Florida.
11. Everglades National Park
The Everglades National Park is a hugely popular park in Florida. It is well-known for its wilderness and array of ecosystems. The park is home to mangroves, marine, coastal lowlands, and over 15 million acres!
The alligators are the keystone species of the Everglades National Park, which is home to a variety of wildlife. However, the entire park is home to an incredible variety of wildlife. In fact, Everglades is the only place on the planet where alligators and crocodiles co-exist!
The Everglades National Park is a vast and unique place, full of different kinds of wildlife that you can’t find anywhere else. While most people explore the park by going on a scenic drive, the best way to get close and personal with the nature around is by hiking a few trails. The Eco Pond Trail is great for flamingo sightings and the Anhinga Trail is another incredible pick if you’re brave enough to encounter alligators up close.
Another must is booking a boat tour in the Gulf Coast area to get to know the life around Everglade’s water. You’ll get to see manatees, dolphins, and other marine life in their natural habitats. There’s no better way to experience this beautiful park.
The park’s dry season, which lasts from November to March, is the most popular time to visit due to the warm winter weather and the variety of wading birds and their predators that migrate to the park during that time.
The National Park Service offers a variety of passes that allow visitors to enjoy national parks for free or at a discounted price. The $30 entrance fee is valid for seven consecutive days and applies to cars. The fee for people walking around the park or cycling is $15, but children ages 16 and younger are free of charge. There are also a variety of passes available that offer free or discounted admission to national parks.
10. Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is proof that you don’t need to jet set to the Maldives or Bora Bora to find paradise-like beaches. Situated just off the coast of Key West, this park is made up of a few small islands and is renowned for its crystal-clear turquoise waters and palm-fringed beaches.
Snorkeling and diving are popular activities in the park, as are kayaking and camping. Whether you’re looking to sunbathe on the beach, explore the marine life underwater, or just relax in a hammock with a good book, Dry Tortugas National Park is definitely worth a visit.
The Dry Tortugas are a group of small islands located in the Gulf of Mexico, about 70 miles west of Key West. The islands are home to some of the best coral reefs in the country, making them a popular destination for divers and snorkelers. The park is also home to a variety of birds, including herons, egrets, pelicans, and ospreys.
The islands are only accessible by ferry or seaplane, and because most people can’t be bothered to endure the journey, your chances of getting it all to yourself are pretty high.
Dry Tortugas National Park is 99% water, with the remaining 1% constituting seven small islands spread all over. While visiting, you can snorkel in search of untouched coral reefs, find the colors of the rainbow in the sea life, or simply count how many different species of animals you can find in the depths below (sharks, sea turtles, coral, lobsters, octopus, and tropical reef fishes, to name just a few!)
Dry Tortugas National Park is a great place for snorkeling and diving. The park consists of seven small islands, and 99% of the park is made up of water. The remaining 1% is made up of the seven small islands. While visiting the park, you can find coral reefs, sea turtles, sharks, and many other types of sea life.
My favorite part of the Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida is the clear waters and the beautiful beaches. It’s a great place to go snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and camping, but it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re a water lover!
The Yankee Freedom III ferry from Key West is a great way to visit Dry Tortugas National Park. The ride is about 2 hours and 15 minutes but can be a bit rough, so if you are prone to motion sickness, you may want to try the Key West Seaplane Adventures which only takes about 40 minutes.
The best time to visit this national park in Florida is May through October for weather and snorkeling. Do keep in mind this is hurricane season, so make sure you check the park’s official website in case of any closures due to severe weather conditions.
9. Gulf Islands National Seashore
Stretching along the Gulf Coast from western Florida and into Mississippi, this national park encompasses emerald-colored beaches with a Mediterranean-like climate paired with an array of historical forts and sites that tell stories from way back.
White sugar sand and sparkling turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, provide the ultimate relaxation without crowds of people or development. The beauty of the Florida side of the Gulf Islands is found in the miles of pristine shores, many of which are completely unspoiled and absolutely uncrowded. Seriously, thanks to the expansiveness of the place, finding yourself a spot to enjoy the views in complete solitude is a pretty easy feat.
Another highlight for those who enjoy exploring on foot is the mezzanine of trails leading to mountain top viewpoints, lighthouses, and forts that act as reminders of the First Nations and pioneer past.
This National Park in Florida is home to an abundant ecosystem that is teeming with wildlife. You can find osprey, great blue herons, dolphins, sea turtles and so many more.
There are numerous activities to do at this National Seashore. Do not miss swimming, or snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters where you can see lots of fish, crabs, starfish, and sand dollars. You can also fish, kayak, boat, bike, camp, or join a ranger for a nature tour.
If you are into history then make sure to check out the three forts within the National Seashore built to fortify Pensacola Harbor: Fort McRee, Fort Pickens and Fort Barrancas.
Entrance fees ($15 per person) are needed at the Fort Pickens Area, Okaloosa Area, Perdido Key Area, Opal Beach at the Santa Rosa Area, and the Fort Barrancas Area. Eighty percent of the fees are used to improve facilities at this beautiful park.
Feel free to visit this national park during any season – it’s a great year-round spot!
8. Big Cypress National Preserve
The Big Cypress National Preserve is a beautiful national park in Southern Florida that is home to amazing bird watching, hiking, camping, and scenic drives. The park is open year-round and offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy.
The park has a variety of habitats that are home to interesting plant and animal life. There are two scenic drives, the 27-mile Loop Road and the 17-mile loop including Turner River, Wagonwheel, and Birdon Roads. These drives take you through different habitats with interesting plant and animal life.
There are also plenty of activities available in the park. You can go hiking, biking, fishing, and kayaking. The park also has a visitor center with exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the area.
The best time to see alligators in Florida is from December to May. However, they may be seen year-round. Ranger-led programs allow you to explore and learn more about the national park and the ecosystems within it, which is really cool for all ages!
The park doesn’t have an entrance fee, but there is an annual fee of $100 for an off-road vehicle permit. If you’re camping overnight, the prices vary based on different parts of the park.
7. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is located in Northeastern Florida in St. Augustine. The park is open year-round and offers the opportunity to explore a historic Spanish fort.
The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is located in Northeast Florida in St. Augustine and is open year-round. This national monument offers the opportunity to explore a historic Spanish fort.
This Spanish fort was built to protect Spain’s claims in the New World from enemies. It is a treasure of 17th century St. Augustine and has played a role in the early history of the US.
Castillo de San Marcos is a historic fort that protects the city and shares its history. It is worth checking out for when the park hosts historic weapons demonstrations – it’s amazing to see the cannons being fired! This is one of my favorite historical national parks in Florida because these demonstrations are so interactive.
The fort is the only 17th-century military structure that is still standing in the United States. It began construction in 1672 on the Castillo (Castle). The fort was built as a star-shaped fort with coquina, a mixture of broken shells and sand bound by calcium carbonate.
The Castillo has survived being hit by cannons during the period when Spain and England were at war because of its very special construction material – Coquina. It actually absorbs hits, like clay, instead of shattering.
The entrance fee for adults is $15 and the entrance fee for children is free of charge. Any tickets purchased can be used for seven [consecutive] days.
6. Canaveral National Seashore
This national park is located on the Atlantic coast, between New Smyrna Beach and Titusville on the barrier island near Cape Canaveral, and is known for its beautiful beaches, dunes, and forests. It’s a great year-round place to go fishing, hiking, swimming, and bird watching.
The seashore at this park is close to perfect, as it is untouched by development. Visitors come to explore the barrier island beaches, dunes, and wetlands. The beach provides a place to reflect and unwind, where tranquility abounds. You can explore 24-miles of undeveloped beaches, sunbathe, and relax.
The biodiversity at this National Park in Florida is unparalleled, with over 1 thousand species of plants and animals documented. From five different types sea turtles to manatees (and even more!), there are plenty who call it home!
The seashore also has extensive salt marshlands which provide habitat for these magnificent creatures as well. so if you’re looking for an educational trip that will take your breath away without ever feeling too far from nature then head down to this national park!
The Black Point Wildlife Drive is one of our favorite places in the park and offers a great opportunity to see a variety of animals, including endangered species. There is also a wide variety of plants that can be found in the park.
We saw 8 manatees during our last visit to Haulover Canal State Park! In fact, this is one of the best national parks in Florida to check out if you want to easily see manatees.
Every time you drive the loop, different birds can be seen. The wading bird population is great – we spotted wood storks and roseate spoonbills alongside egrets or herons as well. There’s also plenty of Bald Eagles around; they’re pretty common here in Florida scrub-jay habitat.
To get into the parks, you can either buy a pass from Apollo Beach or Playalinda.
5. De Soto National Memorial
The de Soto National Memorial is a historical site in Florida that commemorates the landing of Conquistador Hernando de Sicco’s army. The soldiers, hired mercenaries and craftsmen, came to find gold but they also wanted to conquer new territories for Spain.
The Conquistador died on May 21st 1542. His remaining group members made their way to Mexico City where they founded an important historical colony, but they never found gold.
This national park is a living history camp where you can interact with rangers and volunteers dressed in period clothing while telling historical tales.
There are also craft demonstrations, outdoor activities like kayaking on the lake or hiking through nature trails for those who want an up-close look at some native plants!
Whether you’re a nature lover, fisherman or just looking for some peace and quiet, there are outdoor activities for everyone. You can also experience ranger-led that get you up close and personal with nature.
The De Soto National Monument is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a free national park in Florida since there is no entrance fee.
4. Fort Caroline National Memorial
Fort Caroline is a National Memorial (located in Northeastern Florida in Jacksonville) that not only preserves history, but brings it alive with informative and educational tours. Along your journey through the grounds you’ll see historical reenactments of life in colonial times which is super fun and informative!
The Timucuan Preserve is home to a 1/3 scale reconstruction of Fort Caroline, which memorializes the short-lived French presence in sixteenth century Florida.
Kids can earn their Junior Ranger Badges on this property and there are both short or long nature trails for you to explore as well!
Be sure to keep your eyes peeled when exploring this preserve because dolphins often jump right into the St Johns River!
The Fort Caroline National Memorial does not require any entrance fee so it’s a great free national park in Florida to check out.
3. Fort Matanzas National Memorial
Fort Matanzas is a historic watchtower fort located in northeastern Florida, just 14 miles south of St. Augustine and an is ideal place for exploration: there are hiking trails that wind throughout its grounds as well as beaches where you can find seashells or bird watching with all your senses on full alert!
The picturesque structure built of coquina is a great example of the ingenuity and creativity that came with building early forts.
Fort Matanzas was a Spanish fort built to protect against British troops who wanted access into St. Augustine via the nearby inlet, Matanzas Cove. During the construction of this new defense system though England tried to invade many times but never succeeded because their ships were repelled before they even got on land.
Visitors to this historic site will be thrilled with the many adventures offered, including boat tours that provide an unforgettable perspective of St. Augustine’s best beach. Visitors can also become Junior Rangers and explore nature trails or take part in fishing expeditions along both river banks as well as at sea!
There is only one way to get to this National Park in Florida and that is by boat. Head to the visitor’s center to reserve tickets for the ferry.
There are no fees for the ferry or for admission to the monument, but you can only reserve passes on a first-come-first-serve basis so it’s best to show up early!
2. Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve
Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve is located in Jacksonville and it houses a fascinating collection of historic sites.
The preserve has 46,000 acres where you can explore both history and natural beauty with visits to the Kingsley Plantation for insight into slavery and freedom, or visits to Fort Caroline National Memorial which offers an immersive experience through storytelling techniques such as reenactments.
The national park is a 600-acre haven for nature lovers in Florida. From forest trails to wetlands, this beautifully preserved area has it all! You can also learn more about science and ranger-led programs that showcase its rich environment through informative event giveaways or talks given by scientists who work at parks across America
It is not often you get to visit an African American historical beach, so you should definitely check out the beach at the national park. The historic American Beach was founded in 1935 so that, during segregation, black people could have their own resort-like setting. It’s not only gorgeous but is filled with history!
There is no entrance fee at this park – it’s by far one of my favorite free national parks in Florida to visit.
1. Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor
The Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is one of the most fascinating National Parks in Florida.
If you’re looking to get away from it all, this natural wonder offers an opportunity for solitude and reflection with its beautiful nature trails that wind through old-growth forests filled will rare wildlife like red-bellied turtles or bonneted bats!
The Gullah/Geechee are descendants of Central and West Africans who were brought to America through the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Jacksonville remains home for many large communities with this unique culture, which has evolved over centuries in response to oppression by European powers like Britain or France during colonial times.
The Gullah/Geechee people are an interesting and unique group of individuals. They have preserved their traditional culture despite the influx in population from other areas.
The old traditions live on among this generations’ youth who carry them forward with pride while adapting new ways when needed too but always keeping somewhere personal at heart – whether it be through music (guitar), food habits (fishing) family recipe recipes passed down verbally.
To learn about the Gullah/Geechee people and their culture, consider visiting many different areas. There isn’t one entrance or visitor center for this enriching place!
Hopefully, this list of amazing national parks in Florida helped you craft the perfect bucket list for your trip!
While some of these parks are easier to get to than others, each and every single park in this list is vastly different from the last and worth visiting even if you already think you’ve seen it all.