Top 12 National Parks In Florida That You Must Visit In 2023

Are you thinking about visiting some of the national parks in Florida? Well, if your answer is a YES, then you have reached the right place!

Some people picture castles, roller coasters, and Mickey Mouse-shaped pretzels when they think of parks in the Sunshine State, but Florida’s national parks are just as well-known as its amusement parks. Amazing ecological and biological diversity can be found on protected lands from the panhandle to the tip of the Keys.

Florida is the only area on Earth where alligators and crocodiles cohabit; the mangroves here serve as kayak mazes, rockets blast off over lagoons, and alligators and crocodiles share the same territory.

Keep reading this article till the end to learn about the national parks in Florida that you must visit this year…

Top 12 National Parks In Florida That You Must Visit!

There are a number of things that Florida, the Sunshine State, is famous for, and one of them is the National parks. These are a blend of nature and the history that humankind has made. So, if that is something that you want to know, then you have reached the right place!

Here are the top 12 best national parks in Florida that you need to visit in 2023:

1. Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Preserve

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The majority of people only experience Big Cypress National Park as a parallax of sawgrass and cypress trees against the billowy clouds of the Florida sky as they speed along I-75 or U.S. 41 via the windows of their vehicle. Most people only attend the visitor center because of need. However, some do so out of curiosity.

Big Cypress is only one of two places on Earth where the ghost orchid may be found. It also serves as a refuge for the endangered American alligator, and Florida’s elusive but threatened panther population. Big Cypress was the first National Park Service unit east of Colorado to get this recognition as a Dark Sky Place, and it continues to be the southernmost Dark Sky Place in Florida.

This national preserve’s swamp waters flow softly, producing the ideal environment for the name-bearing cypress trees to grow tall and strong and create a maze beneath their canopy for tourists who are more interested in aquatic activities.

Big Cypress is one of the last remaining undeveloped areas in South Florida, where backcountry camps, swamp buggies, and airboats retain a traditional way of life that was developed by indigenous peoples and the pioneering spirit of early settlers. Big Cypress truly has something for everyone, so we are now challenging everyone to give something back to Big Cypress in exchange.

2. Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park

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The most amazing features of Florida’s seas are actually located below the surface. When people think of Florida’s shores, they typically picture gentle waves lapping at the soft sand under a bright sun.

Four separate ecosystems, covering about 173,000 acres, merge to form rich edge communities, or “ecotones.” These edges are home to an astounding variety of animals, including pelicans, manatees, sea turtles, hundreds of different types of colorful fish, and flora that are unique to the United States.

Over 600 native fish, neotropical water birds, migratory habitat, 20 threatened and endangered species, such as the Schaus’ swallowtail butterfly and Florida semaphore cactus, as well as the previously mentioned sea turtles and manatees, can all be found in the park.

It also includes the Florida Reef, the only live coral barrier reef in the continental United States, and the northernmost part of the third-largest coral reef system in the world. A number of shipwrecks along Biscayne National Park’s Maritime Heritage Trail have found their final resting places because of this reef, a project that was made possible with The Alliance’s assistance.

3. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

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Castillo de San Marcos National Monument preserves the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States and interprets more than 450 years of cultural crossings. It was constructed by the Spanish in St. Augustine to protect Florida and the Atlantic trade route.

In case you are wondering about all the things that you can do here, I have you covered. You can engage with the park rangers that are eager to answer your questions. They also provide the tourists with several interpretive opportunities that are active and available throughout the day.

You can attend formal presentations where a thematic program that lasts 15 to 20 minutes will be played. You can interact directly with cultural artifacts, get answers to your burning questions, and spend as much or as little time as you like at ongoing informal stations.

The historic Cannon demonstration or Musket takes place on the weekends mostly. These are held at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 01:30 p.m., 02:30 p.m., and 03:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The volunteers and rangers also dress up in period costumes to give the tourists the best experience of traveling back in time. You can take pictures of them and with them to experience the lives of the colonists that lived here.

4. Canaveral National Seashore

Canaveral National Seashore

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Canaveral National Seashore is a unique location since it’s conceivably the only spot in the world where rocket ships, alligators, and nudist beaches coexist. On the east coast of central Florida, Canaveral preserves one of the state’s longest stretches of undeveloped coastline.

Mile after mile of pristine shoreline offers a tranquil haven for sunbathers, sea turtles, and the occasional nudist; Apollo Beach, at the northern end of Beach Road, is the alternative to the crowded Playalinda Beach right across the street.

If viewing rocket launches from the adjacent Kennedy Space Centre on the park’s beaches isn’t your thing, you can also go kayaking through Mosquito Lagoon, a sizable estuary that occupies two-thirds of the park (but remember the insect spray).

5. De Soto National Monument

De Soto National Monument

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Conquistador Hernando de Soto’s army of soldiers, paid mercenaries, artisans, and clergy arrived in Tampa Bay in May 1539. They encountered ferocious resistance from natives defending their homes. De Soto’s search for glory and treasure would be a four-year, 4,000-mile journey filled with mystery, conflict, disease, and discovery that would shape American history.

Today, there are a number of things that you can experience at the De Soto National Monument. You can try on the European armor that consists of helmets as well as breastplates. This is one of the most popular activities of the people or tourists visiting this national park in Florida.

Aside from that, taking a fishing class and bird viewing are additional popular activities in this national park. Numerous bird species, including gulls, great egrets, herons, as well as American white pelicans, can be found at DeSoto National Memorial.  If you’re lucky, you might also catch a glimpse of bald eagles on the Manatee River scavenging for food! The De Soto Rancho Fishing Clinic is available in the park for adults and children aged 7 and older. Participants gain knowledge of fishing gear, casting, fish identification, and knot-making!

6. Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

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Everglades National Park, the most recognizable national park in Florida, is the Yellowstone of swamps, a 1.5 million acre subtropical wilderness teeming with terrifying species that makes Jurassic Park seem like a petting zoo and jet-black waterways and mangrove-lined coastlines.

This enormous park, the third largest in the contiguous United States, is too big to handle all at once. Alligator sightings are practically guaranteed along the Anhinga Trail, a leisurely 0.8-mile loop that leaves at the Royal Palm Visitor Centre.

You can rent kayaks and paddle up the Flamingo Canal on unnervingly quiet water while passing through deep forests and mangrove tunnels to Coot Bay by continuing to travel along the Main Park Road until it ends at the Flamingo Campground. Keep a watch out for American crocodiles and also manatees along the trip. They enjoy the brackish waters close to the shore.

7. Fort Matanzas National Monument

Fort Matanzas National Monument

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The next on the list of the best national parks in Florida is Fort Matanzas. From Fort Jefferson to Fort Barrancas, forts are as central to Florida’s national parks as gators as well as mangroves.

Chief among them is Fort Matanzas National Monument. It’s one of the oldest fortresses in the state and is also one of the first forts-as-national monuments in the nation, designated back in 1924.

Originally built by Spanish settlers in 1742 to fortify the Matanzas Inlet in St. Augustine, it remains a resolute structure that stretches 50 feet on each side and is 30 feet high. Today, the fort is accessible via ferry, with ranger programs that shed light on its storied history.

Other park activities include relaxing at a beach or following the boardwalk trail off the visitor center parking lot, which zigzags through a shaded hammock forest.

8. Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

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Seventy miles off the coast of Key West is Dry Tortugas National Park, an aquatic wonderland of 99 percent water. The only land out here, seemingly in the middle of the gulf, is a handful of tiny keys, including the main attraction: Garden Key.

After the two-to-four boat ride from Key West’s Yankee Freedom ferry terminal, dock at Garden Key to explore Fort Jefferson, an ironclad fortress built in the 1800s that looks like a brick Pentagon.

Originally built to defend the Southern coast of the U.S. after the War of 1812, the fort also served as a temporary prison before earning national park status. Today, the structure—and the surrounding keys and waters—tells the stories of maritime combat and marine wildlife, best observed from the Garden Key beaches or along the underwater snorkel trails that surround the fort.

9. Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs State Park

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For years, tourists have flocked to this location just to take glass-bottomed boat trips through the state’s breathtaking springs. In reality, Silver Springs State Park’s glass-bottom boat trips were introduced over a century ago, and they continue to be popular in this area of north-central Florida between Orlando and Gainesville.

It’s understandable, given that the park is home to surreal, crystal-clear water and a variety of animals, including otters, manatees, alligators, rabid rhesus macaques, and monkeys. Despite the fact that swimming is prohibited (due to the aforementioned alligators), Silver Spring is a kayaker’s and paddle boarder’s heaven, and there are 15 miles of shady hiking trails circling the 4.5-mile Silver River.

10. Point Washington State Forest

Point Washington State Forest

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Point Washington State Forest on Florida’s panhandle is a refuge of tall trees and hiking trails. Located seemingly miles away from the state’s more well-known parks, you will find the longleaf pine as the main attraction. It is a tree that is so tall that it resembles a hybrid of a redwood and a palm.

The Eastern Lake Trail System, which supports the park’s recreational options, is surrounded by these pines for miles. The trail system here contains several unpaved trails for cyclists and hikers despite being as flat as a pancake.

The nearby Grayton Beach State Park, which follows the coast as well as offers coastal forest trails, swimming chances, and kayaking on dune lakes, is definitely worth exploring.

11. Bahia Honda State & National Park

Bahia Honda State & National Park

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Bahia Honda State Park is a pastoral pit stop on the road to Key West out in the Keys. Calusa Beach, off Big Pine Key, serves as the park’s focal point. Its turquoise waters entice swimmers, snorkelers, as well as kayakers alike (equipment for both activities is available for rent).

At the summit of the iconic Bahia Honda Bridge lies a truly picturesque setting. It is a historical structure dating back to the early 1900s. This was originally a crucial component of Henry Flagler’s ambitious Overseas Railroad to Key West.

A little route along a portion of the bridge will lead you to one of the Keys’ highest spots. Here you may enjoy panoramic views of the bay below. Stay for a photo-worthy sunset and afterward stargazing if you want to remember it forever.

12. Apalachicola National Park

Apalachicola National Park

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A stone’s throw from the state capital of Tallahassee, Apalachicola National Forest is a natural haven. Florida’s largest national forest clocks in at a whopping 633,000 acres. This park has two main sections. They are Bradwell Bay Wilderness and Mud Swamp/New River Wilderness.

Between the two, visitors can paddle, swim, hike, fish, and go off-roading or horseback riding. The park also exhibits striking biological and ecological diversity. It goes from longleaf pine sandhills and pine flatwoods to coastal plain hammocks, basin swamps, and floodplain forests.

The area teems with wildlife, like woodpeckers, bobcats, gray foxes, as well as alligators. Drink in the diversity on a one-mile loop at the Camel Lake Trail. You can also enjoy by kayaking to Owl Creek from Hickory Landing. You can also take a two-mile route along the Apalachicola River. This gets paddlers up close and personal with that classic Florida river swamp terrain.

Wrapping It Up!

In case you were searching for the best national parks in Florida, I hope that this blog has been of help to you. If there are any other queries related to the same, feel free to let me know. All that you need to do is scroll down till you reach the bottom of the page. Then leave your comments and queries in the box below. And I will be there to answer them all for you!

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Ankita Tripathy loves to write about food and the Hallyu Wave in particular. During her free time, she enjoys looking at the sky or reading books while sipping a cup of hot coffee. Her favourite niches are food, music, lifestyle, travel, and Korean Pop music and drama.

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