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The Best State and National Parks in Florida

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You haven’t experienced Florida until you’ve immersed yourself in its incredible natural world. And most visitors miss out on all of the wild nature that Florida offers away from its developed coastlines and cities. Just inland is where you’ll find crystal clear, spring-fed rivers and mysterious old forests home to rare wild orchids, Florida panthers, and black bears. And the vast Florida state park system makes it easy to access wildernesses that would otherwise seem completely inhospitable to humans.
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This walk is the most popular short trail in Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, one of southwest Florida's largest state parks. It’s easy to find, is family-friendly, and has a well-defined footpath. Before the state went nuts with zip lines and...
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33100 Tamiami Trail E, Ochopee, FL 34141, USA
This vast and wild protected area about 45 minutes southwest of the mansions of Naples is home to such rare species as the Florida panther and the ghost orchid (made famous in the book The Orchid Thief). The over 700,000 acres of swampland at Big...
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1800 Wekiwa Cir, Apopka, FL 32712, USA
With all of Orlando’s man-made attractions, it’s refreshing to get deep into nature at this wonderful state park, located north of downtown and the theme-park corridor. Spread across 7,000 acres of pristine central Florida forest, the...
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Florida, USA
To begin to understand the true wilderness that occupies most of the southern tip of Florida, there is nothing like a visit the 734-square-mile wetland preserve of Everglades National Park. More than a national treasure, the park is a UNESCO World...
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S Washington Ave, Titusville, FL 32796, USA
To see a Florida east coast beach as it’s been since the start of time, plan a visit to Cape Canaveral National Seashore, part of a barrier island east of Orlando on the Atlantic Coast that was originally protected as a buffer for...
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2100 W French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763, USA
In the winter months, manatees seek the warmer, shallow waters of Blue Springs State Park. An observation deck allows for viewing of the manatees. It's quite a sight—seeing the gentle, endangered species. I was invited to canoe with a manatee...
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4801 Camp Ranch Rd, Gainesville, FL 32641, USA
Home to wild bison, horses, alligators, snakes, and over 270 species of birds, this vast prairie in Central Florida with access points in Gainesville and Micanopy is a little-known state treasure. One of the most interesting and accessible places...
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9700 S Hwy A1A, Melbourne Beach, FL 32951, USA
Just north of Vero Beach and south of Melbourne, this wonderful state park with three miles of pristine shores is equally popular with anglers and surfers. Florida’s best beach break crops up just off the pier here as well as farther...
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Florida, USA
Set 110 kilometers (70 miles) south of Key West is a group of seven uninhabited islands known as the Dry Tortugas, which makes for one of the area’s top day trips. Once there you can explore the historic Fort Jefferson, an enormous military...
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Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Florida, USA
You’ve been snorkeling off a tourist catamaran in Key West, and you’ve finned within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary—but you’ve hardly scratched the surface of this vast, watery wonderland. Designated a marine...