Florida State Parks are a wonderful way to see the real Florida, and not the touristy theme parks and other attractions. Florida has some amazing wildlife and a rich history. The state has around 160 state run parks, and 10 of these are in the Florida Keys. As one can imagine, most of the State parks in the Keys have some sort of water actives to partake in such as kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling. But we also have historical monuments, biking in and hiking trails, picnicking areas, and many opportunities for wildlife viewing too.
- Bahia Honda State Park – 36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, FL 33043
This park is known for its beautiful beaches, snorkeling, and gorgeous sunsets. But these are just a fraction of the activities available for visitors to this park. Other activities include: bicycling, birding, boating, camping, kayaking, fishing, hiking, picnicking, scuba diving, swimming, and wildlife viewing. Anglers can fish from shore or bring a boat and launch it from the boat ramp. Snorkeling gear and kayaks can be rented on site. The visitors center is filled with interesting information as well as trinkets to bring home. And the concession stand serves some good grub too should you have forgotten your picnic basket. Full facility campsites and cabins are also available for rent. Admission charges vary. The Park is open 365 days a year from 8:00 am to sundown.
- Curry Hammock State Park – 56200 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL 33050
This park is made up of a group of islands with public access to swimming, a playground, showers, grills, and a picnic area. This park is also home to one of the largest populations of thatched palm trees in the USA. Activities at Curry Hammock include a sandy beach for swimming, sunbathing, and playing in the sand, bicycling, camping, kayaking, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. Admission charges vary. The Park is open 365 days a year from 8:00 am to sundown.
- Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park – County Road 905, Key Largo, FL 33037
This park is home to 84 protected species of plants and animals including the American crocodile, mahogany, and cotton. There are over six miles of trails that provide hikers, bikers, birdwatchers many viewing opportunities. There is also a picnic area available. Admission os $2.50 per person. The Park is open 365 days a year from 8:00 am to sundown.
- Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park – 601 Howard England Way, Key West, FL 33040
This is Florida’s Southernmost State Park, and is has been designated a National Historic Landmark since 1973. The park not only has a rich military history, but there are many activities available here such as beaches for swimming, snorkeling, or sunbathing, bicycling trails, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. This is also a popular spot for wedding and other events. Concessions are also available at the Cayo Hueso Cafe. Admission charges vary. The Park is open 365 days a year from 8:00 am to sundown.
- Indian Key Historic State Park – U.S. 1 Mile Marker 85.5, Islamorada, FL 33036
This park is only accessible by boat. You can come to swim, snorkel, kayak, fish, view the local wildlife, or hike the nature trails. There is no entrance fee to this park. The Park is open 365 days a year from 8:00 am to sundown.
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park – U.S. 1 Mile Marker 102.5, Key Largo, FL 33037
This is the first underwater park in the USA. The park encompasses 70 nautical square miles. You can get a great view of the reef by snorkeling, diving, or taking a glass bottom boat tour. Kayaking and fishing are also permitted. There are trails available to hike, and you can relax on the beach or picnic with family and friends. The visitor center has a 30,000 gallon saltwater aquarium and a theater that shows nature videos throughout the day. There is a full facility camp site, a marina, and a playground for children. Admission charges vary. The Park is open 365 days a year from 8:00 am to sundown.
- Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park – Offshore Island – MM 78.5 Oceanside, Islamorada, FL 33036
This park is only accessible by private boat or tour boat. Ranger guided tours are available twice daily at 10:00am and 2:00pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The visitors center was built in 1919 and offers views of how island people lived in the early 1900’s. Admission is $2.50 per person. Tours are extra. The park is open Thursday through Monday 9:00am to 5:00pm. The visitor center is open Friday through Sunday from 10:00am to 2:00pm.
- Long Key State Park – 67400 Overseas Highway, Long Key, FL 33001
Visitors can explore the park by kayaking through a chain of lagoons or hiking two trails. The Golden Orb Trail leads visitors to an observation tower that provides a panoramic view of Long Key. A full-facility campground overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can also fish, swim, and snorkel the area. Admission charges vary. The Park is open 365 days a year from 8:00 am to sundown.
- San Pedro Underwater Archeological Preserve State Park – U.S. 1 Mile Marker 85.5, Islamorada, FL 33036
The preserve is home to a submerged shipwreck, the San Pedro, part of a Spanish flotilla which sunk during a hurricane in July 1733. You can kayak, swim, scuba or snorkel this site which lies in 18 feet of beautiful waters. There is no entrance fee to this park. The Park is open 365 days a year from 8:00 am to sundown.
- Windley Key Fossil Geological State Park – U.S. 1 Mile Marker 84.9, Islamorada, FL 33036
Henry Flagler used the limestone from Windley Key to build his Overseas Railroad in the early 1900’s. Today you can walk along the quarry walls and see quarry machinery that has been preserved at the park. There are also hiking trails, picnicking areas, and a visitor center open Friday through Sunday from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Admission is $2.50 per person. The park is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Education Center is open Friday through Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Guided tours are available Friday through Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
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