Florida is one of the best states for outdoor adventure. From beaches to springs and over 150 state parks, there are more incredible places than one list could ever mention. Nonetheless, we’ll try to share a few of our favorites. Add these to your bucket list right away, and let us know about any of your favorites we might have missed.
1. Dry Tortugas National Park (Key West)
Dry Tortugas is not only a beautiful isolated island accessible only by boat or sea plane, it holds the remnants of the never-finished masonry masterpiece, Fort Jefferson. There's no other place quite like it in the world.
2. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (Naples)
Bring binoculars for this two-mile boardwalk through marsh, wet prairie, pine flatwood and the largest Bald Cypress forest left standing in all of North America. You might spot gators, white-tailed deer, native birds, and even a rare ghost orchid.
3. Crystal River
Most Floridians feel a special affection for the gentle (and in our opinion, adorable) manatee. Crystal River is the only place in Florida you can legally have a guided up-close encounter with the playful and curious marine mammals.
4. Florida Caverns State Park (Marianna)
The Panhandle has many unexpected natural gems, including the only open-air caves in Florida where you can take a public tour. Though they may not be the most impressive caves in the country, this is an excellent Florida state park for hiking, camping and exploring.
5. Everglades National Park
One of Florida's most treasured places is also the largest tropical wilderness in the country. This delicate network of wetlands and forests is home to unique plants and animals you won't find anywhere else.
6. Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park (Flagler Beach)
The ruins of this plantation and its sugar mill that were destroyed in the Second Seminole War. Explore the ruins, take the hiking trail, and enjoy a day of fishing, canoeing or kayaking.
7. Falling Waters State Park (Chipley)
Florida's most impressive natural waterfall rushes over 70 feet down a massive sinkhole. The flow of the waterfall depends heavily on the amount of recent rainfall, so visitors should call ahead if they would be disappointed by a dry day.
8. Myakka River State Park (Sarasota)
This park is popular for biking, hiking and camping, and viewing some of Florida's unique wildlife, especially rare birds. Do not miss the short but spectacular canopy walk that provides a thrilling challenge and some unbeatable views.
9. Rainbow Springs State Park (Dunnellon)
Snorkel, swim, kayak, and go tubing in the clear water of this scenic park in Dunnellon. Several waterfalls remain from the park's early days as a phosphate mine and later a private attraction. Though they are man-made, they're still quite a sight.
10. Torreya State Park, Bristol
Visitors to this state park often have a hard time believing they're still in Florida. That's because the elevated terrain at this park makes it one of the most difficult yet rewarding hikes in the state. The payoff for all your hard work is the incredible view from scenic bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River.
11. Ichetucknee Springs State Park (Fort White)
Every Floridian should spend a summer day floating down the crystal-clear and cold Ichetucknee River. Arrive as early as possible, because this popular park in North Florida often reaches capacity.
12. Blowing Rocks Preserve (Hobe Sound)
Blowing Rocks was named for the large outcropping of Anastasia limestone that catches waves and sends water flying up to 50 feet in the air. Walk the oceanside path or boardwalk, and visit the preserve's education center, plant nursery and butterfly garden, for a perfect day at the beach.