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3 Best National Parks in Florida You Have to Visit
Traveling to Florida can be such a diverse trip with national parks, theme parks, and beautiful beaches. This post will go over all the best National Parks in Florida.
With so much to do in Florida, you may be looking for more than just beaches and theme parks. The National Parks in Florida are so diverse and such a fun addition to any trip. With the main National Parks all being located in the South of Florida, they make for a perfect addition to your Florida Road Trip.
We’ll cover the best National Parks in Florida, Everglades National Park, National Parks in South Florida, how many national parks are in Florida, and more!
This post is all about the best National Parks in Florida!
The Best National Parks In Florida:
Biscayne National Park
This national park is over 90% water so giving you the best of Florida. The absolute best way to explore the park is by boat. You can do that in a few different ways.
Only authorized businesses are allowed to operate in the national park so be sure you check the NPS page for Biscayne National Park to verify the service you are interested in is approved. You can book a boat tour of Biscayne National Park to take you to Boca Chica Key or Jones Lagoon. If budget is no option, you can also charter a boat for the day and explore the islands and all the coral reef spots at your own pace with a big or small group. And if you want to get on the water and be adventurous you can explore the national park by kayak or kiteboarding.
All of these options will be great to check out the incredible coral reef throughout the park. Don’t forget to bring your snorkel gear or dive gear. There are even 6 shipwrecks to check out. And be sure to head to Boca Chica lighthouse, it’s the perfect spot for a mid-day lunch break.
We headed to the Dante Fascell Visitor Center first and loved the movie we watched before exploring the park. You can also get your National Park Service Passport Stamp here, so don’t miss it!
There are a few walking paths along the shoreline as well if you aren’t able to get out on the water. It’s just not the same though, so we highly recommend checking out Biscayne from the water!
Everglades National Park
Entry: $30.00 per vehicle (or America the Beautiful Pass)
Everglades National Park is certainly the more popular of the National Parks in Florida. Its biodiversity is extreme with everything from crocodiles and alligators (very rare that they live in the same place) to panthers. You can easily spend a whole day here hiking, visiting the visitor center, out on kayaks in the mangroves, or riding an airboat.
This park is huge, spanning 2,400 square miles so you will certainly need at least a full day to really see it. There are plenty of hikes and bike trails throughout the park. For shorter hikes, check out the Anhinga Trail (0.8 miles), Gumbo Limbo Trail (0.4 miles), Pineland Trail (0.4 miles), Mahogany Hammock Trail (0.5 miles), and Eco Pond Trail (0.5 miles). All these hikes are short and flat and often with paved or boarded trails. And come expecting to see tons of wildlife. We saw an alligator on Anhinga Trail and heard you can see turtles on Eco Pond Trail!
Don’t forget while you are in town to head over to Robert Is Here Fruit Stand in Homestead! They have delicious farm-fresh fruit, milkshakes, and smoothies. We got a fresh fruit milkshake and it was amazing.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Entry: $15.00 (included in the Ferry Price)
This is certainly one of the most unique national parks in the United States. Dry Tortugas National Park is only accessible by boat or seaplane. It’s located 70 miles west of Key West and is over 100 square miles. With mostly open water, the main attraction is the gorgeous Fort Jefferson surrounded by blue waters perfect for snorkeling. The history and biodiversity make this national park a perfect day trip from the Keys.
The easiest way to get to the national park is by Ferry. The Yankee Freedom Ferry runs daily but sells out months in advance. It will definitely take some advance planning in order to visit. Yankee Freedom Ferry includes round-trip transportation, entry tickets to the park, snorkel gear (although we recommend bringing your own snorket gear!), and a few meals for $80 per person.
>> Read for more of our must-have travel essentials!
Bonus National Park Sites in Florida:
Since there are more National Park Sites in Florida than just the 3 major National Parks, I thought I’d outline a few of the top options!
Castillo de San Marcos
Entry: $15.00 per person
This National Monument in St. Augustine was built by the Spanish to defend the trade route through the Atlantic. It sits as the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States.
You are welcome to explore the fort on your own accord. The coolest thing to see is the historic weapon demonstrations. The canons located on the fort are fired just as they were in the 1740s! This happens every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, and 3:30 pm.
> You should check out our full Road Trip Florida Itinerary.
While you are in St. Augustine, it’s also great to head over to the National Monument of Fort Matanzas. This Fort is located 15 miles south of Castillo de San Marcos and makes for a beautiful drive down the Atlantic Ocean. Once you get here you will need to take the Ferry over to the Fort. The ferries run 6 times a day every day of the week and are free for all visitors. Just be sure to secure a pass ahead of boarding at the Fort Matanzas Visitor Center. Once at the fort, you can explore the historic fort or walk along the nature trails on property.
Lastly, we have the gorgeous Canaveral National Seashore. This seashore is comprised of 58,000 acres and is home to both Apollo Beach or Playalinda Beach. There is also the Turtle Mound and Seminole Rest Historic Site. Since it is free to visit, this makes for a great stop on your Florida Road Trip. It’s situated between St. Augustine and Miami making for a great mid-day break in the long drive. Hang out at the beach, head out to the barrier island, or walk along the many trails to see some incredible wildlife.
There are so many National Park Sites to visit in Florida! You’ll be in the south to visit the three national parks and we have a few locations that will be perfect for you! We recommend staying in Homestead, Florida to visit Everglades and Biscayne National Park. We visited both in one day but definitely wish we had more time at both! And for Dry Tortugas, you’ll want to be located in Key West!
Homestead, Florida Accommodations:
Budget | Travelodge by Wyndham Florida City/Homestead/Everglades – This is a great budget option in the Homestead area. Since you’ll be so busy buzzing around at the National Parks you just need a good, clean place and that is exactly what Travelodge can give you.
Mid-Range | Hilton Garden Inn Homestead, Fl – This location is perfect for heading to both parks and provides a great breakfast every morning! We always love Hiltons and this one is no different.
Key West Accommodations:
Mid-Range | Douglas House – Since there really are no “budget” options in Key West, this is a fairly affordable alternative. There really are no bad locations in Key West and this one is only a short walk to the beach.
Luxury | The Laureate Key West – This resort is located right along the waters of the Keys and it is incredibly beautiful. Think amazing service, drinks by the pool, and so incredible food.
St. Augustine Accommodations:
Budget | St. Augustine Inn – This budget option has a great location and really good reviews. This Inn is close to the heart of Old Town in St. Augustine and the beaches!
Mid-Range | Best Western Bayfront – This Best Western is located directly in the heart of the Historic District and is complete with an outdoor pool. Walk to all the best stops and take a quick drive to the gorgeous beaches!
Luxury | Collector Inn – This historic hotel is like walking back in time. A gorgeous hotel inside and out and a perfect location within the Historic District.