Jacksonville is blessed with eight really special state parks, but you can only camp at two of them — Fort Clinch and Little Talbot Island. Both are ideal destinations for outdoors summer recreation.
Blue Springs State Park is beautiful, the swimming is fabulous and paddling opportunities are numerous. In winter, it’s the best place in Florida to see manatees.
Hontoon Island is a terrific refuge for camping or a stay in a rustic cabin and as a base for a kayaking or canoe trip. The paddle around the island is 10 miles filled with birds and wildlife, past ancient cypress and oak trees. This Central Florida state park is near several other great parks, too.
Vast and remote, the Ten Thousand Islands off Florida’s southwest coast seems challenging to visit, a labyrinth of twisting channels through thousands of remote mangrove islands.
Lake Louisa State Park is a half hour from theme parks, but is a natural world with 20 miles of hiking trails and great cabins. Located on the east end of the vast Green Swamp, you’ll find wildlife, old citrus groves, hills, cypress swamps and forests.
This large state park in a rural, out-of-the-way part of Central Florida, preserves Old Florida cracker history. It offers great hiking trails and camping plus lakes to explore by kayak or canoe. Wildlife, from deer to alligators to sandhill cranes to eagles, is abundant.
In honor of the 100th birthday of US national parks, here’s a park that deserves to be on your must-see list. We loved camping at Dry Tortugas National Park off the Florida Keys. It takes some time, money and effort, but, wow, does it pay off.
Kelly Park is best known for popular Rock Springs Run, but this fabulous Orange County park also has one of the nicest campgrounds anywhere, a fabulous swimming area, playgrounds and picnic areas.
Environmentalists have won a few battles in Florida and paddling the Ocklawaha is a good reminder. This is a wild, untouched river that was once destined to be lost forever. Today, it is a beautiful spot to explore.