St. Andrews State Park
St. Andrews State Park

Florida State Parks are tops.

For the third time, the state system was awarded the State Park System Class Gold Medal award, which is only awarded every other year by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

More than 25 million people visit the 161 Florida state parks each year.

Florida already set a record when it won its second Gold Medal in 2005, which no park system had ever won. States have to wait five years after winning a Gold Medal to apply again. Florida won its first gold medal in 1999.

Finalists this year were Florida, Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia parks.

Florida State Parks range from islands (10 parks are accessible only by boat) to fishing piers (the Skyway Fishing Pier in St. Petersberg) to parks built around archeaological sites, historical sites, beaches, hiking/biking trails, forests, springs, rivers and lakes.

“The fact that the Florida Park Service has won this prestigious national award three times, while no other state has ever won twice shows the dedication of our employees and volunteers to manage the resources that provide vast opportunities for Floridians and visitors to enjoy our natural resources,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr.
For more information:

More about the award

Florida State Parks website.