Florida has 175 state parks covering some 800,000 acres as well as the famous Everglades National Park and Ocala National Forest.
Yet most visitors, few snow birds, and all too many residents have visited very few county parks. Since most are practically free in admission and offer an incredible diversity of outdoor activities, not visiting them is a waste of vacation opportunities.
Here are my favorite Florida county parks:
Fort DeSoto County Park in Saint Petersburg
Most people think this massive series of islands at the very tip of Pinellas County is a State Park. It is not despite dozens of waterside RV sites, a historic Spanish-American War fort, and beaches that have been listed as the best in the United States. I live in the Tampa Bay area and showing visitors this park is a joy.
Fort DeSoto Is Vast
You should go online and download a map for without planning you’ll be hard-pressed to select activities, from fishing on two huge piers, biking, taking a boat to Egmont Key, or just hitting the sand.
Haulover Beach Park in Bal Harbour (Miami)
Haulover Beach can not be considered an unknown quantity but the 10800 Collins Avenue facility is just too note-worthy to not include. With 1.4 miles of wide beach, some visitors won’t even notice that there is a nude beach section.
Haulover Is Perhaps Miami-Dade’s Best Beach
The huge broadwalk to the Atlantic is historic. Bike rentals and hiking trials cover the inland portion. Even in the slower season the Tuesday food trucks cause a massive visitation. I love the Bark Park.
Tigertail Beach on Marco Island
Hurricanes have created and reduced and reclaimed this three mile strip of amazing sand. Hurricane Wilma is responsible for this version and if you think it is too long a walk if you enter from the north, you could “inner tube” across the shallow lagoon to the beach.
Coe’s Landing northwest of Tallahassee
Situated on large Lake Talguin off FL 20 in Leon County, Coe’s Landing offers great camping locations for RVs and tents. There is a great fishing and boating pier and the woods are filled with wildlife. This park even has wireless Internet (gads!).
Moss Park in Orlando
Central Florida makes great use of its many lakes and springs and this county park on Lake Mary Jane provides great campgrounds, kayak and canoe rentals, and a bathing beach.
Moss Lake Is A County Park with a State Park look
The location next to the massive Split Oak Preserve probably explains why herds of deer often appear around the camp sites at dusk.
West Lake Park in Hollywood Beach
Better Traffic Signs Than Some Highways
People in crowded Broward County are shocked at just off Sheridan Road is the largest mangrove estuary within a hundred miles of Atlantic coastline, with 47,000 feet of waterfront. This is the spot to go to the marina and rent a kayak or canoe trtp.
Princess Place Preserve in Palm Coast (Flagler County)
Kayakers in Northeast Florida know that Pellicer Creek is a great spot to kayak and hike miles of trails filled with 75-foot oak trees. Some people, however, just want to sit on the porch of the 1888 hunting lodge and watch the abundant water birds.
If I missed your favorite county park, I apologize, but there are just too many good parks.