Down here in South Florida, we are very fortunate to have such an expansive system of state parks to explore the beautiful wildlife and enjoy our state’s natural splendor. Many of the parks can be found less than 50 miles from metropolitan areas, making them a great day trip to the beach or a weekend camping trip. All of the state parks here in South Florida have unique features and histories, whether it’s observing several endangered species at John MacArthur Beach, exploring the first undersea park at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef, or hiking along the historic Overseas Railroad. We’ve got a two-part series just for you covering all of the amazing things South Florida’s State Parks have to offer. So gather up your friends and take a trip to experience South Florida in its natural state.
While only accessible by boat, the St. Lucie Inlet Preserve is definitely worth the ride! Located 20 miles from Port St. Lucie, this barrier island features a boardwalk that leads visitors through the mangrove forests and live oak hammocks to a preserved white sand beach. The park allows a number of recreational activities including swimming, surf fishing, and picnicking along the beach.
Pro Tip: During the summer, St. Lucie Inlet Island is home to nesting turtles, where the turtles dig holes in the sand and lay their eggs. But be sure you don’t disturb them!
Tucked away on Singer Island, the John D. MacArthur Beach State Park offers a rare blend of coastal and tropical forests, which provides shelter to a number of endangered animal and plant species. In order to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the park, we recommend swimming or snorkeling to the reef just off shore or kayaking to Munyon Island and hiking around the trails.
Pro Tip: The Nature Center on site has great aquariums and interactive displays to learn more about the flora and fauna of the island.
Along the shores of Biscayne Bay, Miami is actually home to the largest urban park in Florida: the Oleta River State Park. While all variety of recreation is permitted at Oleta River, the park is best known for its off-road biking trails. With more than 10 miles of bike trails, this park is perfect for all levels of biking experience. If bicycles aren’t really your thing, many visitors also enjoy water sport activities on the extensive network waterways along the Oleta River.
Pro Tip: The park’s private concessionaire offers canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and bikes available for rent.
Down in sunny Key Largo, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park covers almost 70 square miles of upland and nautical areas. Although the park boasts tropical hammocks and mangrove forests, the main attraction is the internationally renowned coral reef. The state park was founded as the first undersea park in the United States, preserved for the Molasses reef and associated aquatic life. We suggest taking a glass-bottom boat ride to appreciate the breathtaking reef.
Pro Tip: For the ultimate reef viewing experience, take a snorkeling or scuba tour to get a close-up look of the coral and its marine life.
Located in the heart of the Florida Keys, the Curry Hammock State Park is one of our favorite state park destinations because the tropical climate in the Keys contributes to the vast plant and wildlife. This area boasts one of the largest populations of thatch palms in the nation, thanks to the hardwood hammocks found on the islands. We encourage you to rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore around the islands’ waterways.
Pro Tip: Hike along the multi-purpose Overseas Heritage Trail to catch a glimpse of historic Overseas Railroad, which passes through the park.
South Florida has some of the best state parks to get out and enjoy the outdoors! So if you liked our guide to our favorite state parks, be on the lookout for part 2 of our Guide to South Florida’s State Parks. You can follow the Luxury Estates Plus Facebook, Twitter, and Blog pages for the latest South Florida news.