Photo Credit: Rahul Nair
You can find some of the most beautiful state parks here in South Florida, whether you want to explore a mangrove forest or relax on a preserved beach on the Atlantic. Many parks along the South Florida coastline are within 50 miles of metropolitan districts, making state parks the a great way to escape from everyday life. Each park has distinct qualities that make it special to visit. Maybe you want to catch a glimpse into the past at the Windley Key Fossil Reef or lounge on the preserved beach at Fort Zachary Taylor—either way, the state parks in South Florida provide the perfect getaway for your friends and family.
Found just south of Stuart, the Jonathan Dickinson State Park is full of wildlife among the 13 different natural areas it holds. The famous Loxahatchee River runs through the park, contributing to the diverse flora and fauna found here. Visitors enjoy a range of activities including hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and ranger tours. Plus, you can visit the Trapper Nelson pioneer homestead year-round, where the well-known Trapper Nelson turned his land into a zoo in the 1940s.
Pro Tip: Jonathan Dickinson State Park also hosts the Elsa Kimbell Environmental Education and Research Center (open daily), which provides tourists with natural and cultural information on the area.
Just a brisk walk from condominiums and beach shops near Ft. Lauderdale, the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park boasts a haven of tropical hammocks. These hammocks are part of the original landscape of the South Florida coastline. Nature lovers can hike or bike along the trails in the park and learn about the natural environment. If you prefer the beach, you can swim around the freshwater lagoon or fish from the seawall.
Pro Tip: If you want a tour of the two-mile long main drive, the concession stand at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park has Segways available for rent.
For our history buffs, the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is home to a lighthouse built in 1846, the oldest standing building in Miami-Dade County. Located at the end of the Rickenbacker Causeway on Key Biscayne, Bill Baggs Park features more than a mile of Atlantic beachfront. Concessions at the park rent out bicycles, umbrellas, and beach chairs daily. So grab your towel and sunscreen and head out to the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park soon!
Pro Tip: Tours of the historic lighthouse are available at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Thursday-Monday, great for picture opportunities!
Down in Windley Key near Islamorada, you can discover ancient coral reefs and the remnants of the Flagler Railroad. After the railroad was completed, the old limestone quarry operated until 1960, producing unique pieces of limestone called Keystone. Visitors enjoy exploring the self-guided trails through the tropical hardwood hammocks and examining the old quarry machines, which the park preserved when the quarry closed.
Pro Tip: The self-guided tours travel through the tropical hammock, which is home to over 40 species of plant life native to the Florida Keys.
Located on the southern tip of Key West, the Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park (or Fort Taylor) has guarded the nation’s southeastern coastline for more than 150 years. We love the Fort Taylor Park for its pristine beach conditions, calm and clear water, and amazing snorkeling experience. Plus, the Fort Taylor Park has some of the most unique marine life from the convergence of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.
Pro Tip: Many months of the year you can participate in a relaxing yoga class right on the beach! Check out the concessionaire’s website for more information.
Down here in South Florida, we’re lucky to have so many beautiful state parks to explore and enjoy. If you missed the Part 1 to South Florida State Parks Guide and want more details on state parks, visit our blog here. Follow us at the Luxury Estates Plus pages on Facebook and Twitter, or visit our Blog for more information about living in South Florida.