5 great state parks for enjoying the Florida sunshine

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Florida isn’t called the Sunshine State for nothing. And what better way to enjoy some golden rays than spending time outdoors at these family-friendly state parks.

Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park (Niceville, FL)

An ideal spot for fishing and boating, this state park even features a double-lane boat ramp. You can also hit the water in a kayak, go for a hike along a nature trail or enjoy a scenic bike ride. Kids can run around at the playground, and the picnic pavilion provides the perfect spot for lunch. Outdoor-loving families can also utilise the full-facility campground.

Big Shoals State Park (White Springs, FL)

Experienced kayakers and canoers will love the thrill of navigating the largest white water rapids in Florida. If you’re traveling with younger children, you may want to opt for exploring the 28 miles of wooded trails. Families can still catch a view of Big Shoals rapids on the Yellow Blaze trail. Horseback riding, biking and wildlife spotting also provide kids with endless (unplugged!) entertainment opportunities.


Catfish Creek Preserve State Park (Haines City, FL)

This state park is a hiker’s paradise with more than six miles of trails, ranging in difficulty. The landscape features rolling sand dunes peppered with scrub, ponds and grasslands. And don’t forget to pack the binoculars, Florida scrub-jays, bald eagles, gopher tortoises and lizards are just a few of the animals to be on the lookout for. Be aware though, that it is a scrub habitat, so the rugged conditions may not be ideal for the very smallest travellers.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park (Hobe Sound, FL)

Take in distinctive scenery filled with mangroves, river swamps and woodlands. Boat tours, kayaking and swimming are all ideal ways for families to enjoy the water. Ranger-led tours of Trapper Nelson’s 1930s pioneer homestead are also available. Hiking, mountain biking, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing and camping options make this an easy place to spend the whole day. Plus, with concessions offering local, organic food options right in the park, families don’t even have to worry about packing their own lunch.

Estero Bay Preserve State Park (Estero, FL)

The first aquatic preserve in the state, this 10-mile stretch of protected water, inlets and islands offers plenty of marine and land activities for all ages, including numerous hiking and biking trails. The diverse setting includes salt flats and marshes, and the area brims with wildlife such as herons, crabs and birds.

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