Winter is a perfect time to visit Florida national parks. Take a look at the top seven for family fun and if it’s freezing where you are at the moment, know that winter weather is usually warm and sunny in Florida. Tempted to go see for yourself?
7/7 Biscayne National Park
Within sight of downtown Miami yet worlds away, Biscayne National Park protects a rare combination of aquamarine waters, emerald islands and fish-bejeweled coral reefs. Here, too, is evidence of human history spanning centuries, from pirates and shipwrecks to pineapple farmers and presidents. Outdoor enthusiasts can canoe through mangrove forests, snorkel among 500 species of reef fish, camp, watch wildlife or simply relax in a rocking chair gazing out over the bay. A road built during the 1960s, now the park’s lone hiking trail, passes through a tropical hardwood forest. Take kids virtual diving round Biscayne wreck sites right now.
Find out more about Biscayne, one of the Florida national parks closest to Miami
6/7 Dry Tortugas National Park
In the 19th century, some Americans were imprisoned in Fort Jefferson on what’s now Dry Tortugas National Park, a small group of islands almost 70 miles west of Key West. One prisoner declared it “the most horrible place the eye of man ever rested upon.” But today’s visitors consider it a slice of heaven on earth, with crystal-clear waters and few crowds. The most remote of the national parks, Dry Tortugas is accessible only by boat or seaplane. Families can take the two-hour ferry from Key West to spend the day exploring historic Fort Jefferson, snorkeling in the coral reefs and watching the vast assortment of bird life. Encourage the kids to keep an eye out for turtles and dolphins. Go for a virtual visit to Dry Tortugas today.
Find out more about Dry Tortugas, the most remote of Florida national parks
5/7 Everglades National Park
The Everglades is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, consisting of 1.5 million acres of wetlands in South Florida. The landscape is unparalleled, providing important habitats for numerous rare and endangered species such as the manatee, American crocodile and the elusive Florida panther. Everglades National Park has three entrances that are accessed through different areas of South Florida. Inside the park, families can take a short walk on the Anhinga Trail to spot abundant wildlife like turtles, herons and alligators. Climb atop Shark Valley’s 65-foot observation tower for a bird’s-eye view of the Glades or glide over Florida Bay by tour boat or kayak for a chance to glimpse a crocodile, manatee and dolphin. Check out fun virtual experiences all over the Everglades right now.
Find out more about Everglades, the most famous of Florida national parks
4/7 Big Cypress National Preserve
Big Cypress National Preserve, a 729,000-acre swamp next door to the Everglades, once was slated to become the world’s largest jetport but in 1972 a coalition of hunters and conservationists saved it. The preserve’s fresh waters are an essential part of the region’s ecosystem. With hundreds of miles of multi-use trails, you’ll find opportunities for birdwatching, wildlife viewing, discovering the natural world, or simply gazing across the horizon. There’s even a Big Cypress movie ‘Mud Lake Mosaic‘ to watch before you go.
Find out more about Big Cypress, the most mysterious of Florida national parks
3/7 Gulf Islands National Seashore
Gulf Islands National Seashore stretches for 160 miles along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico and includes barrier islands, maritime forests, historic forts, bayous and marine habitat. An incredible variety of activities are available for visitors throughout the seashore and year-round. Visit historic forts, take a barrier island walk, hike through salt marsh habitats, or snorkel and kayak in the emerald green waters. If kids can’t wait to see the seashore check out the live webcams for a sneak preview.
Find out more about Gulf Islands National Seashore, the beachiest of Florida national parks
2/7 De Soto National Memorial
The park commemorates the 1539 expedition of the Spanish Conquistador Hernando de Soto and its impact on the American Indian societies of the Southeast. The park, about an hour south of Tampa at the intersection of the Gulf of Mexico, the Intracoastal Waterway and the Manatee River, is open year round and offers many seasonal activities. Highlight of the park’s activities include living history programs and demonstrations at Camp Uzita, a recreation of a 16th century native village – let kids have a virtual village experience right now.
Find out more about De Soto, the most historic of Florida national parks
1/7 Canaveral National Seashore
Canaveral National Seashore, between New Smyrna Beach and Titusville, features 24 miles of undeveloped beach along the Atlantic coast. It is a prime habitat for many threatened and endangered species including nesting beaches for several thousand protected marine turtles. If you want to get kids excited about visiting Canaveral try one of the fun virtual tours right now.
Find out more about Canaveral National Seashore, the turtle-packed Florida national park