Winter is waning, spring is in the air and schools are winding down for the year. So now might be a good time to plan that summer vacation. Whether you prefer going back to nature, or seek a cultural experience, the Florida State Parks Department offers something for everyone. Their website is chock full of information to help you get that much needed rest and relaxation, including links to the park activities recommended below.
Florida State Parks
3900 Commonwealth Blvd.
Tallahassee, FL 32399
A Glimpse Of The Past (Museum)
The Barnacle House
3485 Main Highway
Miami, FL 33133
In a time when Miami could only be reached by boat, Ralph Middleton Munroe built a beautiful home on the shores of Biscayne Bay. It’s now the centerpiece of The Barnacle Historic State Park. Visitors to the restored 1891 structure will be transported back to frontier times during what was known as “The Era of the Bay.” Truly a place for rest and relaxation, you can picnic on the lawn, rock in chairs on the porch or stroll down the tree-lined path along the old buggy trail through the hammock trees.
Take To The Water (Boat/Canoe/Kayak/Surfboard)
Let’s face it, South Florida has water everywhere. But that’s definitely not a bad thing for adventure seekers wanting to explore the many rivers, inlets and waterways with their beautiful scenery or launch out into the deep, skimming on Atlantic waves. And the parks are the perfect place to indulge that desire to pit oneself against the elements. You might also see manatees, sting rays or even sharks.
- Bahia Honda (access to Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico/kayak rental)
- Indian Key (boat/kayak rental)
- Fort Pierce (best surfing in South Florida)
- John D. MacArthur Beach (single-double kayak rental)
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef (boat/canoe/single-double kayak rental)
- John U. Lloyd Beach (canoe/kayak rental)
- Lignumvitae Key Botanical (boat/kayak rental)
Rough It In The Wild (Camp Sites)
Camping is the ultimate back to nature experience, and South Florida has numerous sites to fit various camping experiences. You can join with others in a campfire circle. Do you want to bring your horse along? No problem, there’s an equestrian camping site. And organized adult and youth groups can take advantage of primitive camping sites. Be sure to reserve yours well in advance.
- Bahia Honda (80 RV and tent sites/one campfire circle)
- Curry Hammock (28 RV and tent sites in view of Atlantic Ocean)
- Jonathan Dickinson (135 RV and tent sites/five equestrian)
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef (47 RV and tent sites/one primitive)
- Long Key (60 sites in view of Atlantic Ocean)
Four Legged Friend Excursions (Horseback Riding Trails)
There’s nothing like seeing nature from the back of a horse, so hitch up that trailer and head for the riding trails in South Florida. Depending on the season, you may encounter wet conditions. And the trails are shared with hikers and bikers. Riders are required to carry proof that their horse has tested negative for Coggins.
Let Your Feet Take You Sight-Seeing (Hiking/Nature Trails)
Don’t forget to bring a camera when hiking along park trails. You can see butterflies at Bahia Honda and view the entire park from the top of Old Bahia Honda Bridge. Or hike the Fort View trail to the 19th century structure at Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West. Hikers can even follow a trail through the mangroves at Cape Florida.
- Avalon (bird watching)
- Bahia Honda (butterfly garden)
- Cape Florida (mangrove wetlands)
- Fort Zachary Taylor (hammocks/19th century fort)
- Key Largo Hammock (butterfly and bird watching/largest U.S. tract of West Indian hardwood hammocks)
Ms. Clarke is an out-going, charismatic communicator and author of The Royalty Principle. Her personal testimony includes events which she refers to as “close encounters of the God kind.” She has published Flash Fiction stories with Splickety Publishing Group and contributes to Examiner.com. Dylyce resides in Cocoa, Florida.