The Everglades And 10 Other National Parks In Florida You Can Visit On Your Next Road Trip
There are more than 400 national park sites in the United States, and 11 of them are right here in Florida.
The Everglades tend to get all the love—shout-out for being voted Take Me Fishing's No. 1 family-friendly place to boat and fish in the U.S. for 2016—and frankly, South Florida's great grassland area needs all the environmental attention it can get, but there are plenty of historic fortresses and natural coastal sites worth exploring around the state, too.
As the National Park Service turns 100 this year, we take a look at Florida's 11 national park sites that we're oh-so-thankful for:
Looking for a chance to see a Florida panther? This freshwater swampland to the west of the Everglades is home to these endangered mammals, as well as mangroves, red orchids, herons, egrets and more.
Go snorkeling, boating, fishing or kayaking in this aquatic national park off the shores of Miami. Visitors can also picnic on islands within Biscayne Bay, such as Elliott Key or Boca Chita.
Next time you pay a visit to the Kennedy Space Center, consider an outing to Canaveral National Seashore as well. This barrier island between Titusville and New Smyrna Beach offers fishing, swimming and wildlife-watching galore.
This stone-and-mortar fortress in old St. Augustine was constructed in the 17th century, making it the oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S. Castillo de San Marcos' history includes possession by the Spanish Empire, Britain, the Confederacy, and United States.
When Spanish conqueror Hernando de Soto embarked on his expedition to La Florida (our lovely state) in 1539, he landed on the Gulf Coast. Mostly swampland, this national memorial site west of Bradenton commemorates De Soto's landing as well as Europeans' first extensive exploration of the southern U.S.
Nineteenth century-era Fort Jefferson is the centerpiece of this national park site, but given that Dry Tortugas also encompasses the surrounding open water, it has become a hot spot for crystal clear snorkeling and marine life-viewing. The park is accessible only be boat (it's common to take a high-speed ferry from Key West) or seaplane.
Undoubtedly Florida's most famous national park, it's also the largest. The Everglades' expansive tropical wetlands consist of sawgrass marshes, cypress swamps, mangrove forests and estuaries. They're also home to endangered species, such as manatees, American crocodiles and panthers.
The site of one of the first French colonies in the present-day U.S., this fort near Jacksonville was built in 1564. The site now offers historical reenactments, miles of hiking trails, and educational opportunities to learn about the Timucuan natives. (The fort is on the site of another NPS entity, the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve).
This St. Augustine fort was built in 1740. Fort Matanzas is made of coquina, or shellstone material, and the national monument site also offers 100 acres of salt marsh and barrier islands.
This stretch of barrier islands in the Gulf of Mexico runs from Florida's panhandle to Mississippi, offering white-sand beaches, nature trails, several forts to explore, and camping.
This patch of unspoiled wetlands offers salt marshes, coastal dunes, and hardwood hammock habitat. The preserve encompasses Fort Caroline and Kingsley Plantation (the oldest plantation in Florida), and it is named for the Timucuan natives who lived in the area at the time of Spanish colonization.