Florida is home to some of the most diverse national parks in the country. From historic sites to untamed nature, the state’s national parks offer a wealth of experiences.
The Gulf Islands National Seashore protects miles of pristine barrier islands with sands that feel like sugar. It also preserves Timucua Native American mounds and protects birds in the coastal wetlands.
The Everglades National Park is a pristine and unique wilderness. This subtropical region of 1.5 million acres is dominated by saw grass marshes, mangrove forests and hardwood hammocks.
The wetlands help improve water quality by filtering pollutants and absorbing excess nutrients, replenish aquifers, reduce flooding, and provide habitat for many plants and animals. These wetlands are also important for fish reproduction and migration.
Over thousands of years, this shallow, slow-moving sheet of water developed a mosaic of ponds, marshes and forests. This unique ecosystem once covered 4,000 square miles, but development and environmental degradation have drained much of it, reducing its size to just over half that today.
A natural paradise, the Everglades is threatened by a variety of factors, including climate change and early settlers and developers who dredged and drained the wetlands. This has impacted a wide range of endangered and rare plant and animal species, as well as the habitat they depend on.
The 729,000-acre Big Cypress National Reserve is an expansive wilderness teeming with life. Its freshwater swamps, cypress strands, pinelands, prairies and pineland forests are home to diverse wildlife, including the endangered Florida panther.
The preserve is bordered by Everglades National Park and is home to five habitats: hardwood hammocks, pinelands, prairies, cypress swamps and mangrove estuaries. Tropical and temperate plant communities abound here, as well as a host of animals, including American alligators, crocodiles, venomous snakes such as the cottonmouth and eastern diamondback rattlesnake and birds.
Throughout the year, visitors can explore Big Cypress in many different ways. From regularly scheduled Ranger-led swamp walks to canoeing and kayak trips, bike rides and a variety of special events, there is something for everyone!
Start your visit at the Big Cypress National Reserve Visitor Center, where you can pick up maps, brochures and other information about the preserve. You can also learn more about the flora and fauna of the preserve from Ranger-led tours and exhibits.
Located on North Florida’s glittering Gulf Coast between Pensacola and Panama City, Fort Walton Beach is the perfect beach destination for a laid-back getaway. It boasts picture-perfect white sand beaches, thrilling activities, and an array of seafood restaurants.
It’s also home to a floating party zone called Crab Island! This attraction is a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
If you want to learn more about the area’s history, check out the Indian Temple Mound Museum. It highlights more than 12,000 years of Native American culture, including an ancient temple mound. The compact museum makes it easy to see everything within a few hours.
The Gullah Geechee National Heritage Corridor, which stretches from North Carolina to Florida, preserves the history and culture of captive Africans who were brought to America as slaves. This is a unique American culture that dates back to the seventeenth century.
The descendants of enslaved West and Central Africans were able to retain many of their indigenous traditions while working on coastal rice, Sea Island cotton and indigo plantations. They also created a creole language, Gullah, that is unique to their communities.
They are known for their food, arts and crafts, and spiritual practices. They developed a strong sense of family and community.
They also maintained a strong entrepreneurial impulse and resisted outsiders' social dominance. Their resilience has helped them preserve their culture for centuries.