If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, then head to one of Florida’s beautiful national parks to experience the array of tropical wildlife, including more than 500 species of birds and animals.
Florida has 160 state parks from Pensacola to Key West and I’ve listed four of my favourites that have fascinating animal and bird species, scuba diving opportunities and even historical significance.
The Everglades, 50 miles southwest of Miami, is Florida’s largest and most famous national park. The park is the largest subtropical wilderness in America and has more than 300 species of birds, including the white ibis, spoonbill and snail kite. I was fascinated to hear that the endangered Florida Panther still resides in the park, but there are only 100-160 left in the wild so you would be lucky to spot one. There is also the endangered American crocodile and the West Indian Manatee. The best way to explore and spot the wildlife is by canoe, so get paddling.
Biscayne National Park, less than an hour south of Miami, is perfect for combining a city break with a touch of nature exploration. This is no doubt one of Florida’s most beautiful parks and where you will find the world’s most northern coral reefs; 95 percent of Biscayne is underwater. You can explore the reefs, mangrove forests and remote islands, but I would recommend heading there during the winter months to avoid being eaten alive by mosquitoes.
If you’re looking for a National Park off the beaten tourist track -- 70 miles west of Key West -- then the Dry Tortugas are for you. Within the park there lies a cluster of seven islands composed of coral reefs and white sand. As well as being known for its marine and bird wildlife, the park is also famous for its legends of pirates and sunken treasure. It was even mentioned and portrayed in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. The Dry Tortugas are home to the abandoned Fort Jefferson, the largest of the 19th-century American coastal forts, which was used by the Union as a prison for criminals during the Civil War.