Some Florida State Parks boast dazzling beaches. MacArthur Beach Park in southeast Florida is one example: visiting it feels like letting out your breath when you didn’t even know you were holding it.
With every step you take on the boardwalk, you feel lighter. And when the beach unfolds in front of you, a glorious sweep of latte-hued sand, it’s hard to keep from smiling.
Others promise cool springs, ideal for a summer dip, like Wekiwa Springs State Park, located a mere hour from most central Florida attractions in Apopka.
When you wander through its vistas you can hear the wind sing through the pines, and it feels remote, much as it did when the Timucuan Indians fished and hunted here.
Some parks encompass thick forests that are home to deer, bobcat and foxes. The Santos Trailhead, by Ocala, is a Mecca for mountain biking. It features gentle, sun-dappled trails that meander through the woods-- as well as ones designed to make your heart pound and your palms sweat.
St. George Island State Park boasts sand so white it could masquerade as snow.
Yet when the surf touches it, it glistens like teak.
Big Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville is home to Boneyard Beach, famed for the salt- washed skeletons of live-oak and cedar trees that once took root on the eroding cliffs above it.
Gasparilla Island State Park offers a glimpse into the past with its meticulously restored Port Boca Grande Lighthouse, built in 1890. It also frequently features sunsets like this one.
While Florida’s 171 award-winning state parks and state trails have unique personalities and assets, they all have one thing in common: they’re the perfect place to take pictures.
Make sure to bring your camera when you visit a state park or trail. Of course you’ll want to save your memories, but you could also be rewarded for your special photo.
Your photo of natural beauty or fun times with family and friends could be a winner in the Florida State Parks and State Trails Photo Contest. Monthly and annual winners will get free park passes, and the photos could appear in park promotions.
Check out the rules and details to enter here. Or check out the great pictures and vote for your favorites.
Get the picture?
Photos by Lauren Tjaden for VISIT FLORIDA