Watch CBS News

Top National Parks Near South Florida

National parks were established by president Theodore Roosevelt to preserve America's natural beauty, and today his mission continues. However, Florida's national parks don't fit the national standard. With two parks only accessible by boat and the other two in the middle of the wetlands, the activities and wildlife interactions tend to be more fun than just your standard camping trip. Read on about South Florida's best national parks and beyond, and if you're looking to take a winter trip, view "The Best National Parks To Visit In The Winter."
(Source: Blue Martini)

Everglades National Park
40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, FL 33034
(305) 242-7700

There are only a few national, natural monuments that continue to captivate the masses and define a region. In Florida, it's the everglades and you can explore them at Everglades National Park. This park features activities like boating, canoeing, camping, hiking and the best wildlife watching in all of South Florida. You can see alligators, manatees, Florida panthers and over 350 species of birds, likening the area to a tamer version of the Amazon. It's the one experience that every South Floridian must try once.

(Source: Playwright Irish Pub)

Biscayne National Park
9700 SW 328 St.
Homestead, FL 33303
(305) 230-7275

Biscayne National Park is unlike any other national park because it is a park made for water sports. Ninety-five percent of the park is covered by water, encouraging boaters, fisherman, snorkelers and kayakers to take part in South Florida's natural beauty. Scuba divers have the added bonus of underwater wildlife excursions and sunken shipwrecks to explore, while history buffs can take a boat ride out to Stiltsville, a group of old wooden houses built on stilts in the middle of the ocean, to live the literature written by Susanna Daniel and Carl Hiaasen that made this unconventional neighborhood famous. Then landlubbers can walk or hike the jetty to take a break from the salt life. So pack your boat, wetsuit or whatever and get ready for an unforgettable underwater adventure.

(Source: Blue Martini)

Dry Tortugas National Park
Key West, FL 33041
(305) 242-7700

Ernest Hemmingway has always been the Florida Keys' claim to fame and now you can fish where he fished. At Dry Tortugas National Park, the area must be explored by boat. Guests are welcome to take the park's ferry to enter the premises or use their own boat. Once there, guests can explore the pentagon-shaped Fort Jefferson or go off on their own and snorkel, fish or have a beach day. It's the one park where learning history is a day at the beach.

Related: Best Historical Parks In South Florida 

Big Cypress Natural Preserve
33100 Tamiami Trail
East Ochopee, FL 34141
(239) 695-2000

Big Cypress Natural Preserve rounds out the last of the four South Florida national parks. The wildlife watching and terrain is similar to Everglades National Park but Big Cypress is tailor made for camping and hiking. Located on the Tamiami Trail, the park spans 729,000 acres and you can view it either by foot or you can take a scenic drive. There are also ranger-led tours for those interested in the park's roots or on a school field trip. It's how Florida does the great outdoors.

(Source: Van Dyke Cafe)

Canaveral National Seashore
212 S. Washington Ave.
Titusville, FL 32796
(321) 261-1110

Canaveral National Seashore is basically a conservationist beach. Visitors can do some turtle watching along with their hiking and discover one of the many archeological finds. This beach has at least 150 recorded archeological finds, mostly consisting of sea fossils. Its location in Central Florida also makes it a great park to visit in the winter since the wildlife is more acclimated to cold temperatures. All in all, Canaveral Seashore is an excuse to go the beach hidden under the guise of education and conservation.

Related: Top Parks In South Florida 

Niema Hulin was born in Newark, NJ but raised in Lexington, South Carolina for the bulk of her formative years. In 2002, she moved to Miami after graduating from the University of Florida. Since then, Niema has worked in film, television and commercials as a Production Assistant and Production Coordinator. Some of her films have included Bad Boys II and I Am Number IV. Her work can be found at
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.