10 Awesome State Parks in Central Florida

Florida has a robust state parks system, and Central Florida is particularly rich in some of the most enjoyable of all, including those with some of The Sunshine State’s most famous springs. For active adults living in the area who like to go primitive, tent, or RV camping, the area’s state parks are perfect places to partake. Even if you’re just an outdoors enthusiast looking to surround yourself with beautiful, untouched nature for the day, there’s nowhere better to do so than the state parks in Central Florida.

Here are 10 amazing Central Florida state parks and a quick look at their main draws and the activities you can do there:

1. Blue Spring State Park – Orange City, FL

Blue Spring is the largest spring along the St. Johns River and a designated manatee refuge. The Volusia County park covers 2,600 acres, and tours of the historic Thursby House, built in 1872, is a must for anyone interested in local history and culture. Visitors enjoy:

  • Camping, including tents and RVs up to 40 feet long, electricity hookups, on-site dump station, restrooms, and showers
  • 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom rental cabins (sleeping up to 6 people) with central heat and air conditioning, fully equipped kitchen, screened-in porch, gas fireplace, bedding and linens, and outdoor picnic area
  • Supplies and gift shop
  • Interpretive exhibits (Thursby House, kiosks at the Spring Run boardwalk, and programming about manatees)
  • Manatee viewing
  • Birding (particularly for the Florida scrub-jay in this park’s rare scrub ecosystem)
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • River boat tours
  • Canoeing, kayaking, and tubing
  • Snorkeling and SCUBA diving
  • Nature hikes
  • Picnicking

2. De Leon Springs State Park – De Leon Springs, FL

Another Volusia County treasure, this 625-acre park centers around De Leon Springs and the gorgeous Spring Garden Run. It’s heaven for anyone into water-based recreation, plus there are 600-year-old cypress trees, a butterfly garden, and the cool Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant. Visitors enjoy:

  • Visitor center
  • Interpretive exhibits (kiosks about the area’s history, plant life, wildlife, springs, and more)
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Birding (the park is on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, and it’s ideal for spotting a variety of wading birds, bald eagles, ospreys, and plenty more)
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Boating
  • Boat tours
  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Snorkeling and SCUBA diving
  • Nature hikes
  • Picnicking
  • Playground

3. Hontoon Island State Park – DeLand, FL

Yet another Volusia County park, this one in DeLand, the nearly 1,650-acre Hontoon Island State Park is only accessible by the park’s ferry or private boat. This is a secluded, pet-friendly paradise, especially favored for camping. Visitors enjoy:

  • Camping, including primitive, tent, and boat camping with slips (accommodating up to 60 feet) and shore power sources; restrooms; and showers
  • 1-bedroom rustic cabins with no bathroom, no heating or air conditioning, no kitchen, no bedding or linens
  • Museum (dedicated to the region’s earliest native inhabitants)
  • Fishing (particularly catfish, bass, crappie, brim, perch, and sunfish)
  • Nature hikes
  • Picnicking
  • Playground

4. Lake Griffin State Park – Fruitland Park, Fl

The most famous resident of this pet-friendly, 620-acre Lake County state park is the state’s second-biggest live oak tree, estimated to be 300-500 years old. Lake Griffin is the eighth-largest lake in Florida, and water activities (especially fishing) are a key attraction here. Visitors enjoy:

  • Camping, including tents and RVs up to 40 feet long; electricity, water, and sewer hookups; restrooms; showers; and laundry facilities
  • Amphitheater
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Birding (particularly wading birds and ospreys)
  • Fishing (catfish, largemouth bass, crappie, speckled perch, and bluegill)
  • Boating
  • Boat tours
  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Nature hikes
  • Picnicking
  • Playground
  • Geocaching

5. Lake Kissimmee State Park – Lake Wales, FL

This is an excellent destination if you’re interested in Florida’s cowboy heritage, featuring an 1870s-era cow camp and live historical demonstrations. It’s almost 6,000 acres and located in Polk County, and this pet-friendly place offers an extensive array of options and activities. Visitors enjoy:

  • Camping, including primitive, tent, equestrian, and RVs up to 55 feet long; electricity and water hookups; nearby dump station; restrooms; and showers
  • Supplies store
  • Wildlife viewing (you might even get lucky and spot a bobcat)
  • Birding (particularly water fowl, sandhill cranes, bald eagles, and other birds of prey)
  • Fishing (especially catfish, largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and chain pickerel)
  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Nature hikes
  • Equestrian trail
  • Picnicking
  • Playground
  • Geocaching
  • Weddings and family reunions

6. Lake Louisa State Park – Clermont, FL

This pet-friendly Clermont park in Lake County offers 4,500 acres of rolling hills, lakes, and natural splendor. Multiple accessible lakes are perfect for all sorts of water activities, and this Green Swamp region is teeming with diverse plant life and wildlife. Visitors enjoy:

  • Camping, including primitive, tent, equestrian, and RVs up to 50 feet long; electricity hookups; nearby dump station; restrooms; and showers
  • Wildlife viewing (highlights might include white-tailed deer, bobcats, or gopher tortoises)
  • Birding (particularly water fowl, wading birds, bald eagles, ospreys, and more)
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Nature hikes
  • Bicycle trails
  • Equestrian trails
  • Picnicking
  • Playground
  • Geocaching
  • Weddings and family reunions

7. Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park – Sandford, FL

Located in Seminole County, this pet-friendly Central Florida state park spans 18,000 acres. Thanks largely to its huge untouched expanse, wetlands, and blackwater streams help support an incredible amount and array of wildlife. Visitors enjoy:

  • Equestrian camping
  • Birding
  • Wildlife viewing (including alligators, river otters, black bears, and snakes)
  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Nature hikes
  • Bicycle trails
  • Equestrian trails
  • Geocaching

8. Rainbow Springs State Park – Dunnellon, FL

Evidence shows this spot in Marion County has been in use by humans for 10,000 years. Rainbow Spring is Florida’s fourth-largest spring, making it a prime destination for water-based recreation. This pet-friendly park encompasses 1,000 acres. Visitors enjoy:

  • Camping, including tents and RVs up to 103 feet long; electricity, water, and sewer hookups; on-site dump station; restrooms; showers; laundry facilities; recreation hall
  • Amphitheater
  • Birding (the park is on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, and it’s ideal for spotting a variety of wading birds, songbirds, woodpeckers, hawks, owls, and plenty more)
  • Fishing (largemouth bass and other freshwater species)
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing, kayaking, and tubing
  • Snorkeling
  • Nature hikes
  • Gardens and waterfalls
  • Picnicking
  • Playground
  • Geocaching
  • Weddings and family reunions

9. Silver Springs State Park – Ocala, FL

Another Marion Count park, this pet-friendly Central Florida state park covers 5,000 acres and offers a large selection of activities. It’s been a recreational destination since the 1870s, and it’s famous for the glass-bottom boat tours provided by a private company. Visitors enjoy:

  • Camping, including primitive, tents, and RVs up to 50 feet long; electricity and water hookups; on-site dump station; restrooms; and showers
  • 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom rental cabins (sleeping up to 6 people) with central heat and air conditioning, fully equipped kitchen, screened-in porch, gas fireplace, bedding and linens, and outdoor picnic area
  • Visitor center
  • Amphitheater
  • Interpretive exhibits (kiosks providing information about controlled burns and area wildlife)
  • Museum (dedicated to local history, natural history, geology, archaeology, and paleontology)
  • Guided tours
  • Wildlife viewing (possibly including armadillos, deer, foxes, gopher tortoises, bobcats, black bears, or coyotes)
  • Birding (the park is on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, and it’s ideal for spotting a variety of wading birds, water fowl, woodpeckers, wild turkeys, bobwhite quail, American kestrels, and plenty more)
  • Glass-bottom boat tours
  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Nature hikes
  • Bicycle trails and mountain biking
  • Equestrian trails
  • Gardens
  • Picnicking
  • Playground
  • Geocaching
  • Weddings and family reunions

10. Wekiwa Springs State Park – Apopka, FL

Sitting at the headwaters of the Wekiva River, this 7,000-acre, pet-friendly park provides a true escape. It’s one of Florida’s most popular state parks, thanks to its notable natural beauty, convenient Orange County location, and the extensive activities available. Visitors enjoy:

  • Camping, including primitive, tent, equestrian, and RVs up to 50 feet long; electricity, water, and sewer hookups; on-site dump station; restrooms; and showers
  • Visitor center
  • Concession stand
  • Wildlife viewing (possibly including white-tailed deer and black bears)
  • Birding (the park is on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, and it’s ideal for spotting a wide variety of native and migrating birds)
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Snorkeling
  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Nature hikes
  • Bicycle trails
  • Equestrian trails
  • Picnicking
  • Playground
  • Geocaching

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