Come experience the national parks! On National Public Lands Day on Sept 25, all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone. There are 11 national parks in Florida, several of which are little known hidden treasures. *Please check with each park individually for possible COVID related closures and limitations.

  • Big Cypress National Preserve in Ochopee. The freshwaters of the Big Cypress Swamp are essential to the health of the neighboring Everglades. The National Preserve is spread out on either side of Tamiami Trail. To do with kids; start at the welcome center and walk the 200 yrd boardwalk through the mangroves, visit the Big Cypress Gallery, and watch the alligators at the Oasis Visitor Center.
  • Biscayne National Park in Miami. The park is a boating, fishing, and diving destination with a combination of aquamarine waters, emerald islands, and coral reefs. To do with kids: snorkel along the bay or coral reefs, kayak through mangroves and on the 2nd Sunday of each month from Dec – April, the park hosts Family Fun Fest, three full hours of hands on activities for kids.
  • Canaveral National Seashore near Titusville. This barrier island provides protection from storms, preserves ancient Timucua Native American mounds, and is a sanctuary for thousands of species of plants & animals. There are a number of beaches to choose from so check out the visitor center on Apollo Beach. The beaches are very natural and you won’t find any beach cafes or shops.
  • Castillo De San Marcos in St. Augustine. This was built by the Spanish in St. Augustine to defend Florida. There are lots of things to do with kids; explore the fort’s lower rooms, the fort’s historic weapons, and the upper gun deck. Take a walk around the outside perimeter where you can experience the moat, water battery, and north boardwalk. The fort sits on 20 open and grassy acres.
  • DeSoto National Memorial near Bradenton. De Soto National Memorial commemorates the 1539 landing of Hernando de Soto and the first organized exploration by Europeans of what is now the southern United States. There are lots of activities to do with kids: De Soto Expedition nature trail walk (approx. 45 min), in Dec-April check out the Camp Uzita Living History Camp, hit the Cove Beach on the south side of De Soto point, become a Junior Ranger, or enjoy a ranger-led kayak tour.
  • Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys. This 100-square mile park is mostly open water with 7 small islands. Be sure to book your reservation for the two hour ferry ride from Key West ahead of time, as there are limited spots. To do with kids: snorkel equipment is included in your ferry ticket, and you will have 5 hours to explore the island, snorkel or swim in crystal clear blue water.
  • Everglades National Park in South Florida. Everglades National Park protects an unparalleled landscape that provides important habitat for numerous rare and endangered species. To do with kids: take an airboat ride, find a hike (best for littles is the .6 mile Guy Bradley trail), and check out their amazing Junior Ranger Program.
  • Fort Matanzas National Monument in St. Augustine. Fort Matanzas National Monument has a preserved coquina watchtower, completed in 1742, which defended the southern approach to St. Augustine.  To do with kids; explore the 1/2 mile boardwalk nature trail, then take the ferry to Rattlesnake Island and explore the fort. A public beach is located just across the street from the park.
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore. Its 12 areas include historic forts, shaded picnic areas, trails, and campgrounds. From Cat Island, Mississippi, it stretches eastward 160 miles to the Okaloosa Area east of Fort Walton Beach, Florida. To do with kids; explore the beautiful pristine beaches, visit Fort Pickens or Fort Barrancas, or hike some of the trails giving you access to smaller beaches and the bay.
  • Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve near Jacksonville.  The Timucuan Preserve includes Fort Caroline and Kingsley Plantation. Visit one of the last unspoiled coastal wetlands on the Atlantic Coast. To do with kids; check out the exhibits at the Ribault Club, Explore Fort Caroline & the Preserve Visitor Center, check out an Adventure Backpack at Kingsley Plantation, and become a junior ranger.