Here in Florida, we love our parks. From incredible places that are a part of the Florida State Parks system to small urban greenspaces, there is always somewhere to explore – no matter where you are in the state. July is officially designated as Park and Recreation Month. To celebrate, here are six places to play:
Elinor Klapps-Phipps Park (Tallahassee) – Hiking, biking, and equestrian trails crisscross over 600 acres in the Red Hills area of town. The 4-mile Redbug trail is a favorite with area mountain bikers, while a few geocaches and excellent birding opportunities can be found on the hiking trails.
Flatwoods Wilderness Park (Tampa) – There are several areas that make up the Flatwoods Wilderness Park – Trout Creek, Morris Bridge, and John B. Sargeant Park. Each are well worth a visit, so plan on spending plenty of time exploring here. If you are kayaking, head to John. B. Sargeant Park or Morris Bridge. Mountain bikers, wheel over to Morris Bridge for some technical singletrack trails, or hit the trails at Trout Creek. Road bikers, runners, and inline skaters gravitate towards the 7-mile paved loop at the Flatwoods section.
Fort De Soto Park (St. Petersburg) – History, trails, camping, and award-winning beaches make Fort De Soto Park in Pinellas County a wonderful summer destination. Rent kayaks at the park (or bring your own) and explore the mangrove-lined paddling trail. Better yet, book a campsite and make a weekend out of exploring Fort De Soto – don't forget to take the ferry and check out Egmont Key, too.
Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park (North Port) – Spend a day or just an hour or two exploring this park by kayak (Myakkahatchee Creek feeds into the Myakka River), bike, on horseback, or on foot. It's a great place for nature study, with plenty of Florida flora and fauna to check out in several different habitats.
Crandon Park (Miami) – Miami-Dade Parks has a unique Eco-Adventures program, with all sorts of scheduled outings going on throughout the year. At Crandon Park, the Visitors and Nature Center serves as a gateway to exploring Key Biscayne by bike, kayak, or on several different guided outings. Take part in the park's kayak and snorkel adventure and check out the coastal section of Bear Cut Preserve. Check the website for dates.
Founders Park (Islamorada) – Located at Mile Marker 87, this park features water sports rentals, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and a shallow water beach – just for starters. There are tennis and basketball courts as well as a skate park. It's also pet friendly, with a dog park providing plenty of space for exercise.