The Southwest Region reaches from north of Tampa all the way to the southwestern edge of the Florida peninsular, from the west coast on the Gulf of Mexico eastward to Florida’s central ridge.
Alafia River State Park
14326 South County Road 39
Welcome to Alafia River State Park
This park offers some of the most challenging off-road bicycling trails in Florida. Once the site of a phosphate mine, the reclaimed land has unique topography that offers some of the most radical elevation changes in Florida. Equestrians and hikers can explore 20 miles of trails that travel through mixed hardwood forests, pine flatwoods, and rolling hills. Bird-watchers and nature enthusiasts will delight in the abundance of wildlife along the trails. Scattered lakes and the south prong of the Alafia River provide opportunities for canoeing and fishing. Picnic pavilions, a playground, horseshoe pit, and volleyball court are available. For overnight stays, this Florida state park has a full-facility campground and equestrian friendly campsites. Located 10 miles southeast of Tampa on County Road 39.
Cayo Costa State Park
P.O. Box 1150
Boca Grande, FL
Welcome to Cayo Costa State Park
With nine miles of beautiful Florida beaches and acres of pine forests, oak-palm hammocks, and mangrove swamps, this barrier island park is a Gulf Coast paradise. The park is accessible only by private boat or ferry. Visitors may see manatees and pods of dolphins in the waters around the park, as well as a spectacular assortment of birds. On the island, visitors can swim or snorkel in the surf, enjoy the sun, and picnic in the shade. Shelling is especially good during the winter months. Nature trails provide opportunities for hiking and off-road bicycling. Saltwater anglers can fish from their boats or throw a line out into the surf. An amphitheater provides educational programs about the islands ecology and history. For overnight stays, this Florida state park offers primitive cabins and tent camping. For ferry and rental information, call (239) 283-0015. Located directly south of Boca Grande.
Collier-Seminole State Park
20200 E. Tamiami Trail
Welcome to Collier-Seminole State Park
This Florida state park features a wealth of vegetation and wildlife typical of the Everglades, plus a forest made up of tropical trees. Although rare elsewhere, the Florida royal palm is a common tree here. The park is also the site of a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, the Bay City Walking Dredge. Built in 1924, it was used to build the Tamiami Trail highway (U.S. 41) through the Everglades, linking Tampa to Miami. Hiking, bicycling, and canoeing trails offer opportunities for visitors to explore the parks remarkable wilderness. The park has canoe rentals along with a boat ramp that provides access to the Blackwater River, where anglers can enjoy both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Campers can spend the night in a full-facility campgrounds; youth/group and primitive campsites are also available. The picnic areas have pavilions and grills for use on a first-come-first-served basis. The park concession has a snack shop and boat tours-call (239) 642-8898. Located on U.S. 41, 17 miles south of Naples.
Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park
11100 Gulfshore Drive
Welcome to Delnor-Wiggins Pass
One of the most popular seashore destinations in Naples, this park’s mile-long stretch of white sugar sand Florida beach has been rated as one of the best beaches in the nation. The beach is popular for sunbathing, swimming, beachcombing, snorkeling, and picnicking. Fishing at the beach along Wiggins Pass, where swimming is not allowed, is another popular activity. For saltwater or freshwater fishing, boaters can launch their vessels into Water Turkey Bay and travel to the Gulf or up the Cocohatchee River. Kayakers can enjoy paddling through estuaries; scuba divers can explore the hard bottom coral reef in the Gulf. At the north end of the island, a tower gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of Wiggins Pass and the surrounding coastal habitat. NOTE: To avoid overcrowding during the busy winter season, the park closes its gates when it reaches maximum capacity. Located in North Naples five miles west of I-75-exit 111.
Don Pedro Island State Park
P.O. Box 1150
Boca Grande, FL
941- 964 – 0375
Welcome to Don Pedro Island State Park
This beautiful little island is part of an extensive chain of barrier islands extending along the Gulf Coast of Florida. Between Knight Island and Little Gasparilla Island, Don Pedro is accessible only by private boat. Boaters can tie up at the dock on the bay side of the island, which is lined with mangroves. Access to the dock is through a 2.5 -foot – deep channel south of the Cape Haze power line crossing. Visitors might see endangered animals such as West Indian manatees, gopher tortoises, bald eagles, and American oystercatchers. With a mile of white sand Florida beach, popular activities on the island´s Gulf side include sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, and shelling. Boat and surf fishing are also favorite pastimes. For hiking and nature study, trails meander through the islands 11 natural communities. Located off the coast of Cape Haze about nine miles south of Englewood. Boating location is Nautical Waterproof Chart #25. Intracoastal Waterway directional signs guide visitors to the park.
Egmont Key State Park
4905 34th Street South, #5000
St. Petersburg, FL
727- 893 – 2627
Welcome to Egmont Key State Park
Although this park is primarily a wildlife refuge, it can be a personal refuge a place to relax and collect shells along secluded, pristine Florida beaches. Accessible only by private boat, Egmont Key has a unique natural and cultural history, including a lighthouse that has stood since 1858. During the 19th century, the island served as a camp for captured Seminoles at the end of the Third Seminole War and was later occupied by the Union Navy during the Civil War. In 1898, as the Spanish American War threatened, Fort Dade was built on the island and remained active until 1923. After touring the historic sites and trails, visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, wildlife viewing, and picnicking. Located at the mouth of Tampa Bay, southwest of Fort DeSoto Beach.
Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park
P.O. Box 548
Welcome to Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park
Winding through the Florida Everglades is a narrow thread of forested swamp called the Fakahatchee Strand. This vast wilderness is a mosaic of royal palm stands, cypress domes, and grassy prairies dotted with wild bromeliads, native ferns, and orchids. The parks wildlife includes a number of threatened and endangered species. The Florida panther, wood stork, Florida black bear, mangrove fox squirrel, and Everglades mink have all been seen within the preserve. Although there is limited access to the preserve, visitors can see some areas by driving through a portion of the park on Jane’s Scenic Drive, an 11-mile-long unpaved, gravel road. At the Big Cypress Bend, on the north side of U.S. 41, about seven miles west of Route 29, visitors can walk along a 2,000-foot-long boardwalk to experience the beauty of a magnificent old growth cypress forest. For the truly adventurous, the park offers guided swamp walks once a month from November through February. Located west of Copeland, on State Road 29.
Highlands Hammock State Park
5931 Hammock Road
Welcome to Highlands Hammock State Park
One of Florida’s oldest parks, opening to the public in 1931, this park was established when local citizens came together to promote the hammock as a candidate for national park status. During the Great Depression, just prior to World War II, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) developed additional park facilities and the beginnings of a botanical garden. Many visitors enjoy bicycling the scenic 3-mile loop drive or hiking along the parks nine trails. An elevated boardwalk traverses an old-growth cypress swamp. For equestrians, there is an 11-mile, day-use trail. Picnicking is another popular activity as are ranger-guided tours of the park. Highlands Hammock offers a full-facility campground, as well as a youth/group tent campground. A full-service restaurant is located on the park grounds. For schedule and catering information, call (863) 385-7025. A recreation hall is available for rental, as are several picnic pavilions. A museum showcasing the history of the CCC is open 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Located on County Road 634, four miles west of Sebring.
Hillsborough River State Park
15402 U.S. 301 North
Welcome to Hillsborough River State Park
Opened in 1938 as one of Floridas first state parks, this park is divided by the swiftly flowing Hillsborough River. Fort Foster, a replica of an 1837 fort from the Second Seminole War, is located on the park grounds, adjacent to the river. Fort tours are offered on weekends or with a reservation. The river provides opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking; a canoe/kayak launch is available on the river. Canoes can be rented at the parks concession, which also provides food, beverages, picnic supplies, and souvenirs. Hikers can walk over seven miles along four nature trails. The Wetlands Restoration Trail accommodates bicyclists and hikers. When the weather calls for it, visitors can enjoy a refreshing swim in the parks ADA accessible swimming pool. The park offers full-facility camping and a youth/group tent campground. A primitive campsite is available via foot trail; reservations are recommended. Located 12 miles north of Tampa and six miles south of Zephyrhills on U.S. 301.
Honeymoon Island State Park
1 Causeway Blvd.
Welcome to Honeymoon Island State Park
The pioneers called it Hog Island, but it became Honeymoon Isle in 1939 when a New York developer built 50 palm-thatched bungalows for honeymooners. Today, visitors can drive across Dunedin Causeway to enjoy the sun-drenched Gulf beaches, mangrove swamps, and tidal flats. Nature lovers will find osprey nests, a wide variety of shorebirds, and one of the few remaining virgin slash pine forests in South Florida. The park boasts several nature trails and bird observation areas. Visitors can swim, fish, and snorkel in the warm waters of the Gulf or picnic while they enjoy the beautiful scenery. Shelling is particularly good here, as the Gulf currents deposit an incredible variety of seashells on the shore. Showers are available and the parks concession has a gift shop and snack bar. Located at the extreme west end of State Road 586.
Little Manatee River State Park
215 Lightfoot Road
Welcome to Little Manatee River State Park
The Little Manatee River begins in a swampy area near Fort Lonesome and flows almost 40 miles before emptying into Tampa Bay. The river has been designated an Outstanding Florida Water and is part of the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve. Visitors can fish along the banks of the river or rent canoes at the ranger station. Wildlife enthusiasts can enjoy hiking a six-and-a-half mile trail through the park’s northern wilderness area. For those who prefer their hikes on horseback, the park has 12 miles of equestrian trails and four equestrian campsites. Campers can spend the night in a full-facility campground or hike out to a primitive campsite along the trail. A youth/group campground accommodates up to 20 people. The scenic picnic area along the river has tables, grills, and pavilions. Pavilions can be reserved for a fee. Unreserved pavilions are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Located five miles south of Sun City, off U.S. 301 on Lightfoot Road.
Lovers Key State Park
8700 Estero Blvd.
Ft. Myers Beach, FL
Welcome to Lovers Key State Park
For years, Lovers Key was accessible only by boat and it was said that only lovers traveled to the island to enjoy its remote and solitary beach. Today, it is one of four barrier islands that make up this Florida state park. A haven for wildlife, the islands and their waters are home to West Indian manatees, bottlenose dolphins, roseate spoonbills, marsh rabbits, and bald eagles. The two mile long Florida beach is accessible by boardwalk or tram and is popular for shelling, swimming, picnicking, and sunbathing. Black Island has over five miles of multi-use trails for hiking and bicycling. Anglers and boaters can launch their vessels from the park’s boat ramp. The park’s concession offers boat and fishing tours, as well as bicycle, canoe, and kayak rentals. For tour reservations, call (239) 314-0110. Located on County Road 865 between Fort Myers Beach and Bonita Beach in Lee County.
Myakka River State Park
13207 S.R. 72
Welcome to Myakka River State Park
One of the oldest and largest Florida state parks, Myakka protects one of the states most diverse natural areas. The Myakka River, designated as a Florida Wild and Scenic River, flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands. Visitors can enjoy wildlife viewing from a boardwalk that stretches out over the Upper Myakka Lake, then take to the treetops with a stroll along the canopy walkway. The parks river and two lakes provide ample opportunities for boating, freshwater fishing, canoeing, and kayaking; a boat ramp provides access to Upper Myakka Lake. Hikers can explore trails that cross large expanses of rare Florida dry prairie. Scenic lake tours are offered daily on the worlds two largest airboats. Safari tram tours of the parks backcountry are offered from mid-December through May. Full-facility campgrounds and primitive campsites are available. Five palm log cabins, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, have been modernized for comfortable lodging. Located nine miles east of Sarasota on State Road 72.
Paynes Creek Historic State Park
888 Lake Branch Road
Bowling Green, FL
Welcome to Paynes Creek Historic State Park
During the 1840s, tensions between the settlers and Seminole Indians prompted authorities to establish a trading post in Florida’s interior, away from settlements. Built in early 1849, the post was attacked and destroyed by renegade Indians that summer. In late 1849 Fort Chokonikla was built nearby as the first outpost in a chain of forts established to control the Seminoles. The Seminoles never attacked the fort, but the Army was nearly defeated by mosquitoes. Today, nature enthusiasts and hikers can enjoy walking along trails through the parks natural areas. Paynes Creek and the adjoining Peace River provide opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. A museum at the visitor center depicts the lives of Floridas Seminole Indians and pioneers during the 19th century. The visitor center is open 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. daily. Located one-half mile southeast of Bowling Green on Lake Branch Road.
Ybor City Museum State Park
1818 Ninth Ave.
Welcome to Ybor City Museum State Park
Don Vicente Martinez Ybor came to the frontier near Tampa and built a city that became the “Cigar Capital of the World.” From the opening of the first cigar factory in 1886 until the 1930s, Ybor City flourished. This urban park is dedicated to the preservation of Ybor City’s unique cultural heritage. The museum, housed in the historic Ferlita Bakery, traces the rich cultural history of Ybor City and the cigar making industry. The museum has self-guided exhibits, with written and audio information, and a video presentation. La Casita, a restored cigar worker’s house, is open for viewing 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Guided tours are available Monday through Saturday. The ornamental garden can be rented for events after regular park hours. Located at the corner of 9th Avenue and 19th Street in Tampa.