Biscayne National Park
The island Biscayne, just south of Miami, is actually part of the Florida Keys; it’s the northernmost Key. The park occupies the four northernmost islands in the Florida Keys, sandwiched in between Key Largo to the south and Miami Beach to the north. This park is popular with scuba divers, but the reef lies in only 30 feet of water, so scuba gear isn’t required, a simple mask and fins will suffice.
Other activities include boat and canoe tours, fishing and lobstering. There are many beautiful picnic areas and nature walks where every view is a scenic one. There’s a campground for those wanting to rough it and on the second Sunday of every month from December through April, Biscayne National Park hosts Family Fun Fest.
Possibly the most unique National Park in the country, it can only be reached by ferry or seaplane. Seventy miles west of Key West lie seven small islands collectively know as the Dry Tortugas. Because of its location near major shipping lanes linking the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the islands were popular among Spanish explorers and merchants.
In 1845, the U.S. government erected a fort on the island, but never completed construction. Today the abandoned fort is a refuge for hundreds bird and the surrounding shallow water is teeming with tropical fish. Day trips for tours and snorkeling are very popular. Overnight camping is allowed by reservation. Children can earn a Dry Tortugas Junior Ranger badge if they complete a series of fun activities. For a truly unique destination, check out the Dry Tortugas.
The Everglades is possibly the most famous National Park in Florida. Over 1.5 million acres in size, the Everglades are the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. An exciting and safe way to view the Everglades is on an airboat tours. Large flat-bottomed boats that seat 8-10 people speedily skim the brackish water. Elegantly poised pink flamingos and wispy white egrets are frequently spotted on tours. Florida Panther sightings are rare because the cat is elusive, but also because it’s population is low. Manatee encounters are more common and alligator sightings are fairly regular.
Did you know the highest point in the Everglades is 20 feet above sea level on an Indian-made shell mound near the gulf?
Information about all U.S. National Parks can be found here: www.nps.gov