Best State Parks to Visit in West Central Florida

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Florida has such a diverse landscape and our state parks reflect that! From rivers and springs, to beaches and lighthouses, you’ll find a variety of fun state parks in West Central Florida. Many of these parks are located around the Tampa Bay area. If you’re looking for some time in nature and fun outdoor adventures, try out some of these West Central Florida State Parks.

If You Like Hiking:

Hillsborough River State Park is one of my favorite parks in the area. There are beautiful hiking trails where you can see river rapids and a really cool suspension bridge. The park also has plenty of other things to do including a huge swimming pool, fishing, biking, and tours of historic Fort Foster.

>> Read our full guide to Hillsborough River State Park <<

If You Like the Beach:

Egmont Key State Park is a perfect example of our pristine Florida gulf coast beaches. Spend the day relaxing by the ocean, wander the remnants of a historic town, or hike the nature trails. There’s also fort batteries and a lighthouse on the island. Egmont Key is only accessible by boat, so you have to catch the ferry from Fort de Soto Park or take your own boat. There’s a limited number of people ferried to the island each day, so you’ll have a little bit of a “private island” feel.

If You Like Animals:

Homosassa Springs State Park is an amazing park to see native Florida wildlife. It houses animals that are non-releasable to the wild like black bears, alligators, and otters. The park is also a great place to see manatees year-round. The majority of the park is accessible with paved trails around the animal exhibits.

>> Read our full guide to Homosassa Springs State Park <<

If You Like the Beach:

Honeymoon Island State Park is a more accessible beach that you can drive to. There are miles of pretty white-sand beaches at this park in north Pinellas county. It tends to be less crowded than some of the other Pinellas county beaches. Spectacular sunsets, a three mile nature trail, and a ferry to nearby Caladesi Island State Park, make this park worth a visit!

If You Like Mountain Biking:

Alafia River State Park has some of the most radical elevation changes in the state due to phosphate mining. The park has hills, ridges, and ramps for biking that make for a fun and challenging ride. There are several trails for to choose from for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Plus you can access the Alafia River for boating.

>> Read our full guide to Alafia River State Park <<

If You Like Swimming:

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park has an amazing crystal clear spring to enjoy. The park itself features a water park in the spring, plus iconic Old Florida mermaid shows. Out on Weeki Wachee River, you can paddle the incredibly clear water.

>> Read our full guide to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park <<

If You Like Fishing:

Skyway Fishing Pier State Park is the place to go. The “park” is actually the world’s longest fishing pier that was built on the old bridge spanning Tampa Bay. The pier extends very far out into the water. You can also drive your car on it, which makes it easy to setup all your gear. It’s open 24/7 and lighted at night.

If You Like an Adventure:

Little Manatee River State Park offers some fun trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. These trails can be overgrown, wet and hilly so make sure you’re ready for an adventure! The park also features a newly renovated campground.

>> Read our full guide to Little Manatee River State Park <<

If You Like History:

Housed in a historic bread factory, Ybor City Museum State Park is one of the smallest Florida State Parks. There’s no hiking at this park, but you can learn about the history of Tampa and the founding of the cigar industry there. After you finish in the museum, you can relax in the courtyard garden.

>> Read our full guide to Ybor City <<

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