11 Postcard-Worthy State Parks in Florida Keys to Explore

12 min read


aerial view over a state park in Florida Keys

Ah, the Florida Keys – one of the most beautiful vacation destinations in the whole United States! There’s just something about its colorful history, crystal blue water, and laid-back attitude that keeps me, and so many others, returning year after year. But a huge part of what makes the Florida Keys so special is its string of postcard-worthy state parks nestled along both sides of the scenic Overseas Highway.

In this article, I’m sharing the 10 must-do state parks (and 1 national park) in the Florida Keys with you, starting with Key Largo and the Upper Keys and wrapping up in Key West. Since the Florida Keys uses mile markers to distinguish locations, I’ve included the mile marker of each state park for you, so you can map out your Overseas Highway road trip with ease!

There’s a little bit of everything on our list, so whether you’re looking for adventure out on the water or a stunning shoreline to sprawl out on, I’ve got you covered.

Let’s explore state parks in Florida Keys!

1. Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

If you love discovering new nature trails, you’ll definitely want to check out the northernmost (📍MM 106) Florida Keys state park on our list, Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park – I know, it’s a mouthful!

Boasting one of the largest remaining tracts of West Indian tropical hardwood hammock in the United States, present-day Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park was initially going to be turned into a condominium development. Today, this Key Largo state park is home to 84 protected species of flora and fauna!

Explore over 6 miles (10 km) of nature trails on foot or by bike, and see for yourself what makes this place so special.

PRO TIP: Make sure you’re wearing bug repellent, especially during summertime – nothing ruins a Florida Keys trip quicker than getting bit up by mosquitos!

PRICE: US$3 per person

2. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

coral reef at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Did you know Florida is home to the only living barrier coral reef in the continental US? It also happens to be the 3rd largest coral reef system in the world, and you can explore the Florida Reef up close at stunning John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo (📍MM 102.5)!

The country’s first undersea park, John Pennekamp State Park, offers visitors an unparalleled look at the world beneath the ocean surface. Glass-bottom boat tours are one of a kind experience, and they’re super popular here. I do recommend bringing some nausea meds as a backup, though, if you’re prone to nausea like I am! You can even book the tour online in advance.

John Pennekamp State Park encompasses a whopping 70 nautical square miles, so the best way to see it isn’t just on the water but in the water! You can get up close to the incredible marine wildlife here by going on a snorkeling or SCUBA diving adventure.

This beginner-friendly snorkel tour provides snorkeling gear and everything you need for an exciting half-day snorkeling at John Pennekamp State Park. It takes you to 2 shallow reefs to explore.

PRICE: US$70 per person

Book Snorkel Tour

3. Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park

fossil at Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park

The Florida Keys have a rich, fascinating history, including Henry Flagler’s incredible engineering feat that brought the railroad down to Key West. Step back in time at Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park at 📍MM 84.9, where you can see a part of Florida Keys’s history in the modern day.

The land is made of Key Largo limestone, or fossilized coral, which was used to build Flagler’s Overseas Railroad in the 1990s. Stroll along the quarry walls and behold the ancient fossilized coral. Nature lovers especially will be impressed by this natural wonder, and there are 5 self-guided walking tours visitors can explore.

Located in Islamorada, Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park makes for a great stop on your next Overseas Highway road trip!

HOURS: Open Thursday through Monday, 8 AM to 5 PM. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

PRICE: US$3 per person

4. Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park

Next up on our list of gorgeous Florida Keys state parks is also in Islamorada, on the Florida Bay side: Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park 📍MM 78.5. Part of what makes this state park so special is that it’s only accessible by kayak or boat. Once the tropical island hideaway of a wealthy Miami chemist who wanted to protect and conserve the area, this slice of paradise is open for the public to enjoy.

Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park truly looks like something out of a postcard, with its picturesque views and turquoise blue water. The old caretaker cottage is now a Visitor Center where you can learn about the park’s history and its lush hardwood hammock.

On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, there is a ferry service to Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park from Robbie’s Marina (and back, of course). You can also rent your own boat to take over from Robbie’s Marina if you prefer.

HOURS: Open Thursday through Monday, 9 AM to 5 PM. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

PRICE: US$3 per person

5. Indian Key Historic State Park

beach at  Indian Key Historic State Park

Across the Overseas Highway from #4 on our list, located on the Atlantic Ocean side, is Indian Key Historic State Park at 📍MM 78.5. Indian Key State Park is only accessible by kayak, but if there’s one thing I know to be true about the Florida Keys, it’s that the extra effort of paddling somewhere is always worth it – luckily, this is just a short paddle away. The most beautiful places tend to be the most secluded.

And beautiful it is. Indian Key Historic State Park is exactly what you think of when the word “paradise” comes to mind. The best thing to do here? Absolutely nothing. This Florida Keys state park is perfect for rest and relaxation.

Soak up the sun on the shore, or take a dip in the warm, welcoming blue water. Indian Key Historic State Park is absolute heaven on Earth.

PRICE: US$3 per person

6. San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve

With a name like San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park (📍MM 78.5), you already know this is going to be one of the most unique of the Florida Keys state parks we talk about today! Like John Pennekamp State Park, this preserve is also underwater, only you won’t find any land at all here!

What you will find, though, is a submerged shipwreck waiting to be explored: the remains of a 287-ton Spanish galleon, San Pedro, that sank in 1733. While there’s no treasure to be found, it does make for an extraordinary diving experience, as the area is unbelievably picturesque and teeming with vibrant marine life.

One of the coolest things about this underwater preserve is that the shipwreck itself is Florida’s oldest artificial coral reef. The old ballasts have become a habitat of their own over time, attracting new sea creatures to call this shipwreck home.

7. Long Key State Park

Long Key State Park camping

If you like long walks on the beach, you’re going to love Long Key State Park at 📍MM 67.5! Once a vacation destination for the rich and famous in the 1900s, severe damage from a hurricane in 1935 changed the area’s future forever. Now, it’s one of the most beautiful state parks in the Florida Keys, and you don’t have to be rich or famous to explore it.

Long Key State Park is located on Long Key, which is just 15 miles (28 km) south of Islamorada on the Overseas Highway. It’s a fantastic spot for adventuring, whether by foot on the nature trails or paddling through the shallow lagoons. A huge plus is that there are kayak rentals available on-site.

You’ll find all the amenities needed for a great day in the park, including restrooms, picnic tables and pavilions, and even refillable water bottle stations. If you’d like to extend your adventure, I highly recommend camping at Long Key State Park. As beautiful as the days are here, nights are even better – the minimal light pollution in the park makes it a spectacular spot for stargazing!

PRICE: US$5 for 1 person, US$6 for 2 people + US$0.50 per additional person

8. Curry Hammock State Park

beach Florida Keys

Curry Hammock State Park (📍MM 56.2) is a hidden oasis in the Florida Keys, with its pristine beaches and uninterrupted nature. In fact, it’s the largest uninhabited parcel of land between Key Largo and Big Pine Key!

Explore the mangrove swamp and rockland hammocks, then go for a swim in the clear blue water. From hiking trails to paddling to snorkeling or just relaxing on the shore, there’s something for every kind of traveler. The opportunities for wildlife viewing here are countless, and you can see all kinds of creatures, such as manatees, dolphins, sharks, and stingrays.

Like #7 on our list of postcard-worthy Florida Keys state parks, Curry Hammock State Park is an incredible place for stargazing. It’s part of what makes camping here so special!

PRICE: US$5 for 1 person, US$6 for 2 people + US$0.50 per additional person

9. Bahia Honda State Park

aerial view over Bahia Honda State Park

I’m so excited to chat about this one because Bahia Honda State Park (📍MM 37) is my absolute favorite of the Florida Keys state parks! Trust me, you’ll want to experience this tropical paradise for yourself.

There are 2 jaw-droppingly beautiful, award-winning beaches in Bahia Honda State Park: Calusa Beach and Sandspur Beach. Both boast sugary soft sand and glittering blue water. From Calusa Beach, you can get a glimpse of the 100+-year-old Bahia Honda Bridge, a relic from Henry Flagler’s Florida Keys Overseas Highway.

Bahia Honda Park offers some of the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys, as well as fishing, swimming, hiking, wildlife viewing, and stargazing!

PRO TIP: Because of how popular it is, Bahia Honda State Park is known to quickly fill to capacity, especially on weekends and holidays. I recommend arriving early to ensure you’re not asked to come back later.

10. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Fort Zachary

At this point of your Overseas Highway journey, you’ll have made it all the way down to 📍 Key West, where beautiful Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is located! This is one of the most popular beaches in Key West, and for a good reason: it’s gorgeous, historic, and perfect for a day of sun in the sun.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park has quite the history. The park is a National Historic Landmark and the home of Fort Zachary Taylor, on which construction began in 1845 and didn’t wrap up until a whole 21 years later! You can take a guided tour of the fort and learn about its storied past, as well as watch local re-enactors perform demonstrations on the third weekend of each month.

But you don’t need to be a history buff to appreciate the beauty of Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. On the southern end of the park, you’ll find a pristine beach with plenty of activities for the ultimate beach day. Snorkeling and swimming are both so fun here!

I’m a big foodie, especially when I’m visiting Key West, so I love that there’s a beach café at Fort Zachary State Park. They serve up quintessential beach days snacks, like sandwiches, burgers, and wraps. Don’t forget to try a piece of key lime pie on a stick!

PRICE: US$6 per vehicle

11. Dry Tortugas National Park

aerial view over  Dry Tortugas National Park

While the last one on our list technically is a national park, if you’re interested in the Florida Keys’ state parks, you’ll love Dry Tortugas as well! Made up of 99% water, Dry Tortugas National Park is a paradise for swimmers, snorkeling, paddlers, beachgoers, and history buffs.

Tour breathtaking historic Fort Jefferson, make a splash in the azure waters, or see what incredible marine life you can spot while snorkeling. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my entire life!

Unfortunately, getting to Dry Tortugas National Park does take some additional planning. Located about 70 nautical miles from Key West, it’s only accessible by boat or seaplane. This full-day tour from Key West goes to Dry Tortugas and includes a narrated tour of the fort, plus snorkeling, breakfast, and lunch! So, don’t miss out on it!

PRICE: from US$200 per person

Book Your Dry Tortugas Snorkel Tour

FAQs about state parks in the Florida Keys

image from Key Largo

🏞️ How many state parks are there in the Florida Keys?

There are a total of 10 state parks in the Florida Keys, starting with Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park in Key Largo and ending with Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West.

🥇 What is the best state camp in the Florida Keys?

For the best state park camping experience in the Florida Keys, head to Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key. It’s known for its rich history, beautiful beaches, and phenomenal snorkeling.

🏕️ Can you camp at Florida Keys state parks?

Yes! Many of the state parks in the Florida Keys offer exceptional camping amenities with breathtaking views and an unparalleled stargazing experience due to the minimal light pollution.

⛺ How much does it cost to stay at Bahia Honda State Park?

Camping at Bahia Honda State Park is US$36 per night plus tax, plus a nonrefundable US$6.70 reservation fee. There is an additional US$7 nightly utility fee for RVs.


broken bridge at sunset

I always have so much fun sharing my favorite Florida destinations with you, and I hope you enjoyed today’s article on the gorgeous Florida Keys state parks!

The best way to see them is on an extended road trip along the Overseas Highway – you can hop from park to park on your way from Miami to Key West, exploring the area’s history, wildlife, and natural beauty.

You’re going to have the time of your life on your next Florida Keys trip! In the meantime, leave me a comment below if you have any questions about the state parks we chatted about today.

Happy travels!


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collage of images with a beach and aerial view over Dry Tortugas National Park

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