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11 Florida State Parks Near Tampa 

Florida State Parks are a fun way to learn more about your state, with a total of 175 state parks. There are several Florida State Parks near Tampa within a 1-hour drive. Regardless of the amount of time you have, from a couple hours to a full day, there is plenty to see at these Florida State Parks. Keep reading for the best park to visit based on the types of activities you enjoy.  

A picture of the suspension bridge at Hillsborough River a Florida State Park near Tampa

11 Florida State Parks near Tampa 

All of the Florida State Parks listed below are within a 1-hour driving distance from downtown Tampa. Actual driving times may vary slightly depending where in Tampa you are located.  

  1. Ybor City Museum State Park
  2. Hillsborough River State Park
  3. Honeymoon Island State Park 
  4. Terra Ceia Preserve State Park
  5. Alafia River State Park
  6. Little Manatee River State Park
  7. Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park 
  8. Lake Manatee State Park
  9. Skyway Fishing Pier State Park
  10. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
  11. Dade Battlefield Historic State Park
Park sign stating please take nothing but pictures leave nothing but footprints

Florida State Parks near Tampa to visit if you love history  

There is so much history hidden in the Florida State Park system. There are two Florida State Parks near Tampa that history lovers will enjoy!

Ybor City Museum State Park 

If you love history this is the best Florida State Park for you to visit! You don’t have to leave the city to visit this state park located in the heart of Ybor City. In addition to visiting the state park you can make an entire day out of exploring Ybor. Plan to spend at least 1 to 2 hours at the museum. Below are a few of the highlights you don’t want to miss when visiting Ybor City Museum State Park!  

  • Watch an informational video of the history of Ybor City 
  • Walk through the museum’s interpretive exhibits 
  • Guided tours of La Casita  
  • Have a picnic in the museum garden 
Me standing in the gardens looking at the fountain in Ybor City Museum State Park

Essential Information: Ybor City Museum State Park  

  • Address: 1818 E 9th Avenue Tampa, FL 33605 
  • Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM daily
  • Fee: $4 per person 
  • Driving distance from Tampa: 5 minutes 
Entrance of Ybor City Museum State Park

Dade Battlefield Historic State Park 

Another great option for those that love history is Dade Battlefield Historic State Park! This 80-acre park commemorates the site of Dade’s Battle of 1835. It is located right off I-75 and has surprisingly a lot to do! It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places making it an instant attraction for any history buff. See below some of the activities you can enjoy while visiting this park.  

  • Watch This Land, These Men 12-minute video  
  • Visit the museum exhibits  
  • Walk along the Pine Flatwoods Trail (0.5 miles) 
  • Enjoy a picnic at one of the pavilions  
    • Fee required for pavilion rentals 
  • Take a picture by the ancient oak tree  
Large ancient oak tree at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park

Essential Information: Dade Battlefield Historic State Park  

  • Address: 7200 Battlefield Parkway Bushnell, FL 33513 
  • Park Hours: 8 AM to sunset 
  • Visitor Center Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM daily  
  • Fee: $3 per vehicle 
  • Driving distance from Tampa: 1 hour  

A battle reenactment occurs each January, check out the park’s website for more information.  

Memorial post of where Major Dade fell

Florida State Parks near Tampa to visit if you love hiking 

Hiking is a popular activity at many of the Florida State Parks. Below I highlighted some of my favorite state parks to hike at near Tampa including Hillsborough River State Park, Little Manatee River State Park, Terra Ceia Preserve State Park, and Lake Manatee State Park.  

Hillsborough River State Park 

Hillsborough River State Park is my favorite Florida State Park for hiking near Tampa! With over 13 miles of hiking trails, there is something for everyone. My favorite trail is the 1.2-mile River Rapid trail where you can see class II rapids as you walk along the Hillsborough River. This trail also leads you to the suspension bridge which is another popular attraction within the park! Cross the suspension bridge to access two other popular trails, the Baynard Trail (1.1 miles) or Seminole Trail (3.2 miles).  

Other activities in the park include bicycling, kayaking, playgrounds, and picnic areas.

Dirt trail with greenery canopying around the trail and palms lining it

Essential Information: Hillsborough River State Park 

  • Address: 15402 US 301 N Thonotosassa, FL 33592 
  • Hours: 8 AM to sunset 
  • Fee: $6 per vehicle  
  • Driving distance from Tampa: 30 minutes  
Boardwalk on the River Rapids Trail with surrounding trees and greenery

Little Manatee River State Park 

My favorite hiking trail at Little Manatee River State Park is the North Hiking Trail which is located at the north entrance. This is a 6.2-mile stacked loop, with an option to complete a 3-mile loop for a shorter hike. The trail was well maintained when I last visited, but I have heard from others it becomes overgrown at times. There are additional shorter trails that can be located from the main entrance including the Oxbow Nature Trail (0.8 miles) or Sandpine Trail (2-miles).  

Other activities in the park include 6-miles of bicycle trails, a 6-mile paddling route, and over 15-miles of horseback riding trails.  No kayak or bicycle rentals are available at this park.

A boardwalk on the north trail in Little Manatee River State Park at Florida State Park near Tampa

Essential Information: Little Manatee River State Park 

  • Main Entrance: 215 Lightfoot Road Wimauma, FL 33598  
  • North Entrance: 17837 US 301 Wimauma, FL 33598 
  • Hours: 8 AM to sunset  
  • Fee: $5 per vehicle  
  • Driving distance from Tampa: 45 minutes  
A welcome sign to the north hiking trail with my dog looking back at the camera smiling

Terra Ceia Preserve State Park 

Choose from over 9-miles of hiking trails at the Hightower Road Entrance. The trails at Terra Ceia Preserve State Park are flat and good for any skill level. A few things to keep in mind is this is a rural park and there are no restroom facilities. Additionally, there is limited shade on the majority of the trails.  

Myself and my dog walking on the trail

Essential Information: Terra Ceia Preserve State Park 

  • Address: 130 Terra Ceia Road Terra Ceia, FL 34250 
    • Please note, you will not want to use the above address to access the trailheads for hiking. Search for “Terra Ceia Preserve Trail Head” in google maps for accurate directions 
  • Hours: 8 AM to 7 PM 
  • Fee: Free 
  • Driving distance from Tampa: 40 minutes  
Grassy open trail at Terra Ceia Preserve State Park a Florida State Park near Tampa

Lake Manatee State Park 

There are 6.5-miles of multi-use hiking trails to explore at Lake Manatee State Park. A great trail to start with is the Lake Manatee Loop which is around 3-miles. This is located at the main entrance listed above. Another fun trail at the is the Gopher Trail which is a 2-mile loop. Parking for this trail is located at a separate entrance further down State Route 64. Both of these trails can easily be found on AllTrails. 

Other popular activities at this park include bicycling, kayaking, fishing, camping, swimming and picnicking. More information can be found on the Florida State Parks website.  

Me with my hiking backpack next to a tree looking at Lake Manatee a Florida State Park near Tampa

Essential Information: Lake Manatee State Park 

  • Address: 20007 State Road 64 East Bradenton, FL 34212 
  • Hours: 8 AM to sunset 
  • Fee: $5 per vehicle  
  • Driving distance from Tampa: 50 minutes 
Lake Manatee State Park entrance sign

Florida State Parks near Tampa if you love kayaking 

Kayaking is another popular activity at Florida State Parks. I have picked out my top 2 recommendations listed below.

Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park  

One of the best ways to explore Werner-Boyce Salt Springs is from the water! Kayak rentals are available from Salty Dog Kayaking. There are 2-hour, 4-hour, or 8-hour kayak rental options. The launch is at the main entrance of the park and reservations are recommended.   

Other activities that can be enjoyed during your visit to this park include hiking, bicycling, fishing, and picnicking.

A yellow kayak in the blue waters of Tampa Bay

Essential Information: Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park  

  • Address: 8737 U.S. Highway 19 north Port Richey, FL 34668 (main entrance) 
  • Hours: 8 AM to sunset 
  • Fee: $4 per vehicle  
  • Driving distance from Tampa: 50 minutes 
Mangroves and water at Werner Boyce Salt Springs State Park a Florida State Park near Tampa

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park 

One of the most popular Florida State Parks near Tampa is Weeki Wachee Springs. Kayaking is a popular activity. Reservations are required if you are renting or launching your own kayak to prevent overcrowding. Rentals are available from Weeki Fresh Water Adventures. The paddling route is 2.8-miles down the Weeki Wachee River where a shuttle will pick you up if you have reserved a rental. Those that launch their own kayak will be responsible for getting back to the park.

There are many other activities to enjoy at this park including the famous mermaid shows, boat tours, and swimming. I recommend arriving early, especially during peak visitation times such as the summer and weekends. 

A selfie taken by my friend of 4 people in 2 tandem kayaks on the weeki wachee river

Essential Information: Weeki Wachee Springs State Park  

  • Address: 6131 Commercial Way Weeki Wachee, FL 34606 
  • Hours: 9 AM to 5:30 PM 
  • Fee: $13 for adults; $8 for children ages 6 to 12 
  • Driving distance from Tampa: 1 hour 

Florida State Parks near Tampa if you love mountain biking 

There is one park that quickly comes to mind when looking for mountain biking near Tampa.

Alafia River State Park 

A mountain bikers paradise can be found at Alafia River State Park with over 20-miles of trails. The unique landscape for Florida was created from a phosphate mine. The park holds the International Mountain Bicycling Association Epic designation and trails can be found for all skill levels. Bring your own bike or rent one for the day from University Bicycle Center located within the park boundaries.  

Other activities that can be enjoyed in the park include camping, glamping, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding.

Mountain biking ramp at Alafia River State Park

Essential Information: Alafia River State Park 

  • Address: 14326 S County Road 39 Lithia, FL 33547 
  • Hours: 8 AM to sundown 
  • Fee: $5 per vehicle  
  • Driving distance from Tampa: 45 minutes 
My dog and I at the top of a hill after we climbed a bunch of exposed roots

Florida State Parks near Tampa if you love the beach 

One of my favorite beaches in the Tampa Bay area is actually also a Florida State Park!

Honeymoon Island State Park 

If you love the beach, Honeymoon Island State Park is the best Florida State Park near Tampa for you to visit! There are over 4-miles of beaches with ample parking available. The four beaches include the dog beach, Oasis Beach, Main Beach, and North Beach. Dogs are only allowed on the designated dog beach. Spend the day relaxing on the sand and cooling off in the water.  

If you aren’t much of a beach goer, this park still has something in store for you. Other activities include hiking trails, picnic tables, a volleyball court, and playgrounds.

The ocean and sand on a sunny day at Honeymoon Island State Park

Essential Information: Honeymoon Island State Park  

  • Address: #1 Causeway Blvd. Dunedin, FL 34698 
  • Hours: 8 AM to sunset 
  • Fee: $8 per vehicle  
  • Driving distance from Tampa: 35 minutes 
Honeymoon Island State Park sign a Florida State Park near Tampa

Florida State Parks near Tampa if you love fishing 

The best Florida State Park near Tampa to go fishing should come as a surprise to no one.

Skyway Fishing Pier State Park

The world’s longest fishing pier is a must-see destination for anyone who loves to fish! The Skyway Fishing Pier State Park was constructed from the old Sunshine Skyway Bridge with a north and south fishing pier. Open 24 hours a day with lighting from the bridge ensuring you can see at night this is a fisher’s paradise. Please note a fishing license may be required. 

More information can be found on the Florida State Parks website.  

Essential Information: Skyway Fishing Pier State Park  

  • Address: 4905 34th St. South #5000 St. Petersburg, FL 33711 
  • Hours: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year 
  • Fee: $4 per vehicle, plus $4 per adult  
  • Driving distance from Tampa: 50 minutes 

Summary of Florida State Parks near Tampa  to visit

Regardless of what type of activities you prefer, there is a Florida State Park near Tampa for everyone. It is hard to pick a favorite park as there is something I enjoy about all of them, but if I had to choose Hillsborough River State Park or Honeymoon Island State Park would be among my top picks. Comment below and tell me which park you are planning to visit next!  

A lake at the entrance at Terra Ceia Preserve State Park a Florida State Park near Tampa

Ready to venture out a little further from Tampa?  

Check out these posts for other Florida State Parks to visit 

The information in this post was accurate at the time of publishing to the best of the author’s knowledge. If you are planning to visit any of these parks, I recommend you also check the Florida State Park website for any updated information.  

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