The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service and VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, today launched the State Parks component of the Share a Little Sunshine campaign. The new campaign encourages Florida residents to invite friends and family to experience …the Real Florida (SM) by visiting its 160 state parks and historic sites and 11 state trails.
Through its Share A Little Sunshine platform, VISIT FLORIDA produced and is airing statewide public service announcements that encourage Floridians to invite out-of-state family and friends to experience Florida’s one-of-a-kind state parks this summer. Governor Rick Scott and Florida’s First Lady appear in both PSAs. VISIT FLORIDA also produced video vignettes for the web, highlighting 10 of Florida’s diverse state parks, from Northwest Florida to the Keys to the Atlantic Coast, as seen through the eyes of Florida visitors.
“This collaboration between Florida’s award-winning state parks and VISIT FLORIDA’s award-winning Share a Little Sunshine program will help strengthen the state’s economy and create jobs,” said Will Seccombe, Chief Marketing Officer for VISIT FLORIDA. “Floridians are passionate about their state parks and this new Share a Little Sunshine campaign provides an opportunity, through the power of a personal invitation, for us all to encourage our friends and family to join in on experiencing Florida’s state parks this summer.”
Florida’s state parks encompass more than 700,000 acres and span 1,620 miles of trails. They attract more than 20 million visitors every year, making Florida’s parks and trails system one of the largest in the nation. These parks and trails are indispensible elements of Florida’s natural resources and provide the state with educational, economical and recreational benefits.
Governor Scott proclaimed July as Park and Recreation Month. Since 1985, state, national and local recreation areas throughout America have celebrated July with this designation.
“Florida’s state parks have something for everyone and are an ideal place to have fun with family and friends,” said Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione. “Florida is home to an abundance of wildlife, natural communities and cultural heritage and our state parks and trails highlight the best recreational experiences Florida has to offer.”
Earlier this month, DEP launched a website highlighting fun activities to enjoy with family and friends in state parks. The Get a little park on ya! website offers 50 ways to have fun this summer in Florida’s parks, beaches, rivers, springs, trails, museums, historical sites and gardens.
The following are a few examples of the many ways to experience …the Real Florida (SM).
Digging your feet into the sand at the beach is a tradition in Florida. If the water temperature feels good, go barefoot and walk along the edge of the water. In the Panhandle, try Perdido Key State Park with more than a mile of beach or St. George Island State Park with more than nine miles of beach. Near Jacksonville, Little Talbot Island, Big Talbot Island and Amelia Island state parks have beaches that are perfect for burying your toes. In South Florida, the beaches at John D. MacArthur Beach and Fort Pierce Inlet state parks offer miles of white, sandy beaches.
Florida’s federally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers are ideal places to canoe or kayak, taking it all in at a slow pace. The Loxahatchee River runs through Jonathan Dickinson State Park in South Florida’s Hobe Sound, while the Wekiva River flows north out of Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka to the St. Johns River. Canoes and kayaks can be rented at the parks’ concessions.
Florida Caverns State Park is one of the few state parks in the United States with dry (air-filled) caves and is the only state park in Florida to offer cave tours to the public. The cave has dazzling formations of limestone stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones and draperies. Cave tours are limited to 25 people per tour and last about 45 minutes along a 1,600-foot path.
Learn about the Second Seminole War at Fort Foster State Historic Site (part of Hillsborough River State Park, north of Tampa). The reconstructed fort was built to protect the bridge over the river on the trail from Fort King (Ocala) to Fort Brooke (Tampa). Ranger-guided tours of the fort are offered on weekends. The interpretative center is open daily, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Located in the original 1930s ranger station of Hillsborough River State Park, the center offers a glimpse into the Second Seminole War and life at Fort Foster. Artifacts found at the fort site are on display and incorporated into exhibits exploring both sides of the conflict between the Seminole Indians and U.S. Forces.