Nearly 25 million people visited state park and trail properties in fiscal 2011, according to attendance figures recently compiled by the Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Park Service. State parks received about 700,000 more visitors in the last year than in the previous year, totaling more than 21.1 million visitors. Additionally, more than 3.8 million people visited state trails, which are now part of the Florida Park Service.
“From coast to coast, the Florida Park Service offers nature-based recreation and environmental resource protection at its best,” said Department Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. “As one of my priorities at the Department, I want to ensure everyone has the opportunity to fall in love with Florida’s environment. We encourage Floridians and visitors to invite friends and family to get outdoors and enjoy our award-winning state parks and trails.”
The top-visited state trail was the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail with 1,702,037 visitors. Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin welcomed more visitors than any other state park in Florida for the sixth year in a row with 1,089,588 visitors. Rounding out the top 10 visited state parks are:
- Gasparilla Island State Park, Boca Grande – 872,917 visitors.
- St. Andrews State Park, Panama City Beach – 860,657 visitors.
- Lovers Key State Park, Fort Myers Beach – 812,864 visitors.
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo – 725,619 visitors.
- Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine – 631,716 visitors.
- Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne – 614,282 visitors.
- Sebastian Inlet State Park, Melbourne Beach – 594,188 visitors.
- Stump Pass Beach State Park, Englewood – 588,300 visitors.
- Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key – 557,785 visitors.
“Florida State Parks and Trails are affordable, safe places for families and friends to enjoy and learn about Florida’s diverse natural resources,” said Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione. “More and more Floridians and visitors from all over the world are looking to state parks and trails for activities and adventures for all interests. From fishing and canoeing, hiking and touring a historic landmark, our 171 park properties have it all and so much more, any time of the year.”
The visitation numbers are as follows:
- Florida’s 160 state parks – 21,132,361 visitors.
- Florida’s 11 state trails – 3,850,818 visitors.
- Total 171 Florida Park Service properties – 24,983,179 visitors.
To encourage others to experience…the Real Florida, the Florida Park Service and VISIT FLORIDA invite Floridians to share with out-of-town families and friends the nature-based recreation opportunities offered by the Florida Park Service. VISIT FLORIDA 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. The Florida Park Service also launched a new web page highlighting some of the most unique and fun activities in state parks. The Get a little park on ya! website offers 50 fun things to do this summer in state parks.