Vacation time is often a time for peace and quiet. Laying out on the beach can achieve that goal fantastically. We here at Florida Beach Rentals strive to give people the best beach vacations possible. And, quite often, the beach is the perfect solution. But what about those who are looking for something with a little twist, something off the beaten path that will sooth their nerves and make their day just that much better. Well, we have an idea for that too.
Near the beaches, and quite frankly, everywhere you look in Florida, you will find fantastic city, county, and state parks. We’d like to clue you in on what’s close to the beaches and what you can find there. If you love rich green forests, trails through the trees, riverside or lakeside hikes, or that special sense of calm that comes within the hush of a nature, then keep reading and we will guide you to the best parks in the region.
We’ll start at St Pete Beach. Nearby you will find a gem of the type described above plus a beach to go with it. Just to the south of St Pete Beach is Fort Desoto Park. While it is mostly a beach park, it does have nature trails that lead you away to small secluded beach spots. While you will not find a beach paradise at the end of the walk, you will get some nice water views to enjoy at a spot called Arrowhead Picnic and Fishing Area.
For the cool beach towns of Madeira Beach and the Redington beaches, a few nice choices exist. War Veterans Memorial Park is close by, and while it is mostly manicured, multi-use grounds with fewer trails, you are guaranteed some peace and quiet since this park sits on the tip of a peninsula that isn’t on the way to anywhere. Also nearby is Boca Ciega Millenium Park. This park has some nice long trails that double as bike paths as well as some raised boardwalk trails, which are one of the best ways to view Florida coastal forests. The park also has some nice picnic pavilions. For the biggest park within easy driving distance from these beaches, try Lake Seminole Park. This park rests along one of the largest lakes in the county and has exceedingly long walking trails to match. If you want to get lost in uninterrupted thought, this is a wonderful place to go.
For the beaches of Indian Shores, Indian Rocks Beach, and Belleair Beach, a pair of very nice parks exist a short drive away. The smaller park is called The Narrows or McGough Nature Park. While you won’t get to walk too far at this location, it is a nice wooded location that will give you peekaboo looks at the intercoastal channel along some nicely maintained trails. The other park in the area is one of the best in the county. Walsingham Park is remarkably expansive and includes several lakes. The trails are long and pleasant, while this park also includes what is possibly the best scenic drives of any park in the county. If the mere drive through the park settles your nerves -and it will -imagine what a hike along its trails will do. As an added bonus, this very large park also includes Heritage Village historic park and the Florida Botanical Gardens on its north end.
Clearwater Beach is the most northern developed beach in the area and has some nice places nearby. Sand Key Park is a beach park that actually has nature trails. While they are not long or extensive, they might take as much as an hour to walk, if you take your time. They are also close to the wide array of things Sand Key Park has to offer such as a dog park, playground, and picnic pavilions. The other nature trail areas close to Clearwater Beach are two areas we write about on this blog all the time and they are Caladesi Island State Park and Honeymoon Island State Park. We discuss them often because they are amazing places with plenty of things to do. Nature trails are one of the features at these two parks and the trails are exceptional, especially on Honeymoon Island.
The last parks we’ll name require road trips. You might guess by the fact that we are including them that they are worth the drive, and they are. The first is Chesnut Park, located in Palm Harbor, Florida, a city not very far away from Clearwater Beach. The park is located along the largest lake in the county, taking up only a portion of its southern shoreline Even a portion of that real estate is considerable, however. This is a nice big park that you probably aren’t going to hike all in one day. The trails are made from both sea shells and raised boardwalks and may be the most scenic of the parks in the county. It has all the amenities you would expect in a city park, including lots of shaded picnic areas. The walks in this park are top-notch.
The park we’ll name to end off the list is Hillsborough River State Park. This one is north of Tampa, and quite frankly isn’t anywhere near a beach. It does, however, have fantastic hikes and a cool suspended walking bridge. Canoe rentals along the Hillsborough River are an added option at this park.
While we hope you enjoy your beach vacation and truly hope you love our beaches, perhaps you can put this list of parks to good use. If a little extra time in the “wilds” of Florida is to your liking, give one of these locations a try.