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Coastal Treasures: Southwest Florida’s State Parks

All throughout Fort Myers’ islands, beaches and neighborhoods, you’ll find yourself near tranquil spaces. Among these outdoor attractions, several are state parks and nature preserves that put conservation, education and recreation at the forefront of the experience. Not only can you enjoy access to winding hiking trails, long stretches of beaches, and picturesque wetlands and waterways, but you may also have access to amenities, like well-maintained camping facilities, restrooms, fishing docks, and kayak launch points. As you plan your vacation, add this list of Southwest Florida State Parks to your itinerary:

Gasparilla Island State Park

Gasparilla Island State Park

At the southern tip of secluded Gasparilla Island, this state park boasts beautiful beaches with blue-green waters and the historic Port Boca Grande Lighthouse & Museum. It’s surrounded by the Boca Grande Pass, which is famously known as the “Tarpon Capital of the World,” — an angler’s paradise. Get a feel for what it’s like on Gasparilla Island with a view through our live webcam.

Estero Bay Preserve State Park

Hike through miles of pristine wilderness in total harmony with your natural surroundings. Two access points take you through a variety of rugged and primitive trails (Prepare accordingly!). Experience a variety of environments, like coastal marshes, maritime hammocks and salt flats.

Koreshan State Park

Set on the banks of the Estero River, this quiet refuge once attracted a group of religious pioneers whose legacy lives on today. Walk among the towering oak trees to explore 11 nationally registered historic buildings that the Koreshans constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Lovers Key State Park

True to its name, 2.5 miles of white-sand beaches is a perfect backdrop for romantic proposals, engagement photos and outdoor weddings. Rescued from development plans, this natural area is ripe for paddling along quiet canals and lagoons and hiking on coastal trails. Wildlife abounds as you look for manatees, bottlenose dolphins and dozens of bird species.

Mound Key Archaeological State Park

Rising 30 feet above Estero Bay, this remote island tells stories from the past. You can access it by boat from Koreshan State Park or Lovers Key State Park. Watch wildlife as you paddle through the waters or hike a trail to see two large shell mounds and read interpretive signs that share the history of the Calusa Native Americans who once lived here.

Hours and available facilities may vary from what you see online. Please contact the parks directly to confirm what is open and accessible.