5 Exciting Places for Stargazing in Florida Parks
Stargazing is one of the fun activities you can do at night to appreciate this untamed universe. The widespread light pollution in the country makes it challenging to find the best spots for stargazing. However, Florida parks are best known for having some fantastic stargazing places that are unequal to no other.
You don't have to travel abroad. Here are the top five places you can visit in Florida parks to observe stars:
St. George Island
St. George Island is located between Tallahassee and Panama City Beach, and it's a perfect location for a family weekend getaway. It's one of the most beautiful and less light-polluted islands in Florida. Apart from the many water sporting activities, it offers breathtaking stargazing experiences, especially when the sky is dark.
Plans are underway to recognize and name St. George Island as the second Dark Sky Park in Florida. We recommend booking accommodation in advance to watch the night sky come to life since the park closes 15 minutes after sunset.
If you love camping, head over to the ranger's office or Reserve America website to book a camping site and acquire a permit to watch the stars.
Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is strategically located only 25 miles north of the famous Lake Okeechobee and on the southern side of Kissimmee. It also ranked among the prettiest state parks.
In 2016, International Dark-Sky Association awarded this park the Dark Sky Designation. So far, it's the only park to have ever won this award.
Like the previous location discussed, you need to book a campsite to stay in the park overnight. You can also reserve an astronomy pad site for an even better view of the stars and planets after sundown. Reservations should be made several hours before sunset. We recommend booking your spot at least one day before to avoid the last-minute rush.
Also, if you have a Florida States Parks Family Annual Pass, you don't need to go through the reservation process like other tourists. Instead, head over to the ranger's office and file the paperwork to get an after-hours permit.
It would be best to come with a telescope to get a perfect view of the stars. The many options available in the market often make it difficult to select the right one. Not anymore; we found a comprehensive article that deeply reviews the best and most affordable telescopes. Use it to make an informed decision.
Santa Fe River
Well, stargazing is an incredible experience, but it can be boring if you sit in one location for an hour. Get a whole new perspective of the stars by watching them after sundown as you paddle through the Santa Fe River kayaking trails.
The river's unique waterway is located in High Springs, just a few minutes' drive from Gainesville. The kayaking trips start from High Springs downwards, and there are guides to help you maneuver the trails easily in the dark.
Take a break by docking your kayak and basking in the moonlight as you watch the stars above wave back at you. If kayaking is not your cup of coffee, you can book a camping site in O'Leno State Park and River Rise Preserve State Park – the choice is yours. Ensure that you get an after-hours permit from the ranger's office before sunset.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is a tourist destination in Florida that offers unforgettable experiences to thousands of local and foreign tourists. This fantastic tropical paradise is home to Fort Jefferson and is listed on many travels guides as one of the ideal places to watch stars in Florida.
You need to book a camping site to watch the stars. One of the highlights of this park is that the area does not have any water bodies, so rest assured you won't struggle to sleep due to mosquitoes.
Before sunset, stroll through the streets of Dry Tortugas city to enjoy local cuisine and purchase souvenirs.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park covers approximately 1.5 million acres of wetland. It's located in southern Florida and is characterized by natural mangroves, birds, alligators, sawgrass marshes, and more.
Because the nearest city is miles away, the environment is less polluted, and this is one of the primary reasons it's marked as the best place for stargazing in Florida. The night sky is visible from anywhere in the park.
However, the overnight camping sites are few, so hurry and place your reservation early. Alternatively, you can enter through Shark Valley to save money on the admission fee. The Tamiami Trail will lead you to a concrete observation tower that's 65-foot tall. Be sure to carry bug spray to protect yourself and your loved ones from bug bites and stings.
Florida parks indeed have some of the most beautiful and romantic places for stargazing. Remember to carry your camping gear if you intend to camp and book reservations early. Enjoy