The 12 Prettiest Parks in the Tampa Bay Area

caladesi island

Thanks in large part to its location along the Gulf of Mexico, Florida’s Tampa Bay area boasts a wealth of picturesque parks. Whether you’re into fishing, swimming, hiking, biking or sunbathing, there’s a Tampa Bay park perfectly suited for you.

Amid the impressive array of parks, one is particularly praiseworthy.

Accessible only by ferry, kayak or boat, Caladesi Island State Park, just outside Dunedin, is a secluded paradise. With its unspoiled sugar-white sand, Caladesi Island has one of the most immaculate beaches in Florida.

Caladesi Island

Photo: Florida Park Service

“On pristine Caladesi, quiet paths lead along the dunes, palms stand against the warm coastal breezes, and shore birds and sea turtles live without interference from people,” Visit Florida says. “Gopher tortoises burrow behind the dunes and water laps against beaches sprinkled with scallops and sand dollars.”

Caladesi Island State Park leads LawnStarter’s list of the 12 Prettiest Parks in Tampa Bay, but it had some stiff competition for the No. 1 spot. Check out which parks jockeyed for first place.

1. Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island

Photo: Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater

Why we like it: White-sand beach; abundant wildlife; 3-mile nature trail; 3-mile kayak trail

2. Fred Howard Park

Fred Howard Park

Photo: Island Paradise

Why we like it: 155 acres along Gulf of Mexico; 1-mile-long causeway; white-sand beach; eagle, osprey and dolphin sightings

3. Fort De Soto Park

Fort De Soto

Photo: HubPages

Why we like it: 1,136 acres made up of five interconnected islands; 7 miles of waterfront, including nearly 3 miles of white-sand beach; almost 330 species of birds; two fishing piers

4. Egmont Key State Park

Egmont Key State Park

Photo: Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater

Why we like it: Remote island accessible only by ferry or boat; federally designated wildlife area; more than 150-year-old lighthouse; swimming; snorkeling; fishing; shelling

5. Anclote Key Preserve State Park

Anclote Key

Photo: YouTube

Why we like it: 403-acre park with more than 40 species of birds; accessible only by ferry or boat; nearly 130-year-old lighthouse; picnicking; overnight camping

6. Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island

Photo: Great Tampa Bay Homes

Why we like it: Nature trails; bird observatory areas; pine forest; swimming; fishing; snorkeling; shelling

7. Alafia River State Park

Alafia River State Park

Photo: Florida Division of State Lands/EB White

Why we like it: 6,260-acre park with unique topography; 17 miles of cycling trails; hardwood forests; rolling hills; 20 miles of hiking and horse trails; canoeing; fishing

8. Picnic Island Park

Picnic Island


Why we like it: Beach for people and dogs; boat ramp; fishing pier; observation deck

9. Davis Islands Seaplane Basin Park

Davis Islands


Why we like it: Boat ramps; canoe areas; picnicking; dog beach

10. Hillsborough River State Park

Hillsborough River Park

Photo: Erika Zambello

Why we like it: Fort Foster Historic Site; wildlife; fishing; canoeing and kayaking; hiking; cycling; swimming

11. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Curtis Hixon Park

Photo: The Tampa River Walk

Why we like it: Skyline view; huge lawn; two fountains; dog run

12. Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park


Photo: Port Richey Bayou Business Association

Why we like it: 4 miles of Gulf of Mexico coastline; birdwatching; fox, tortoise and dolphin habitat; fishing; paddling

With a plethora of outdoor things to to and affordable campgrounds in the Tampa Bay area, the area is an outdoor aficionado’s dream.  Leave the lawn care up to us by booking a Tampa lawn mowing service today!

Top photo: Florida Park Service


John Egan

John Egan is the former editor in chief of Now, he is a freelance writer extraordinaire. He lives in Austin, Texas.