The Best State Park in Every State
From beautiful beaches to majestic mountains, these are the most popular—and most beloved—state parks across the United States.
Alabama: Gulf State Park
You don’t have to book a Caribbean vacation to enjoy sun-soaked waves crashing on white-sand beaches. You can find that at Alabama’s Gulf State Park, where there’s plenty of fun in the sun to be had. For the athletic adults, there’s also tennis courts and even an 18-hole championship golf course at the park. These are more of our favorite family-beach destinations.
Alaska: Chugach State Park
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Hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, ATVing, berry picking, horseback riding…you’ll find tons of outdoor activities available at Chugach State Park, which also happens to be one of the largest and best state parks in the country. There are thousands of miles of trails, some of which take you up Flattop Mountain (the most climbed mountain in Alaska) and others that will take you to over 60 stunning glaciers.
Arizona: Slide Rock State Park
The name says it all: Slide Rock State Park is home to one of the biggest natural slip n’ slides and one of the best natural swimming pools in the United States. After you take a ride down the 80-foot red rock chute, splash around in the swimming hole below, wander through the apple orchards, or just soak in the Arizona sunshine and breathtaking desert scenery.
Arkansas: Petit Jean State Park
About an hour outside of Little Rock, you’ll find Petit Jean State Park. The winding trails will take you high above the Arkansas River Valley—which is absolutely gorgeous in the fall—as you climb through forests and canyons. Once you’re done exploring for the day, you can spend the night in one of the park’s yurts for a truly unique camping experience.
California: Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Northern California may be known for wine, but it’s also known for its giant redwood trees, which you can experience for yourself at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The 18,000-acre grove of statuesque trees is unlike anything you’ve ever seen, with some of the redwoods growing over 50 feet wide and others as tall as the Statue of Liberty.
Colorado: Eldorado Canyon State Park
There’s no shortage of natural beauty in Colorado. And one of the best state parks to take it all in is at Eldorado Canyon State Park, where you can trek through the scenic canyon, rock-climb to your heart’s content, or picnic by one of the many streams. Want more spots to hike? Discover the best trail in each of the 50 states.
Connecticut: Gillette Castle State Park
The last place you’d expect to find a majestic mid-century castle would be in the middle of Connecticut. But that’s exactly what you’ll stumble upon at Gillette Castle State Park, where the stone mansion is open to the public for self-guided tours. Not only is there a dungeon to explore, but rumor has it that there’s also a secret room that only a few have found. Psst: Here are 10 real castles you can book on Airbnb.
Delaware: Cape Henlopen State Park
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Your first stop at Cape Henlopen State Park should be the Seaside Nature Center, where you can pet manta rays and horseshoe crabs. After that, slip on your swimsuit and frolic on the sandy beaches or hike or bike to the end of the cape to enjoy gorgeous views of the Atlantic coastline. Keep an eye out for the dolphins frolicking in the waters.
Florida: Honeymoon Island State Park
Like the most beautiful Florida beaches that locals don’t want you to know about, Honeymoon Island is one of the state’s best state parks that’s under the radar. The pristine shoreline is much less crowded than some of the more touristy destinations and there are plenty of nature activities from kayaking out to the Gulf to walking the 3.5 miles of pine-shaded trails.
Georgia: Amicalola Falls State Park
The gushing glory at Georgia’s best state park is more than worthy of a spot on our list of the best waterfalls in every state. But fair warning: it will take quite a bit of hiking to get to, as it’s the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi. The views at the top will be more than worth it, though.