A Record Number of Days at the Park

A Record Number of Days at the Park By The News Service of Florida

More people visited Florida state parks in the recently completed fiscal year than ever before, the state Department of Environmental Protection said Wednesday.

The most popular park in Northwest Florida was St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, which drew 910,000 visitors.

DEP said more than 21.4 million visited Florida’s 160 state parks between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009, up 3.5 percent from the previous fiscal year. For the second year in a row, the department said the most popular park was Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, which attracted more than 1.2 million visitors. 

Other popular parks included Key Biscayne’s Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park (909,000 visitors), Gasparilla Island State Park in Boca Grande (846,000 visitors) and Melbourne Beach’s Sebastian Inlet State Park (796,000 visitors).

DEP Florida Park Service Director Mike Bullock said in a statement that this was the third consecutive year of increased park attendance in Florida. “The growth in visitor numbers proves that residents and visitors alike value state parks and enjoy nature-based recreation,” he said.