1.8. Are Florida State Park visitors permitted to forage, collect or take any items found within the park?

Per Chapter 62.D, F.A.C., no person shall destroy, injure, deface, mar, move, dig, harmfully disturb or remove from any park area, or the waters thereof, any buildings, structures, facilities, historic ruins, equipment, park property, soil, sand, gravel, rocks, stones, minerals, marine plants or animals, artifacts or other materials. No person shall cut, carve, injure, mutilate, move, displace or break off any water bottom formation or growth. Nor shall any person possess, break off or in any way damage any stalactites, stalagmites or other cave formations.

This rule means that one cannot gather firewood/kindling materials; forage for edibles; or remove plant/animal items such as driftwood, leaves/pine needles, feathers/bones or other animal products within a state park.

Exceptions to this rule are made only for research/academic study purposes, in cases where a collection permit has been issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The other exception to the prohibition regarding collection and removal of items is if the items are empty seashells, sea glass or shark teeth found between the water line and toe of the sand dunes in coastal parks with beaches. Seashells with living creatures in them and live sand dollars should be left where they are and not removed.

1.7. If I have lost a personal item in a state park, can I use a metal detector to help me find it?

Metal detectors may be used to recover personal items that are specifically identified by their owner as being lost in a specific area of a park. The owner of lost property or their representative should contact the park manager who will arrange a time for the search to be conducted in the presence of a park staff member. During these searches, only the item sought may be kept by the owner or their representative.

1.5. Can I fly a drone in a Florida State Park?

Launching and/or landing a drone is prohibited within Florida State Parks except in very rare circumstances. The portion of the Florida Administrative Code that governs the operation of Florida State Parks (Chapter 62D-2.014, F.A.C.) states:

  • (15) Aircraft. No person operating or responsible for any aircraft, glider, balloon, parachute or other aerial apparatus shall cause any such apparatus to take off from or land in any park except in an emergency when human life is endangered or where a designated landing facility may exist on park property.

The Florida Park Service includes drones in the category of "other aerial apparatus.” Currently, we do not have guest-accessible landing facilities in any Florida state park.

The primary reason for our very limited occasions of drone use (i.e., mainly as a tool for rescue or reviewing areas impacted by natural disaster) is because our mission as part of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection requires us to take into consideration the preservation of natural resources. 

It has been observed that nesting birds view drones as potential predators and are likely to abandon nests or avoid otherwise ideal habitat areas if drones have been regularly spotted in those locations. We do not want this to occur within our park conservation areas, which are intended to be sanctuaries for our native wildlife.

1.6. Where can I do metal detecting within Florida's state parks?

Our statewide park rules, based on regulations set out by the Florida Administrative Code, state that metal detecting is prohibited on all state park lands, except for coastal parks. In these parks, metal detecting may occur within certain beach areas located between the toe of the dune and the high-water line, as designated by the park manager. Metal detecting in submerged locations is not permitted.

Objects with historic association (anything over 50 years old) are not permitted to be kept by park visitors, even if the objects are found in the areas approved for metal detecting. These objects are archaeological artifacts, and title to such is vested in the Florida Department of State's Division of Historical Resources.

If you plan to visit a state park with a beach, we recommend calling ahead to the park to inquire if there is any section of the beach where you can do metal detecting and if there are any restrictions you should be aware of (i.e., can you dig down to retrieve any objects you find, etc.). View our list of all state parks with beaches. Be aware that a limited number of these parks are inland, and their "beach" is on a lake, river, spring, etc. Because these are not coastal parks, metal detecting is not allowed at these locations.

15. Is hunting allowed in Florida State Parks?

Florida's state parks are managed as natural systems. All plant and animal life is protected in state parks. Limited hunting with a special permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is allowed at Rock Springs Run State ReserveCedar Key Scrub State Reserve and the Marshall Swamp area of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway.

To fully enjoy the experience of visiting a wilderness area it is recommended that you contact the reserves in advance of your visit.

1.4. Where can I swim with the manatees?

Resource protection is foremost at all state parks, and swimming with manatees is not allowed.

However, the endangered Florida manatee can be seen every day at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Visitors can go below the water’s surface to view these gentle giants from the underwater observatory in Homosassa's main spring.

1. Can I arrange to have my wedding, business meeting or family reunion at a state park in Florida?

Special events are permitted at Florida State Parks.

1.3. Can I fish at state parks? Do I need a fishing license?

Fishing locations are abundant in Florida's state parks. Check the individual park's webpage for specific information.

1.2. Can I reserve a picnic shelter?

In general, parks offer picnic shelters on a first-come, first-served basis. However, some picnic shelters may be reserved.

16. Are alcoholic beverages allowed in the parks?

The only locations within our parks where alcohol can be consumed by persons age 21 and older are:

  • In specially designated areas such as:
    • A reserved overnight accommodation such as a campsite, cabin, bungalow, yurt or lodge room.
    • Reserved covered picnic pavilions, dining halls or recreation halls where the serving of alcohol has been noted in the rental contract (such as for weddings, receptions, reunions, etc.).
  • In concessionaire-operated restaurants and lodges within Florida State Parks licensed to provide the sale of alcohol.
  • During state park-sanctioned special events where entrance and participant age are carefully monitored.

Consumption of alcohol is not permitted in public locations within state parks, including beaches, tubing/paddling areas, or first-come first-served picnicking areas.