How to Get Your Florida State Parks Annual Pass for 50% Off! (By January 13, 2024)

Florida State Parks Annual Pass.

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Through the Great Outdoors Initiative, you can purchase your Florida State Parks Annual Pass for 50% off now through January 13, 2024. I adore the award-winning Florida State Parks system and each year, I purchase an annual pass. I let mine lapse this spring and waited for the fall to purchase one. I’m so glad I waited to purchase one at half off!

Looking up at the beautiful trees in Highlands Hammock State Park, Sebring, Fla., December 2023.
Looking up at the beautiful trees in Highlands Hammock State Park, Sebring, Fla., December 2023.

Connecting with Nature is Good for the Soul

I mentally and physically feel better when I’m outdoors and surrounded by nature. At first, I thought it was because I grew up playing in my family’s woods. As a young adult, I spent a decade working and living in three national parks. When I needed to clear my head and escape, I took a walk and found a quiet place to sit and observe Mother Nature at work.

I always feel refreshed and rejuvenated after spending time outside. When I purchased my home in Southwest Florida, the neighborhood was surrounded by vacant (and overgrown) lots. My non-human neighbors include gopher tortoises, bobcats, screech and barred owls. And yes, I appreciate the slithering neighbors, too, like the black racer, corn, and scarlet king snakes (which have all made an appearance in my home) because I know they keep the venomous snakes away.

Today, Southwest Florida is one of the fastest growing and developing areas in the state, if not the country. This means watching trees being cut down, land turning over, concrete being poured, and buildings erected. My heart pangs each time I pass a construction site, thinking of the displaced wildlife and addition of more people.

Because of this, I feel a longing to connect with outdoor areas including the Florida State Parks which is why I’m an annual pass holder. I thought I was alone in believing in nature’s restorative powers. I’ve gone as far as literally hugging trees to feel better. Well, I’m not alone in knowing Mother Nature’s healing powers. There’s research on how spending time outdoors can improve our mental health.

A boardwalk trail in Highlands Hammock State Park, Sebring, Fla., December 2023.
A boardwalk trail in Highlands Hammock State Park, Sebring, Fla., December 2023.

Take Time to Stop and Walk the Trail

With my Florida State Parks Annual Pass, I can visit just a park without paying an individual admission fee (exceptions are at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and Weeki Wachee Springs State Park). During my travels when I’m short on time, I enjoy being able to make a quick stop into a state park then hop back on the road after a quick visit. Last week I had a meeting in Sebring and stopped off at Highlands Hammock State Park on my way home. It was a quick yet restorative visit.

Florida State Parks Annual Pass.
Florida State Parks Annual Pass

Great Outdoors Initiative Means Individual and Family Florida State Parks Annual Passes are 50% Off!

I had planned to purchase my Florida State Parks Annual pass in the spring but I let it lapse. This is because prices were reduced at parks this summer (thanks to the 2023 Florida Freedom Summer Sales Tax Holiday, which included music events, sporting events, cultural events, movies, and other activities). So I figured I’d just pay admission through the summer then pick up a pass in the fall.

Glad I waited! In October, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the Great Outdoors Initiative where individual and family Florida State Parks Annual Passes are 50% off (plus tax) when purchased between Oct. 14 and Jan. 13, 2024! Passes are valid for a year from purchase month.

This means, rather than paying $60 (+ tax) for an individual pass, I paid $30 (plus tax).

A family pass is typically $120 (+ tax) but now it’s $60 (+ tax).

Included in the Great Outdoors Initiative are discounts for specific Florida fishing and hunting licenses.

Keeping Politics Out

Politics aside, this is a fantastic initiative! Not only does it save on the budget, it opens the doors to more adventures. I hope it encourages families to purchase these passes and get outdoors more in the New Year.

Yes, I’m paying less which in theory, means less funding going to the Florida State Parks system, but the more I visit and use services from state parks vendors, the more I spend in the park, the more I’m supporting those businesses, which support the respective park. Plus, I’ll be supporting local businesses who rely on park visitation.

There are about 175 Florida State Parks and I’m looking forward to exploring more in 2024!

Purchase your Florida State Parks Annual Pass at your favorite Florida State Park or order online, although there is a service fee.

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Solo Travel Girl

Jennifer A. Huber is the voice behind Solo Travel Girl. She's an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. In 2023, she was a finalist in AARP's Benefits Badass competition. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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