You already know that Florida is a great space destination. Where else can you watch a rocket launch in the morning and ride Space Mountain in the afternoon? But, did you also know: Florida has some areas with pristine night skies! Beyond the bright lights of Orlando, Miami, and the Space Coast, there are some fantastic spots for stargazing in Florida.
Most of these locations are open to the public year-round, thanks to Florida’s warm temperatures and moderate climate. You should keep in mind which astronomy events you can see in the night sky and the timing of the Milky Way. Don’t forget those pesky seasonal weather issues, too (obviously, hurricane season is not great for stargazing).
If you’re in Florida – for work, play, or a bit of both – and the timing and weather are right, give yourself an extra night or two to get out and enjoy the sky after sunset. You won’t regret it! Here are the best places for stargazing in Florida. Let us know in the comments if we missed any of your favorites.
Featured image credit: Matt Deavenport via Flickr
One of the best places for stargazing in Florida is Alligator Alley. This is thanks to the intense darkness that envelopes the area at night.
Found in the heart of Everglades National Park, Alligator Alley offers a sky full of brilliant stars. You can probably guess exactly why it’s named this way though! Be sure to watch out for the alligators after dark…
Big Pine Key
Located about 100 miles from Miami, Big Pine Key is a glorious island in Florida’s lower Keys. Due to its distance from the bustling city, this island has very bright, clear skies, and little to no pollution.
Bonus: Big Pine Key is the only place in the United States where stargazers can see the Southern Cross constellation.
Chiefland Astronomy Village
An astronomy park in Chiefland, this village has one of the darkest night skies in Florida. The Chiefland Star Party Group runs the park, and they offer a paid membership for access to their permanent observatories.
Chiefland Astronomy Village is perfect for stargazers looking to be part of a community of people with similar interests. Amateur stargazers like you can enjoy learning a couple of tricks from the throngs of experts in this park.
Doe Lake Campground
Like most campgrounds, Doe Lake is set far away from the lights of the city. Located near a Civilian Conservation Corps hall, its clear night skies offer stunning views of the stars. If you want to enjoy this experience, book a spot ahead of time as Doe Lake is a seasonal campground.
Everglades National Park
As you might have guessed from Alligator Alley making this list earlier, Everglades National Park offers one of the best views of the night sky in South Florida. (It’s also one of the best national parks for stargazing!)
Set in a remote location, the park offers magnificent views of the clear sky and the Milky Way to astronomy enthusiasts. If you want to stay overnight in Everglades, you can stay at either of the two campgrounds in the park. This is the best place to experience a blissful night under the stars.
Fox Observatory at Markham Park
The Fox Observatory at Markham Park is another excellent place for stargazing in Florida. Markham Park itself is the home of the South Florida Amateur Astrologers Association.
Amateur and professional stargazers looking to be part of a community will find this place very suitable for their needs. You can attend weekly astronomy events at the Fox Observatory. Markham Park also offers pollution-free, crystal clear skies, perfect for all-night star gazing.
From a Boat
Watching the stars from a boat is one of the best ways to stargaze in Miami. To enjoy the full stargazing experience, take a boat out on the water, towards the eastern part of the city; away from all the bright lights.
It is best to book a night cruise in advance. That way, you get to watch the beautiful sunset and see the stars twinkling out in the velvety, dark sky.
Kirby Storter Roadside Park
This roadside park is one of the best locations for stargazing in Florida. Set in an isolated area far away from the city pollution, Kirby Storter Roadside Park offers crystal clear night skies with uninterrupted views of the twinkling stars.
Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
Kissimmee Prairie is widely recognized as the first Dark Sky Park in Florida. One of the best locations for stargazing in Florida, this endless grassland is remotely located and removed from urban pollution. Yes, there are grasslands in Florida – not just swamps and beaches.
From Kissimmee Prairie, you can even see Jupiter and Saturn from any of the three campgrounds on this park. Backpackers also have access to three other primitive sites in the park that are perfect for stargazing.
With lots of stargazing events held regularly on this 145,000-acre dark sky and wildlife refuge, Loxahatchee is one of the best spots for stargazers to enjoy clear and direct views of the skies. The vast landscape gives the feeling of being enveloped in the clouds.
Love to be a part of a community of stargazers? Look out for one of the numerous stargazing events at Loxahatchee Refuge.
Myakka River State Park
One of Florida’s largest parks, Myakka River State Park offers breathtaking views of the stars, moon, and several visible planets. With its scenic, daring canopy walk, serene environment and clear blue skies, it is no wonder that it has been called the Disneyland for environmentalists. Secluded from the bright lights and pollution of city life, its night sky offers excellent views for stargazers.
Home of Escambia Amateur Astronomers Association, Pensacola Beach is one of those spots for stargazing in Florida where you can spot the Milky Way, visible planets, and other celestial galaxies.
Summertime on Pensacola Beach boasts of series of stargazing events. Guests have access to free telescopes during any of these events. Amateur stargazers will find this location very appealing and will have the opportunity to meet and socialize with guests who share similar interests.
Located out along the Atlantic coast, Sebastian Inlet is another excellent location for stargazers to spend an evening under the starry skies. With several star parties being held by local astronomy clubs, you’ll have the opportunity to gather with fellow Astronomy fans and enjoy the view of the skies above together.
St. George Island
Set in Northwest Florida against the Gulf of Mexico, St. George Island is one of Florida’s rare gems.
This beautiful island is secluded from the city’s big lights and noise and offers stunning views of the stars through crystal clear skies. Primarily known for having very dark nights, this is yet another one of the best locations for stargazing in Florida.
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is an excellent spot for adventurers looking to enjoy enthralling views of the starry skies. Set on powdery white sands and surrounded by a peaceful, serene environment, this park is an excellent place for those looking to spend the day surrounded by nature and the night under a brilliant, starry sky.
Do you know any other great spots for stargazing in Florida? Let us know in the comments!