27 Best Stargazing in Florida (2024 Free Map)

Chris Klein, Amateur Astronomy Advisor

By Chris Klein

Updated:

Of all the locations across the United States where you can stargaze, Florida is the place for space exploration!

You can explore the state’s diverse landscape and go to the best spots to see various astronomical objects such as stars, planets, galaxies, and more.

There’s something magical about Florida stargazing. Maybe it’s the feeling of being tiny in comparison to the vastness of the universe. Or maybe it’s the sense of wonder that comes with seeing something so beautiful.

Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt that stargazing in Florida is an activity that everyone should experience at least once in their life.

In this article, you get

A free Google Map of the 27 best stargazing in Florida

A Dark Sky Map Florida to help you find the best place to stargaze in Florida

A detailed summary of each of the best places to see stars in Florida

Tips on where can you see the milky way in Florida

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to start planning your next vacation to include the best star gazing in Florida!

Let’s dive right in.

FLORIDA STAR GAZING

Florida, the east coast sunshine state, is well known as a tourist destination for outdoor adventures during daylight hours, but it’s also a great place for amateur astronomers.

I’m often asked, “Where to see stars in Florida?”

The state has many dark sky parks and reserves where light pollution is minimal. This makes Florida ideal for viewing a night sky full of bright stars.

There are numerous reasons why Florida is a great place for stargazing. The warm climate means that there are clear nights year-round. This makes it possible to see the stars at any time of year.

Florida is not only home to several dark state parks, but also some unique national parks. These areas have little to no artificial light pollution, making them perfect for stargazing. Whether you’re a casual stargazer or an experienced astronomer, Florida is a great place to enjoy the night sky. Who knows, you may find yourself wondering what’s at the center of the Milky Way.

FLORIDA DARK SKY MAP

If you love to look up at the night sky and admire the stars, you’ll want to find a location with little light pollution. The further away you are from major cities, the better your chances of finding a place where it will be dark enough.

The best places to stargaze in Florida are in the darker areas of the Florida Dark Sky Map. The South Florida night sky map shows a lot of light pollution, so be sure to read my list to find the best spot near you.

Florida Light Pollution
Florida Dark Sky Map

WHAT IS A FLORIDA LIGHT POLLUTION MAP?

A dark sky Florida map shows the level of light pollution in an area, so you can pick the ideal spot with little or no pollution from nearby cities.

For more info, read my article Light Pollution Effects.

Pro Tip

Make sure you check the moon phase before heading out. When there’s a full moon, it will also cause some light pollution.

FREE STARGAZING CHECKLIST

My 5-page Stargazing Checklist will enhance your astronomical observations.

Follow this free checklist to navigate the night sky with confidence, clarity, and a sense of preparedness for a rewarding stargazing experience.

Free Stargazing Checklist

THE 27 BEST PLACES FOR STARGAZING IN FLORIDA

Grab your sky map and bug spray before heading out under the starry sky.

If you’re new to stargazing, read my article What Do You Need To Go Stargazing?

ALLIGATOR ALLEY

If you’re looking for an otherworldly experience, there’s no better place than Alligator Alley in Florida.

Alligator Alley

This unique spot for stargazing Florida is home to some of the darkest skies in the state, making it a perfect place for stargazing.

There are several ways to enjoy the stars in Alligator Alley. One popular option is to take a nighttime airboat tour. These tours give you an up-close look at the area’s wildlife while also providing stunning views of the night sky.

If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of a shooting star, your best bet is to visit during the Perseid meteor shower. This annual event typically peaks in early August, so mark your calendar and make your way to Alligator Alley for an unforgettable experience stargazing South Florida.

ASTRONAUT MEMORIAL PLANETARIUM AND OBSERVATORY

If you want to explore the cosmos, head to the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium and Observatory near Kennedy Space Center.

Astronaut Memorial Planetarium and Observatory

The planetarium offers you a realistic view of the night sky, complete with stars, celestial bodies, and constellations.

You can also check out special stargazing events like meteor showers and planetary alignments. The observatory is equipped with high-powered telescopes that offer a closer look at distant objects in the sky.

Please note the planetarium suffered storm damage a few years ago and is still in the process of re-opening.

BAHIA HONDA STATE PARK

If you’re looking for an unforgettable stargazing experience, head to Bahia Honda State Park.

Bahia Honda State Park

This state park offers the best stargazing conditions in the Florida Keys, making it the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the stars. Once you’re set-up, you’ll be able to see an amazing array of stars and constellations. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a shooting star or two. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!

BALD POINT STATE PARK

Bald Point State Park is located on Florida’s Forgotten Coast.

Bald Point State Park

This park has miles of unspoiled beaches where you can enjoy stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico during the day, and stargaze all night.

No noise. No lights. No distractions. Just peace and solitude. What are you waiting for?

BIG CYPRESS NATIONAL PRESERVE

Big Cypress National Preserve is an official Dark Sky Site.

Big Cypress National Preserve

This 729,000-acre preserve is home to a variety of ecosystems and wildlife, making it a great place to explore during the day before stargazing at night. Drive down into one of the cypress domes for an otherworldly experience beneath the stars.

A good place to stop is Kirby Storter Roadside Park. The mile-long boardwalk here makes it easy to get some fresh air and enjoy the stars.

In 2016, the International Dark-Sky Association designated Big Cypress National Preserve an International Dark Sky Place.

National Preserves preserve not only animals, plants, and ecosystems. They also help preserve dark skies. Natural dark skies with minimal light pollution are important environmental, natural, cultural, and economic resources.

BIG PINE KEY

If you want to go stargazing in Florida, one of the best places to do it is at Big Pine Key.

Big Pine Key photo credit Thomas

This small island community is located in the Lower Keys, about 30 miles from Key West.

The night sky over Big Pine Key is simply gorgeous. You can see countless stars, planets, and even the occasional meteor shower. The best time to go stargazing here is during the summer months when the weather is warm and dry.

There are several ways to enjoy stargazing on Big Pine Key. One option is to drive out to one of the many public parks or beaches on the island. Another option is to take a boat ride out to the reef, where you can anchor for the night and enjoy the view. No matter how you choose to do it, stargazing on Big Pine Key is an experience you won’t soon forget!

BILL SADOWSKI PARK AND NATURE CENTER

Here you can look through the largest telescope in Miami-Dade County, allowing you spectacular celestial observations of seasonal southern night skies. The Southern Cross Astronomy Observation Deck has been a major attraction for stargazing in South Florida since the mid-1980s.

Bill Sadowski Park and Nature Center

The Parks Department enlarged the SCAS Observation Deck twice to accommodate massive telescopes and tripods, and concrete telescope mounts were installed by Southern Cross astronomers and Eagle Scout volunteers in 2013.

BUEHLER PLANETARIUM AND OBSERVATORY

The world-renowned Buehler Planetarium and Observatory is located on the campus of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

Buehler Planetarium and Observatory

The planetarium houses a state-of-the-art Star Projector, which is one of the largest in the world. The projector can simulate any night sky from anywhere on Earth, making it the perfect place to get an up-close look at the stars.

In addition to the Zeiss projector, Buehler Planetarium also has a number of powerful telescopes that are available for you to use. These telescopes allow you to get an even closer look at the wonders of the night sky. If you’re new to stargazing, don’t worry – the friendly staff at Buehler Planetarium will be happy to help you get started.

Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or just getting started, Buehler Planetarium is one of the best places for stargazing in Florida.

CEDAR KEY SCRUB STATE RESERVE

Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve is home to a variety of scrub plants and animals, as well as some of the darkest night skies in the state!

Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve photo credit Ryan McKee
Photo credit: Ryan McKee, Flickr

There are several great spots for Cedar Key stargazing.

One of the best is the overlook at Gulf Hammock Trail. This spot offers views of both the Gulf of Mexico and the scrublands of the reserve. It’s also one of the darkest spots in the reserve, making it ideal for stargazing.

Another great spot is Sugarloaf Key Overlook. This spot offers views of both Sugarloaf Key and the Gulf of Mexico. No matter where you go stargazing at Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve, you’re sure to have an amazing experience.

CHIEFLAND ASTRONOMY VILLAGE

Another great spot for star gazing Florida is Chiefland Astronomy Village.

Chiefland Astronomy Village

This village is home to the largest public telescope in the world, and it’s the perfect place to get a good look at the night sky.

There are plenty of other telescopes to use as well, and you can even bring your own if you want. There are also plenty of places to sit and relax while you take in the sights.

DRY TORTUGAS NATIONAL PARK

Dry Tortugas National Park is another top pick for star gazing in Florida.

Dry Tortugas National Park

This park is located about 70 miles west of Key West and is only accessible by boat or seaplane. The lack of light pollution makes this one of the best places in Florida to see the stars.

Fort Jefferson is located here. The fort was built in the 1800s and never finished. It is now a popular place for camping, hiking, and snorkeling. But it is also an excellent place for stargazing.

Just be careful not to disturb the sea turtles, which are often sighted around Dry Tortugas National Park.

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK

With over 1.5 million acres of protected wetlands, Everglades National Park might be the best place to see the stars in Florida.

Everglades National Park

The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including alligators, snakes, and birds, which you can see during the day on a Swamp Walk or an Airboat Tour. At night, the sky is filled with stars!

Everglades stargazing offers you several great spots. One of the best is at the Anhinga Trail, where you can see alligators and other wildlife while you gaze at the stars.

Another great spot is at the Long Pine Key Picnic Area, where you can enjoy a picnic while you stargaze. The best time to go stargazing in the Everglades is during the winter months when the skies are clear and there is less humidity. It’s a perfect spot for nature lovers!

National parks have some of the only remaining harbors of darkness left, providing excellent opportunities for visitors to experience this endangered natural resource. Everglades National Park is dedicated to protecting and sharing its nighttime skies for the enjoyment of future generations.

Natural lightscapes are locations without any human-caused light at night. To the greatest extent possible, the National Park Service attempts to preserve the natural lightscape. For example, their light fixtures point downwards, only illuminating what you need for your safety.

FORT LAUDERDALE

With its wide open spaces and proximity to the ocean, Fort Lauderdale offers some of the best stargazing opportunities in Florida. Here are some of the best places for stargazing in Fort Lauderdale:

  • John U Lloyd Beach State Park: This state park is located right on the beach, making it a perfect spot for watching the stars come out over the water. The park also has an observation deck that is ideal for stargazing.
  • Hugh Taylor Birch State Park: This state park features a variety of landscapes, including mangroves, wetlands, and forests. The diverse scenery makes it a great place to view the stars in all their glory.
  • South Beach Park: South Beach Park is located right in the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s tourist district. The wide-open beach and pier make it a perfect spot for stargazing.

FORT PICKENS NATIONAL PARK

Fort Pickens National Park is located on the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which is known for its dark skies.

Fort Pickens National Park

There are several ways to experience the stars at Fort Pickens, including ranger-led programs, amateur astronomy programs, and simply lying on the beach and looking up at the night sky. Ranger-led programs are offered throughout the year, and these special stargazing events provide an opportunity to learn about the stars and other celestial objects visible in the night sky.

Amateur astronomy programs are also offered periodically, and they provide a chance to use telescopes and binoculars to get a closer look at the stars. No matter how you choose to experience them, the stars are sure to take your breath away.

FOX OBSERVATORY AT MARKHAM PARK

The Fox Observatory at Markham Park is located in Broward County, just outside of Fort Lauderdale. It is open to the public on Friday and Saturday nights from 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

Fox Observatory at Markham Park

The Markham Park Observatory has a 20-inch telescope that is available for you to use. There are also several smaller telescopes that are available, so you’ll certainly have a chance to look through one.

The observatory is run by the South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association, which gives constellation tours and explains the night sky. They also offer telescope observing sessions for great views of planets, stars, galaxies, and other celestial objects.

If you are interested in learning more about astronomy, the Fox Observatory offers classes on various topics throughout the year. These classes are open to all ages and levels of experience.

HORSESHOE BEACH

Horseshoe Beach is located on the Gulf Coast, about an hour’s drive from Tallahassee.

Horseshoe Beach

This small town is known for its dark skies, making it a great place to see the stars. There are several public beaches in Horseshoe Beach where you can set up your telescope or binoculars and spend the night gazing at the stars.

KISSIMMEE PRAIRIE PRESERVE STATE PARK

In 2016, Kissimmee Prairie Preserve was recognized as Florida’s first Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association.

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

It’s one of only two international dark sky parks in Florida. You’ll definitely notice the absence of human-caused light.

The park is located in the middle of the state, about an hour and a half drive from Orlando. Once you arrive, take advantage of the open prairies by setting up your telescope for some serious stargazing. You’ll be treated to views of the Milky Way, constellations, the Orion nebula, and even some planets like Jupiter and Saturn.

All Florida State Parks close at sunset. However, you can request an after-hours permit to enjoy the dark skies at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park by reserving an astronomy pad site.

MYAKKA RIVER STATE PARK

If you’re looking for an unforgettable stargazing experience, head to Myakka River State Park.

Myakka River State Park

Located in Southwest Florida, this state park is home to some of the darkest skies in the state.

With no light pollution to spoil the view, you’ll be able to see countless stars and even planets with the naked eye. If you have a telescope, you’ll be blown away by what you can see. Myakka River State Park is truly a stargazer’s paradise.

OCALA NATIONAL FOREST

The Ocala National Forest is a dark sky park in central Florida covering nearly 700 square miles.

Ocala National Forest

There are several campgrounds within the forest that make great basecamps for exploring during the day and stargazing at night.

The Doe Lake Campground has a designated stargazing area with picnic tables and a fire pit. You can bring your own telescope or you can use a pair of binoculars provided by the campground staff.

PENSACOLA BEACH

Pensacola Beach is a great spot for stargazing because it is one of the few beaches in Florida that faces west.

Pensacola Beach photo credit Matt Deavenport
Photo credit: Matt Deavenport, Flickr

This means that you can enjoy stunning sunsets before looking up at the clear night sky. There is no light pollution or artificial lights to spoil the view, making it an ideal place to stargaze.

The best time to go stargazing on Pensacola Beach is during the summer months when the weather is warm and dry. You’ll want to find a spot away from any buildings or lights so that you have a clear view of the sky.

Bring a blanket or chair to sit on, and don’t forget your binoculars.

SANTA FE RIVER

There’s something special about stargazing at the Santa Fe River.

Santa Fe River

Maybe it’s the way the river winds through the darkness, or maybe it’s the peace that comes from being surrounded by nature. Whatever the reason, this is one of our favorite stargazing spots in Florida.

The Santa Fe River is located in north-central Florida, about an hour and a half drive from Jacksonville. The river is bordered by forests and parks, making it the perfect place to escape the city lights and get lost in the stars.

There are several good spots for stargazing along the Santa Fe River. One of our favorites is Big Shoals State Park, where you can camp overnight and wake up to a beautiful view of the stars.

Santa Fe Canoe Outpost used to offer special evening tours called “Full Moon Paddles”, but they recently sold their business to the City. You can still go on the Santa Fe River and experience what life looks like at night. It’s also a great time to spot animals that usually come out after dark.

SEBASTIAN INLET

Sebastian Inlet is one of the best stargazing spots in Florida.

Sebastian Inlet

The inlet is located between Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, making it an ideal spot for observing the night sky.

There are no light pollution or city lights to interfere with your view of the stars. Just be sure you aren’t here during a full moon, which will cause its own light pollution.

SEMINOLE STATE FOREST

This state park is located in central Florida, just a short drive from Orlando.

Seminole State Forest

The forest is home to some of the darkest skies in the state, making it an ideal spot for stargazing.

There are several observation decks and picnic areas that offer stunning views of the stars. If you’re new to stargazing, don’t worry. There are plenty of resources available to help you get started.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your blanket and head on over to Seminole State Forest for an unforgettable night under the stars!

The Seminole State Forest Astronomy Club offers free star parties and astronomy programs throughout the year. And if you need any gear, they can help you out with that too.

ST. MARKS WILDLIFE REFUGE

For a unique stargazing experience, head to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

St Marks National Wildlife Refuge

This refuge is known for its migrating birds, but it’s also an excellent spot for night sky watching.

Ever wonder, “Can you see the milky way in Florida?” You bet.

Take a boat or kayak out onto St. Marks River to get away from any shoreline lights and get a great view of the Milky Way.

The center of the Milky Way in Florida will be low in the southern sky and glowing across the eastern sky. St. Marks Wildlife Refuge is where to see the Milky Way in Florida.

ST. GEORGE ISLAND

St George Island stargazing is an unforgettable experience. The island is home to some of the darkest skies in the state, which makes it ideal for stargazing. There are several great spots on the island for stargazing, including:

  • The St. George Island State Park Observatory: The Observatory is located in the middle of the island and offers incredible views of the night sky. It’s also home to a variety of educational programs about astronomy.
  • The St. George Island Lighthouse: The Lighthouse is one of the tallest structures on the island and offers stunning views of the stars. Climb to the top of the lighthouse for an unforgettable experience.
  • The Beach: One of the best things about stargazing on St. George Island is that you can do it right from the beach! Make sure to bring a blanket or chair to get comfortable while you enjoy the show.

ST. JOSEPH PENINSULA STATE PARK

There are few things more magical than looking up at a blanket of stars on a clear night. And there’s no better place to do it in Florida than St Joseph Peninsula State Park.

St Joseph Peninsula State Park photo credit Gary J Wood
St Joseph Peninsula State Park photo credit: Gary J. Wood, Flickr

This park is located on a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and St. Joseph Bay, so it’s away from the city lights that can impede stargazing. And it has one of the darkest night skies in the state, making it perfect for spotting constellations and even some planets.

If you’re new to stargazing, you can stop by the ranger station for a map of the night sky. Or join one of the park’s astronomy programs, which are offered several times each month.

STEINHATCHEE

Steinhatchee is another great spot for stargazing in Florida.

Steinhatchee photo credit Kelly Verdeck
Photo credit: Kelly Verdeck, Flickr

This small town is located on the Nature Coast, about two hours drive from Tampa. Steinhatchee has some of the darkest skies in Florida, making it ideal for stargazing.

There are numerous public parks and boat ramps in Steinhatchee where you can set up your telescope or binoculars and spend a night under the stars.

TAMIAMI TRAIL

If you’re looking for an up-close and personal view of the stars, Tamiami Trail is the place to be.

Tamiami Trail

This stretch of highway runs through some of Florida’s darkest skies, making it perfect for stargazing. This dark sky location is perfect for seeing a wide range of celestial objects, from planets and stars to galaxies and nebulae.

Tamiami Trail is one of the best places in Florida for astronomical observation, so be sure to bring your telescope or binoculars!

FREE GOOGLE MAP OF BEST STARGAZING IN FLORIDA

You can now access my free Google Map of the Best Stargazing in Florida.

I hope this free map of Florida will help you to plan your next adventure to find the best place to see stars in Florida.

Google Map of Best Stargazing in Florida

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

IS FLORIDA GOOD FOR STARGAZING?

Yes, Florida is good for stargazing. The state of Florida has a sub-tropical climate all year, with sunny summers and mild winters. That makes it the perfect place to enjoy stargazing and astronomy.

WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO SEE THE MILKY WAY IN FLORIDA?

Everglades National Park offers exceptional conditions for stargazing. Each month, during a new moon, the park offers a pristine view of the Milky Way. On a clear night and in the right spot, look south to find the Milky Way among this incredible backdrop.

WHERE IS THE DARKEST SKY IN FLORIDA?

In south Florida, away from the urban development of the east and west coasts, Big Cypress National Preserve is one of the last places with a dark night sky. Visitors can enjoy the Milky Way and thousands of stars thanks to its minimal light pollution.

CONCLUSION

Thank you for reading my article the best stargazing in Florida. I hope you’ll agree that Florida is one of the best stargazing destinations in the United States.

Be sure to use the free Google map of Florida to find the darkest place in Florida nearest to you. There are places in Florida with no light pollution, so be sure to check those out.

With many locations miles away from the bright lights of metropolitan areas, you’re sure to catch more than just a glimpse of the milky way during clear skies.

Interested in knowing the constellations visible in Florida? Viewing the Big Dipper in Florida is very easy! To know in which direction to face, read my article What Direction is the Milky Way in Florida?

If you’re an astrophotographer like me, read my article How do you photograph the Milky Way in Florida?

If the weather conditions are favorable during your trip, and it’s the time of the new moon, you will enjoy many starry nights! Be sure to review a Light Pollution Map Florida before picking the best place in Florida to see stars near you.

As a bonus, since you’re already on the space coast, you can use your star chart app to find your best chance to see the international space station fly overhead!

If your travel plans might also take you West, then you should definitely read my articles Best Stargazing in Oklahoma, Best Stargazing In ColoradoBest Stargazing In Utah, including MoabBest Stargazing In Arizona, including Sedona, and Best Places for Stargazing In California, including Death Valley and Joshua Tree.

And if you’re going further west, read my articles about stargazing on the Hawaiian islands of OahuMaui, and Kauai.

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About the Author

Chris Klein, Amateur Astronomy Advisor

Chris Klein is an amateur astronomy advisor, astrophotographer, and entrepreneur. Go here to read his incredible story "From $50,000 in Debt to Award-Winning Photographer Living in Switzerland". If you want to send Chris a quick message, then visit his contact page here.

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