1 / 7Bruce Tuten/Flickr
BIscayne National Park, Florida

Located just 30 minutes from downtown Miami, the largest marine park in the National Park system spans 172,000 acres, more than 95% of which is covered by water. You can watch a film and attend ranger programs at the Dante Fascell Visitor Center, or watch for birds and butterflies while walking the quarter-mile-long Jetty Trail. But to take advantage of all the natural beauty Biscayne has to offer, you're gonna need a boat (and preferably some snorkeling or SCUBA gear). The marine life here is unparalleled in the U.S., with over 500 different species of fish, dolphins, manatees, and coral; 72 shipwrecks; and one of the only wall dives in the Florida Keys. In short, it's an aquatic paradise.

Where to Stay: Courtyard by Marriott Miami Homestead 

What to Read Next

7 Gorgeous and Surprisingly Uncrowded U.S. National Parks

July 17, 2014

Few travel experiences can rival the sheer transcendence of savoring the pristine natural beauty of America's National Parks. That is, unless you're forced to savor said natural beauty while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or rubbing elbows with a thousand other Instagram addicts angling for the same spectacular sunset shot.

With all due respect to longtime favorites such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite, there's a lot to be said for off-the-beaten-path adventures in some of our nation's lesser-known parks. Here are seven worthy contenders for your summer vacation consideration.