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10 Unique State Parks

If you can't get to a national park, check out the fun to be had at these state parks, which may be nearer to you.

By Ellen Parlapiano

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Dinosaur State Park
Courtesy of Dinosaur State Park
Courtesy of California State Parks
Courtesy of the Florida Park Service
Courtesy of Crater of Diamonds State Park
Courtesy of Ohio State Parks
Courtesy of Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
Courtesy of Delaware State Parks
Courtesy of The Cog Railway
Courtesy of Mackinac Island State Park Commission
Courtesy of The VA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation
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Track Dinosaurs

Their footsteps are preserved in Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, a few miles south of Hartford.

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Stargaze in the Desert

Anza-Borrego State Park (two hours east of San Diego) has incredible wildflowers and nighttime ranger presentations.

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Snorkel or Scuba

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, Florida, teems with colorful tropical fish.

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Dig for Diamonds

There are tons of them at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, about 60 miles from Little Rock. Bonus: Keep what you find.

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Explore a Lighthouse

Ohio's Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie is the oldest continuous one on the Great Lakes, and not far from Sandusky's theme parks.

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Windsurf

Cheney State Park in Kansas, 20 miles west of Wichita, has one of the calmest lakes in the U.S. for sailing and windsurfing.

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Tour a Civil War Fort

Fort Delaware State Park, a ferry ride from Delaware City, Delaware, once housed Confederate prisoners of war.

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Hike Up a Mountain

The Cog Railway train travels nearly vertically up to the peak of New Hampshire's Mount Washington State Park, elevation 6,200 feet.

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Ditch the Car

Bikes and horse-drawn carriages rule on Victorian-style Mackinac Island—automobiles are banned. Ferry over from Michigan's upper or lower peninsulas.

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Celebrate a Birthday

Virginia State Parks turn 75 this year; there will be special events and contests throughout the summer.

Copyright 2011 Meredith Corporation.

This piece was accurate at publication time, but all prices, offerings and availabilities are subject to change. Please contact each hotel and attraction for up-to-date rates and information before taking your trip.

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