Northwest Florida Beaches State Parks
Grayton Beach State Park
Grayton Beach consistently ranks among the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States. The nearly 2,000-acre park features a boat ramp that provides access to the lake’s brackish waters for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Visitors can paddle a canoe, paddle board, or kayak on scenic Western Lake to get a closer look at a salt marsh ecosystem. A nature trail winds through a coastal forest where Scrub Oaks and Magnolias stand, bent and twisted into dramatic shapes by the salt winds. Hikers and bicyclists can enjoy more than four miles of trails throughout the pine flatwoods. Options for overnight stays include modern cabins and a full- facility campground. It is no wonder why Grayton Beach ranks among the top Florida State Parks.
St. Andrews State Park
Recently recovered from the wrath of hurricane Michael, St. Andrews State Park beauty is intact drawing locals and visitors to this scenic spot. Located at the corners the Gulf of Mexico and Grand Lagoon in Panama City, this former military location has one and a half miles of sugary sand beaches. Locals love to fish from the jetties or piers. The park has full facility campsites. Take a day trip to close by Shell Island with shuttles offered by Shell Island Boat Tours.
Deer Lake State Park
Deer Lake State Park shares its name with the coastal dune lake within its boundaries. Coastal dune lakes are extremely rare worldwide and in the United States they occur only along the Florida Gulf Coast. Southern Magnolias, Golden Asters, Woody Goldenrod, and Scrub Oaks can be seen in this coastal dune habitat. Rare plants such as Gulf Coast Lupine, Spoonflower, Pitcher Plants, and Curtiss’ Sand Grass – one of the largest populations found in Florida – are found in the park. Visitors may see splashes of color from summer wildflowers or some of the many species of resident or migratory birds and butterflies. A boardwalk across the dunes offers easy access to the beach where visitors can picnic, swim, and fish. It also offers a spectacular view of the dune ecosystem, one of 11 natural communities found in the park.
St. George Island State Park
St. George Island State Park is 1,962 acres of long, narrow barrier island, with miles of mainly undeveloped beaches, dunes, and emerald waters provide the perfect setting for a day at the beach. Few parks offer better opportunities for Gulf Coast shelling. Anglers can fish for Flounder, Redfish, Sea Trout, Pompano, Whiting, and Spanish Mackerel. During spring migration, birders should look for songbirds in the small oaks near the youth camp area and park campground. Shore birds such as the Snowy Plover, Least Tern, Black Skimmer, and Willet often nest along the park’s sandy shores and grass flats. Watch for Gopher Tortoise near the youth camp area. Sea turtles nest along the park beaches, with Loggerhead Turtles being the most common. The campground features full- facility campsites as well as a primitive campsite that can be accessed by trail or by private boat.
T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
Looking across the bay from St. Joe Beach, many have wondered about the island in the distance. It’s the tip of T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. The only way to reach the tip is by boat where you’ll find sheltered, clear water and white sandy beaches known for great shelling.
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
Topsail Hill full of natural resources including 3.2 miles of secluded white sand beaches with majestic dunes over 25 feet tall. Three rare coastal dune lakes provide excellent freshwater fishing. Lakes, pristine beaches, old-growth Long Leaf Pines, Sand Pine Scrub, and a variety of wetlands make this a bird-watching and hiking paradise. Visitors may bike, walk, or enjoy a quick ride to the beach on the tram to swim, fish, sunbathe, or beachcomb. The Gregory E. Moore RV resort features a (non- heated) swimming pool and shuffleboard courts. Furnished bungalows are available for weekly stays. A camp store offers a variety of camping items.