Northwest Florida’s state parks: Easy access to variety, adventure and open spaces
NORTHWEST FLORIDA–MARCH 2021–The diverse landscape of Northwest Florida is nothing short of amazing. For those who love the outdoors, it’s a paradise. For those who want to enjoy the fresh air and get away from it all, these are gems. More than a dozen state parks in the region make exploring and enjoying the biodiversity, recreational opportunities and wide open spaces easy for all. Whether for serious adventure or a serene respite, these parks offer easy accessibility to many of Florida’s unique natural wonders.
This region stretches from east of Pensacola westward toward Tallahassee, along Interstate 10 or the more meandering U.S. Highway 90 and beyond. It is part of one of the most diverse ecosystems in the country and Florida’s outstanding state parks give visitors an excellent opportunity to explore that diversity. Family camping trips or a day at the beach are perfect outings for many. Others enjoy the challenge of reeling in a trophy catch, the wonder of snorkeling crystal-clear springs or the adventures of biking and hiking miles of trails.
Each park has a combination of experiences and amenities. Most offer hiking trails and picnic areas, many provide campsites and cabins. The shorelines of these parks are doorways to the diversity of waters the region is known for, which include teeming inland rivers, clear lakes and ponds, beautiful back bays and the sparkling Gulf of Mexico.
Some are known for their unique features. Falling Waters State Park (1130 State Park Road, Chipley, Florida 32428) is home to Florida’s tallest waterfall. At Florida Caverns State Park (3345 Caverns Road, Marianna, Florida 32446), an underground wonderland is open for tours. And along the trails of Torreya State Park (2576 NW Torreya Park Road, Bristol, Florida 32321), the extremely rare Torreya tree grows on the high bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River.
There are distinct pieces of history in these parks, as well. The story of Florida’s first constitution is told at Constitution Convention Museum State Park (200 Allen Memorial Way, Port St. Joe, Florida 32456) and Orman House Historic State Park (177 Fifth Street, Apalachicola, Florida 32320) has preserved the architecture and stories of earlier times.
No matter the motivation, it’s easy to find the right destination at one of these beautiful parks. Here’s a complete list, by county, of all the outstanding state parks in the region.
Topsail Hill Preserve (7525 West County Highway 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459)
Grayton Beach State Park (357 Main Park Road, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459)
Eden Gardens State Park (181 Eden Garden Road, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32549)
Deer Lake State Park (357 Main Park Road, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459)
Ponce de Leon Spring State Park (2860 Ponce de Leon Springs Road, Ponce de Leon Springs, Florida 32455) Ponce de Leon Springs's water temperature remains a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
Falling Waters State Park (1130 State Park Road, Chipley, Florida 32428)
St. Andrews State Park (4607 State Park Lane, Panama City Beach, Florida 32408)
Camp Helen State Park (23937 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, Florida 32413) bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the largest coastal dune lake in Florida, Lake Powell
Three Rivers State Park (7908 Three Rivers Park Road, Sneads, Florida 32460) Chattahoochee and Flint rivers converge to form Lake Seminole
Florida Caverns State Park (3345 Caverns Road, Marianna, Florida 32446)
T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park (8899 Cape San Blas Rd, Port St. Joe, FL 32456)
Constitution Convention Museum State Park (200 Allen Memorial Way, Port St. Joe FL 32456)
Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park (1900 East Gulf Beach Drive, St. George Island, Florida 32328)
Bald Point State Park (146 Box Cut Road, Alligator Point Florida 32346)
Orman House Historic State Park (177 Fifth Street, Apalachicola, Florida 32320)
John Gorrie Museum State Park (46 Sixth Street, Apalachicola, Florida 32320)
Torreya State Park (2576 NW Torreya Park Road, Bristol, Florida 32321) High bluffs overlooking the Apalachicola River, home to the rare tree for which the park is named, historic site
If you go
The small towns that dot the map are the heart of this Northwest Florida region. Quaint downtown streets and preserved historic districts are filled with local restaurants, one-of-a-kind shops and local produce stands. The online resource at ExploreNWFlorida.com highlights the unique towns of Northwest Florida and additional activities and attractions. On the road, be sure to stop at any of the area visitor centers for travel advice and a dose of small-town Southern hospitality.