In 2016, TripAdvisor placed Destin as the third top destination on the rise in the United States and with good reason. Destin is home to stunning beaches, amazing seafood, and is close to wonderful Florida State Parks. Check out some of our favorite state parks near Destin, FL.
Henderson Beach State Park
Henderson Beach State Park is a fan-favorite with a 6,000 ft. scenic shoreline that’s perfect for sunbathing or swimming. There’s fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking, and biking opportunities at the park as well. There’s a playground near the start of the three-quarter-mile nature trail. The trail was funded by the Friends of Emerald Coast State Parks. Kids will also love the geocaching box and leaving a treasure behind and parents will love the view and that it’s an easy find.
It’s less than a 30-minute drive from our front door to the park on U.S. 98 W. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to sundown and admission is $6 per vehicle, up to eight people.
Eden State Gardens
Eden Gardens is the 163-acre park that was once the home of the William Henry Wesley family and the site of the Wesley Lumber Company. Since 1968, the park has been in the care of the State of Florida and the 1897 mansion is open for guided tours or you can simply stroll through the impressive gardens or trek along the nature trail.
It’s less than a 30-minute drive to the park from Seacove. The admission fee is $4 per vehicle and the guided tour is $4 per adult and $2 per child. Guided tours are offered Thursday through Monday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the hour. The house is closed Tuesday and Wednesday but the park is open daily at 8 a.m. until about sunset.
Topsail Hill State Park
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park beckons visitors with its 25 ft. tall dunes and 3.2 miles of white sand beaches. The wetlands are perfect for avid hikers or bird watching activities and fishers can enjoy freshwater fishing in three coastal dune lakes or rent a canoe or kayak to take out onto the water. There’s the 2.5-mile Morris Lake Nature Trail where you can spot abandoned trails and the remnants of WWII transport tracks. For a longer trek, try the 5-mile Campbell Lake Nature Trail. Picnic pavilions are also located at this park.
It’s less than a 15-minute drive from our property to the preserve right off of U.S. 98 E. Admission is $6 per vehicle up to eight people and the park is open daily from 8 a.m. to about sunset.
Grayton Beach State Park
Grayton Beach State Park is known for its pristine beach and delightful wildlife sightings. Spanning 2,000 acres, the park also has a boat ramp for boaters and fishers to get out on the water. Visitors may also take canoes and kayaks out to explore the salt marsh. The park has more than four miles of trails for hikers and bikers and picnic pavilions for lunch or snacks.
It’s about a 30-minute drive from Seacove to the park on U.S. 98 E. The park is open from 8 a.m. to about sundown year-round and costs $5 per vehicle, up to eight people.
Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park
Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park is known for its longleaf pine trees, some at more than 300 years old, access to Choctawhatchee Bay, and fun wildlife spotting. There’s a double lane boat ramp for easy access to Rocky Bayou, Choctawhatchee Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico and many prefer to kayak here for the opportunity to see dolphins, otters, and swans. The park also has a cache for geocaching explorers and a picturesque Red Cedar Trail. Picnic pavilions and a children’s playground are also located at this park.
It’s just over a 20-minute drive to the park (please note that the route does have tolls). The park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown and is $5 per vehicle.
Camp Helen is a 180-acre park that has prehistoric clues to its inhabited past – indicating that people lived in the area more than 4,000 years ago. Check out the interpretive exhibit and historic sites, sunbathe on the beach, or enjoy some shade under the Oak Canopy Trail.
It’s over a 30-minute drive to Camp Helen along U.S. 98 E and is $4 per vehicle to enter. The park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset each day.
Blackwater River State Park
Blackwater River is a go-to for water sports enthusiasts for its canoeing and kayaking opportunities as well as swimming and fishing. There are two trails through 600 acres of untouched nature or kids can find the geocache at this park.
This park is a bit of a hike at more than an hour’s drive from Seacove to its destination in Holt, FL. The admission fee is only $4 per vehicle and the park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown.
Deer Lake hosts a coastal dune lake, which can only be found along the Gulf Coast, and boasts impressive flowers and trees within its boundaries. There’s a 1.5-mile nature trail for hiking and the park does see some wildlife and is a great spot for birding. The park also has a wonderful stretch of sugar white sand and excellent swimming in the lake.
The drive is about 40 minutes to its location in Santa Rosa Beach, FL. Admission is just $3 per vehicle and open from 8 a.m. to sunset each day.
Florida State Parks Individual Annual Passes are available for $60 or $120 for a family of up to eight if you know you’ll be visiting multiple parks multiple times per year. Entry fees are payable by cash.
Be sure to add time in your travel itinerary to visit one of the State Parks near Destin when you stay on the Emerald Coast.