The Northwest Regions fills Florida’s panhandle, from east of Tallahassee, the state capital to Florida’s western border with Alabama. Barrier islands with sugar-sand Florida beaches line the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico. These broad stretches of pure white quartzite sand and calm, clear Gulf waters regularly top the nation’s list of best beaches.
Camp Helen State Park
23937 Panama City Beach Pky
Panama City Beach, Florida
Welcome to Camp Helen State Park
The park is bordered on three sides by the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Powell- one of the largest coastal dune lakes in Florida. Coastal dune lakes are extremely rare worldwide; in the United States they occur only along the Gulf Coast. Prehistoric middens and mounds indicate that humans lived in the area more than 4,000 years ago. From 1945 until 1987, Camp Helen was a company resort for employees of an Alabama textile mill and some of the buildings are now being restored. Natural areas range from coastal dunes and salt marshes along the Gulf to freshwater wetlands and sand pine scrub along the lake. Activities include swimming, beachcombing, nature study, hiking, and both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Located west of Panama City Beach just inside Bay County, on U.S. 98 at the west end of the Lake Powell bridge.
Constitution Convention Museum State Park
200 Allen Memorial Way
Port St. Joe, FL
Welcome to Constitution Convention Museum State Park
A boomtown founded in 1835, St. Joseph competed with Apalachicola as a trading port on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The original settlement lasted only nine years, but during its short life the city hosted Florida’s first State Constitution Convention. The museum commemorates the work of the 56 territorial delegates who drafted Florida’s first constitution in 1838. Following four more constitution conventions, Florida was finally admitted to the Union in 1845 as the 27th state. Visitors can take a self-guided tour through displays and exhibits of 19th century life in St. Joseph. Life-size, audio-animated mannequins in the replicated convention hall demonstrate the debate and process of drafting a state constitution. Museum tours are available Thursday-Monday from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Located in Port St. Joe, off U.S. 98.
Deer Lake State Park
357 Main Park Road
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Welcome to Deer Lake State Park
This 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 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 Florida State park. Located on County Road 30A in Santa Rosa Beach.
Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park
1900 E. Gulf Beach Dr.
St. George Island, FL
Welcome to Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park
Miles of undeveloped beaches and emerald waters provide the perfect setting for this park. The park offers ample opportunities for sunbathing, swimming, canoeing, boating, hiking, camping, and nature study. Two boat ramps provide access to Apalachee Bay where anglers can fish for flounder, redfish, sea trout, pompano, whiting, and Spanish mackerel. Few Florida State parks offer better opportunities for gulf coast shelling. Shore birds such as the snowy plover, least tern, black skimmer, and willet often nest along the park´s sandy shores and grass flats. The park has six large picnic shelters equipped with grills, tables, and restrooms. The campground features full facility campsites; a primitive campsite can be accessed by trail or by private boat. Located on St. George Island, 10 miles southeast of Eastpoint, off U.S. 98.
Eden Gardens State Park
P.O. Box 26
Point Washington, FL
Welcome to Eden Gardens State Park
The focal point of this park is a beautifully renovated, two-story house with elegant white columns and wrap-around porch. Surrounded by moss-draped live oaks and ornamental gardens, the Wesley house inspires visions of hoop skirts and landed gentry. The park is part of the estate owned in the 1800s by the Wesleys, a wealthy Florida timber family. In 1963, Lois Maxon bought and renovated the home, creating a showplace for her family heirlooms and antiques. The collection of Louis XVI furniture is the second largest in the United States. Guided tours of the house are available hourly Thursday through Monday (including holidays). Visitors can enjoy the grounds, gardens, and picnic area daily from 8:00 a.m. to sunset.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
550 Wakulla Park Drive
Wakulla Springs, FL
Welcome to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
Home of one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world, this park plays host to an abundance of wildlife, including alligators, turtles, deer, and birds. Daily guided riverboat tours provide a closer view of wildlife, and glass bottom boat tours are offered when the water is clear. Swimming is a popular activity during the hot summer months. A nature trail offers a leisurely walk along the upland wooded areas of the park. The Wakulla Springs Lodge was built in 1937 by financier Edward Ball and is open year-round. A full-service dining room overlooks the spring; lodge meeting facilities offer an excellent place for retreats. Wakulla Springs State Park and Lodge is listed on the Natural Register of Historic Places and is designated as a National Natural Landmark. To reserve a guest or meeting room, please call the park. Located 14 miles south of Tallahassee on State Road 267 at the intersection with State Road 61.
Falling Waters State Park
1130 State Park Road
Welcome to Falling Waters State Park
Huge trees and fern-covered sinkholes line Sink Hole Trail, the boardwalk that leads visitors to Florida’s highest waterfall. Falling Waters Sink is a 100-foot deep, 20-foot wide cylindrical pit into which flows a small stream that drops 73 feet to the bottom of the sink. The water’s final destination remains unknown. Only a few miles south of I-10, the park provides travelers with a quiet, serene stop on their journey. Visitors can see beautiful native and migrating butterflies in the butterfly garden, take a dip in the lake, or have a family picnic. Hikers can experience the verdant, gently sloping landscape of North Florida. Park rangers host interpretive programs in the amphitheater. Full-facility campsites nestled in a shady pine forest provide the perfect excuse for an overnight stay at Falling Waters. Located three miles south of Chipley, off State Road 77A.
Florida Caverns State Park
3345 Caverns Road
Welcome to Florida Caverns State Park
This is one of the few Florida State Parks with dry (air filled) caves and is the only Florida state park to offer cave tours to the public. The cave has dazzling formations of limestone stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones, and draperies. Florida Caverns is also popular for camping, swimming, fishing, picnicking, canoeing, boating, hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding (The park does not rent horses.). Stables are available for equestrian campers. Guided cave tours are offered every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas. The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes and is considered to be moderately strenuous. An audiovisual program, touring the cave and other natural areas of the park, is available in the visitor center. Located three miles north of Marianna on State Road 166.
Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park
4281 Hwy 20
Welcome to Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park
U.S. Air Force Colonel Fred Gannon was instrumental in transforming this site from a bombing practice range during World War II to a picturesque state park. The property now preserves beautiful old-growth long leaf pine trees, several over 300 years old, that once dominated this area of Florida. Rocky Bayou, the main feature of the park, is the trailing arm of Choctawhatchee Bay and is popular for boating and fishing. A double-lane boat ramp makes this one of the best boat launching locations on the bay, where both freshwater and saltwater fish are found. Other opportunities for fun include hiking, bicycling, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. Puddin Head Lake, at the center of the park, is a great spot for freshwater fishing and canoeing. A well shaded campground is available for full facility camping. Located on State Road 20, five miles east of Highway 85.
Grayton Beach State Park
357 Main Park Road
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Welcome to Grayton Beach
Golden in the morning sun, silvered by moonlight, Grayton Beach has consistently been ranked among the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States. The beach provides an idyllic setting for swimming, sunbathing, and surf fishing. Visitors can paddle a canoe or kayak on scenic Western Lake to get a closer look at a salt marsh ecosystem. A boat ramp provides access to the lake’s brackish waters for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. A nature trail winds through a coastal forest where scrub oaks and magnolias, bent and twisted by salt winds, have an eerie “Middle Earth” look. Hikers and bicyclists can enjoy over four miles of trails through pine flatwoods; the trail begins across from the park entrance on Highway 30-A. Options for overnight stays include modern cabins and a full-facility campground. Located near the town of Grayton Beach on County Road 30A, south of U.S. 98.
Letchworth Mounds State Park
4500 Sunray Road South
Welcome to Letchworth Mounds
Visitors to this archaeological site will see Florida’s tallest Native American ceremonial mound-46 feet-built between 1100 and 1800 years ago. The people who built the mound are believed to have been members of the Weedon Island Culture, a group of Native Americans who lived in North Florida between 200 and 800 A.D. The park offers picnicking, birding, and hiking. A nature trail winds around the perimeter of the ceremonial mound. The picnic area and platform viewing area for the mound are wheelchair-accessible. Located 15 miles east of Tallahassee, off U.S. 90 on 4500 Sunray Road South.
Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park
7502 Natural Bridge Road
Welcome to Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park
Natural Bridge is the site of the second largest Civil War battle in Florida and where the St. Marks River drops into a sinkhole and flows underground for one-quarter of a mile before reemerging. During the final weeks of the Civil War, a Union flotilla landed at Apalachee Bay, planning to capture Fort Ward (San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park) and march north to the state capital. With a timely warning, volunteers from the Tallahassee area-Confederate soldiers, old men, and young boys-met the Union forces at Natural Bridge and successfully repelled three major attacks. The Union troops were forced to retreat to the coast and Tallahassee was the only Confederate capital east of the Mississippi not captured by the Union. A reenactment of the battle is held at the park every March. Located on Natural Bridge Road, six miles east of Woodville, off State Road 363.
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park
2860 Ponce de Leon Springs Road
Ponce de Leon, FL
Welcome to Ponce de Leon Springs State ParkThis beautiful spring is named for Juan Ponce de León, who led the first Spanish expedition to Florida in 1513-as legend has it-in search of the “fountain of youth.” Visitors might well regain their youth by taking a dip in the cool, clear waters of Ponce de Leon Springs where the water temperature remains a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. The main spring is a convergence of two underground water flows, and produces 14 million gallons of water daily. Visitors can take a leisurely walk along two self-guided nature trails through a lush, hardwood forest and learn about the local ecology and wildlife. Rangers also conduct seasonal guided walks. Picnicking is a popular activity at the park; grills and pavilions are available. Anglers will enjoy fishing for catfish, largemouth bass, chain pickerel, and panfish. Located one-half mile south of U.S. 90 on County Road 181A.
Blackwater River State Park
7720 Deaton Bridge Rd.
A favorite destination for canoeists and kayakers, Blackwater River offers opportunities for a variety of outdoor recreation. The river is one of the purist sand bottom rivers in the Nation, making this park a popular place for swimming, fishing, camping and paddling. Shaded campsites are just a short walk from the river, and visitors can enjoy a picnic at a pavilion overlooking the river. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy strolling along trails through undesturbed natural communities. In 1980 the park was certified as a registered State Natural Feature for possessing exceptional value in illustrating the natural history of Florida. Atlantic white cedars line the river and one of them was recognized in 1982 as a Florida Champion Tree, one of the largest and oldest of its species, located 15 miles northeast of Milton, Fl off US 90.