Best Coastal Florida State Parks: West Coast


Henderson Beach State Park


Snow-white sand dunes and warm Gulf waters shine at this Emerald Coast gem. The park offers six pavilions, 60 campsites and fishing along a beautiful beachside. Lay out a picnic to take in the foliage or walk trails that showcase the last remaining coastal scrub area in Destin. Campsite renovations are planned for this summer.

What to Do: Biking, fishing, camping, swimming

Where to Dock: HarborWalk Marina

Grayton Beach State Park credit Martin Haeusler via Wikimedia Commons

Grayton Beach State Park

Santa Rosa Beach

Paddle the backwaters of Western Lake or hike four miles of forest trails at this beachside park. Pitch a tent at a campsite or stay at one of the cozy cabins complete with screened-in porches and outdoor grills.

What to Do: Boating, paddling, camping, hiking, fishing

Where to Dock: Sandestin’s Baytowne Marina

Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park

St. George Island

This island offers crystal white sands on the Gulf side and saltwater marshes on the Apalachicola Bay side for the best of both worlds. Canoe, kayak or swim through barrier island waterways and take advantage of the abundant shelling and beachcombing opportunities.

What to Do: Hiking, biking, beachcombing, boating, camping, fishing

Where to Dock: On-site; $8-$10 boat entry fee

7-Mile Loop at Crystal River Preserve-credit-Courtesy of Citrus County Visitors Bureau

Crystal River Preserve State Park

Crystal River

More than 20 miles of protected islands, marshes and forest span this ecologically diverse preserve. Take a clear kayak tour or snorkel cruise to swim with manatees in their natural habitat. To arrive by water, visitors can dock at Twin Rivers Marina on the other side of the river and paddle over to the park’s kayak launches. A short car ride to the park allows for access to a boat ramp at the end of Ft. Island Trail, as well as dockage at Pete’s Pier marina on Kings Bay.

What to Do: Hiking, biking, birdwatching, boating, camping, fishing

Where to Dock: Twin Rivers Marina or Pete’s Pier

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park


Get an up-close look at this park’s captive wildlife from wolves and black bears to alligators and flamingos. You can meet Lu, the oldest hippo in captivity. Jacks, snapper, and fresh and saltwater fish flourish in this park’s natural spring. The unique Underwater Observatory structure allows guests to walk beneath the spring’s surface to witness fish and manatees.

What to Do: Hiking, birdwatching and boat tours

Where to Dock: Homosassa Springs Marina (moorings and dry storage only)

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park credit Florida’s Adventure Coast Visitors Bureau

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Spring Hill

You may spot wildlife at these Florida locations, but Weeki Wachee is the only park where you can see mermaids. Witness a live-action version of The Little Mermaid like you’ve never seen it before as the performers grace an underwater amphitheater with a spectacular show. The park also offers kayaking, exotic riverboat cruises and wildlife shows. Kids love splashing around on giant waterslides at Buccaneer Bay waterpark.

What to Do: Mermaid and wildlife shows, boat tours, water slides, kayaking

Where to Dock: Hernando Beach Marina

Honeymoon Island State Park


Feel like you’re on a honeymoon and fall in love with this serene island. Four miles of shoreline offer swimming, surfing, fishing and combing pristine beaches where sea turtles nest from March through October. Check out Wheel Fun Rentals for a variety of bikes to cruise around the island, kayak along Pelican Cove, or hike the 2.5-mile Osprey Trail for peaceful birdwatching.

What to Do: Hiking, biking, fishing, paddling, swimming

Where to Dock: Marker 1 Marina

Caladesi Island State Park


Just a few nautical miles south of Honeymoon Island and only accessible by boat, this hidden gem is a gorgeous getaway. Dock at the 108-slip bayside marina offering amenities such as 30 AMP electric, canoe/kayak launch, a covered pavilion, grills for picnicking, plus a snack bar and gift shop at the marina. Paddle stunning mangroves, hike sandy trails on the Beach Loop and enjoy fishing in permitted areas.

What to Do: Boating, camping, paddling, fishing, swimming

Where to Dock: Caladesi Island State Park Marina

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