30A State Parks

Get back to nature with 30A state parks.

The constellation of extraordinary state parks on 30A, each with their own unique stories and natural wonders, enriches life on the Emerald Coast. These parks offer up some of the best hiking, bicycling, swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, and fishing opportunities on 30A.

Note: State Parks operating hours and fees are subject to change, so it’s a wise idea to check with the individual state park managers when making your plans.

Camp Helen State Park, Inlet Beach

A mere two-minute drive from the Latitudes and Attitudes beach house on 30A is Camp Helen State Park. Camp Helen has several claims to fame. The Park is home to Lake Powell, a rare and beautiful coastal dune lake. Its numerous historic buildings include the Lodge and an assortment of Rainbow Cottages. Camp Helen State Park is also reported to be home to ghosts, two of whom are the spirits of historical figures who perished over 170 years ago.

Where Is Camp Helen State Park?

Adjoining Inlet Beach, Camp Helen State Park is located at the following address:

23937 Panama City Beach Parkway

Panama City Beach, FL 32413

Camp Helen State Park’s phone number is (850) 233-5059.

Camp Helen Hours

8 a.m. until sunset every day

Camp Helen State Park Entrance Fee

$4/vehicle

$2/ bicyclist or pedestrian (as of 2021)

See more fee information.

Things to Do in Camp Helen State Park

Some of the activities you might enjoy while visiting Camp Helen State Park include:

  • Swimming in Lake Powell and the Gulf of Mexico
  • Paddling, paddle-boarding, kayaking, and canoeing
  • Lounging, playing, and exploring on the beach  
  • Hiking the nature trail
  • Birdwatching and viewing the area’s wildlife
  • Visiting and learning about the historic site
  • Picnicking in the pavilion
  • Photography opportunities
  • Fishing, with a valid Florida fishing license

Lake Powell Park in Camp Helen

Lake Powell is a natural wonder that sets Camp Helen apart from other state parks. Coastal dune lakes like Lake Powell are found in only a few places in the world. Outside of Northwest Florida, the only places you will encounter these rare natural resources in the United States are South Carolina and Oregon. Worldwide, they’re only found in Australia, New Zealand, and Madagascar.

Encompassing nearly 800 acres, Lake Powell isn’t only the largest of the 15 coastal dune lakes found in and around South Walton, Florida. It also holds the title of the largest coastal dune lake in North America.

Camp Helen State Park History

The history of Camp Helen State Park in Inlet Beach includes an ancient indigenous society, a historical massacre, and a chronicle of tourism that dates back to the Roaring ‘20s. Learn more about the history of this one-of-a-kind state park from the Friends of Camp Helen, and visit the historical buildings still standing today. The park offers a dedicated history tour approximately once per month.

Is Camp Helen State Park Haunted?

Paranormal enthusiasts will be intrigued by the rumors of three ghosts said to haunt Camp Helen State Park. Two ghosts are believed to trace their stories back to the Phillips Inlet massacre of 1843, including a ghost presumed to be that of Captain Phillips himself. The third spirit reported at Camp Helen is the playful ghost of a little boy, thought to be the grandson of Robert and Margaret Hicks.

Camp Helen State Park Events

You can hold weddings, meetings, retreats, and other events at Camp Helen State Park. The Park also hosts events for visitors that range from guided hikes and kayak encounters on Lake Powell to family movie nights. In October, Camp Helen State Park hosts autumn activities that include a pumpkin patch.

Deer Lake State Park, Santa Rosa, FL

Drive about 15 minutes east on Highway 30A from the Latitudes and Attitudes beach house, and you’ll reach Deer Lake State Park, a nearly 2,000-acre state park that’s home to another of 30A Florida’s coastal dune lakes.

Where Is Deer Lake State Park?

Deer Lake State Park is located at the following address:

6350 E. County Road 30-A

Santa Rosa FL 32459

Deer Lake State Park’s phone number is (850) 267-8300.

Deer Lake State Park Hours

8 a.m. until sunset every day

Deer Lake State Park Entrance Fee

$3/vehicle (2 to 8 passengers)

$2 pedestrians, bicyclists, and extra passengers (as of 2021)

See more fee information.

Things to Do in Deer Lake State Park

Some of the activities you might enjoy while visiting Deer Lake State Park include:

  • Swimming in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Lounging, playing and exploring on the beach 
  • Hiking the one-mile loop Orange Trail or the half-mile Blue Trail
  • Birdwatching and viewing the area’s wildlife, such as the endangered Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse, endangered shorebirds like terns and snowy plovers, and rare plants such as gulf coast lupine and carnivorous pitcher plants
  • Picnicking in the pavilion
  • Photography opportunities
  • Surf fishing, with a valid Florida fishing license

A Boardwalk to the Beach at Deer Lake State Park  

A defining feature of Deer Lake State Park is the boardwalk stretching a quarter of a mile to the beach. Not only does this boardwalk make it easy and safe for visitors to make their way from the parking lot to the shoreline, but it also offers a unique vantage point from which you can see the undisturbed ancient dune system – not to mention the 10 other distinct ecosystems that exist in the park.

A multimillion-dollar hydrology and habitat restoration project is underway in the creeks, wet prairies, and seepage slopes located in Deer Lake State Park. This project will support the rare and endangered plants found there, including pitcher plans, white fringe orchids, and pine lilies.

In 2021, renovations began to improve park amenities, including picnic shelters, parking areas, and restroom facilities, for future visitors.

Grayton Beach State Park, Santa Rosa Beach

The standout coastal dune lake at Grayton State Park is the 100-acre Western Lake. Hiking and biking enthusiasts love the nature trails at Grayton Beach State Park. Venture out from the beach into the Gulf, and you’ll find Sea Turtle Reef, the first of four artificial reefs installed in South Walton. Just shy of a mile off the shore of Grayton Beach State Park, you will find the Underwater Museum of Art, a one-of-a-kind sculpture garden and eco-tourism attraction where the marine life of the Gulf make their homes.  

Where Is Grayton Beach State Park?

Within a half-hour’s drive from the Latitudes and Attitudes on 30A beach house, Grayton Beach State Park is located a mile and a half from Seaside, FL, at the following address:

357 Main Park Road

Santa Rosa Beach FL 32459

Grayton Beach State Park’s phone number is (850) 267-8300.

Grayton Beach State Park Hours

8 a.m. until sunset every day

Grayton Beach State Park Entrance Fee

$5/vehicle (as of 2021)

See more fee information.

Things to Do in Grayton Beach State Park

Some of the activities you might enjoy while visiting Grayton Beach State Park include:

  • Swimming  
  • Paddling, paddle-boarding, kayaking, and canoeing (paddleboard and kayak rentals available through the Friends of Grayton Beach)
  • Snorkeling in Sea Turtle Reef
  • Lounging, playing and exploring on the beach 
  • Hiking and bicycling on the Park’s two nature trails
  • Birdwatching and viewing the area’s wildlife, including bald eagles and ospreys
  • Picnicking in the pavilion
  • Photography opportunities
  • Fishing on Western Lake, with a valid Florida fishing license

Grayton Beach Hike & Bike Trails

A favorite amenity Grayton Beach State Park has to offer are its nature trails, suitable for both biking and hiking. The state park offers the following trails:

  • A 1-mile nature trail through the dunes that allows you to see the salt marsh and the pine flatwoods
  • A 4.5-mile (9 miles roundtrip) trail through the forest that takes hikers and bicyclists around Western Lake’s backwaters

Snorkeling in Grayton Beach State Park Artificial Reef

At Sea Turtle Reef, located in the Gulf off the coast of Grayton Beach State Park, snorkelers and divers can encounter indigenous marine life, such as stingrays. Installed in 2015, Sea Turtle Reef – which gets its name from the shape of the artificial reef structure – was the first of four artificial reefs placed in South Walton County, Florida.

Grayton Beach State Park History

Grayton Beach State Park opened its doors more than half a century ago. The Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials first purchased 356 acres of land in what is now Grayton Beach State Park in September of 1964 and opened the park to the public in 1968. Since then, the park has grown through land acquisitions made in 1985, 1993, and 1995 to reach its present size of nearly 2,000 acres.

Eden Gardens State Park

You’ll have to travel a little way inland, away from Highway 30A and the Emerald Coast, if you plan to visit Eden Gardens State Park. What you’ll find there is the historic Wesley homestead and gorgeous ornamental gardens that flourish in the winter and spring months.

Where Is Eden Gardens State Park?

Eden Gardens State Park is located at the following address:

181 Eden Gardens Road

Santa Rosa Beach FL 32459

Eden Gardens State Park’s phone number is (850) 267-8320.

Eden Gardens State Park Hours

8 a.m. until sunset every day

Eden Gardens State Park Entrance Fee

$4 per vehicle (as of 2021)

See more fee information.

Things to Do in Eden Gardens State Park

Some of the activities you might enjoy while visiting Eden Gardens State Park include:

  • Paddling, kayaking, and canoeing, with a launch from Tucker Bayou
  • Hiking the nature trails, including the Living Shoreline Trail
  • Visiting and learning about the Wesley House historic site, through which guided tours are available
  • Picnicking in the pavilion
  • Photography opportunities
  • Saltwater fishing off the dock of Tucker Bayou, with a valid Florida fishing license

Eden Gardens in Bloom

Naturally, the gardens steal the show at this Florida state park. In the ornamental gardens dating back to the 1960s, you’ll find azaleas and a stunning 250 camellias. Visit between October and May, and enjoy the most spectacular views around March.

Don’t miss the butterfly garden, the peaceful reflection pond, the heritage rose garden, and the hidden “secret” garden.

Eden Gardens State Park History

History comes to life in Eden Gardens State Park, where the renovated historic mansion that once belonged to the Wesley family is open for tours. William Henry Wesley built the two-story homestead in 1897 near the sawmill owned by the Wesley Lumber Company, which remained in business through World War I.

The Wesley family lived in the home for more than 50 years, until the passing of William’s wife, Katie Strickland Wesley, in 1953. Miss Lois Maxon purchased the home in 1963 and used it to store and show antiques and family heirlooms. Maxon also developed the ornamental gardens for which the State Park is now so well-known.

Eden Gardens became a state park after Maxon donated the land to the state of Florida in 1968.

Eden Gardens State Park Events

With its beautiful ornamental gardens as a backdrop, Eden Gardens State Park is a romantic place for a wedding. In fact, the park hosts more than 150 weddings each year. Couples often choose to tie the knot in front of the “Wedding Tree,” a breathtaking 600-year-old Virginia live oak tree with ample seating space on the surrounding open lawn and the historic Wesley House in the background.

The historic rose garden is another popular place to hold your ceremony. For added convenience, the park offers everything a modern bride and groom could need, including a screened pavilion to rent, a caterer’s kitchen, and restroom facilities nearby.

Pavilion rentals are also available for events of other types, including family reunions, retreats, meetings, and all kinds of gatherings.

Eden Gardens State Park also hosts events open to paying visitors, like evening stargazing sessions on the lawn and seasonal and holiday events.

Point Washington State Forest

Given its location along the Gulf of Mexico, it’s no surprise that most of the state parks along 30A feature water, such as the coastal dune lakes or the Gulf itself. At Point Washington State Forest, it’s the 15,000+ acres of forest that draw in visitors. This natural wonder is home to 10 different natural communities that include rare, threatened, and endangered species of plants and animals.

Where Is Point Washington State Forest?

Point Washington State Forest is located at the following address:

US-98

Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

Point Washington State Forest’s phone number is (850) 267-8325.

Point Washington State Forest Hours

Sunrise to sunset every day

Point Washington State Forest Entrance Fee

$2 per person (as of 2021)

See more fee information.

Things to Do in Point Washington State Forest

Some of the activities you might enjoy while visiting Point Washington State Forest include:

  • Hiking the nature trails
  • Bicycling
  • Hunting, with a valid Florida license  
  • Birdwatching and viewing the area’s wildlife
  • Photography opportunities

Hiking and Off-Road Biking Trails Throughout Point Washington State Forest  

Make your own way through Point Washington State Forest on the 27 miles of distinct trails. The loops of the Eastern Lake Trail system allow for 3.5-mile, 5-mile, or 10-mile treks on foot or by bicycle. The Longleaf Greenway Trail is part of the trail system maintained by the Florida Division of Forestry that connects Florida state parks on 30A, including Deer Lake State Park, Grayton Beach State Park, and Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Keep going west toward Sandestin, and you’ll find your way to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. Chief among the white quartz dunes surrounding the park’s two coastal dune lakes, Morris Lake and Campbell Lake, is Topsail Hill, a dune that rises 25 feet above sea level.

Where Is Topsail Hill Preserve State Park?

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is located at the following address:

7525 W. County Highway 30A

Santa Rosa Beach FL 32459

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park’s phone number is (850) 267-8330.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Hours

8 a.m. until sunset every day

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Entrance Fee

$6 per vehicle (as of 2021)

See more fee information.

Things to Do in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Some of the activities you might enjoy while visiting Topsail Hill Preserve State Park include:

  • Swimming in the Gulf  
  • Paddling, paddle-boarding, kayaking and canoeing
  • Lounging, playing and exploring on the 3.2 miles of pristine white sand beach 
  • Hiking the nature trails
  • Birdwatching and viewing the area’s wildlife, including the Choctawhatchee beach mouse, loggerhead turtles, dolphins, and many types of birds – from osprey and red-shouldered hawks to piping plovers
  • Picnicking in the pavilion
  • Photography opportunities
  • Freshwater fishing in the coastal dune lakes and saltwater fishing in the Gulf, with a valid Florida fishing license

15 Miles of Hiking Trails Throughout Topsail Hill Preserve State Park  

With 15 miles of hiking trails traversing the ecosystems and scenic views of the beaches, ancient dunes, rare coastal dune lakes, and pine forests, the 1,640-acre state park is a hiker’s paradise.

If you’re all about the coastal dune lakes, you won’t want to miss the Morris Lake trail, the Campbell Lake Trail and Bike Path, the Deer Track trail, and the No Name Lake trail. Nature enthusiasts should check out the Gopher Tortoise trail and the Old Growth trail.

Two trails, the multiuse Campbell Lake Bike trail and the Beach Tram trail, are paved for bicyclists’ use, as well. History buffs will enjoy the Turpentine trail, which speaks to the land’s history with the turpentining industry dating back to the late 1800s, and the Morris Lake trail, where a JB-2 rocket development program was located during World War II.

The Florida Panhandle is more than beautiful beaches, and the state parks near 30A prove it. Don’t miss these local treasures during your stay with us.

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