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It’s no secret that the Emerald Coast has some of the most sought after natural beauty in the U.S. With that said, there are plenty of other nearby areas to explore. Luckily for nature lovers visiting Destin, we have compiled an exclusive list of six beautiful state parks near Destin, Florida. The best part? These state parks are all within an hour drive from Destin, making it the perfect alternative to a typical beach day.

Read on to learn more about our top six recommendations for state parks near Destin Florida.

Eden Gardens State Park

Just a hop, skip, and jump away from Destin is Eden Gardens State Park. This picturesque park is like traveling back in time, featuring a lovely renovated 1897 two-story mansion. This beautiful piece of architectural history is surrounded by moss-draped live oaks, providing lots of shade for those hot Florida days. It’s no surprise that this is a popular wedding venue, as the park practically screams romance. There is plenty to do at Eden Gardens State Park for those looking for a break from the beach. A few examples are a guided tour of the Historic Wesley House, a romantic stroll through the breathtaking gardens, an Instagram-worthy picnic, or a leisurely afternoon fishing in Tucker Bayou.

Eden Gardens State Park is quite the contrast to the pristine beaches of Destin but is only a 40-minute drive from Destin, making it the perfect day-trip option for those looking for a break from the beach.

Ponce de Leon Springs State Park

Here’s a nugget of Florida history for you, Ponce de Leon Springs State Park is named after the Spaniard Juan Ponce de Leon. Interestingly enough, the local lore says that Mr. Ponce de Leon came to the Sunshine State in search of the fountain of youth. We can’t guarantee that you will find a fountain of youth, but there are plenty of beautifully blue springs to take a dip in. Be warned; they keep a consistently cool year-round temperature of around 68 degrees, which in our humble opinion, makes for the perfect activity on a hot summer’s day. Understandably, the park fills up during the summer so we recommend arriving early. Spring swimming isn’t the only attraction here, as the park also offers wooded trails at Sandy Creek, great for birding, biking, and hiking. An hour’s drive, it’s one of the farthest parks from Destin on the list but is well worth the trip.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Beach lovers will delight at the opportunity to enjoy the 3-mile-long beach at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. Unlike the previous parks mentioned, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is known for its sand dunes. Within the park, you’ll find a unique coastal ecosystem that combines freshwater dune lakes swimming with aquatic wildlife, making this park a must for wildlife lovers. Old-growth pine forests sit atop grassy white sand dunes, with the emerald glowing waters in stark contrast. This park is truly a sight for sore eyes. If you get tired of relaxing on the beach, there are plenty of activities to choose from. A few fan favorites include SUP, hiking, birding, and wildlife viewing. One of the best perks of this lovely park is its location, just a 25-minute drive from Destin, making it the perfect alternative beach day.

Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park

What was once a former WWII training site used as a bombing practice range is now a beloved Florida National Park, perfect for long and leisurely days in the sun. The main attraction of Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park is the Rocky Bayou, a hot spot for saltwater fishing. Longleaf pines stand tall and mighty, and the older ones of the group are an impressive three-hundred-plus years old. Sounds like the perfect place for a post-fishing picnic! For the non-fishers, the park offers plenty of other activities, from hiking, biking, and canoeing to wildlife watching. Our insider tip is to ensure you stay until the end of the day to catch one of the park’s famous sunsets in a serene setting. Another plus? Fred Gannon Rocky State Park is just a 25-minute drive from Destin!

Grayton Beach State Park

Year after year, Grayton Beach is rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S. After a few minutes on this breathtaking beach, you will understand why. Although it is one park highlight, it’s certainly not the only attraction. For those itching for a long walk, there are more than four miles of trails throughout the park, and Scrub Oaks and Magnolias will accompany you. If you’re looking for a full-on nature experience, we recommend camping to witness Grayton Beach State Park from dusk to dawn. Across the almost two thousand-acre park, other activity options include paddling, boating, birding, fishing, and biking. There truly is something for everyone, and thankfully, this park’s beauty is just a 40-minute drive from Destin.

Camp Helen State Park

This gem of a park is open for fun in the sun from 8:00 am to sunset, all year long. Camp Helen State Park has an interesting history, as it served as a company resort for Avondale Mills, an Alabama Textile Mill, from 1945 to 1987. Luckily for the masses, it’s now a state park, available for everyone to enjoy. Another fun fact? This park is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Powell, making it one of the largest coastal dunes in Florida. The pristine beaches of this 185-acre park make for unforgettable beach days. Hiking is another popular attraction within the park as well as freshwater and saltwater fishing. Last but not least, Camp Helen State Park is just a convenient 50-minute drive from Destin.

One fun-in-the-sun activity these beautiful parks don’t offer is boat & jet ski rentals. That’s where we come in! Count on us to provide you with the perfect activity for the whole family. Make sure to contact us for all of your boat and jet ski rental needs in between visits to some of the best state parks near Destin!

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