Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park
Located near the mouth of the St. Johns River, this site was an important military position during the Civil War, allowing access to the inland areas of Florida’s east coast. There was never an actual fort on Yellow Bluff, but an encampment that was fortified and equipped with large guns for protection. Constructed in 1862, the site was occupied by both Confederate and Union troops during the Civil War and-at its peak-housed over 250 soldiers. The site has a T-shaped earthworks and covers about 1.3 acres. Located on Yellow Bluff peninsula on the north side of the St. Johns River (on New Berlin Road).
For Information about Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park, please call 904-251-2320.
Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park
This site was once part of a thriving sugar plantation owned by David Levy Yulee. Yulee was a member of the Territorial Legislative Council, and served in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate after Florida statehood. The park contains the remnants of the once-thriving 5,100-acre sugar plantation: a forty-foot limestone masonry chimney, iron gears, and a cane press. The steam-driven mill operated from 1851 to 1864 and served as a supplier of sugar products for southern troops during the Civil War. For Information about Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park, please call 352-795-3817.
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
These beautiful ornamental gardens were first planted in 1923 by Alfred B. and Louise Maclay after they purchased the property for their winter home. A masterpiece of floral architecture, the gardens feature a picturesque brick walkway, a secret garden, a reflection pool, a walled garden, and hundreds of azaleas and camellias. Lake Hall provides opportunities for swimming, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Only boats without motors or with electric motors are allowed. Pavilions and grills along the lake shore provide the perfect setting for a picnic. For walking enthusiasts, two short nature trails meander through the woods overlooking the lake. Hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians can enjoy five miles of multi-use trails winding through the woods surrounding Lake Overstreet, located on park property adjoining the gardens. High blooming season is from January 1-April 30 with the floral peak in mid-to-late March. During these months, the Maclay house is usually open daily, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. However due to current renovations, the Maclay house will be temporarily closed. The park is Located one-half mile north of I-10 on U.S. 319. For Information about Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, please call 850-487-4556.
Bald Point State Park
Some of the most picturesque scenic areas along north Florida´s Gulf Coast can be found at this park. Located on Alligator Point where Ochlockonee Bay meets Apalachee Bay, Bald Point offers a multitude of land and water activities. Coastal marshes, pine flatwoods, and oak thickets foster a diversity of biological communities that make the park a popular destination for birding and wildlife viewing. Every fall, bald eagles, other migrating raptors, and monarch butterflies are commonly sighted as they head south for the winter. Bald Point offers access to two Apalachee Bay beaches for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. Other activities include canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, and hiking. Facilities include a fishing dock and picnic pavilions. Located off U.S. 98, one mile south of Ochlockonee Bay. Take State Road 370 for 3 miles to Bald Point Road.
For Information about Bald Point State Park, please call 850-349-9146.
Big Lagoon State Park
This coastal park sits on the northern shoreline of its namesake, Big Lagoon, which separates the mainland from Perdido Key and the Gulf of Mexico. Natural communities, ranging from saltwater marshes to pine flatwoods, attract a wide variety of birds, especially during the spring and fall migrations. Beaches, shallow bays, nature trails, and open woodlands offer splendid opportunities for nature study. The park also beckons visitors with opportunities for camping, swimming, fishing, boating, canoeing, and hiking. Crabbing in the shallow waters of Big Lagoon is a popular activity as well. The West Beach picnic area, shaded by pines and oaks, is just the place to enjoy a relaxing meal. Located on County Road 292A, 10 miles southwest of Pensacola. For Information about Big Lagoon State Park, please call 850-492-1595.
Blackwater River State Park
A favorite destination for canoeists and kayakers, Blackwater River offers opportunities for a variety of outdoor recreation. The river is one of the purest 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 undisturbed 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, off U.S. 90. For Information about Blackwater River State Park, please call 850-983-5363.
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. For Information about Camp Helen State Park, please call 850–233–5059.
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. For Information about Constitution Convention Museum State Park, please call 850-229-8029.
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 park. Located on County Road 30A in Santa Rosa Beach. For Information about Deer Lake State Park, please call 850-231-0337.
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 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. For Information about Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park, please call 850-927-2111.