Lake Talquin State Park
In 1927 the Jackson Bluff Dam was constructed on the Ochlockonee River to produce hydroelectric power. The waters held back by the dam formed Lake Talquin, which now offers outstanding recreational opportunities. Catch largemouth bass, bream, shellcracker, and speckled perch. Visitors can enjoy nature walks, picnicking, boating, and canoeing. Nature lovers will enjoy the rolling hills and deep ravines with forests of pines and hardwoods where they may spy wild turkeys, bald eagles, ospreys, and deer. To reserve the picnic pavilion for a special gathering, please call at least two weeks in advance. The pavilion is reserved on a first-come-first-served basis. For Information about Lake Talquin State Park, please call 850-922-6007.
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. For Information about Letchworth Mounds, please call 850-922-6007.
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. For Information about Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park, please call 850-922-6007.
Navarre Beach State Park
Home to one of the most popular fishing destinations along the Emerald Coast, anglers catch cobia, redfish, mackerel, flounder, bonita, Gulf kingfish, and Florida pompano from the park’s 800-foot pier. Walkers visit the pier to see coastal and aquatic wildlife such as bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays, and a variety of shorebirds. A multi-use trail provides access for bicycling, jogging, in-line skating, and wildlife viewing. Beach visitors can sunbathe, swim in the blue-green waters, or watch a stunning sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. A concession at the base of the fishing pier offers drinks, snacks, ice cream, and fishing amenities.
Ochlockonee River State Park
This jewel of a park is a great place to get away for a weekend or a weeklong vacation. Picnic facilities and a swimming area are located near the scenic point where the Ochlockonee and Dead rivers intersect. Ochlockonee, which means “yellow waters,” is a mix of brackish, tidal surge, and fresh water. Pristine and deep, the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Trails allow visitors to explore the park and see the diverse wildlife, including the red-cockaded woodpecker, and natural communities such as pine flatwoods and oak thickets. A boat ramp provides easy access to the river. Both freshwater and saltwater fish inhabit the waters around the park, including largemouth bass, bream, catfish and speckled perch. For overnight visitors, there are full-facility campsites with access to restrooms and showers. Youth group camping is also available. For Information about Ochlockonee River State Park, please call 850-962-2771.
Built in 1838 by Thomas Orman, this antebellum home overlooks the Apalachicola River, and was used for both business and social gatherings. Orman was a cotton merchant and businessman in Apalachicola from 1840 to the 1870s. He helped the tiny town become one of the Gulf Coast’s most important cotton exporting ports during the mid-19th century. The house features details of both federal and Greek revival styles with wooden mantelpieces, molded plaster cornices, and wide heart-pine floorboards. The house is open 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and closed 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m., Thursday through Monday, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. For a small fee, guided tours are offered hourly, except at 12:00 p.m. For Information about Orman House, please call 850-653-1209.
Perdido Key State Park
Barrier islands protect the Florida mainland from the harsh effects of storms and provide habitats for shorebirds and other coastal animals. Perdido Key is a 247-acre barrier island near Pensacola on the Gulf of Mexico. White sand beaches and rolling dunes covered with sea oats make this park a favorite destination for swimmers and sunbathers. Surf fishing is another popular activity. Boardwalks from the parking lot allow visitors to access the beach without causing damage to the fragile dunes and beach vegetation. Covered picnic tables overlooking the beach provide a great place for family outings. Located 15 miles southwest of Pensacola, off State Road 292. For Information about Perdido Key State Park, please call 850-492-1595.
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park
This 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. For Information about Ponce de Leon Springs State Park, please call 850-836-4281.
San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park
The many different flags welcoming visitors to the park demonstrate the colorful history of this site, from the first Spanish explorers to the present day. The history of this National Landmark began in 1528 when Panfilo de Narvaez arrived in the area with 300 men; however, the first fort was not built until 1679. Andrew Jackson occupied the fort for a brief time in the early 1800s. The museum at the park displays pottery and tools unearthed near the original fort and explains the history of the San Marcos site. A selfguided trail is open to visitors and guided tours are available with two weeks advance notice. Open 9:00 a.m.5:00 p.m., Thursday through Monday, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year´s Day. Located in St. Marks, off State Road 363, on Old Fort Road. For Information about San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park, please call 850-925-6216.
St. Andrews State Park
Well known for its sugar white sands and emerald green waters, this former military reservation has over one-and-a-half miles of beaches on the Gulf of Mexico and Grand Lagoon. Water sports enthusiasts can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and canoeing. Two fishing piers, a jetty, and a boat ramp provide ample fishing opportunities for anglers. Two nature trails wind through a rich diversity of coastal plant communities – a splendid opportunity for bird-watching. Those wanting to relax can sunbathe on the beach or enjoy a leisurely lunch under the shade of a picnic pavilion. Full-facility campsites, as well as primitive youth group camping, make this park a popular overnight destination. A concession offers snacks, souvenirs, and fishing amenities. Shell Island Boat Tours are available during the spring and summer. Located three miles east of Panama City Beach, off State Road 392 (Thomas Drive).
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For Information about St. Andrews State Park, please call (850) 233-5140.