So you are going to the Florida Panhandle in Northwest Florida!
There are many state parks in the Florida Panhandle.
In general, Florida state parks have an entry fee. This ranges from $4 to $6 per car.
If you plan on making this the year of visiting many Florida state parks, then there is also an annual Florida state park pass that you can buy when you arrive at any Florida state park that is staffed.
Florida state parks also have picnic tables so they can also make for a perfect stop for a picnic.
So stop by a Publix grocery store for prepared food or picnic food and eat your meal outdoors with views!
The list of beautiful state parks in the Florida Panhandle is below!
Here's some info on Florida trip prep!
- Things to do in the Florida Panhandle for VIEWS!
- Best beaches in the Florida Panhandle
- Best state parks in the Florida Panhandle
- Best campgrounds in the Florida Panhandle
- Driving from Florida Panhandle to Orlando
- Best Ocala National Forest springs
- Things to do in Southwest Florida
- Things to do in the Florida Keys
Save the Florida Panhandle video playlist to watch on youtube later!
What state parks in the Florida Panhandle are worth a visit?
1. Henderson Beach State Park
Cost: $6 per car
There are a few Florida state parks in the Florida Panhandle with beaches.
Henderson Beach State Park is THE beach state park of Destin!
You’ll get the conveniences and beach facilities of a Florida state park with a beach trip to Henderson Beach State Park.
You can head to Henderson Beach State Park for swimming, a picnic spot, or just the views!
Henderson Beach State Park is a Florida Panhandle state park with coastal dunes.
For state park camping in the Florida Panhandle, then there is the Henderson Beach State Park campground.
There’s a trail from the campground to the beach in a separate area from the beach parking lots, so it’s like a private camper’s beach for you and your fellow campers!
See more about this Florida Panhandle state park: Henderson Beach State Park
2. Grayton Beach State Park
Cost: $5 per car
Grayton Beach State Park is another one of the Florida state parks in the Florida Panhandle with a beach.
So once again, you’ll get the conveniences of beach facilities here.
Grayton Beach is considered a 30A beach, as it’s located off of the Florida 30A Highway.
Grayton Beach State Park is one of the best beaches in Florida.
It was previously named the #1 best beach in America by Dr. Beach!
Grayton Beach State Park is a Florida Panhandle state park with coastal dunes.
This stretch of the Florida Panhandle also has a number of artificial reefs.
These reefs can attract marine life.
This means that for snorkeling in a state park in the Florida Panhandle, you can try snorkeling from Grayton Beach State Park! (Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is another state park in the Florida Panhandle that you can try for snorkeling.)
For state park camping in the Florida Panhandle, there is the Grayton Beach State Park campground.
See more about this Florida Panhandle state park: Grayton Beach State Park
3. St Andrews State Park
Cost: $8 per car
Panama City Beach is one of the popular beach towns in the Florida Panhandle.
The best state park in this part of the Florida Panhandle is St Andrews State Park!
It’s another one of the Florida state parks in the Florida Panhandle with a beach.
Even if you won’t be swimming, stop by St Andrews State Park to take a walk out onto the pier!
Or you can go down to the beach!
For state park camping in the Florida Panhandle, there is the St Andrews State Park campground.
See more about this Florida Panhandle state park: St Andrews State Park
Now we will leave the Gulf Coast of the Florida Panhandle behind and head inland…
4. Ponce de Leon Springs State Park
Cost: $4 per car
There are said to be over 1,000 springs in Florida!
There are many springs in Florida state parks, and many of Florida springs are for swimming!
It’s said that the water temperature of many springs in Florida are a constant high 60s to low 70s year-round.
This means that in theory, you can go swimming in Florida springs any time of year.
Florida State Parks says the water temperature of Ponce de Leon Springs is a constant 68 degrees year-round.
Bring goggles so you can see the underwater life! (You can bring snorkeling gear if you have it!)
You may also consider wearing a swimming shirt with UV protection for swimming in the Florida springs too.
There is no camping in Ponce de Leon State Park.
See more about this Florida Panhandle state park: What to pack for a trip to Florida springs
5. Falling Waters State Park
Cost: $5 per car
The Florida Panhandle is where you can go to see waterfalls in a Florida state park!
At the Falling Waters State Park entry, there’s a sign that says what the water flow of the waterfalls is like.
When I went in March, the water flow was listed as moderate.
Well, when I arrived at the upper waterfalls overlook, it looked more like a trickle to me.
Even so, going down to the lower waterfalls overlook was a wow feeling when you look down the sinkhole where the waterfalls “fall” into!
For state park camping in the Florida Panhandle, there is the Falling Waters State Park campground.
6. Florida Caverns State Park
Cost: $5 per car for state park entry + $11 per person for cave tour
The Florida Panhandle is where you can go to walk inside a cave in a Florida state park!
The Florida Caverns Natural Area is a National Natural Landmark, as designated by the National Park Service and U.S. Department of Interior.
You can see a variety of rock formations by walking through the cave underground.
The only way to take a walk through the underground cave is through a Florida Caverns State Park cave tour.
This lasts about an hour.
The cave tours can only be bought in person on the same day, and it’s said that they can sell out. See the current info.
So my plan was to go camping at the Florida Caverns State Park campground to be able to get cave tour tickets in the morning. This worked out well.
It was a Monday morning. When I showed up just after 9am, I was able to go on the next departing tour. I got the last ticket for that timing, but the following timing was 15 minutes later.
Although, when I arrived on a Sunday late afternoon, there were cave tour tickets still available. (But I still waited to go the next day.)
So when I went, it wasn’t all that busy.
Also note that no cave tours are offered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. See the current schedule.
Florida Caverns State Park is in the central time zone.
While the cave tour is THE reason to go to Florida Caverns State Park, if it turns out you have some time before your cave tour (or want to make time afterwards), there are a couple of above ground things to do in Florida Caverns State Park.
You can hike the Bluff Trail to the Tunnel Cave (above ground) and beyond.
And you can also see and/or go swimming at Blue Hole Spring.
Florida State Parks says the water temperature of Blue Hole Spring is a constant 64 degrees year-round.
And then of course, as a Florida state park, you can always go for a picnic!
Also note that Florida Caverns State Park was in large part destroyed by category 5 Hurricane Michael in 2018.
According to Florida State Parks:
Florida Caverns State Park lost more than 90% of its thick canopied forest.
There are parts of Florida Caverns State Park where this destruction can still be seen.
When I went in March 2022, the cave tour guide noted that after you exit the cave at the end of the tour, you can still see the downed trees there.
Camping in the Florida Panhandle near Florida Caverns:
- Florida Caverns State Park campground
- Falling Waters State Park campground (30 minutes away to the west)
- Three Rivers State Park campground (30 minutes away to the east)
- Torreya State Park campground (1 hour away to the east)
Falling Waters and Three Rivers are in central time zone. Torreya is in eastern time zone.
At Three Rivers State Park campground, just across the lake is Georgia in eastern time. My phone was showing eastern time in Three Rivers State Park! (I also had limited to no service there, by the way.)
If you look at a map, the Apalachicola River divides the central time zone and eastern time zone in Florida.
For hotels near Florida Caverns, there are chain hotels in Marianna FL (closest to Florida Caverns) and Chipley FL (30 minutes away to the west).
See more about this Florida Panhandle state park:
7. Wakulla Springs State Park
Cost: $6 per car for state park entry + $7.50 per person for Wakulla Springs State Park boat tour
The Florida Panhandle is where you can for a chance to see alligators in a Florida state park!
The reason to go to Wakulla Springs State Park is for the boat tour!
You have a chance to see some wildlife, including possibly alligators!
Unfortunately when I went, the weather wasn’t the best for alligator sightings, but I still saw around 5 alligators.
Although 5 alligators is nothing compared to another boat tour I did in Central Florida. But how many alligators you see on these boat tours is always all about the weather: water temperature, air temperature, and sunny vs overcast will affect whether alligators are out or not! If you will be going to South Florida and want to see alligators, you must go to Everglades National Park and the Tamiami Trail!
Apparently there is a stretch that the Wakulla Springs boat goes by that a ton of alligators like to lay around, but because of the weather conditions, they stayed in the water the time the boat went by and there were none in that particular spot.
But despite not seeing as many alligators as you can in optimal conditions, I still thought the boat tour was worth it.
It was a nice boat ride through the “real Florida” as the people of Florida State Parks like to say!
There have also been jungle movies filmed in what is now Wakulla Springs State Park.
There is no camping in Wakulla Springs State Park, but there is the Lodge at Wakulla Springs for overnight lodging in Wakulla Springs State Park.
You can also go dining at the lodge after your boat tour.
You also make the Wakulla Springs boat tour reservations through the lodge.
Wakulla Springs State Park is in the eastern time zone.
And that’s a bit about some of the best Florida Panhandle state parks!
More for your Florida road trip:
HAPPY VISIT TO A FLORIDA PANHANDLE STATE PARK!