Camp Helen State Park is a place where visitors can explore an environment rich in natural and cultural resources. The park is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on three sides, and by Lake Powell, one of the largest coastal dune lakes in Florida. Prehistoric middens and mounds indicate that humans inhabited the area more than 4,000 years ago. From 1945 until 1987 Camp Helen was a company resort for the employees of an Alabama textile mill, known as Avondale Mills. Some of those buildings have now been restored. This 180-acre park is for day use only. Activities include swimming, beach-combing, nature study, hiking and both freshwater and saltwater fishing. For more info on Camp Helen State park, click here.

Eden Gardens State Park, located on the Northern side of Highway 98 in South Walton County Florida, contains approximately 163 acres of land that was part of the historic Wesley homestead.

The focal point of this park is the beautifully renovated, two-story house with elegant white columns and wrap around porch. In a setting of moss-draped live oaks, the 1897 mansion recalls a prosperous era before the virgin forests of long-leaf pine and cypress were exhausted in this part of the state. In 1963, Lois Maxon bought and renovated the home, creating a showplace for her family heirlooms and antiques.

Visitors can come and enjoy a guided tour of the Wesley House, meander through the gardens, bring a picnic or go fishing off the dock in Tucker Bayou. For more on Eden State Park, please click here. 

Topsail Hill is named for its dunes, which rise like ships’ sails over soft sand beaches and the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Those same white quartz dunes are responsible for a rare coastal ecosystem—freshwater dune lakes—which teem with aquatic wildlife. Walkers will pass through old-growth pine forests, sandy scrub-land, dunes and wetlands, where they may see some of the 13 imperiled species that find refuge here, like the Choctawhatchee beach mouse and otherworldly-looking pitcher plants.

Lakes, three miles of pristine beaches, old-growth long leaf pines, sand pine scrub and a variety of wetlands offer a bird-watching and hiking paradise. For More info on Topsail Preserve, click here.

Soaking in warm gulf breezes while relaxing on pristine Grayton Beach might be the main attraction, but there is so much more to Grayton Beach. 

Grayton Beach consistently ranks among the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States. Western Lake, a coastal dune lake that features an outfall into the Gulf of Mexico, offers fishing and paddling, and those who want to explore on foot have four miles of trails to traverse through a coastal forest where scrub oaks and magnolias stand, bent and twisted by salt winds.

An overnight excursion yields its own unique experience with a stay in one of the well-outfitted cabins or a more rustic accommodation at one of Grayton’s cozy campgrounds. At nearly 2,000 acres, Grayton Beach State Park is more than a backdrop for golden sunrises and silver moonlit evenings. It’s a taste of the “real Florida”.  For more info on Grayton State Park, Click here.