St. Andrews State Park is a pristine getaway on this coast that you won’t want to miss. It is one of two state parks that give you a natural place to enjoy the beach, bookending the long strip of hotels and condos along the beachfront of Panama City Beach.
Location: Panama City Beach
Fees: $4-8 per vehicle.
Open: 8 AM until sunset daily
Encompassing 1,200 acres of undisturbed forests and sand dunes, the park has miles of beaches; you can swim and snorkel in the protected pool behind the jetty, or cast a line off one of two fishing piers. This is Surfer Central, too. Catch big waves near the jetty.
Two campgrounds under the pines have sea breezes as a bonus, plus a camp store on site. Two hiking trails introduce you to the splendor of one of Florida’s most threatened habitats, the coastal scrub. A historic turpentine distillery is the only one of its kind in the state, echoing a past when the tall pines were tapped for naval stores.
Explore the park
- Buttonbush Marsh Overlook - Less than a mile from the strumming waves of the Gulf of Mexico, Buttonbush Marsh provides an important habitat for wildlife at the end of the barrier island at Panama City Beach.
- Gator Lake Trail - At St. Andrews State Park, the Gator Lake Trail is only a half-mile but hits the park's high point with panoramic views in the scrub forest and great birding along an established rookery.
- Heron Pond Trail - At St. Andrews State Park, the interpretive Heron Pond Trail is a walk through coastal history, starting with a mockup turpentine distillery at the trailhead.
- Jetty Beach - One of Florida's most popular beach destinations, Jetty Beach at St. Andrews State Park offers both wild and mellow surf on either side of the jetty.
- Sandy Point - One of the secrets of St. Andrews State Park is its gentle, sweeping beach along Sandy Point, a natural extension of the barrier island that divides Grand Lagoon from St. Andrews Bay.