Summer is hopping along the Beaches of 30A. The 2 State Parks are offering FREE entrance to their parks.
GRAYTON BEACH STATE PARK: Soaking in warm gulf breezes while relaxing on pristine Grayton Beach might be the main attraction, but that’s only one aspect to this gorgeous park.
Grayton Beach consistently ranks among the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States. Western Lake 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.
Besides the Beach, you can enjoy, hiking, biking, birding, boating, camping, fishing, paddling, swimming and wildlife viewing. There are picnic tables and pavilions for shade.
TOPSAIL HILL PRESERVE STATE PARK:
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 scrubland, 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.
The park’s namesake, Topsail Hill, is a dune that rises 25 feet above sea level. Dunes are formed as wind piles up sand that is then trapped by the roots of sea oats and other specially-adapted plants. The beaches, dunes, and marshes here have been shaped by wind and water for much of the past two million years.
Over time, the dunes here have come together to create a very rare ecosystem — coastal dune lakes. These freshwater lakes occur only in Florida, Oregon, New Zealand, Australia, and Madagascar. The coastal dune lakes at Topsail Hill Preserve are especially remarkable because they are untouched by development.
The park’s beaches are among the best in the world. Clean white sand and clear blue water as far as the eye can see. The park has 3.2 miles of beach that is perfect for relaxing, sunbathing, swimming, or snorkeling. Visitors can fish off the beach or in coastal dune lakes. Saltwater catches include pompano, redfish, Spanish mackerel, and king mackerel. Commonly caught freshwater fish are bass, panfish, and catfish.
This beautiful coastal park doesn’t just attract people — wildlife-viewing opportunities are extraordinary. Easter bluebirds and brilliant red cardinals flit through the park’s maritime forest. Raptors like red-shouldered hawks and osprey patrol the sky looking for prey. On the beach, snowy plovers and piping plovers dance along the waves.
This park is also home to a population of the rare Choctawhatchee beach mouse, an elusive species that is perfectly adapted to life on these tall dunes. In the summer, adult loggerhead turtles and green sea turtles build nests on the same beach where they were born, continuing a cycle that has lasted thousands of years. Whether walking on beaches or trails, wildlife-enthusiasts should be sure to bring their field guide to help identify some of the great variety of animals that live here.