Who says a little sunshine and sandy toes can’t be enjoyed every season of the year? Fall is just around the corner and I can’t wait for temperatures to drop so I can explore our beautiful parks, without the summer heat!
Crystal blue waters, white-powder beaches, and salt marshes line the Florida Gulf Coast. Now is the perfect time to get outside with family/ friends and explore this beautiful area we get to call home, the Florida Panhandle.
Below is a list of my favorite parks in Pensacola, and surrounding areas.
Pristine water, and sugar soft white beaches that stretch as far as your eyes can see. Load up the sunscreen, hatch on the bikes and head out to the beach. Ft. Pickens is located on the western tip of Pensacola Beach, enjoy views of untouched dunes and salty pine smells all the way to your picnic spot at Battery Worth. Go and gain knowledge about this historic fort which was completed in 1834. Last time I went I spotted a Osprey and a Red-Winged Blackbird. Continue reading about Ft. Pickens natural beauty here, in my more in depth article.
Big Lagoon State Park
Just 10 miles southwest of Pensacola along Route 292-A, you’ll find one of my best kept secrets… Big Lagoon State Park. Salt marshes, boarded walkways, run/walking trails, and the great outdoors. Ahh. Rent a kayak for the afternoon, bring a picnic for the whole family, or launch the boat for a sunrise cruise. The days is yours, and the views are spectacular. I went last week and spotted a Red-Shoulder Hawk while trail running.
Entry Fee is $6.00 and Camping Fee is $16.00 – Would you like a free daily – entry card? Join Friends of Pensacola State Parks, and you can get in 3 area parks for free. As a Volunteer Membership Coordinator for Friends of Pensacola State Parks, I encourage you to read on and join this organization, or volunteer at our next event.
Our next event is on November 18th: The Heron Trot 5K Sign Up Here
Yoga, Nature Trails, and Kayaks free after 5K
Perdido Key State Park
Enjoy 247-acres of untouched life on a barrier island. Welcome to Perdido Key State Park. Boardwalks, covered picnic tables, and gulf views. Make sure to make it here this fall to enjoy a walk, notice the suns reflection off the water or read a book by the shore.
Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park
The name, Tar Kiln comes from the 1800’s when local pine tar was used as an important resource for the maritime industry. It was also used in the production of soaps and animal medicines. Take a short hike at the main nature trail or for a more adventurous outing, visitors can take a day-hike across the park to the Perdido River.
Blackwater River State Park
Glide among water tuelpo trees and bald cypress, on bike, canoe, kayak or your own two feet. Blackwater River State Park offers opportunities for a variety of outdoor activities, two nature trails and 30 campsites. The Blackwater Heritage State Trail, starting near Milton, FL and continuing 8.1 miles, is the perfect place to take an afternoon stroll. Call up a few friends and get on the river before it gets too cold! Photo below:
Located in Gulf Breeze, FL – Shoreline Park is connected to the Gulf Breeze Recreation Center aka ‘The Rec.’ A new trail has been laid out connecting the Gulf Breeze City Hall and the Shoreline Park Boat Launch. Pictured here is my good friend and I enjoying a morning bike ride. Oh but I do love going to the pier and eating an ice cream every once in a while.
UWF Baars-Firestone and Edward Ball Trail
Both of these trails are on the University of West Florida’s Campus, The Edward Ball Nature Trail is a leisurely half – mile through Thompson’s Bayou, walking along the boardwalk you may find a variety of songbirds, and water fowl. Baars-Firestone is rather woodsy and a tad overgrown (for me) for a run, BRING bug spray, I got stung here!
Naval Live Oak
My go-to trail run. A total of 7.5 miles of trails can be explored right in Gulf Breeze, the ‘Bluffs’ is a popular place to dock for the day and explore by foot the surrounding area. Directly behind the main head-quarters is Brackenridge Nature Trail. Beautiful views of the Santa Rosa Sound can be seen from this side.
So now you know it’s not just our squeaky sand that lures people to my hometown. Or the families from all over the country who come here to take advantage of the surf, water sports, seafood, and fishing charters.
It’s also the wildlife enthusiast, nature go-ers, and active travel seekers.
While living in India this year (2017) I learned about nature based tourism, wildlife photography, and conservation. And when I came back home I realized this too is another beautiful thing the Gulf Coast offers, for the young and the old. So get outside and explore this beautiful stretch of land we call… home.
Til Next Time!