A portion of old US Highway 331 remains on the south shore and has a boat ramp and spots for fisihing.
St. Andrews State Park is well known for its sugar white sands and emerald green waters. The former military reservation has over one-and-a-half miles of beaches on the Gulf of Mexico and Grand Lagoon.
Water sports enthusiasts enjoy swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and canoeing. Two fishing piers, a jetty, and a boat ramp provide ample fishing opportunities for anglers. Two nature trails wind through a rich diversity of coastal plant communities - a splendid opportunity for bird-watching.
Rocky Bayou State Park was transformed from a bombing practice range during World War II to a picturesque state park. The property now preserves beautiful old-growth longleaf pine trees, several over 300 years old, that once dominated this area of Florida.
Rocky Bayou, the main feature of the park, is the trailing arm of Choctawhatchee Bay and is popular for boating and fishing. A double-lane boat ramp makes this one of the best boat launching locations on the bay, where both freshwater and saltwater fish are found.
The beautiful freshwater spring at Ponce de Leon Springs State Park is named for Juan Ponce de León, who led the first Spanish expedition to Florida in 1513, as legend has it - in search of the "fountain of youth."
Visitors might well regain their youth by taking a dip in the cool, clear waters of Ponce de Leon Springs where the water temperature remains a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. The main spring is a convergence of two underground water flows, and produces 14 million gallons of water daily.
At Henderson Beach State Park, pristine white sugar sand beaches and more than 6,000 feet of natural scenic shoreline border the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Natural features of the park include sand pines, scrub oaks, and dune rosemary. Boardwalks provide access to the beach for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing.
Florida Caverns State Park suffered major damage from Hurricane Michael in 2018. Call the park to check status before you go. Visit the Florida State Parks Storm Updates page for more information.
Florida Caverns State Park is about an hour and a half northeast of SoWal just north of I-10 in Marianna, Florida. One of the few state parks with dry (air filled) caves and the only Florida state park to offer cave tours to the public.
About an hour northeast of SoWal, just off I-10 at Chipley, Florida, Falling Waters State Park features huge trees and fern-covered sinkholes that line Sink Hole Trail, the boardwalk that leads visitors to Florida's highest waterfall.
Falling Waters Sink is a 100-foot deep, 20-foot wide cylindrical pit into which flows a small stream that drops 73 feet to the bottom of the sink. The water's final destination remains unknown. Only a few miles south of I-10, the park provides travelers with a quiet, serene stop on their journey.
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park offers a wide variety of natural resources including 3.2 miles of secluded, white sand beaches with majestic dunes over 25 feet tall. Three rare coastal dune lakes provide excellent freshwater fishing. Although boats are not allowed, fishing from the shoreline yields bass, bream, panfish, and catfish.
Point Washington State Forest is not as recognizable to SoWal lovers as the beaches or State Parks, but the protected forest is crucial to the entire ecosystem of the area. The protected forest is not only a precious place for plants and wildlife, it also keeps development from completely overtaking South Walton. Point Washington State Forest must be defended to keep SoWal beautiful enclave for future generations.
Eden Gardens State Park consists of 163 upland acres just north of Seagrove Beach, across highway 98 in Point Washington, along the shores of Tucker Bayou and the Choctawhatchee Bay. Gracing Eden are gardens everywhere, the beautiful legacy of the many gardeners and master gardeners who belong to the Friends of Eden Gardens State Park, and give lovingly of their time and labor.