Florida is the top travel destination in the U.S. and a state that most every family in America has visited at least once. Here at Money Saving Parent, we are no strangers to the Sunshine State, having visited the popular tourist spots such as Disney World in Orlando and the Miami- Ft. Lauderdale multiple times. But there is another section of Florida that has its own unique charms and is equally deserving of a family excursion. I am talking about the Florida panhandle and the tourist area of Destin. We took a spring break trip to Destin just recently and one of the natural areas we visited and enjoyed is Henderson Beach State Park, located directly on the Gulf of Mexico, right in the city of Destin.
White Sands and Emerald Waters
Henderson Beach State Park has one key asset above all others: Its location, which is directly on the Gulf of Mexico. We were staying in a resort only a few miles away and knowing that this park had a large expanse of beachfront, we decided it would be a great place to visit. Our girls love the beach and once we parked the car, they immediately headed toward the emerald green/blue waters that have made the Destin area so popular. They kicked off their shoes, searched for seashells, and walked a short but safe distance out into the Gulf to feel the cool water on their feet. There are plenty of public beaches in the Destin area, but this was better because it was quiet and peaceful, due to the lower than average number of visitors.
Camping, Hiking, and Play
Most who visit Henderson Beach State Park come here for the beach, but there are other attractions besides sand and water. This state park, like many others, has a campground for RVs. It also has a lengthy hiking trail and a children’s play area right at the entrance/end of the hiking trail. My two kiddos played on the playground with mom while I hiked the trail with my father- in- law. The trail, while certainly nothing strenuous, was a little longer than I expected. But it was still a great way to get away from everything and soak up the natural beauty of the subtropical plants and extensive sand dunes that make up the geography of this park.
Quiet Natural Beauty
Henderson Beach State Park is a nice place to visit for several reasons. It has the play area for kids. It has the hiking trail for exercise. It has large picnic shelters for gatherings. It has public restrooms and camping. In other words, it has most of the hallmarks of a Florida state park with the added advantage of the large, sandy white beach and beautiful Gulf of Mexico waters.
Henderson Beach State Park does charge an admission fee per car load and some may not prefer it for camping due to its lack of trees and wide open view of area businesses. But if you want to enjoy some nature on a visit to Florida’s Emerald Coast, then Henderson Beach State Park is a place to add to your travel plans. The relative quiet and the fewer than average number of people make this a great place to relax, unwind, and gaze out over the waters while listening to the waves, seagulls, and other sounds of the open sea. It comes with a high recommendation from Money Saving Parent and it’s certainly a place we will visit again.
Copyright 2015, Bryan Carey