Explore the Emerald Coast at Grayton Beach State Park

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Are you planning a trip to South Walton, Florida, and wondering what Grayton Beach State Park has to offer? Located in Walton County’s Santa Rosa Beach, FL, Grayton Beach State Park is one of the most beautiful places — with nearly 2,000 acres of pristine beachfront and lush forest along the Florida Panhandle.

From the many nature trails you can explore to the various activities you can join — plus the beautiful beaches with emerald water and sugar-white sand — this Florida state park is a hidden gem for beach lovers or outdoor enthusiasts! Visitors can explore winding trails, enjoy abundant wildlife, and take advantage of a boat ramp that provides access to both freshwater and saltwater fishing.

Grayton Beach State Park is known for its unique habitat, which includes 3 rare coastal dune lakes — Alligator Lake, Little Redfish Lake, and Western Lake. These stunning bodies of water are perfect for swimming, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and more. And the pine flatwoods and scrub oaks are home to a variety of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, gopher tortoises, wading birds, and bald eagles.

In this guide to Grayton Beach State Park, we’ll take a look at what the park has to offer, from camping and hiking to swimming and kayaking. We’ll also provide you with all the information you need to make your beach trip as enjoyable as possible.

What to Do at Grayton Beach State Park

There are plenty of things to do in Grayton Beach State Park — like beachcombing, birding, bicycling, and camping. It’s truly a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts! Let’s walk through all the different activities and amenities you can enjoy while visiting Grayton Beach State Park in Santa Rosa Beach, FL.

Hike & Bike Grayton Beach Trails
Grayton Beach State Park is a paradise for nature lovers. The park has 2 distinct areas for hiking and biking, each with its own unique features. The Grayton Beach Nature Trail — aka the Western Lake Loop — begins near the beach and winds over a mile through sand dunes and the pine flatwoods of Western Lake. It’s a great way to get up close and personal with nature while still enjoying the views of the lake.

Along the 4.5-mile Grayton Beach Hike & Bike Trail — aka the Flatwoods Hiking & Biking Trail — located on the north side of Scenic Highway 30A near the beach parking area in Seaside, FL, you can traverse through the forest and around the back waters of the park. This trail offers a more challenging trek with plenty of hills and valleys to explore. Plus, you can spot plenty of wildlife, including birds, turtles, lizards, and even alligators!

Boat & Kayak at Western Lake
Grayton Beach State Park is the perfect place to go boating and kayaking on the Florida Panhandle! Located along Scenic Hwy 30A between Grayton Beach and WaterColor, Western Lake is a rare coastal dune lake — few places in the world host them — with brackish water (a mix of fresh water and saltwater). You can rent a canoe, paddleboard, or kayak from the park’s ranger station nearby for just $15 for 5 hours or $25 for the whole day. Reservations are not required!

The calm, tranquil waters of this expansive coastal dune lake are perfect for exploring and taking in all that nature has to offer in sunny Florida. You can also take a nature trail that winds through Grayton Beach State Park and explore a salt marsh ecosystem up close. Additionally, there’s a beach area for launching canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and other small vessels.

Experience the Thrill of Surf Fishing
Want to try something unique on your Florida getaway? Surf fishing at Grayton Beach State Park is a great way to spend a day on the water. Whether you’re an experienced fisherman or just starting out, surf fishing is a fun way to enjoy the great outdoors and catch some big fish!

Surf fishing requires more time and patience than regular deep-sea fishing since you have to wait for the tide to come in. But you’ll be rewarded with plenty of opportunities to reel in unique fish — and learn a brand-new way to cast your net. Rent gear or opt for fully equipped guided excursions with a local fishing charter, like Reel 30A, that can show you where to find pompano and other fish in the surf. 

Just remember to bring a valid Florida fishing license, which can be obtained online.

Outdoor Attractions Near Grayton Beach State Park

While there’s plenty to do within Santa Rosa’s Grayton Beach State Park, there are also plenty of great attractions nearby! Here are some of our top picks.

Deer Lake State Park
Nestled on Scenic 30A, just east of Seagrove Beach, you’ll find Deer Lake State Park, a breathtaking natural oasis that’s just a 10-minute drive from Grayton Beach State Park. This gorgeous park boasts pristine beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, where visitors can take in panoramic vistas of the emerald-green water. 

Deer Lake is a coastal dune lake with rare plants, like spoonflower and sandgrass. Shielded by its location within the park boundaries, visitors can enjoy this natural refuge in all its glory, without the risk of environmental degradation. 

This Florida state park is open to visitors every day of the year, from 8:00 AM until sundown. And if you’re traveling with a furry friend, you’ll be happy to know leashed pets are welcome throughout most of the park (just not on the beaches). 

Port St. Joe Marina
If you’re looking for a day on the water, Port St. Joe Marina is your best bet! Located about an hour east of Grayton Beach State Park, it’s home to some of the best fishing spots around, as well as a good selection of boats for rent. The marina also provides access to deep-sea charters and pontoon rentals, providing a great opportunity to explore the nearby offshore islands.

If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s also an abundance of scuba diving spots close by. In addition to the amazing variety of marine life that can be found in the waters, you’ll be able to explore the shipwrecks that dot the area. Port St. Joe is also very popular for its world-class surfing spots, so if you’re looking for fun on the waves, this is definitely the place to go!

Point Washington State Forest
Point Washington State Forest is located just east of Grayton Beach State Park. Located in the southernmost portion of Walton County, this 15,131-acre forest is home to a variety of wildlife and vegetation. You can find coastal scrub, wet prairie, swamplands, and longleaf pine forests all within its boundaries. Plus, 27 miles of trails meander through these diverse ecosystems.

If you’re looking for outdoor activities, Point Washington State Forest has plenty to offer! From hiking and biking to picnicking and fishing, there’s something for everyone here. Wildlife enthusiasts will also be pleased to know that the Point Washington Wildlife Management Area is part of the forest — a great spot for birdwatching or just admiring nature up close!

Make It a Trip to Remember with Florida CFY

With plenty of activities and attractions for the whole family, Grayton Beach State Park is an amazing place to visit on the Gulf Coast. Whether you’re looking for a day at the beach or something more adventurous, this Florida state park hits all the marks! And the nearby towns of Seagrove Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Panama City Beach, Destin, Miramar Beach, and Port St. Joe provide plenty of other activities to explore. All you need now is an inviting place to stay!

Stay near Grayton Beach State Park with Florida CFY. Our Florida vacation rentals offer premier accommodations in the area, so you can get the most out of your beach getaway with loved ones! Amenities include private or resort swimming pools, convenient beach access, king suites, fully equipped kitchens, relaxing living spaces, high speed Wi-Fi, and private balconies…for starters.Start planning your memorable trip to Grayton Beach State Park and book your breezy Florida beach rental today!