North Central Florida
Southern hospitality under the Florida sun
North Central Florida welcomes visitors with the irresistible charm and laid-back lifestyle that's popular in the deep Southern States. Because the state capital, Tallahassee, is geographically closer to Atlanta, Georgia than Miami, the small-town hospitality has rubbed off.
No wonder North Central Florida keeps beckoning guests with "Y'all come back now y'here!" Because of the landlocked, central geography, the only beach we found worthy of making our list is...
St. Joseph Peninsula National Park
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park occupies a wide northwesterly portion of Cape San Blas. An isolated wilderness haven for eco-touring, St. Joseph encompasses nine miles of Gulf beach, ten miles of bay shoreline and more than 2,500 acres of parkland. Its extensive white sand beach is perfect for getting lost in nature's beautiful collection of towering sand dunes, thick pine forests and the calming waves of St. Joe Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
It's easy to find a spot on the beach to fish, swim and sunbathe without encountering another person. For more social pursuits, try the Gulf County Chamber of Commerce for weekly details on local activities.
- Kayaking and canoeing: Available to rent, these boats are the perfect way to explore the shoreline. Bring your snorkel gear and you might catch a glimpse of a seahorse or horseshoe crab.
- Birdwatching: With more than 200 species of birds, including the peregrine falcon, this stretch of nature will keep birders busy.
- Horseback riding: Galloping along the beach is a must in Cape San Blas.
- Cape San Blas Lighthouse: Built in 1847, this beauty loves to pose for the camera. While the grounds and lighthouse don't offer tours to the public, you can get some great pictures of this 98-foot-tall light.
- Scallop Day (September): Who can resist the world's best scallops pulled fresh from the water? Just bring a camping stove and enjoy the fruits of the sea.
- Florida Panhandle Birding and Wildflower Festival (October): Port St. Joe hosts guided tours of county wildlife at this annual event.
Miles from the nearest big city, the stars, a campfire and the sound of the waves are all you need for entertainment.
With no hotels in sight, this is a camper's heaven. Primitive and full-hookup camping is available at two sites. Eight furnished cabins are also available for rent.
Need to Know
- Near Port St. Joe, North Central Florida, on the Northwest portion of Cape San Blas.
- 75 miles from Tallahassee, the nearest metropolitan center.
- Spring / summer ranges from high 60s to low 80s F.
- Fall / winter ranges from low 50s to low 70s F on average.
- A pavilion
- Picnic tables
- Nature trail
- Bathroom facilities
Seafood and sanctuary make St. Joseph Peninsula National Park a perfect getaway for hungry eco-tourists. To get the latest details on Scallop Day or wildlife festivals, find more information on St. Joseph Peninsula National Park here.
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