Henderson Beach State Park in Destin is Worth a Visit from Anywhere

Destin's Henderson Beach State Park is Worth a Visit This Summer

Will Estell

For those of you who've spent much time vacationing in the state of Florida, you've probably seen your fair share of state park signs. Many of us though, simply pass right by them without giving most of these havens of beauty a second, much less third, glance. That is unless you happen to be one of those die-hard outdoorsy types, or the owner of a pull behind camper or motor home.

Well, you may want to re-evaluate your thoughts on state parks and just what you may be missing by not stopping in at some of them... even if you're not with RV in tow. One such region of the Sunshine State to take a serious look at, state park wise, is Northwest Florida's Gulf Coast, and one such park is Destin's Henderson Beach State Park. Henderson is certainly not a secret to many who have vacationed in the Destin and Okaloosa county area for years, however many more drive right by it every day of their stay on the Emerald Coast; lots of these people staying in major resorts and hotels within mere miles of the park's Hwy. 98 entrance.

With over 70,000 cars entering the 221 acre park during 2011, Henderson Beach has its fair share of fans. However, I believe the 200,000 guests expected during 2012 (2011 saw over 70,000 vehicles with around 170,000 paying visitors) would be more like 400,000 or 500,000 if more people just knew a little more about this beautiful piece of paradise, and what all Henderson Beach State Park has to offer both day visitors and weeklong campers alike.

With more than a full mile of naturally preserved scenic shoreline, and emerald waters so clear that you can often go more than waist deep and still see your feet, Henderson Beach is a great place to play. Many people in the know will even come to the park's beach when they are staying at a resort or hotel on the beach. Much of the reason being that the park's rangers and staff are so dedicated to making Henderson's 6,000 feet of beach some of the cleanest shore line in all of the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast.

Boardwalks provide access to the beach for swimming, playing, sunbathing, and fishing. The park also has six pavilions allowing for picnicking, grilling, and other family fun. A playground is also available, as is a nature trail providing visitors a close-up, and rare glimpse of the coastal dune ecosystem and abundant wildlife, birds, and fish within Henderson Beach State Park.

Camping is also great at Henderson, with 60 campsites to accommodate anything from a two man tent to a million dollar private coach, and everything in between the two. These sites all have water and electric hookups and access to air conditioned and heated facilities.

In addition to the fun and tranquility offered by the park itself, Henderson Beach State Park plays host to several annual activities such as, the Mattie Kelly Festival of Arts, the Okaloosa Art Alliance, an array of private club and group events, and destination weddings in the hundreds. Whether you come for a day or stay for a week, as a guest of Henderson Beach State Park you will enjoy everything from fishing and hiking to picnicking, cooking out, and swimming in the clear emerald waters. All while being surrounded by one of the most beautiful preserves anywhere, on any beach.

Read More