Five-Star State Parks
Bahia Honda State Park
Big Pine Key
BEST FOR: A history lesson with a waterfront view
BASICS: Between Marathon and Key West, Bahia Honda consistently ranks as one of the best beaches in the United States thanks to its sandy shores and crystalline waters in the shadow of Henry Flagler’s ill-fated railroad.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
South of Tallahassee
BEST FOR: Couples seeking romance and an Old Florida getaway
BASICS: A stay at Wakulla Springs, 15 miles south of Tallahassee, starts with an unusually stylish lodge mere footsteps from the great outdoors. The delicate balance of unspoiled nature and man-made creature comforts creates a quiet luxury.
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
Santa Rosa Beach
BEST FOR: Adventurers who like their great outdoors with a side of social
BASICS: Scenic Highway 30A is a long, rolling corridor that runs along the Panhandle coast from Panama City Beach to Santa Rosa Beach. (Think of it as the world’s most laid-back roller coaster.) At the westernmost end of 30A is Topsail Hill Preserve, a 1,643-acre beachside respite that marks its presence with a modest wooden sign—and nothing else.
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
Port St. Joe in North Florida
BEST FOR: Vacationing families who want to do “off the grid” in style
BASICS: After driving the bow-shaped St. Joseph Peninsula for an hour, past the fresh shrimp stands and stilted homes, the initial feeling of “ah” begins to go “uh.” But then you hit Cape San Blas Road and realize why birders, hikers and campers make the pilgrimage. While worries of the oil spill loom (a local church sign reads “Pray for our Bay”), the area, at press time, remains thankfully unaffected.