Happening Now

Dive in Gulf County, Florida with Daly's Watersports' "Discover Scuba Diving" (June 2017)

Unpacking the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama (June 2017)

Get Out(side) and Explore Seven of North Alabama's Natural Attractions (May 2017)

10 Things Not to Miss When Visiting Dollywood (May 2017)

Let the Concierge be Your Guide for Adventure in Gulf County, Florida (April 2017)

Discover Farmview Market in Madison, Georgia (October 2016)

Postcard from Natchitoches, Louisiana (October 2016)

Discover the Essence of the Florida Panhandle at State Parks (October 2016)

Experience Fayetteville, North Carolina (October 2016)

Nine Fun Ways to Enjoy Fall Foliage in Georgia (October 2016)

Postcard from Lexington, Kentucky (September 2016)

Get Out and Explore: Six States, 16 State Parks (September 2016)

Checking In...The Henderson in Destin, Florida (September 2016)

What to Do in Blowing Rock, North Carolina (September 2016)

Postcard from Baton Rouge, Louisiana (June 2016)

From Alligators to Whale Sharks: 10 Aquariums in the South to Explore (May 2016)

Postcard from LaGrange, Georgia (April 2016)

Nine Experiences to Enjoy in Bowling Green, Kentucky (March 2016)

Postcard from Middleburg, Virginia (February 2016)

Go, See, Do: Six Getaway-Worthy Southern Destinations (January 2016)

16 Things to Do in the South in 2016 (January 2016)

Rider or Not, There are Many Reasons to Visit Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson (October 2015)

The Great Georgia Escape: Discovering (and Enjoying) Big Canoe (September 2015)

Quick Glimpse into Birmingham, Alabama's Growing Culinary Scene (August 2015)

Discover the Vast Musical Side of the South with the Americana Music Triangle (June 2015)

Take Grilling to the Next Level with Grillocracy.com (June 2015)

True Cajun Experience Found at Crawfish Haven/Mrs. Rose's Bed and Breakfast (May 2015)

Experience Acre in Auburn, Alabama (May 2015)

Experience the Mississippi Delta with These Four Destinations (January 2015)

Four Days, Three Destinations: Exploring Columbia County and Augusta, Ga., and Aiken, S.C. (January 2015)

Finding the Perfect Southern Destination for Your Next Getaway (January 2015)

So Many Fun Ways to Spend Your Holiday Gift Cash in the South (December 2014)

Behind the Scenes: The Personal Collection (and Memories) at the Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square (December 2014)

Spending a Day or Weekend in Bardstown, Kentucky (September 2014)

"Celebrate" Your Getaway to The Pearl on Rosemary Beach (September 2014)

College Football Hall of Fame Debuts in Atlanta (August 2014)

Discover Alabama's Varied Culinary Side during Alabama Restaurant Week (August 2014)

Get Out and Enjoy Scallop Season (and Scallops) on St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County, Florida (August 2014)

Bringing the Past and Present Together in Rock Hill, S.C. with "75 Years, Still One Gear" (July 2014)

Four Reasons to Plan a Getaway to Sunny Isles Beach, Florida (July 2014)

So Many Ways in the South to Make This Summer One to Remember (June 2014)

Amp Up Your Doughnut Making (and Eating) Experience with Sublime Doughnuts' Kamal Grant's Cookbook (May 2014)

Streamsong Resort: A Golfing Resort Beyond the Ordinary in Florida (April 2014)

In the Kitchen with Chef Douglas Olsen (March 2014)

Celebrating Farmers and Farm Life with the Farm Star Living Website and App (March 2014)

In the Kitchen with Chef Sam Lodovico, The Resort at Glade Springs (February 2014)

Checking Out Charleston's Culinary Scene with Charleston Culinary Tours (February 2014)

Discovering Downtown Birmingham, Ala. with Alabama Road Trips (January 2014)

Season Two of "Emeril's Florida" Highlights Culinary Gems of South Walton (January 2014)

Chatting with Barbecue Champion and Restaurateur Melissa Cookston (November 2013)

"Cast Iron Chef" Competition to Heat Up the 3rd annual Brooks County Skillet Festival (October 2013)

Crowd Pleasing Recipes to Amp Up Tailgating (September 2013)

Discovering Georgia's Lake Oconee Area (July 2013)

Honoring the Man in Black: Johnny Cash Museum (June 2013)

Experience Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island (June 2013)

Build Your Own Memorable Experience in Columbus, Georgia (May 2013)

South Walton’s Art Culture: People Behind the Creations (May 2013)

Louisville, Kentucky Beyond the Derby (May 2013)

City Insider: Mark Wyant, owner, The Saint Hotel in New Orleans (February 2013)

Dining Out at Osteria Tulia (January 2013)

Discover Florida's Charm with Emeril's Florida (January 2013)

Taste Nostalgia (and Fun) with Pure Sodaworks (December 2012)

Find Serenity (and More) at Red Horse Inn (December 2012)

In Tall Cotton: Chef Cory Bahr and Restaurant Cotton (November 2012)

Under the Grand Chapiteau with Cirque du Soleil’s Totem (November 2012)

Feelin’ Presidential: Presidential Sites Throughout the South (October 2012)

Eight Cool Southern College Towns (September 2012)

Mark Your Calendar... Fabulous Southern Fall Music Festivals (September 2012)

In the Kitchen with Chef Eric Fulkerson (August 2012)

Visiting The Inn at Magnolia Oaks (August 2012)

Journey to New Orleans Plantation Country (August 2012)

Turn Your Vacation into an Experience at the Plantation on Crystal River (July 2012)

Dazzle Your Summer with Fata Morgana (July 2012)

Coming Home to Hightower Creek Vineyards (July 2012)

Exploring I-95 in the South with Barbara Barnes, Author of What’s Great About I-95: Maine to Florida (July 2012)

Timeless Experiences Await You at High Hampton Inn (June 2012)

Discover Cummins Falls, Tennessee's Newest State Park (June 2012)

See Savannah on a Segway Tour (June 2012)

Newest Addition to Biloxi, Mississippi - Margaritaville Casino & Restaurant (May 2012)

Coming Home: Chef David Guas set for New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (May 2012)

Experience Southern Sweetness with South Carolina's Firefly Distillery (May 2012)

The Running of the 71st Iroquois Steeplechase (May 2012)

100 Years and Counting: Riding the African Queen (May 2012)

Get Into the Wild with Safari Wilderness Ranch (May 2012)

Discover Another Side of Spartanburg with the Underground Guide to Spartanburg (April 2012)

Get Out and Explore National Parks During National Park Week (April 2012)

Glide Through Downtown Memphis on the Segway Experience of Memphis Tour (April 2012)

Congratulations to Our "Adventure Time Getaway" Winner (April 2012)

The Tennessee Aquarium, 20 Years Later and Still Going Strong (March 2012)

Fashion Weeks Show Off Stylish South (March 2012)

What to do When You’re Not Breathing Baseball During Spring Training in Florida (March 2012)

Tables are Set for Restaurant Weeks in the South (January 2012)

Congratulations to our Couples Comedy Getaway Winner (December 2011)

Discovering South Florida’s Three Distinctively Different Kimpton Hotels (November 2011)

Congratulations to our Back To Nature Getaway Winner (November 2011)

“Fall” for the Outdoors and More in Wilmington, North Carolina (October 2011)

Festivals, Football, Foliage and Fun: The Many Reasons Fall is Great in the South (October 2011)

The New Must-Do’s in Raleigh, North Carolina (September 2011)

Culinary Delights and Cultural Gems Await You Along SW Alabama's Culinary Trail (September 2011)

Exploring Seaside with the Seaside Walking Tour (September 2011)

Ending the Summer with a Bang: Labor Day Weekend Fun in the South (September 2011)

Celebrating Food and Music at The Shed in Ocean Springs, Miss. (August 2011)

Extend Your Summer with an Outdoor Concert (August 2011)

Discover Southern Charm and Hospitality at Fairview Inn in Jackson, Mississippi (August 2011)

Living History (and More) Awaits You at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill (August 2011)

Exploring New Orleans’ Culinary Scene During COOLinary (August 2011)

Celebrate Hampton Bear and Teddy Bears at High Hampton Inn (July 2011)

Fireworks, Parades and More: 25 Ways to Have a “Blast” This 4th of July Weekend in the South (July 2011)

Simply Southern...James Madison Inn in Madison, Ga. (June 2011)

Fun and Free (or Inexpensive) Ways to Celebrate Dad this Father's Day (June 2011)

Congratulations to Our Simply Delightful Getaway Winner (June 2011)

Discovering One of Florida’s Surprises: Paddling the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail (April 2011)

Rediscovering old Florida at the Florida House Inn (March 2011)

Sip and Taste at the 26th annual Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival (March 2011)

Congratulations to our "Savannah's Best" Getaway Winner (March 2011)

Let’s Play Ball! Spring Training in Florida (February 2011)

Getting Back to Nature: Touring Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge (February 2011)

Spotting Winter Wildlife (and Possibly Whales) in Virginia Beach, Virginia (January 2011)

Congratulations to our “Let’s Just Go” Getaway Winner (January 2011)

Finding “Treasures” on Jekyll Island, Georgia (January 2011)

Yo, Ho Ho: Exploring the Life of Pirates at the Pirate and Treasure Museum (January 2011)

It’s All About Experiences This Year in the South (January 2011)

Holidays are Hot at Hotels Across the South (December 2010)

It’s Nice on Ice–Where to Go Ice Skating in the South This Holiday Season (December 2010)

Congratulations to our Private Island Getaway Winner (December 2010)

Celebrating the Holiday Season in Williamsburg Virginia (December 2010)

Discovering Nu Wray Inn in Burnsville North Carolina (December 2010)

Thanksgiving Day Chef Competition at Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation (November 2010)

Many Reasons to Celebrate the Holiday Season at Gaylord Opryland (November 2010)

Discover the Birdhouse Trail in Monroeville Alabama (November 2010)

Congratulations to Our Casino Giveaway Winner (November 2010)

Get Out This Saturday for VISIT FLORIDA’s Great Beach Walk (November 2010)

Nathan Beaver set to Return to Perform in Madison Georgia (November 2010)

Fall for Fishing Along North Carolina’s Coast (October 2010)

Savor the Flavor in Polk County, Florida One Bite at a Time (October 2010)

Congratulations to Our Beach Giveaway Winner! (September 2010)

Discovering Mississippi's Culinary Trail (August 2010)

Going Coastal…Now is the Perfect Time to Visit the Florida Panhandle (August 2010)

Ways You Can Support the Recovery Effort in the Gulf (June 2010)

Get Out and Go to Alabama’s Gulf Coast (June 2010)

Soak in the Sun (and Fun) Along Florida's West Coast Beaches (June 2010)

It's New - The Titanic Museum Attraction (June 2010)

Celebrate Dollywood and Dollywood's Splash Country in 2010 (June 2010)

Tell Orlando (and the World) Why the City Makes You Smile (June 2010)

Fun Awaits You Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast (June 2010)

Staying Current on the Oil Spill in the Gulf (May 2010)

Where to Go for the Latest on the Nashville Floods (May 2010)

Keeping Current with the Oil Spill (May 2010)

Published: October 2016
Discover the Essence of the Florida Panhandle at State Parks  

Discover the essence of the Florida Panhandle with a visit to any one of these 10 state parks.

floridacaverns2One of the original nine state parks in the state, Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna is home to over 30 caverns; however, only one is open to the public for tours. The 45-minute guided tour introduces you to such formations as the "wedding room" complete with a "pipe organ" and "cake" that was so named by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) while working on the cavern. The 1,139-acre state park also has multi-use trails, canoe rentals to explore Chipola River, spots to fish and more. Overnight accommodations include 35 campsites.

torreyaTorreya State Park in Bristol is one of the few places in the state to view fall foliage. With the bluffs (about 190 feet above sea level) overlooking Apalachicola River, it's one of the state's more scenic places. The name comes from a rare species of Torreya tree that only grows on the bluffs. It was believed that Noah used Torreya trees for the Ark. The state park offers 16 miles of hiking trails, freshwater fishing in the river and plenty of birding opportunities. Also on the property is the 1840s plantation home of Jason Gregory, which was moved by the CCC from the West Bank and rebuilt on the East Bank. Guided tours are available. Overnight accommodations feature 30 campsites, three primitive sites, a YURT and a Florida Cracker Cabin.

As if Panama City Beach's 27-miles of sugar white beaches along the Gulf of Mexico wasn't enticing standrews2enough, the area is home to two distinctively different state parks. Located on the far eastern edge is St. Andrews State Park, one of the most popular and most visited parks in Florida. In addition to the 1.5 miles of beach to explore, fish of one of two piers or the jetties, go geocaching, launch your boat into the Gulf, hike one of the two nature trails or bike along the two-mile paved road. During the spring and summer seasons, boat shuttles to Shell Island run. As far as accommodations gimg_2596o, St. Andrews State Parks has two campground loops with a total of 176 campsites. On the far western end, you'll find one of Panama City Beach's hidden gems, Camp Helen State Park. This day-use park offers both saltwater and freshwater fishing, hiking trails, birding and wildlife viewing. Of course, there's beach access as well. Camp Helen State Park has a historic district that includes a water tower, lodge and more. The district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Visit South Walton's 16 beach communities and stay for its nature beauty found within four state parks and Point Washington State Forest. At Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, you can enjoy little over three miles of beach good for walking or saltwater fishing. Lake Campbell, a rare coastal dune lake (South Walton is one of a handful of places in the world home to this phenomenon) is a prime spot for freshwater fishing or launching a canoe or kayak. There are hiking trails as well as birding trails, and a biking path, too. Spend the night or weekend in a bungalow or cabin. Topsail also offers 156 campsites and 22 tent sites. An abundance of outdoor fun awaits you at the day-use Deer Lake State Park. Enjoy the unspoiled beach, followed by fishing or hiking on the trails. Go birding or wildlife viewing. You'll have time to do it all if you plan wisely. Take a short break from edengardensiithe beach to explore Eden Gardens State Park. Bordering Tucker Bayou in Point Washington Forest, the 163-acre day-use park features the Wesley House, home to the second-largest collection of Louis XVI furniture. See the 600-plus-year-old oak tree known as the "wedding tree." The other draw to the park is the gardens. Check out the ornamental garden, heritage rose garden, butterfly garden and others. Visit for the scenery or fish at Tucker Bayou. Close to 2,000-acres, GraytonBeach State Park offers a mile of sugar white sand beach and four miles of trails. Of particular interest for those who enjoy being on the water, there's a 100-acre coastal dune lake perfect for canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding. Those looking to cast a line can choose either surf fishing or fishing on the lake. Accommodations include 30 cabins and 59 campsites.

Exhale and begin to relax when you set foot onto St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. Situated at the tipimg_2597 Cape San Blas, a 17-mile long barrier peninsula near Port St. Joe, this secluded natural gem offers 10 miles of white sandy beaches and some of the tallest sand dunes in the state. Spend the day shelling, boating, fishing or relaxing. Explore the interior of the park on foot along of any the three hiking experiences. The park is also known for its birding as well as its wildlife viewing opportunities. Think about extending your stay? The park has seven cabins and 119 campsites. There are seven designated sites set aside for primitive camping.

The 28-mile barrier island of St. George Island is regarded for its undeveloped beaches and laid-sgistateparkback atmosphere. It is also home to St. George Island State Park, whose history includes being used in WWII training exercises. Today the park offers a wide variety of activities for those who love playing in the outdoors. Swim, go shelling or just walk along the pristine beaches. Explore the waters on your boat, or in a canoe or kayak. Take a hike or ride your bike. Go birding or go fishing. There are plenty of ways to enjoy St. George Island State Park. For overnight stays, the park has 60 campsites and two primitive camping sites.

 

photos, personal collection: (top right) Florida Caverns State Park, (top left) Torreya State Park, (middle left) St. Andrews State Park, (middle right) Camp Helen State Park, (lower middle left) Grayton Beach State Park, (bottom right) St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, (bottom left) St. George Island State Park

- ADVERTISEMENT -