Destination: Henderson Beach State Park, Florida
A family man with a chronic case of wanderlust, Adam Porter cruises America’s highways and byways looking for the best and “best-kept secret” RV getaways.
There is no better spot in Destin, Fla., than nearby Henderson Beach State Park for some laid-back fun in the sun.
The first thing you’ll notice in this 200-acre state park, aside from the stunning shoreline, is the absence of high-rise hotels, condos and rental huts that crowd other area beaches. During the height of the early 80s tourism boom, the Henderson family sold this land to the state, which promised to keep the mile-long stretch of Emerald Coast waterfront undeveloped and open to anyone. Today, the land looks very much like it has for generations — a pristine place along one of the most picturesque stretches of Florida’s coastline.
WHAT TO DO AT HENDERSON BEACH STATE PARK
- Stroll, jog or pick a spot to lounge in the sun along 6,000 feet of sugary sand so white it glistens. Be on the lookout for dolphins and turtles.
- Fish from the shore or wade into the waves for some surf fishing.
- Swim, snorkel or dive in the stunning jade, emerald and turquoise waters.
- Picnic on the beach, at your campsite or in one of the beachside covered pavilions.
- Bicycle along the paved, multi-use road. But keep your bike off the boardwalks; those are for pedestrian use only.
- Hike the nature trails through a rare coastal dune ecosystem.
From the east or west, drive across US-98. From the north, take FL-20 to the Mid-Bay Bridge (toll required), cross Choctawhatchee Bay and pick up US-98, the main drag through town. Head west; the park will be on your left.
BEST TIME TO VISIT HENDERSON BEACH STATE PARK
The weather is beautiful year-round, though it can get downright steamy in the summertime. The campground stays fairly busy, so reserve your site early.
WHERE TO STAY
Henderson Beach State Park Campground
At Henderson Beach State Park Campground, the 60 sites are separated from the beach by a windbreak of trees and dunes, so there are no waterfront spaces. But the shell-gravel sites are well kept, and the bathing facilities are clean and air-conditioned. Special thanks to Ernie and Lorraine Phoenix, who allowed me to photograph their cool camping setup.
- Partial hookups: water and electric (50-amp); dump station available
- Plenty of pull-through sites available
- Private and well-shaded sites
- Family-friendly and pet-friendly; tents allowed
Reserve online or call 850.837.7550. Henderson Beach State Park is located at 17000 Emerald Coast Parkway, Destin, FL 32541. GPS: 30.387013, -86.447260