Situated between Pensacola and Panama City Beach in the Florida Panhandle, Grayton Beach State Park is a pristine and unique beach lovers’ mecca.
This part of Florida is appropriately known as the Emerald Coast, with sugar-fine white sand beaches, clear blue-green water, calm seas ideal for swimming, fishing, and surfing, and an idyllic environment perfect for RV camping. It’s also widely considered the “real Florida,” with a notably slower pace, tight-knit community, and no skyscrapers in sight.
While Grayton Beach State Park is ideally located and enjoys near-perpetual sunshine and warmth, one of its especially unique features is coastal dune lakes. A natural phenomenon found only in Florida and Oregon; these lakes are reason enough to visit! Of course, there are many others, so pack your swimsuit, sunscreen, and a good book, and start planning your Emerald Coast trip!
Grayton Beach State Park Overview
- The park is open 365 days a year from 8:00 am to sundown (campers should arrive before sunset because the gate closes, or call the office before 5:00 pm for instructions and the gate code)
- It costs $5 per vehicle (up to eight people) to enter Grayton Beach State Park or $4 for single-passenger vehicles and motorcycles. Admission for bicycles, pedestrians, and additional passengers is $2.
- The town’s unofficial official motto is “Nice Dogs, Strange People,” so you can rest assured the beaches at Grayton Beach State Park are dog-friendly.
- Loggerhead sea turtles and snow plovers lay their eggs in the sand here, so periodically, sections of the beach may be sectioned off.
Coastal Dune Lakes
Occurring only in four countries (Australia, New Zealand, and Madagascar, in addition to the U.S.), coastal dune lakes are an incredibly rare must-see, formed over time by high winds. At Grayton Beach State Park, three lakes sit hidden just beyond the sand dunes, mere steps from the Gulf beach. These lakes are brackish, a mix of saltwater and freshwater, creating unique and extremely important habitats for native plants and wildlife.
Things To Do at Grayton Beach State Park
With the weather so nice year-round, you’ll want to spend your days exploring this beautiful Florida state park. Here are some of the most fun things to do at Grayton Beach State Park.
Enjoy the Beach
The park’s namesake beach is consistently named one of the best in the entire country, specifically for its 1.5-mile stretch of pristine sugar-white sand and the fact that there’s little commercial development. At Grayton Beach State Park, the tallest structures are the natural wind-swept sand dunes, and it’s rare to find it extremely crowded. The unique coastal forests and freshwater lakes, of course, add to the uniqueness, making for a perfectly relaxing day under the sun.
Fun fact: the sand at Grayton Beach is so white because it’s 99.9% pure quartz crystal.
With multiple bodies of water to choose from — the Gulf of Mexico on one side and coastal dune lakes on the other — one of the best things to do in Grayton Beach State Park is exploring from small watercraft.
One-hundred-acre Western Lake is especially good for paddling, with calm waters and plenty of open space. Bring your own inflatable kayak or canoe, or rent one from the ranger station. Paddleboarding enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the Gulf side, where the water is exceptionally clear, and there’s plenty of marine life to see.
Try Surf Fishing
Thanks to Grayton Beach’s unique geography at the very top of the Gulf of Mexico, fishing is excellent here. It’s also unique because, while you can hire a charter and head out to sea for the day, you don’t have to — there’s excellent fishing right on the shore, known as surf fishing. Depending on the season, you may catch flounder, redfish, pompano, or black drum without ever stepping on a boat!
Hit the Trails
The park has 4.5 miles of coastal pine hiking and biking trails, plus an easy one-mile interpretive nature trail that meanders through a unique coastal forest composed of showy magnolia trees and ancient, oddly-shaped oaks.
Grayton Beach State Park Camping
The campground at Grayton Beach State Park is widely considered one of the best in the entire Panhandle. 59 sites accommodate RVs up to 40 feet, all with electricity and water hookups, some with sewer hookups. There are also two central bathhouses, laundry facilities, and a dump station.
Reservations are not required but highly recommended, as Grayton Beach State Park camping is understandably extremely popular, and the campground is often completely sold out within minutes of reservations becoming available.
Cruise Into One of the Country’s Top Beaches
Since it can be tricky securing a site for Grayton Beach State Park camping, it’s a great idea to start planning well in advance. One of the ways to ensure your trip is as enjoyable as possible is to reserve a Cruise America RV rental. This offers unmatched flexibility and comfort, allowing you to explore the Emerald Coast on your terms! Decide on a date, pick your favorite RV model, and start planning today!