At nearly 2,000 acres, Grayton Beach State Park is one of many state parks that make up the natural wildlife preservations on 30A. There are many reasons to visit Grayton Beach State Park, but a favorite among locals is to go for a dip in the Gulf, or to the brackish water on the nearby Western Lake for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Rent a paddleboard or kayak, pack a cooler, and float along the coastal dune lake––taking in the sights and smells of the “Grayt life.” The park closes at dusk, but if you catch it in time, you’ll watch a peach-hued sunset reflecting on Western Lake and setting over the dunes. It’s truly a sight to be seen!
The longleaf pines are the featured attraction of the park, most commonly spotted from the Western Lake bridge that melts into Watercolor. They are synonymous with 30A, attracting photographers and painters year-round! Walk the nature trail, observe the coastal forest of slash pines, scrub oaks, and magnolias. The four-mile trail is a mix of boardwalk and sand that can be enjoyed by hikers and cyclists! The canopy of trees and unspoiled dunes will have you feeling like a castaway on a tropical island. Even better, the trail still remains a local secret, leaving you to hike in solitude.
At Grayton Beach State Park, common praise among locals and visitors is that the water at this beach is gentler, with the waves breaking on the sand rather than in the Gulf. It’s also less crowded and shallower in comparison to other local beaches, making this an ideal beach for families with young children.
One of the most popular activities in the park is snorkeling around the artificial reef structures that have been placed just off of the beach. The reef is the first to kick off a series of several artificial reef structures that will eventually extend across south Walton County. The hard structure of an artificial reef is populated by soft corals, sponges, barnacles and plants, small fish, grouper, and snapper to thrive on.
For those looking to leave a crowded beach behind, Grayton Beach State Park makes it easy! But don’t forget to bring some cash. Admission to the park is typically $5 per vehicle with specials during peak season.