3 Beautiful Beach Parks To Visit in Perdido Key

Ashlee Fechino at the beach in Perdido Key

Emerald green waters, white sand beaches, and protected parks are what you find in Perdido Key, Florida. There are two state parks and one national park, and they offer hiking, swimming, paddling, fishing, and opportunities for spending hours at the beach.

In this article, we share more information about each park. If you enjoy watching wildlife, you can see alligators and sea turtles or spot a dolphin in the wild.

Where Is Perdido Key?

Views of beach parks in Perdido Key, Florida
Gulf Islands, Perdido Key State Park, Big Lagoon State Park

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Perdido Key is a barrier island located along the Florida panhandle outside Pensacola. It is about 30 minutes from downtown Pensacola.

Perdido Key Map

Watch Our Video About Things To Do in Perdido Key

Join us as we adventure to all three of these parks over a period of two days. We want you to see how beautiful these parks are during the daytime. The water is insanely clear and blue.

Beautiful Beach Parks To Visit

If you’re looking for a place to vacation full of sun, white sand, and fun outdoor activities that are affordable, Perdido Key, Florida, is that place.

This barrier island is home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in the country.

Perdido Key isn’t all about lounging on the beach – there are many fun things to do here, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing, hiking, camping, and watching wildlife. So, if you’re looking for a place to get away and have fun outside, you’ll love exploring the national and state parks in the area.

1. Perdido Key State Park

perdido-key-beach-florida
Perdido Key State Park

Perdido Key State Park is known for its miles of white sand beaches against the turquoise green water of Florida’s famous Emerald Coast.

Within walking distance of the park (the park consists of the beach areas), you’ll find a hopping coastal scene with condos, beach shops, and restaurants.

Things To Do at Perdido Key State Park

Beach views at Perdido Key State Park
Beach views at Perdido Key State Park

This slice of paradise offers activities to keep you busy all day long, from swimming, fishing, and sunbathing at the beach to walking the strip for shopping and dining on local seafood.

What We Did: The park is perfect for walking the beach, catching a sunset, and taking photos.

Entrance Fee

Visit the Florida State Park website for the most updated fees.

Hours

Open every day from 8 am until sunset.

Parking

There are state park-specific parking areas where you can park along Perdido Key Drive and walk the boardwalk through the dunes to the beach.

If you’re not going to park at the state park-specific areas, there are multiple places to find pay-to-park public parking next to the beach.

2. Gulf Islands National Seashore Perdido Key

Gulf Islands National Seashore Perdido Key area
Sunset near Perdido Key

Gulf Islands National Seashore is a prized national park along the Gulf of Mexico, stretching from Mississippi to Florida. The National Park Service protects part of the beaches in the Perdido Key area.

Johnson’s Beach is a great spot to soak up the sun and enjoy the waves. There are miles of undeveloped white sand beaches.

Things To Do at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Perdido Key

Views of Johnsons Beach at Perdido Key
Ashlee at the beach, sand dunes, beautiful water.

Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and sea turtles. We spent half the morning towards the east end of the island and got to see dolphins swimming near the beach along the Gulf side. We were in awe. The dolphins were so close.

Along with catching the sun at the beach and swimming, you can find folks fishing, shelling, boating, kayaking, snorkeling, and stand-up paddleboarding. People like to run the paved road along the coast as well.

Here you will find some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. It is one of my favorite places to vacation along the Gulf.

Entrance Fee

It costs $25 to enter, covering your vehicle for seven days.

The Annual National Park pass is accepted.

Hours

March 1 – October 31: Open every day from 5 am until 9 pm.

November 1 – February 28: 5 am to 6 pm

Parking

Pavilion: When you first enter the park, you’ll see a pavilion area with a large parking lot. The Johnson’s Beach Pavilion area has beach facilities such as grills, shade, restrooms, and showers. There might even be a local food truck (we saw one). This part of the island has more crowds (probably because of the facilities).

Along the Road: The beaches further along the island are less crowded, but there are no facilities. Keep driving across the island and park along the road in designated areas (only).

3. Big Lagoon State Park

big-lagoon-state-park
Big Lagoon State Park

Big Lagoon State Park is located on the north side of the Big Lagoon across the Perdido Key Bridge. The park is famous for its boardwalk trails leading through the marshes and intercoastal forest.

There is a great campground here. Because of its proximity to the Gulf, it is a nice place to base from. You can easily drive to the beaches in the area.

Things To Do at Big Lagoon

Exploring Big Lagoon State Park
Camping at Big Lagoon State Park

Check out the trails leading through the park, and keep your eyes peeled for alligators and other wildlife while walking along the boardwalks. You can bike the paved road throughout the park. There are great spots for fishing, too.

We saw folks kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding in the Big Lagoon. The water is more calm in the lagoon than on the Gulf side, so it is easier to paddle.

The park is only a short 30-minute drive to downtown Pensacola if you want to grab a bit to eat in one of the local restaurants.

Entrance Fee

Visit the Florida State Park website for the most updated fees.

The entrance fee is included in your camping reservation if you are camping. This also covers parking for Perdido Key State Park, so you just hang the park pass on your windshield, and you can visit both state parks.

Hours

Open every day from 8 am until sunset.

Parking

There is a parking area near the boat launch into Big Lagoon. From here, you can access the coast and the trails. If you’re camping, you can access the trails from the campground. If you’re not camping, you can park near the entrance station.

Want to learn more about Big Lagoon State Park? Read our article with more details or watch our campground review (on YouTube).

What To Pack for the Beach

perdido-key-state-park-beach
Perdido Key Beach

There is nothing worse than going on a beach vacation and getting burned the first day – like NOTHING WORSE. So, we’ve got your back to help you prepare. Below are the things you want to take to the beach.

Beach Umbrella with Anchor – Yes, I learned the hard way. I didn’t grow up next to the coast, so I thought I could go from being inside all winter to hitting the beach for days. Long story short, we learned what the locals do, and they bring a beach umbrella with an anchor (link to Amazon).

Beach Chairs – We have these beach chairs (link to Amazon). We like that you can carry them like a backpack.

Water Bottles – Our favorite water bottles are insulated by brands like Hydroflask and Yeti (links to Amazon). What’s cool about these water bottles is they keep drinks cold.

Sunscreen – We use Sunbum (link to Amazon) products because they create environmentally friendly sunscreen.

Towels – If you haven’t heard of Nomadix towels (link to REI) you’re missing out. They are fantastic because they dry fast and don’t stink.

Flip Flops – We rock our Chaco flip-flops (which also act as shower shoes and pair well with all outfits). You can get the men’s version and women’s version (links to REI).

Water Camera – Olympus makes a great water camera (link to Amazon) that isn’t expensive. We got one years ago and have taken it all over the world. It takes great water photos if you’re snorkeling or paddling.

Why We Love Visiting Perdido Key Florida

Johnson Beach Gulf Islands Perdido Key Florida
Sunset at Johnsons Beach Gulf Islands National Seashore

Along with beautiful beaches and pristine emerald-green water, what we love about the Perdido Key area is that it is an affordable beach vacation destination.

Camping at Big Lagoon State Park allowed us to be less than 10 minutes away from so many beaches. With Big Lagoon State Park being our home base, we were in the perfect spot for fun day trips from Pensacola. We explored Gulf Islands Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island, Pensacola Beach, and Navarre Beach and drove the famous coastline from Gulf Breeze to Opal Beach. It was a blast.

From Perdido Key, you are also a short drive to the Flora Bama state line, Gulf State Park, and Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Perdido Key is a paradise for beachgoers, road-trippers, and campers. This area makes for the perfect beach getaway.

Have a great time out there.

Ashlee & Pablo


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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation and travel writer sharing the best-kept secrets that aren’t in your typical guidebook. Her goal is to inspire people to travel with a sense of adventure by sharing hidden gems across the U.S. and beyond. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo. They camp in their Aliner often and love wandering the world. Follow their latest adventures on Instagram @thehappinessfxn.

20 Comments

  1. Cristina on August 27, 2022 at 8:48 am

    I had never heard of this place, and I haven’t been to Florida yet. I would love to visit these parks one day. They look incredible.



    • Ashlee Fechino on August 29, 2022 at 1:31 pm

      Cristina – you would have a blast! Thanks for reading.



  2. Lisa on August 24, 2022 at 6:35 pm

    I’d never heard of Perdido Key until now – looks lovely! Have pinned your post should I ever be in the area.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas on this blog.



    • Ashlee Fechino on August 29, 2022 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Lisa – thanks for reading! Have a great rest of the summer.



  3. Lauren on August 24, 2022 at 6:30 pm

    have never heard of these parks before! I hope to visit one day!



    • Ashlee Fechino on August 29, 2022 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Lauren – we hope you have a great time visiting Perdido Key!



  4. Chelsea on August 24, 2022 at 4:33 pm

    I love a beautiful beach and these look like some great options to visit! Gulf Islands National Seashore is definitely on my list now.



    • Ashlee Fechino on August 24, 2022 at 4:54 pm

      Hi Chelsea! You would love it there! Hope you have a great rest of the summer.



  5. Caroline on August 12, 2022 at 1:01 pm

    This guide is great! The beaches are stunning I cannot wait until I can visit them!



    • Ashlee Fechino on August 14, 2022 at 12:45 pm

      Thanks, Caroline. We hope you have a great time exploring this area.



  6. Yvonne on August 12, 2022 at 1:06 am

    The beaches look heavenly! Big Lagoon State Park looks beautiful too but I am not so sure about camping there. Camping with alligators? It seems a bit crazy for this desert dweller. Great post!



    • Ashlee Fechino on August 14, 2022 at 12:47 pm

      Hi Yvonne – thanks for reading. The alligators are in the water a little further away from the campsites so not super close. Haha – we can relate. We used to live in the intermountain desert so we have fun exploring the south and seeing all the southern critters!



  7. Maria on August 11, 2022 at 5:21 am

    Wow, this is a really helpful guide! Haven’t been to Florida yet. Saving this post.



    • Ashlee Fechino on August 14, 2022 at 12:48 pm

      Thanks for reading, Maria. Have a great trip!



  8. Julia on August 10, 2022 at 2:07 pm

    I haven’t heard of this spot before but it looks stunning! The white sand looks so beautiful 🙂



    • Ashlee Fechino on August 14, 2022 at 12:48 pm

      Hi Julia – we think the Perdido Key area is so special. Thanks for reading.



  9. A Capone Connection on August 10, 2022 at 12:42 pm

    I’ve never heard of Perdido Key Florida before. I’m definitely saving this for later. I recently moved South and I’m looking for great weekend spots to visit. This looks perfect. Thanks for sharing!



    • Ashlee Fechino on August 14, 2022 at 12:49 pm

      Hi there! You’ll have to check this area out. It is incredible. Have fun exploring the south. We love it.



  10. Burt Randall on July 11, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    This Beach Park Key sounds the BEST !! Have FUN Ashlee + Pablo next time you go.



    • Ashlee Fechino on July 13, 2022 at 3:37 pm

      Thank you for reading! We appreciate you. Have a great day!