3 Beautiful Beach Parks to Visit in Perdido Key

Are you ready to have some outdoor fun in Perdido Key, Florida? You’ll love checking out the parks! There are two state parks and one national park, and they offer everything from hiking and biking to swimming and spending hours at the beach. We are sharing the best things to do and where you can see alligators, sea turtles, or spot a dolphin in the wild. So, grab your gear and get ready to explore!

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Gulf Islands National Seashore

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Where is Perdido Key?

Perdido Key is a barrier island located in the Florida panhandle outside Pensacola.  

Perdido Key Map

Incredible Parks to Visit

If you’re looking for a place to vacation full of sun, white sand, and fun outdoor activities that is surprisingly affordable – look no further than Perdido Key, Florida.

This beautiful barrier island is home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in the country, and we can’t wait to share all the details with you.

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

1. 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, you’ll find a hopping coastal scene with condos, beach shops, and restaurants.

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Perdido Key State Park

Things to Do at Perdido Key State Park

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

Perdido Key State Park is perfect for walking the beach, catching a sunset, and taking photos! That’s what we did!

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 take 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

Have you heard of Gulf Islands National Seashore? It is the prized national park along the Gulf of Mexico, stretching from Mississippi to Florida. And guess what? The National Park Service protects part of Perdido Key.

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

We thought the beaches were seriously incredible. There is limited parking, so the beach areas are a little more secluded.

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Gulf Islands National Seashore

Things to Do Gulf Islands National Seashore Perdido Key

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 some sun at the beach and swimming, there were lots of folks fishing, boating, kayaking, some snorkeling, and stand-up paddleboarding. There were quite a few people running the paved road along the coast as well.

Here you will find some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. You don’t want to miss visiting!

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

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 was even a local food truck when we visited. This part of the island has more crowds (probably because of the facilities).

You can keep driving further along the island and park along the road in designated areas. The beaches further along the island are less crowded, but there are no facilities.

3. Big Lagoon State Park

Big Lagoon State Park is located on the north side of Big Lagoon across the Perdido Key Bridge. The park is famous for its boardwalk trails leading through the marshes and intercoastal forest. There is excellent camping at Big Lagoon State Park (watch on YouTube) so you can enjoy the outdoors and have fun at the beach.

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Big Lagoon State Park

Things to Do at Big Lagoon

Check out the trails leading through the park and keep your eyes peeled for alligators and other wildlife. You can bike the paved road throughout the park. There is also excellent camping and fishing.

We saw lots of folks kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding in Big Lagoon. The water is calmer 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.

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 interested in visiting Big Lagoon State Park, read our article with all the details or watch our campground review on YouTube!

Watch the Vlog: 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 day time. The water is insanely clear and blue!

YouTube video

What to Pack for the 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 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! You need one. You’ll thank yourself later.

Beach Chairs – We have these beach chairs. We like that you can carry them like a backpack.

Cooler – We bring a simple little cooler like this one. It keeps a few drinks cold and snacks from melting.

Water bottles – Our favorite water bottles are insulated from brands like Hydroflask and Yeti. What’s cool about these water bottles is they will keep cold drinks cold or warm beverages warm (a great investment for year-round outdoor activities).

Sunscreen – We like and use Sunbum because it is an environmentally friendly sunscreen.

Towels – If you haven’t heard of Nomadix towels, 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 from REI.

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

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Perdido Key Beach

Final Thoughts on Visiting Perdido Key Florida

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.

We camped at Big Lagoon State Park and were 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 went to 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 the best time!

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

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

Thanks for reading.

Ashlee & Pablo


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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation writer and founder of The Happiness Function based in Oklahoma. Her goal is to help inspire people to build a life they love by sharing how simple and fun it is to travel locally, connect with nature, and explore off-the-beaten-path. You don't have to spend a lot of money or use a ton of vacation time to explore close to home. Ashlee holds a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability and has a passion for the outdoors. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo! They camp in their Aliner often and love road trips and hiking.

12 Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

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