Florida’s Upscale State Park- Topsail Hill Preserve
This park used to be privately owned. I imagine that in those days, everything was perfectly manicured! We never visited when it was privately owned, but in the past 11 years that we have been visiting this park, a lot of changes have happened. The paved sites are now either crumbling or replaced with gravel. One of the bath houses has been closed for the past 2 visits. It is actually boarded up now in what looks to be a permanent way. And now with Covid-19 concerns, the pool is closed and the tram that you could ride to the beach is not in operation. We only used the tram occasionally since we like to ride our bikes on the paved path to the beach, but for those with physical challenges and families with small children, this could pose a real problem. The beach path is 1 mile. At the end of the path is a bath house and a boardwalk over the sand dunes to the beach. The boardwalk here is much longer than the one at Grayton Beach. There have been some improvements to the park, such as the construction of additional rental cabins. Even so, this is one of the nicest Florida State Parks! With all the amenities, beach access and proximity to Destin, it is a challenge to get a reservation because the park is always full!
Amenities here include Shuffle Board, Fishing in the ponds, kayak/paddle board/bike rentals, a camp store, swimming pool, hiking/biking trails, ranger programs, cable tv, sewer, a playground , laundry and wifi at the camp store. The campground has multiple ponds. Many campsites have views of the ponds with waterlilies. I can see 3 of the ponds from our site that is directly across from the pool. It’s a lovely view! The campsites are pretty spacious and most offer shade beneath tall pines. The landscape here is not your typical scrubby Florida Park. There are warnings for Alligators, although we have never seen one here. Florida Black Bears do live here, although we have only seen one. There are lots of deer! One year I was blessed enough to see a herd of deer on my morning walk at the beach. It was amazing to watch them playing in the waves and running through the sand dunes! Here is a link to more information about the park :https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/topsail-hill-preserve-state-park.
Destin Fishing Rodeo
This is one of my favorite things about October in the Destin area! Every day they weigh in the fish that anglers bring in by boat or by land. There is a floating dock where the officials weigh the fish in and a large area where people can gather to watch. You never know what the fishermen are going to bring. We have watched them weigh in some giant fish! A 600+ pound Hammerhead Shark was the largest we ever witnessed! If you are visiting the area in October this is a must! They only weigh in sharks on Saturday so keep that in mind. Here is more information about the Destin Fishing Rodeo https://destinfishingrodeo.org.
There are lots of great places to eat all along the harbor. I recommend parking and walking all along the harbor. You can even watch the fishermen unload their catch each day. Maybe you would even want to go on one of the deep sea fishing tours offered at the harbor. If that doesn’t interest you, I am sure you will enjoy the shopping at Harbor Walk. Be sure to visit the local artist! You might even catch him painting something in his studio. We enjoyed talking with Kelly and if you don’t see something you like, he will work with you to create a custom painting. Here is a link to see his beautiful art: https://kellypierre.com.
A family that fishes together is so much fun! My dad is a great fisherman and he has always been so patient with us as he has taught us all the joy of fishing. He even taught me how to clean the fish when I was just a child. I remember watching him clean them when I was very small. We love to catch Red Drum but for the past few years they have all been too big and we have to release them. The state has regulations you must follow. You can only keep a Red Drum if it’s between 19-27 inches long. If you happen to go fishing with us and you have never caught one, my dad will likely hand you his pole when he gets one and let you reel it in! He loves it so much he wants everyone to try it!
These pictures are from the past 11 years. As I looked through them for this post, I realize that some are no longer with us. Some are unable to travel. Some of these kids are grown now and have to work so they can’t come like they used to. It’s so different when your kids grow up and can’t come. But I am so very thankful for these memories. Here are some of my favorites from past trips…
The beach here is so beautiful! Soft white sands and clear blue waters make this a feast for the eyes! Last night we saw deer on our way to the beach! The paved path is perfect for walking or riding your bike. At the end of the path you will find a bath house, an outdoor shower and a lovely boardwalk to take you over the mountainous sand dunes to a view like no other. Miles of private beach access to the right or left when you reach the beach.
Local food favorites are Harry T’s at the Boardwalk, The Crab Trap, Dewey Destin’s, and Another Broken Egg. There truly is something for everyone in the Destin area! You can even take your fresh catch and have someone else cook it at the harbor!
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