Located in the beautiful Florida Panhandle, just east of Pensacola near the town of Destin lies Henderson Beach State Park, which touches the sunny shores of the Gulf of Mexico. You won’t want to miss this beach destination on your next RV adventure since you can explore 30-foot white sand dunes and relax on 6,000 feet of sandy shoreline. This untouched strip of Emerald Coast features all sorts of outdoor recreation, from fishing and swimming to hiking and biking.
You’ll love walking or hiking the beautiful three-quarter mile nature trail with stunning views of the emerald green ocean and endangered coastal scrub. You can also walk along white sandy beaches or on the elevated beach boardwalk. This beautiful seaside park is home to native wildlife so you can spot turtles, dolphins, and migratory birds. Henderson Beach State Park also has unique historical attractions featuring the remnants of the original U.S. Air Force Clausen Tracking Site, which was installed in 1951 to support rocketry testing and national security programs.
Since Henderson Beach State Park is located in the Sunshine State, you’ll enjoy beautiful, sunny weather any time of the year you take an RV getaway. The summer months enjoy warm weather in the 80s, while the colder months are mild, often in the 50s and 60s. Thanks to its rich local history and amazing scenery, Henderson Beach State Park is the perfect location to take your next RV vacation.
Henderson Beach State Park, just two and half hours west of Tallahassee, is conveniently located off U.S. Highway 98 just over an hour east of Destin, so it is easy to access whether you’re driving an RV or hauling a travel trailer. There are several local roads that run through the park that are easy to navigate to picnic areas, restrooms, nature trails, the campground, and the beach.
RV parking is available within the two main parking lots located within the park. The first is centrally located off Campground Road, which provides access to the beach, picnic areas, a pavilion, restrooms, and showers. The other is on the western edge of the park, which is closest to the Nature Trail and offers easy access to the beach, fishing spots, picnic areas, a pavilion, restrooms, and showers. You can also park in the campground if you are staying overnight.
Henderson Beach State Park has one campground, and it is conveniently located on the eastern edge of the park, featuring 60 campsites that can accommodate tents or RVs up to 60 feet in length. Both pull-through and back-in sites are available. These sites feature water and electric hookups, and most sites have 30- or 50-amp electrical service. You’ll be able to use the campsite picnic tables, grills, and clothesline posts. There are amenities on-site, including restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, and vending machines. Although there is no sewer connectivity on-site, there is a centrally located dump station. Leashed domestic pets are welcome, and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
If you would prefer to stay outside the campground there are several private campgrounds and RV Parks located nearby in Destin and Pensacola. These private campgrounds may feature a range of modern amenities including cable TV, wireless internet, and swimming pools. Since Henderson Beach State Park is conveniently located near urban areas, you can be close to the park while enjoying access to local restaurants and shopping with ease.
Grayton Beach State Park is just 28 minutes down the coast from the park, and visitors might like to stay at one park and visit both during the day, as they are both popular beach parks.
The off-season is a great time to go stargazing on the beach. The park has wonderful visibility as it is a bit of a distance from large cities, contributing to its lack of light pollution. As a result, Henderson Beach State Park is able to host many evening stargazing events. Telescopes are set up to see wondrous celestial objects from bright galaxies to star clusters. Make sure to check the park website to find out when these events are scheduled.
Everyone loves a picnic, and the beach is an ideal place to gather for an afternoon nosh, even in the off-season. There are six prime picnicking locations located in the park, whether you want to use the tranquil picnic and pavilion areas in the central and western edge of the park, or have your own quiet picnic on the sunny shores on the beach. Picnic tables and barbecue grills are available for use at the picnic areas, or throw a blanket on the sand and enjoy the warm Florida sun. You can enjoy a relaxing afternoon picnicking while enjoying majestic views of the Gulf during your visit.
Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt where you use GPS locations posted on websites to find hidden trinkets and even treasure within the park. Download the coordinates online, and set out on your expedition. Don't forget to put the treasure back where you found it for the next treasure hunter in the park. This is a fun-filled family activity that provides a unique way to explore the park. Why not turn your RV trip into a thrilling treasure hunt and go geo-seeking at this wondrous state park!
Henderson Beach Nature Trail is a prime destination to spot marine wildlife native to the coast. You can walk along the beach or boardwalk and catch a glimpse of dolphins and sea turtles. You might also spot other native wildlife including rabbits, gopher tortoises, bobcats, and small native reptiles. Migrating monarch butterflies also flutter around the park in the fall. If you are a birding enthusiast, make sure you bring your binoculars in your RV since you can see native and migratory birds that soar in the sky over the Gulf.
A fun way to get kids involved in educational activities in the park year-round is to participate in the Junior Ranger Program. When you get to the park, just ask for a Junior Ranger Kit, which includes a Junior Ranger Badge, passport, and fun activity kit with games and information about Florida state parks. The whole family will enjoy this chance to learn more about the rich history and environmental facts about the park.
Rangers and volunteers, many of which are local scientists, run interpretive programs on certain dates within the park. Learn all about the local ecosystem, conservation, wildlife, geology from experts. Check online or in the park office for events happening during your RV stay.
There are several spots along the beach where you can fish in the tranquility of the sunny shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Whether you’re a novice or avid angler, you won’t want to miss this chance to catch the native fish that roam the waters of the Florida Panhandle. Make sure you pack your fishing gear for a chance to catch flounder, pompano, whiting, redfish, and catfish. Bait and tackle are available for purchase just outside of the park. Make sure to check with Florida's Fish and Wildlife for fishing rules and regulations.
Since Henderson Beach State Park is located on the emerald-green shores of the Gulf, you can enjoy hours of fun in the sun, whether you want to crash on the waves in a boat or enjoy a relaxing swim. There is a designated swimming area on the beach that provides a prime spot for getting out in the ocean. Make sure you heed the warning flags put out for your safety. These let swimmers know the conditions of the tides and weather on the beach.
If you'd rather enjoy the sea in a boat, the beach offers easy access for kayakers and canoers to coast along the waves in a serene setting. For those wanting to drop anchor in their larger skiff, there is a nice boat launch in nearby Destin.
Henderson Beach State Park offers several prime locations to have fun in the sun right on the beach of the Gulf. You can enjoy a relaxing day of sun tanning or sandcastle building on the beach. If you want a more active day in the sun, beach volleyball and frisbee are always popular choices. Walk along the boardwalk and enjoy the ocean breeze. For those with small children, there is a playground located near the Nature Trail, where your little ones can expend their energy before heading back to a restful night in the motorhome.
If you want to park your RV and head out onto the trail, you’ll love the chance to hike the pet-friendly Henderson Beach Nature Trail. This .7-mile loop provides stunning ocean views and the opportunity to discover the native flora and fauna. You won’t want to miss the vista that offers scenic views of the park on top of a dune. You can also hike right on the mile-long stretch of beach to see close-up views of the majestic Gulf of Mexico. If you’d prefer to take a leisurely stroll, you’ll want to visit the raised beach boardwalk.
If you’re planning on packing your bike, you are in luck since Henderson Beach State Park features a mile-long paved road that is open for biking. You can bike with striking views of the Gulf and spot native wildlife and birds. Restrooms and picnic areas are conveniently located along the trail. However, be aware that bicycles are not allowed on walking trails or on the boardwalk. Don’t forget to pack your helmet in your RV so you can enjoy thrilling bike rides around the park.