Panama City Beach has some of the best parks and recreation areas for tourists and locals alike. Whether you love the beach, boating, camping, fishing or any outdoor adventure in between, PCB has something for everyone.
This often overlooked ecological gem sits on the far western border of Panama City Beach. Offering pristine beaches, excellent trails that wind through dunes and scrub oak forests and a rare dune lake, Camp Helen State Park is truly a unique park. The original 185 acres that is now Camp Helen State Park was used as a family summer retreat before being purchased by the Alabama company, Avondale Textile Mills, which renamed the park Camp Helen and used it as a resort destination for vacationing employees. The historic lodge and associated buildings still stand today and have undergone recent renovations. Camp Helen State Park is bordered by water on three sides, and the unique combination makes it the ecological wonder that it is. Lake Powell forms the eastern border, and is one of the largest rare coastal dune lakes found only in a few places in the world. At times, this freshwater lake will breech the spit of land that separates it from the Gulf of Mexico, and the resulting channel causes fresh and salt water to mix, resulting in what's known as “brackish” water. The park is home to five distinct natural communities — mesic flatwoods, scrub oak, basin swamp, depression marsh and marine unconsolidated substrate. Each of these ecosystems can be viewed in only a short walk through the park. There is no camping at Camp Helen, but fishing, boating and fires are allowed in designated areas. No lifeguard is on duty, so exercise caution when entering the water. History tours are given the first Saturday of every month at 10 a.m., and it’s free with paid park admission.
Beach, Birding, Canoeing and Kayaking, Fishing, Hiking/Nature Trail, Historic Site, Interpretive Exhibit Meetings & Retreats, Picnicking, Swimming, Visitor Center, Weddings
St. Andrews State Park is consistently one of the most popular and most visited state parks in Florida. Situated on a peninsula at the far eastern edge of Panama City Beach, St. Andrews State Park is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the south, the St. Andrews Pass to the east and the Grand Lagoon to the north. Beach goers will love over 1.5 miles of beaches that rest on the Gulf and Grand Lagoon. If you want to go off road, there are two trails that will help you explore the nature and wildlife of Panama City Beach — including migratory birds, deer and alligators. Anglers will also be thrilled with two piers and numerous jetties to cast off from, plus a boat ramp on the lagoon. If you’re looking to get on the water, there’s plenty St. Andrews can offer including: swimming, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and canoeing. An array of brightly colored marine life can be found not far beneath the surface. Those in search of calmer waters enjoy the “kiddie pool,” a large area along the pass that’s protected by the jetties. No lifeguard is on duty, so exercise caution when entering the water. St. Andrews State Park is great for campers, who can choose from 176 camp sites with electricity, water, picnic tables and grills (these can accommodate tents, or RVs up to 40 feet in length). There is also a “primitive” camping area for scouts, faith-based groups and other organized nonprofit groups. This site is equipped with water, a portable toilet, fire ring and picnic tables.
Beaches, Bicycling, Boat tours, Boating, Camping, Canoeing and Kayaking,Concessions & Food, Fishing, Geo-Seeking, Hiking/Nature Trail, Interpretive Exhibit, Pet friendly, Picnic Pavilion, Playground, Scuba Diving, Shower Station, Snorkeling, Surfing, Swimming, Weddings, Wildlife Viewing
Panama City Beach — along with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission — developed an innovative system to restore thousands of acres of protected wetlands, leading to the creation of the 2,900-acre Panama City Beach Conservation Park. The Panama City Beach Conservation Park protects and balances our natural environment while providing amazing outdoor recreational opportunities to visitors. The 2,900-acre park is a safeguard for wetlands, wildlife and pine forest, while also acting as a natural filter that balances treated water before it makes its way to the St. Andrews Bay. Encompassing over 2900 acres, the Conservation Park has 24 miles of trails and over a mile of boardwalks. The trails range anywhere from 0.6 miles up to 11 miles, with 12 different trails to choose from. A 4,400 square foot building is at the southeast corner of the park to function as a shelter for park users, garbage disposal, public restroom facilities, parking, picnic tables, and a drinking water station. Public restrooms, picnic areas, a guide to local flora & fauna, and a pavilion are located near the main parking lot, and an outdoor classroom provides a venue for group educational and enrichment opportunities. Additionally, eight boardwalks totaling over a mile in length are scattered throughout the park, allowing excellent viewing of natural wetland areas. Trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset. Dogs are permitted on leashes, but no more than two dogs per person. No motorized vehicles of any kind or horses are allowed on the trails. No overnight stays, campfires, smoking or open flames allowed. Guided Audubon bird walks, volunteer and recreational programs for park guests are offered seasonally.
Bicycling, Birding, Geo-Seeking, Hiking/Nature Trail, Pet friendly, Picnicking, Wildlife Viewing