In a forgotten area of Florida where history abounds you’ll find Perdido Key and 3 large State and National Parks. In fact Perdido Key incorporates more than 60% of its landmast within these 3 diverse and natural Park experiences.
JOHNSON BEACH – Gulf Islands National Seashore
Did you know that in the 1880s, Geronimo and other members of the Chiricahua-Apache tribe were prisoners at Fort Pickens located at Gulf Islands National Seashore just across Pensacola Pass from Johnson Beach.
Located on a barrier island along the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, Johnson Beach Park is a day-use area with two sections accommodating up to 75 guests. The soft, white sands of the beach make a day of grilling and picnicking a perfectly pleasing beach excursion.As a part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Perdido Key is a protected home to four species of turtles and a booming population of migrating birds. While strolling on the beach, keep an eye out for freshly dug burrows, possibly created by gopher tortoises.
Marshes and sand dunes shape the barrier island, with beach grass and sand pines, providing a colorful contrast to the white sands. Johnson Beach faces the Gulf of Mexico while the northern stretch of island touches the Big Lagoon.
Swimming and playing on the beach are the key activities. Bring a shovel and buckets for some sand castle fun. Fishing, hiking and surfing are also available.
Both picnic sites have 12 picnic tables with a shared restroom and outdoor rinse-off shower. Electrical outlets are available upon request. Please bring your own grill.
Visit the Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park or opt for a round of golf down the road. Perdido Key is a popular resort town, so you’ll find some resort-friendly activities like jet ski rentals.
History buffs will enjoy a visit to Fort McRee, a military fort built in 1839 to defend Pensacola and its harbor.
Know Before You Go
No pets allowed in pavilions, structures, or on the beach
Other pavilions, restrooms and beach access are shared with the general public
Vehicles must stay in paved parking areas
All incoming vehicles are subject to normal entrance fees
No glass containers allowed on the beach
A Special Use Permit is required for weddings, sporting events, religious ceremonies, gatherings of 50 or more people
From I-10take Exit 7A to FL Hwy 297S/Pine Forest Road. Continue and turn right onto FL Hwy 173S/N Blue Angel Parkway. Turn right onto FL Hwy 292W/Sorrento Road. Then turn left onto Johnson’s Beach Road to Park Entrance Station. Pavilion area is a short drive into the park on your right.
PERDIDO KEY – JOHNSON BEACH
133333 Johnson Beach Road
Pensacola FL 32507
Camping and Pavilion Information: 850-934-2622
PERDIDO KEY STATE PARK – Perdido Key Florida
Perdido Key State Park is a 29 acre Florida State Park located on a barrier island fifteen miles southwest of Pensacola, off S.R. 292, in northwestern Florida. The address is 12301 Gulf Beach Highway. Barrier islands protect the Florida mainland from the harsh effects of storms and provide habitats for shorebirds and other coastal animals. Perdido Key is a 247-acre barrier island near Pensacola on the Gulf of Mexico. White sand beaches and rolling dunes covered with sea oats make this park a favorite destination for swimmers and sunbathers. Surf fishing is another popular activity. Boardwalks from the parking lot allow visitors to access the beach without causing damage to the fragile dunes and beach vegetation. Covered picnic tables overlooking the beach provide a great place for family outings.
The park is open for day use from 8 a.m. to Sunset. With two parking areas and eight covered pavilions, Perdido Key State Park is a perfect place to bring the family for a picnic lunch, while enjoying the gentle breezes off the Gulf of Mexico. Big Lagoon State Park, just across the bridge on the mainland, is available for camping and hiking.
Several endangered species inhabit, nest on or use this park. Most notable of these is the Perdido Key beach mouse. This mouse is one of the North America’s rarest mammals and only currently exists in two places on earth, both of which are located on Perdido Key. The Johnson Beach Unit of Gulf Islands National Seashore is the other location. The mouse was reintroduced to the park in February 2000 after several years of being absent from the park. Originally, three pairs of juvenile mice were translocated from Johnson Beach, followed by an additional 16 pairs of juvenile mice the following year. The population of this mouse can vary greatly depending on the time of year and recent weather conditions, as well as the presence of house cats. Loggerhead sea turtles use the beach to nest each year. Occasionally green and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles will nest within the park boundary as well.
15301 Perdido Key Drive, Pensacola, FL 32507
Information: (850) 492-1595
BIG LAGOON STATE PARK – Perdido key Florida
Sitting on the northern shoreline of its namesake, Big Lagoon State Park’s 655 upland acres separate the mainland from Perdido Key and the Gulf of Mexico. Natural communities, ranging from saltwater marshes to pine flatwoods, attract a wide variety of birds, especially during the spring and fall migrations, while the beaches, shallow bays, nature trails and open woodlands offer splendid opportunities for nature study. The park also beckons visitors to camp, swim, fish, boat, canoe and hike. Crabbing in the shallow waters of Big Lagoon is a popular activity as well. The West Beach picnic area, shaded by pines and oaks, is just the place to enjoy a relaxing meal.
First acquired in 1977, Big Lagoon State Park is a 705-acre Florida State Park located on the northwestern Florida coast, approximately 10 miles southwest of Pensacola on Gulf Beach Highway.
With over 700 acres, Big Lagoon State Park is a nature lover’s paradise. Come camp in one of its 75 campsites (electric and water hook-up on each site). The park has two hiking trails totaling 5.5 miles, a boat launch, and swimming areas in the beautiful waters of Big Lagoon – the parks namesake. Try your luck fishing in Long Pond, Grand Lagoon Lake, or along the Intracoastal Waterway. Come birding; Big Lagoon State Park is a gateway for the Florida Birding Trail. With six different habitat types including saltmarsh, birds are abundant. Enjoy the 360 degree view of the marsh, Perdido Key, and Intracoastal Waterway from the three story observation tower. Launch your kayak or canoe and explore the waters of Grand Lagoon; if you don’t have your own they are available for rent at the Ranger Station. The park has four picnic areas with grills. Come and celebrate your wedding, family reunion, or birthday party – there are three pavilions that are available for rent. Come explore and enjoy Big Lagoon State Park. Big Lagoon State Park is open every day of the year (including holidays) from 8 a.m. to sundown. There are park admission, boat launch, and camping fees that apply. Annual passes are available for purchase.
Between Pensacola and Perdido Key, Big Lagoon is best known for its (really big) lagoon, high observation tower, and campground, but the trail system is a delight for hardy hikers. It’s easy to make short forays out along the lakes and to the observation tower on the criss-crossing nature trails, but a circuit around the entire park isn’t to be taken lightly, with full sun, soft sand, and hills your constant companions. Still, for lovers of scrub and scenic views, this is one spectacular trail system—and the birding’s superb.
12301 Gulf Beach Highway, Pensacola, FL 32507