St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach offers something for everyone

You never know who you might meet at St. Andrews State Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

One of Florida’s top 10 parks chock full of adventure

It doesn’t take long to understand why St. Andrews State Park is consistently named one of the top ten parks in the State of Florida. With more than 1,200 acres to explore, this park offers something for everyone to enjoy.

For the nature lover, St. Andrews is host to salt marshes, sand pine scrub and rolling sand dunes along more than 1 ½ miles of beach on the Gulf of Mexico. The marsh areas are home to nesting snowy egrets, great egrets, blue herons and little blue herons. The park’s shoreline is the perfect habitat for nesting shorebirds as well such as least terns and snowy plovers. Other fauna commonly found in the park include white-tailed deer, gopher tortoise, raccoon, coyote, alligator, marsh rabbit and cottontail rabbit.

A great egret wading in a marsh at St. Andrews State Park. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Two trails take the explorer through the sand pine scrub ecosystem offering stellar views of the Gulf of Mexico and Grand Lagoon in St. Andrews Bay. The Gator Lake Trail and overlook provide visitors with a beautiful vantage point for spotting alligators, wading birds and small animals. A 2-mile paved bicycle trail meanders throughout the park.

In addition to the main park, there is Shell island to explore – 770 acres of untouched nature.  There you can explore the shoreline of both Grand Lagoon and the Gulf of Mexico. A ferry is offered in the spring and summer to take you across Grand Lagoon to the island.

For the fisherman, the park offers two fishing piers; one located on Grand Lagoon, the other spans out into the Gulf.

Water sport enthusiasts can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and canoeing. A calm, shallow water area near the jetties is known as the “kiddie pool” and a great spot for the little ones to enjoy a swim.

The park boasts an environmental interpretive center near the front entrance. Built with funds raised from the volunteer group of Friends of St. Andrews, you can learn about the plant and animal life at the park.

St. Andrews the perfect place for family outing. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The center offers an orientation video, ecosystem dioramas and exhibitions.

The park stays busy at their boat launch, as it is in close proximity to the Gulf.
Boat Launch and Entrance Fees:
$12.00 for one person with a boat.
$16.00 for 2-8 people with a boat.

History
St. Andrews was a former military reservation during WWII. Two of the original Army barracks are still standing and currently house the regional offices for the Department of Environmental Protection State Parks.

In 1942, at the onset of WWII, the U.S. Army established a Temporary Harbor Defense (THD) installation at this site overlooking the recently opened pass into St. Andrews Bay. The purpose was to protect the area from German submarines which were operating in the Gulf of Mexico.

The installation consisted of two 155-millimeter guns mounted on concrete called Panama Mounts. The steel track around the rim allowed the gun to rotate 360 degrees.

A gorgeous trail wraps around a portion of Gator Lake. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Troops of Battery C, 13th Coastal Artillery were assigned to establish the THD in April 1943. The site was inactivated on Jan. 14, 1944 without a shot having been fired at an enemy.

Camping
There are 176 campsites with electricity, water, picnic tables and grills. The sites will accommodate camping units ranging in size from tents to RVs up to 40 feet in length. Dump stations are located in the campground. Five bathrooms with showers and a laundry facility are also available. Trails, beaches, a boat launch and concessions are located a short distance from the campground. Leased pets are welcome at campsites.

Shell Island
Shuttle boat tours are offered to go from the mainland of the park to Shell Island in spring and summer. Visitors may wish to sun or walk along the shore of this pristine barrier island. Tickets are available at the park concession.

Concessionaires
There are three stores in the park that are open during the summer season (March to Labor Day). These stores offers snacks, souvenirs, bait, fishing licenses, limited grocery items, and rental of chairs, umbrellas, snorkeling gear, and kayaks. At this time there is no restaurant available.
Paragon of Florida, Inc. – Food service, merchandise sales and rental of recreational equipment.
Contact Don Croft, (256) 259-1120
4607 State Park Lane
Panama City, FL 32408
Capt. A. III, Inc. – Tour boat service.
Contact Kenneth Anderson, (850) 234-3435
5550 North Lagoon Drive
Panama City, FL 32408
Capt. Anderson’s Sightseeing, Inc. – Tour boat service.
Contact Kenneth Anderson, (850) 234-3435
5550 North Lagoon Drive
Panama City, FL 32408
Capt. Bill Gorman Excursion Boats, Inc. – Tour boat service.
Contact Bill Gorman, (850) 7785-4878
5701 W. HWY 98
Panama City, FL 32401
G.B.B. Maritime, Inc. – Tour boat service.
Contact David Sheets, (850) 236-6021
4393 Commons Drive East, Suite 207
Destin, FL 32541

Address:
4607 State Park Lane
Panama City, Florida 32408
(850) 233-5140

Hours: The park is open from 8 a.m. until sundown 365 days a year.
Admission Fee:
$8.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.
$4.00 Single Occupant Vehicle.
$2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.
Bus Tour Admission for 1 to 29 passengers is $2.00 per passenger. 30 or more passengers is $60.00 total.
Boat Launch & Entrance Fees:
$12.00 for one person with a boat.
$16.00 for 2 – 8 people with a boat.
Camping Fee:
$28.00 per night, plus tax. Includes water and electricity. Florida residents who are 65 years of age or older or who hold a social security disability award certificate or a 100 percent disability award certificate from the federal government are permitted to receive a 50 percent discount on current base campsite fees.

For RV/camping reservations, go to: www.ReserveAmerica.com
To learn more about St. Andrews State Park: click here
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One Response to St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach offers something for everyone

  1. Shawn says:

    We’ll be camping there during the last week of April. Can’t wait! This will be our first time to visit this park. We’ll have our bikes, paddleboards, and swimwear!