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Sand dunes at Deer Lake State Park

Sharing its name with the stunning coastal dune lake that lies within its confines, Deer Lake State Park is a must visit destination for anyone who loves the coast.

Situated less than 2 hours from Pensacola, at the gateway to the Florida panhandle, its stunning white, sugary beach is the kind of image that pops up as your laptop background.

This Florida state park is a wonderful place to enjoy an afternoon of swimming, walking, sunbathing and fishing, while there are few more picturesque spots for a picnic in the state.

A boardwalk provides access to the sand, but away from it the park also features a stunning coastal dune habitat which you can explore. Comprising golden asters, Southern Magnolias, scrub oaks and woody goldenrod, it provides shelter and a home to dozens of different species of birds and a diverse range of wildlife.

Coastal dune lakes are very rare around the world and in America they are only found along the Gulf Coast. So if you do visit the area. you can rest assured you will be visiting one of the most unique state parks in the country.


Visitors can enjoy a wide range of outdoor recreational pursuits during their time at Deer Lake State Park.

Outlined below is a brief overview of some of the many things you can see and do during your time there.

Beach at Deer Lake State Park

Arguably the main drawcard of this Florida state park is its fantastic beach.

Stretching for half a mile, this perfect sweep of white sugar sand is a terrific spot for swimming, beach walking, beach combing, sunbathing and walking.

As beautiful as the clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico look, they can be quite dangerous, so be sure to check the flags to see what the current swimming conditions are like.

If the flags are red, it is a good idea not to go in the water at all. The best time to swim is when the flags are green.

Please be mindful that lifeguards do not patrol the beach. So whenever you swim, you will need to exercise caution whilst in the water.

Fishing at Deer Lake State Park

The park provides visitors with a tranquil environment in which to enjoy surf fishing.

You can choose to do this either on the lake’s shoreline or on a watercraft. Depending on how you choose to cast a line you might require a fishing license. So it is worth checking with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission before doing so.

When you do fish, expect to catch plenty of snapper, grouper and cobia.

Hiking at Deer Lake State Park

If you would like to explore the park on foot there is a lovely 1.5-mile nature trail situated across from the park’s main entrance.

Accessed at the northern side of the County Road 30-A, it showcases the park’s stunning scenery which includes the shoreline of the lake.

Picnicking at Deer Lake State Park

Given its beautiful scenery, many visitors enjoy picnicking at the park.

Throughout the park there are lots of picturesque places where you can put a blanket down for an al fresco meal.

Alternatively, you can also make use of the picnic pavilion which comes with tables and a grill, that enables you to cook up foods like burgers, steaks, sausages or fish.

Birding at Deer Lake State Park

If you are into birding you will love the opportunities the park provides you to spot the various species that live within it.

Birds of all different varieties reside within it, either on a seasonal or permanently basis. So keep an eye out for what is around.

Depending on the time of your visit you should be able to spot the likes of little blue heron, piping plover, reddish egret, black skimmers and white ibis.

Nature & Wildlife

The park is home to a diverse range of animal wildlife which reside there permanently.

During your time at Deer Lake State Park, you should be able to see the likes of Florida black bears, snowy plovers, deer and coyotes.

It is worth taking your binoculars and cameras with you to the park to enable you to better see and photograph them.

Pets at Deer Lake State Park

Pets are allowed to join you at the park although there are several conditions in place as to their presence.

These include them not being allowed onto the beaches, board or state buildings. They must also be well-behaved and restrained on a hand-held leash that is a maximum of six-feet in length.

Pets should also not be taken into comfort stations or left unattended for more than half an hour.

Also to protect the wildlife habitat, you will need to clean up their mess.

The exception to these rules are service animals who are welcome to accompany you into all parts and buildings within the park, as per state and federal law.

Camping at Deer Lake State Park

Unfortunately there is no camping accommodation available at the park itself. However, within a short driving distance you will find a handful of other campgrounds you can stay at.

This includes the Eastern Lake Campground 1 and 2, as well as the Live Oak Landing and Camp Gulf.

Between them they offer a range of options to suit all preferences including full hookup sites for RVs and trailers, as well as rustic tent sites and group camping.

These campgrounds all have a good range of amenities which may include flush toilets and warm showers, a swimming pool, laundrette, dump station and playground, depending on which one they stay at.

Park Location

Deer Lake State Park
6350 E. County Road 30-A
Santa Rosa FL 32459
Phone: 850.267.8300




Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Deer Lake State Park: