Nestled among the rolling dunes and sparkling waters of a popular Florida state park lies the funky, family-friendly beach town of Grayton Beach. There are eclectic vacation rentals in Grayton Beach, one-of-a-kind businesses, and a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Its convenient location along Highway 30A provides easy access to plenty of fun activities for all ages.

1. Explore the State Park

Grayton Beach State Park is home to rare coastal dune lakes, which are not found anywhere else in the United States. Explore more than 4 miles of well-maintained hiking trails to see this unusual geography firsthand, as well as common Florida ecosystems including salt marshes and a coastal forest.

2. Go Deep Sea Fishing

Fishing is an ever-popular activity in Florida, and you have plenty of options to pursue it in Grayton Beach. Get tickets for one of the many local charter companies if you don’t have your own gear or fishing license. If you’re bringing your own boat and poles to your vacation rental, you have plenty of marinas and public launches to choose from. You can also fish on the lakes if freshwater fishing is your preference.

3. Take a Dip

Grayton Beach is one of the few places where you can swim in natural freshwater and saltwater on the same day. The coastal lakes are only separated from the Gulf by a strip of beach, and even that overflows sometimes so that the lakes and the sea meet. The lake tends to be shallower and calmer than the Gulf, so it is a great place for younger kids to swim, and there are plenty of excellent swimming spots on the seaward side of the beach as well. This area is also famous for its pristine white sands, so it’s a picturesque place to lounge while your kids play and swim.

4. See a Cypress Swamp

Point Washington State Forest is a popular place to hike, bike, and explore. One of its most notable features are the gorgeous cypress swamps, where towering trees grow directly from the water. Well-maintained boardwalks let you walk among the trees with ease. This forest features three main trail systems, most of which have shorter loops to accommodate younger kids.

5. Explore By Canoe or Kayak

Western Lake, the primary coastal dune lake in the Grayton Beach area, is a sprawling 100-acre waterway that is ideal for canoeing and kayaking. Paddle right up to the delicate salt marsh ecosystem and explore the winding branches of the lake. Bring your own kayak, and store it in your vacation rental between uses, or rent one for the day from the ranger station. If the ranger station runs out, you can also pick up canoes and kayaks from several private outfitters.

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6. Enjoy a Bike Ride

Grayton Beach State Park offers about 4 miles of bike trails, many of which are fairly flat and easy so your younger kids can keep up. If your family is up for a more challenging ride, Point Washington State Forest has more rugged paths that are still safe and well-maintained enough for inexperienced riders.

7. Take a Step Back In Time

Built in 1897, the historic Wesley homestead is a gem of old-fashioned Southern architecture. It has since been turned into the focal point of Eden Gardens State Park. Visitors can take a tour of the restored mansion, which is filled with historic furniture or strolls through the ornamental gardens. There are also hiking and fishing opportunities on the 163-acre property. Although this park is beautiful all year round, spring is a particularly lovely time to visit as the flowers are in full bloom.

8. Ride a Horse Along the Beach

Galloping bareback through the surf is something most people only see in movies, but you can experience a version of it in Grayton Beach. Several stables offer guided trail rides on the beach and through the coastal forests so you can experience the beauty of the area from the back of a horse.

9. Learn To Surf

Florida’s Emerald Coast offers fantastic surfing opportunities, and it’s easy to join in on the fun. Many options for surfing lessons await you in Grayton Beach and the surrounding towns, so you can learn to ride the waves like a pro. Even young children can get involved, as most instructors provide lessons to kids as young as five years old.

10. Paddle Across the Lake

Stand-up paddleboarding is a fun way to get out on the water. All you really need is a paddle, a personal flotation device, and a paddleboard, which resembles a surfboard. Western Lake is an ideal place for beginner paddle boarders thanks to its calm waters, or you can head out onto the Gulf for a slightly more adventurous experience as you navigate the ocean waves. This activity is better for older kids since it requires some balance and strength.

11. Watch the Wildlife

Grayton Beach State Park, Point Washington State Forest, and other parks in the area offer excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Birders should keep an eye out for ospreys, bald eagles, pelicans, and numerous other bird species. If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a gray fox, white-tailed deer, or even a black bear roaming among the trees and dunes.

12. Try a Hydrobike

For a fun and easily accessible way to explore the water, try renting a Hydrobike. These unusual devices float on a pair of pontoons for buoyancy and are powered by you pedaling as you would on a normal bicycle. Emerald Coast Hydrobikes in nearby Santa Rosa Beach offers them for rent. There are no age limits for riding a Hydrobike, but kids generally have to be at least 56 inches tall to reach the pedals.

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