Sandwiched between the Gulf of Mexico and beautiful Choctawhatchee Bay is a wooded residential community known as Point Washington, Florida. This is where many locals live – close enough to enjoy the countless amenities provided by the famous resort towns along Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A, but also far enough away to feel like a whole other world.
Point Washington found its roots as a major lumber hub in the late 19th century, and it continued to operate as such until the end of World War I.
Many visitors to this region of Florida are unaware that over 40% of the land here in South Walton is protected; some 25,000 acres. The majority of that land, about 15,000 acres, is a permanent part of Point Washington State Forest.
In addition to wetlands and pines, this preserve is home to many species of wildlife, including deer, bald eagles, wild hogs, turkeys, alligators, osprey, and black bears.
Featuring miles upon miles of unpaved roads and sandy trails, Point Washington State Forest welcomes off-roaders, bikers, and hikers. Overnight camping is allowed in special primitive areas of the forest, and it’s a stunner of a steal at only $10 per day.
If you don’t mind getting your car a little dusty, feel free to turn down one of those little sandy roads and take a casual drive through the forest. But unless you’re in a 4-wheel drive, it’s probably best not to turn off the main corridors, as some of the smaller roads get pretty tight, pretty fast.
Point Washington is also home to the enchantingly surreal Eden Gardens State Park.
This 161-acre treasure is a natural wonderland of ancient moss-draped oaks, punctuated by gorgeous views of Tucker Bayou with the Choctawhatchee Bay on the horizon.
A favorite backdrop for prom queens and blushing brides-to-be, Eden Gardens State Park is also home to walking trails, rose gardens, a butterfly garden, and a reflection pond filled with lilies and koi. The historic Wesley House is home to the second-largest collection of Louis XVI furniture in the US. You’ll want to grab a tour when you’re in the area as this historical Florida landmark is full of rare antiquities and glimpses of coastal pioneering days gone by. Push a little further past Point Washington’s quaint community schoolhouse and church and you’ll find a public boat launch that provides easy direct access to Tucker Bayou, Choctawhatchee Bay, and Choctawhatchee River.
From Point Washington’s boat ramp, you can easily take a paddleboard, kayak, or boat through Tucker Bayou out onto the Intracoastal Canal. Here you’ll find beaches of a different variety. With its origins dating back to the 1800s and cutting through here around World War II, the Intracoastal Waterway remains one of the most economically important maritime routes in the nation, enabling large and small vessels to cruise safely and smoothly along protected waters. This 3000-mile network of protected waterways effectively stretches from New Jersey all the way down to our Texas border with Mexico.
As for us here on Scenic Highway 30A though, we think we’ll just sit here, right here in peaceful Point Washington, and watch the boats and life go by.