Look up

Our visit to Northwest Florida took us to Grayton Beach State Park near Seaside, Fla., a place known for its beautiful sand dunes and beaches.

But there’s another side to the park with century-old pine trees, dune lakes and exotic-looking plants. That’s where we went.

We had the privilege of spending the morning with Snookie Parrish, a nature-based certified outfitter with the Beaches of South Walton.

I think it’s best if I get out of the way and let the pictures do all the talking.


At this time of year, the park is quiet and most of the plants are dormant. You can see an occasional warbler, but for the most part, the only green belongs to the ancient, windswept pine trees.

Parrish explained how sand dunes are made, and how its practically impossible to replicate a sand dune with dump trucks and bobcats. There was something to see around every corner. What’s that, a snake?

It’s not quite a day at the beach, but far more educational. Just don’t tell the kids they learned something, otherwise they’ll insist on staying back in the room and playing video games next time.

I’ll have a full report in a two-part series on National Geographic Traveler’s Intelligent Travel blog soon.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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