This story originally appeared on Parachute (an online magazine owned by MapQuest). A copy of the article can be found here.
When it comes to divining the ‘rhyme or reason’ surrounding essentially anything in Northwest Florida, most people (read: non-Floridians) are typically left scratching their heads.
The other day, I was considering the numerous idiosyncrasies that I have encountered over the past couple of years that I have lived here. I was out accomplishing errands and towards the end of my sojourn is when I saw it. It was a nature trail trailhead tucked in between two houses. The sign at the front of the trailhead read ‘Glenwood Park’. When I got home, I did some quick Googling and soon found out that there were other parks like Glenwood in the area. (Honestly: Would you think to look for the trailhead of a ‘nature’ park in between two homes?) With that, I present to you my list of the top 5 easily overlooked parks in Northwest Florida.
Glenwood Park is located south of Laguna Park on NE Opp Boulevard in the town of Cinco Bayou, Florida. This ‘blink and you miss it’ park has a boardwalk that is over 600 feet long and a nature trail that falls just short of 800 feet. Regardless of size, both paths offer a view of unique birds and wildlife. While the park doesn’t have an exact address, you can get the general idea of where it is by looking at this.
Meigs Neighborhood Park
Meigs Neighborhood Park hardly qualifies as a ‘park’ in the traditional sense of the word. Even the casual out-of-towner would say, ‘There used to be a house there’, because that is exactly what it looks like. It looks like the city tore down a house, put up a gazebo and a pier, did some landscaping, and called it a day. Regardless, Meigs Neighborhood Park provides a nice comma to the surrounding, suburban landscape. Meigs Neighborhood Park is located off of Shalimar Drive.
Not to be confused with Meigs Neighborhood Park, Meigs Park is a 5 minute drive southwest and is often considered the cooler, older sibling to Meigs Neighborhood Park what with its boat ramp and sandy beach that both provide access to the Choctawhatchee Bay. In general, this park certainly falls underneath the header ‘easily missed’ and definitely gives the uninitiated the feeling that they may be trespassing since your only way in (and out) is via a long driveway. Meigs Park is located at 45A Meigs Drive, in Shalimar Florida.
Out of the 5 Parks included in this list, Ferry Park is the most ‘park-like’. It’s also one of the easier parks to find. This facility has tennis courts, an in-line hockey court, a 1- mile fitness trail, and a disc golf course. In the even that you are a parent and you’re just looking for a place to take your spawn so that they can burn off their seemingly infinite supply of energy, Docie Bass Park (what the city named the children’s play area) shares the land with Ferry Park and has some pretty sweet looking jungle gyms. Ferry Park is located at 240 Hughes St NE, Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Turkey Creek Park
Rounding out our list of easily overlooked parks is Turkey Creek Park. Turkey Creek Nature Trail & Pavilion offers a huge, well kept picnic pavilion and a boardwalk that is 3/4 of a mile long. Want to know something more? There are multiple access points to the creek for swimming. That’s right: Turkey Creek is the local ‘swimming hole’. This is the south after all. Turkey Creek Park is located at 340 John Sims Pkwy West, in Niceville, Florida.