Perfect for picnics, pictures, and people who love the real Florida, Washington Oaks Gardens is, hands-down, my favorite state park!
Straddling both sides of A1A, Washington Oaks offers the best of both worlds- beach running along the Atlantic Ocean showcasing unique coquina rock formations on one side of the highway and cultivated gardens along the Matanzas River (Intracoastal Waterway) on the other.
Although the rocks prohibit swimming in the ocean, you’ll love splashing along the shoreline, spreading a towel to relax, and exploring the tidal pools and “caves” carved out in the rocks.
Your $5 admission covers the other side of the park as well- be sure to explore this gem! Benches and picnic tables are spread along the Matanzas River, where you can bird, fish, or simply enjoy the view of the marsh. The old family home here is now a museum giving you a glimpse of life on the river in 1938-and offering bathrooms & an air conditioned reprieve on hot days!
Further down the road, another picnic area under the oaks is pleasant even on hot days and the playground there is a favorite with families. We usually don’t make it to the playground… I love the gardens and our children enjoy watching the koi swim in the ponds, skipping along shaded paths and stopping to smell the roses. (Okay, okay- running along the paths and begging to pick the roses is more like it… but we enjoy it and leave the roses for the next visitor.)
Both parts of this great state park are favorites for local photographers. I’ve never been without spotting at least one photo shoot, so don’t forget your camera! Send your best shots in to firstname.lastname@example.org– it may make it into our Saturday “Spotted” or “Picture Perfect” posts!