by Cathy Salustri for USA TODAY 10Best

10 of the best state parks in the Florida Panhandle

Did you know Florida’s as long as it is tall? So why is the Florida Panhandle so overlooked? We’re not sure but we’re not complaining, because that means these state parks are often less crowded than many of the parks on the peninsula.

Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park

Florida Panhandle sand has a soft, fluffy feel on your feet, and from a distance, the sand dunes here look like mounds of sugar, waiting for you to stretch out and relax as you watch the emerald water.

Henderson Beach State Park

This hidden-in-plain-sight park has one of the last remaining scraps of coastal dune scrub along the Emerald Coast Parkway‚ and, wow, is it a gem. It also has some secluded, shady campsites.

Torreya State Park

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Aside from being home to the wildly endangered Torreya tree – think "itsy bitsy Christmas tree" that only grows in four counties in the world (three Florida counties and one Georgia county) – Torreya State Park boasts mountains, Florida-style.

Grayton Beach State Park

The sandy beaches you find at Grayton Beach State Park feel more like walking through pillowy flour. The glorious white sand feels unbelievably soft; the water, impossibly sapphire and warm.

Falling Waters State Park

At Falling Waters State Park, come see the tallest waterfall in Florida. Rainwater and spring water combine to fall off the edge of a cliff and plunge into a sinkhole.

Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park

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Looking for a peaceful pond? Natural Bridge Battlefield State Park has two – sort of. These two ponds appear separate, but in reality, they're connected by a river rise.

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park

This park has the largest – and the deepest – freshwater spring in the world. Once you've had your fill of swimming in a crystal blue spring, take a boat ride down the Wakulla River.

Econfina River State Park

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Take a paddle along the Econfina River and lose yourself in the majesty of a blackwater river surrounded by gnarled and ancient trees.

T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

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If you want to camp among the sand dunes and let the waves of the Gulf of Mexico lull you to sleep, this is the Florida Panhandle state park for you.

Florida Caverns State Park

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This is one of Florida's oldest state parks, and the first Floridians used these caves. Legend has it that the Seminole used dry air caves on the park property while trying to avoid capture by General Andrew Jackson.

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