By Gary McKechnie

A few weeks ago when I realized I hadn’t spent a whole lot of time around Jacksonville in nearly back-to-back road trips I headed that way.

For such a developed area I learned there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path sites to discover.

First I’ll start with Little Talbot Island State Park.

If you’re driving north on A1A you’ll likely use the Mayport ferry to reach the opposite shore. If you’re heading east from Jacksonville you’ll arrive on Hecksher Drive. When you see the park entrance on your right drive in and then settle back. With five miles of preserved shoreline at your feet this is one of the most popular stretches of beach in Florida.

On the Saturday I visited there was plenty of parking and I found a wide bicycle path and road connecting the northern and southern ends of the park. The picnic pavilions were filled with groups of friends and family reunions and classmates enjoy a break from school.

Best of all to access the beach long pathways reached from the pavilions and changing areas all the way over the dunes and down to the shoreline a wide buffer of vegetation keeping the beach close to a natural state.

Despite the number of people there with mile after mile to spread out it never looked as though the beach was crowded. Not at all. Instead it reminded me of the days in the early 1970s when my family would travel to Cocoa to enjoy a day on the shore when it looked as if it were our own private beach.

This is just one of seven parks that collectively comprise Talbot Islands State Parks. The others -- Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park Amelia Island State Park Fort George Island Cultural State Park Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park Big Talbot Island State Park and the George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park – are the others.

There’s camping here and kayaking as well and if you’d like to reserve a picnic pavilion just call ahead.

I’d imagine if you live in or around Jacksonville you’re probably well aware of Little Talbot Island State Park. But if you’re just traveling through make it a point to come here and see just how wonderful Florida’s coastline can be. 

If You Go:

Little Talbot Island State Park
12157 Heckscher Drive
Jacksonville 32226
(904) 251-2320

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