23+ Adventurous Things To Do in Washington Co FL For Outdoor Fun

I’ll just dive right in. Florida’s Washington County, just a short drive from Panama City and the Panhandle’s popular Gulf beaches, naturally attracts outdoor enthusiasts.  Keep things cool while paddling, fishing, snorkeling or swimming in crystal clear cold springs on a hot summer day. 

Saddle up for a scenic horseback trail ride or hike by Florida’s highest waterfall (spoiler alert: it’s not that tall) in a fabulous Florida State Park with caves and sinkholes. You can even dance with wolves (slow dances only please) and experience the sanctuary where these at-risk animals live in protected habitats. Of course, you can also visit a gator farm!

The classic Southern small town of Chipley, located along I-10 between Pensacola and Tallahassee is the perfect hub for your adventures. Affordable accommodations and a historic inn are close to attractions, outfitters, markets and local restaurants. 

Professional outfitters will send you safely on your way to enjoy the miles of rivers, creeks and lakes. Look for your reflection in the crystal-clear springs the region is known for. Those same waters also attract anglers and fishing enthusiasts while acres of beautiful lands offer the perfect spots for hunting or riding, either on horseback or in an off-road vehicle.

Ready to learn more? Here are 23+ things to do in Washington Co FL that we know you and your crew will love!

23+ Adventurous Things To Do in Washington Co FL For Outdoor Fun
Econfina Creek courtesy of Dale Cox

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LET ME COUNT THE WATERWAYS

Washington County boasts more than 16,000 acres of freshwater rivers, lakes, and ponds, offering a wealth of opportunities for getting out on the water. The cool, sparkling springs and crystal-clear creeks are among the most popular attractions all year, but spring and summer are prime time to enjoy the freshwater opportunities. 

Holmes Creek, Choctawhatchee River, and Econfina Creek are known throughout the region as excellent options for canoeing, kayaking, tubing and paddle boarding adventures. Outfitters have all the gear needed and public access areas are perfect for swimming and picnics. 

Channel your inner scout. Be prepared for your aquatic adventure. For a fun trip, be sure to bring a swimsuit, sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt, snorkel gear, goggles, food, hydrating beverages, bug spray, sunglasses and a water-safe pack for keys and phones.

HOLMES CREEK

Holmes Creek is considered a favorite Northwest Florida run in the Paddle Florida guide. Along with the lower Choctawhatchee River, the two popular hangouts offer clear-water paddling and spring-fed recreational opportunities.  

CYPRESS SPRING

Cypress Spring is a local favorite swimming hole for a reason. It’s awesome! One of the most unique places in Florida can only be accessed by river. A short paddle downstream and up the short spring run will lead you to a beautiful oasis hidden in plain sight beneath the canopy of the pristine woods. During the summer and peak months, try to plan your visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds and boat traffic. 

Fed by a second magnitude spring, this circular shaped swimming hole is over 100 feet wide and approximately 26 feet deep. It’s surrounded by pine forests, a sandy beach, private property to the west, and a sandy spring run to the south. 

COLD SPRING QUICK DIPS

Plus, I highly recommend planning a picnic and a multi-spring hop for a quick dip in several of the cold springs  (Pitt, Sylvan and Blue) that are accessible for free at roadside parks along Highway 20.

Bring your own tube, or get your gear and book an extended tour with a local outfitter. 

OUTFITTERS AND RENTALS

Cypress Springs Adventures offers kayak rentals on Holmes Creek, with a run to beautiful Cypress Springs, only accessible by water.

For additional rental options and shuttle services, book your outing with Holmes Creek Canoe Livery or Canoe Adventures in Vernon. Coldwater Outfitters, also in Vernon, offers equipment rentals only. 

ECONFINA CREEK EXPERIENCES

The swift-flowing and remote Econfina Creek is also nearby and gives quite a thrill to more experienced paddlers and adventure seekers. Econfina Creek boasts dozens of beautiful springs that await the paddling explorer. The spring fed creek is the favorite journeyof many paddlers in the Florida Panhandle.

The creek flows steep and narrow beneath forest canopies through Jackson, Washington and Bay counties. The steepest gradient of any designated canoe trail in Florida, it winds through narrow chutes and passes cascading waterfalls. As the creek approaches State Road 20, it slices into the ancient limestone of the Floridan Aquifer and gathers abundant flows from numerous springs.

Pack a lunch and bring your snorkel to enjoy the paddle of a lifetime exploring the creek and its many crystal clear springs. Blooming wildflowers scatter the banks with vibrant color during your excursion in the spring and summer months.

Local vendors offer equipment for paddling and tubing, as well as on-site rental and shuttle services. If you have your own gear, you can still hitch a ride for a reasonable fee. 

LUXURY GUIDED TOURS

Is there even a word for glamorous paddling? There should be. Book a trip with Taylor at Coldwater Excursions, and you’ll enjoy luxury guided kayak tours with beach chairs, towels, cold beverages, catered lunch, and even a snorkel scooter to venture underwater.

The full-service adventures include shuttle service from nearby beaches. Or plan to drive your own vehicle to meet at the launch site. This outfitter offers tours on Holmes Creek and Cypress Springs, along with custom Econfina experiences. 

ECONFINA CREEK CANOE RENTALS 

Explore Florida’s natural beauty and experience the thrill of canoeing or kayaking down Econfina Creek. At Econfina Creek Canoe Rentals in Youngstown, pricing plans are straightforward, affordable, and include all the necessary equipment for a safe and enjoyable trip down Econfina Creek.

Starting at just $55 per vessel, rent a canoe or kayak for a full day of paddling down the creek to visit multiple beautiful and unique freshwater springs. Choose canoes, single kayaks, or double kayaks. They offer personal vessel drop-ins & shuttles for experienced adventurers who have their own gear.

Note, all shuttle passengers with personal vessels must provide or rent a life jacket, a whistle and paddles. 

MORE WASHINGTON CO FL OUTDOOR FUN

FISHING

Washington County’s 29 boat ramps are frequently used by anglers. Dozens of great fishing holes can be found along these waterways, as well as on the many other freshwater lakes and streams throughout the county. 

FALLING WATERS STATE PARK

One popular spot for fishing is the 3-acre lake in Falling Waters State Park. But there’s more than fishing here! This is home to the tallest waterfall in Florida, hidden amid the trails near the lake. 

The famous Falling Waters Sink is a 100-foot-deep, 20-foot-wide pit where a creek flow drops down 73 feet, creating a one-of-a-kind waterfall before disappearing inside the giant sinkhole. This is a favorite spot for hiking, swimming and camping, too.

PINE LOG STATE FOREST

Florida’s first state forest, Pine Log State Forest is located nearby.

Lucky birdwatchers may spot the endangered flying Gulf Sturgeon that lives along in the Choctawhatchee River. Rumor has it that you might even catch a glimpse of the thought-to-be-extinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker, which some local unofficial ornithologists say still exists in pockets along its banks.

AMAZING WILD ENCOUNTERS

SEACREST WOLF PRESERVE

As rare encounters go, you’ll find another amazing one here. Washington County is also home to the largest wolf preserve in the lower 48, Seacrest Wolf Preserve, dedicated to providing a safe and humane sanctuary for displaced captive wolves and fostering “preservation through education.” This is one of the rarest opportunities in the world for humans to interact with wolves. 

Seacrest Wolf Preserve is one of only a few facilities of its kind in the world, offering intimate access with the animals. The preserve is home to 22 wolves and gives visitors an opportunity to interact with them in hands-on experiences.

Seacrest furthers its mission of providing a safe and humane sanctuary for these beautiful animals and educating the public about this magnificent keystone species. VIP tours are offered by appointment and public group tours are now available on Saturdays.

ORANGE HILL GATOR FARM

Snap a gator. Bring your camera to capture an up-close gator encounter at Orange Hill Gator Farm. With approximately 200 resident gators, visitors can interact with the famous amphibians and learn about their growth cycles, local habitats and ongoing conservation efforts.

Visitors experience gators, along with other animals enjoying sanctuary on the farm, in a safe, family-friendly environment. Experienced guides share facts on tours offered daily, by appointment only. 

SUNSHINE RIDING TRAILS

Ride off into the sunset like Roy Rogers. Sunshine Riding Trails is known for fun guided horseback rides, as well as lessons for novices. Riders can admire and explore more than 10,000 acres of Florida sandhills and preserved forest on beautiful Tennessee Walking Horses.

Rides range from one to four hours all year round. 

SWAMP OFFROAD PARK

Kick up a little dust or get bogged down in the mud. For those who love off road fun, The Swamp OffRoad Park is a paradise! Bring your own wheels and hit the miles of trails and a challenging obstacle course on the first and third Saturday of each month.

It’s a family-friendly venue and also has vehicle wash stations, hot showers and food vendors.

WILD AND WEIRD POSSUM MONUMENT

They are not just playing possum in Washington County, they are honoring it. On the side of State Highway 77 in Wausau stands what may well be Florida’s most unique roadside memorial – the Possum Monument.

Unveiled in 1982, the inscription reads: “Erected in grateful recognition of the role the North American possum, a magnificent survivor of the marsupial family predating the ages of the mastodon and the dinosaur, has played in furnishing both food and fur for the early settlers and their successors.”

The 1982 session of the Florida Legislature further recognized the possum by passing a joint resolution proclaiming the first Saturday in August as “Possum Day in the Great State of Florida.”

WILD AT HEART

If you prefer more creature comforts, you can enjoy the challenge of hitting the links at Sunny Hills Golf Club, the air conditioned excitement of a royal flush at the Ebro Poker Room, or an entertaining evening at the Spanish Trail Playhouse.

Celebrate like a winner at Ebro with signature cocktails and a gourmet buffet dinner after you place your bets and watch live races on dozens of simulcast screens. 

EAT AND GREET

Wet your whistle and carb load before your outdoor adventures at these down-home diners and ethnic specialty spots in Washington County.

  • Senor Sushi has a contemporary sushi bar and grill featuring special rolls, lunch bowls and hibachi plates in Chipley. 
  • Sister’s Sweets, Eats & More has more than enough with a variety of tasty sandwiches and salads complemented by amazing desserts and baked goods at the Chipley sweet spot.
  • Head to Main Street where the main attraction is Skins & Bubba’s BBQ. At this local diner, find finger-licking-good barbecue along with Southern favorite sides and a big dollop of hospitality.

CHARMING MARKETS AND FAB FINDS

Shopping in downtown Chipley offers a unique mix of local specialty shops. There are antiques and other treasures at the Galloping Goose, a vintage market and antiques. At King’s Drugs & Outdoor or Louis & Nash Mercantile, find everything from specialty gifts and clothing to an extensive collection of holiday items and fishing gear. 

The bounty from county farms is also available for everyone at downtown farmers markets. The Main Street Market and Chipley Farmers Market pick fresh produce with locally grown and crafted goodies to their seasonal markets.

LODGING AND CAMPING

SULLIVAN HOUSE FLORIDA

The Sullivan House Florida Bed & Breakfast offers one-of-a-kind lodging in the heart of Chipley and a convenient place to enjoy it all. This beautiful 1927 historic home is within walking distance of restaurants, shopping and other downtown attractions.

Four guest rooms are complemented by a great room, fine dining room and an expansive sun porch, overlooking the beautiful property. Stays include a complimentary continental breakfast or an optional chef-prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner. I highly recommend the famous eggs benedict served on vintage china in the lovely grand dining room. Ask about “Mrs. Shirley’s Tea” events.

There are many more traditional hotels and motels conveniently located near I-10 in Washington County with easy access to outdoor attractions, as well as local restaurants and shopping.

CAMPING

Experience life naturally. Both Falling Waters State Park in Chipley and Pine Log State Forest in Ebro have full hook-up and primitive camping sites, as well as group camps.

Primitive sites are also available at some local canoe liveries and select county-owned landings.

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO FLORIDA

WHERE TO STAY IN WASHINGTON COUNTY FLORIDA

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23+ Adventurous Things To Do in Washington Co FL For Outdoor Fun