Ditch the crowds and head to Mattie Kelly Park and Nature Walk for a relaxed afternoon of strolling, picnicking, or fishing. This hidden gem is popular among locals, who appreciate the peace and quiet.
The park spans just over ten acres, so there is enough space for visitors to spread out and enjoy some much-needed alone time. While some local piers and boardwalks require visitors to pay admission fees, this destination is completely free of charge.
The main attraction at Mattie Kelly Park is easily the boardwalk, where visitors stroll in silence as they enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. This well-maintained walkway meanders through wetlands and bayou scenery.
Fishers can score great catches from the dock, where they face little competition. Regulars report excellent fishing conditions at Joe’s Bayou, which the park overlooks. Many fishing enthusiasts arrive early in the morning or at dusk so they can enjoy the sunrise or sunset as they fish. The area is well-lit, so you can see what you’re doing no matter when you arrive. Multiple methods of catching fish have proven successful at this location, including both catch nets and the usual fishing rods.
Fishers aren’t alone in expressing admiration for Mattie Kelly Park. Birders also enjoy hanging out at the boardwalk, where they regularly sight woodpeckers, osprey, bald eagles, and a variety of other species. Photographers enjoy relaxing on the boardwalk and snapping photos of the birds and other wildlife they spot.
Most of the time, you’ll only hear the sounds of nature or the giggles of visiting children. On occasion, however, you might notice aircraft overhead. Some visitors specifically come to the park for the combination of nature and aircraft sightings.
In addition to the boardwalk, Mattie Kelly Park is home to a small beach. The beach tends to attract families who are eager to escape the hustle and bustle of Destin’s more popular beaches. Changing facilities are not available, so it’s best to arrive in your swimsuit or beach outfit.
The park offers a small picnic area, so be sure to pack your lunch before you leave. Because the park is out of the way of most Destin hot spots, you won’t find a lot of restaurants or bars nearby. The picnicking experience is pleasant, however, and the park offers trash cans so you don’t need to pack your garbage out when you leave.
Mattie Kelly Park and Nature Walk might not be Destin’s most exciting or sophisticated location, but what it lacks in flair, it makes up for in pure serenity. This could be your ultimate escape when you need time to yourself.
-Unfortunately, there are no public restroom facilities offered at Mattie Kelly Park and Nature Walk.
-Pets are technically not allowed at the park, but visitors report regularly seeing dog walkers. It’s probably best to bring your four-legged friend elsewhere — but don’t be surprised if you see dogs as you explore the park.