Enjoy and appreciate a park that ranks near the top of the list.

Enjoy and appreciate a park that ranks near the top of the list.

The Friends of St. Joseph Peninsula State Park will host Park Appreciation Day from 2-6 p.m. next Saturday, Sept. 28.

The event is part appreciation and part membership drive for the “Friends”, a non-profit organization that provides support to a host of missions at T. H. Stone St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.

The day is also part of the National Public Lands Day celebration.

The day begins with a morning shoreline cleanup from 10 a.m. until noon, with free beverages provided to all volunteers.

Family activities include a sandcastle building contest which begins at noon ET.

There will also be environment displays and there will be music from Sonic Tonic and entertainment beginning at 2 p.m. at Eagle Harbor which can be enjoyed by boat or from the harbor beaches.

A low country shrimp boil will begin at 2 p.m. and is open to the public for a $5 donation. The boil is free for current Friends members and park staff.

There will be free ice cream for kids provided by Scallop Cove.

Attendees can also learn about and register to become a member of the Friends organization.

T.H. Stone St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is not just a local attraction, but a jewel that has been recognized in far broader ways.

In 2002, Dr. Beach, Dr. Stephen Leatherman, arrived at the park to celebrate his naming the park home to the top beaches in the world, broadcasting the announcement live on the Today television show.

Last summer, a destination website America’s Best Online, named St. Joseph Peninsula State Park the top state park in the country.

America’s Best Online has been ranking the best places to see and the top destination spots in a host of categories since 1996.

The rankings are based on an algorithm that takes into consideration a number of factors, including recognition, popularity, reviews, rankings, proximity and more, according to website.

The website noted the park’s “striking dune formations, miles of white sand beaches a heavily forested interior and a favorable climate for year-round outdoor recreation.”

The park is 2,516 acres at the very edge of St. Joseph Peninsula, surrounded by St. Joseph Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

The park offers RV and tent camping, cabins, a public boat ramp and marina as well as a series of dune walkovers for easy beach access.

Activities noted by the website include fishing, biking, kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding and hiking the eight-mile trail through the interior forest to the end of the peninsula, cradled in sugary sand beaches.

The park’s website can be found at www.floridastateparks.org/stjoseph/ with cabin rentals and camping at www.reserveamerica.com.

Pets are allowed in the family camping areas overnight but not in the cabins, cabin areas or on the beaches.

Additional information is available through the Gulf County Tourist Development Council at www.visitgulf.com or by calling 850-229-7800.