The term ‘Florida’s Forgotten Coast’ was first coined by the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce during the early 90s, and refers to the areas of the Florida Panhandle that are often forgotten by tourists: St. George Island, Carrabelle, Alligator Point, Eastpoint, and of course, Apalachicola.
This part of the state has so much to offer visitors, from the pristine beaches of St. George Island, which are much less crowded than the beaches in more popular parts of Florida, to the winding and peaceful waters of Crooked River, where kayakers can watch for the migratory birds that fly there in the winter.
Visitors can charter a fishing boat, sail into the sunset, enjoy some famous Apalachicola Bay Oysters, or explore some of Florida’s history in this region for a vacation which - despite the name - will not be easily forgotten.
1. Apalachicola Historic District
© Apalachicola Historic District
There are many fun things to do in Apalachicola which has a place on the National Register of Historic Places, and evidence of its history can be seen in the buildings around town, which date back to the 1830s. On a scenic walk through Apalachicola’s town center, visitors can spot a number of historic homes and structures, including cotton warehouses which were used to export the masses of cotton that came in and out of the ports, and many old houses which date back to the Antebellum period. There are 652 historic buildings in Apalachicola, and every year in May, the Trinity Episcopal Church hosts walking tours which point out many of the most notable ones. Browse the best Florida Panhandle on your trip.
86 Water St, Apalachicola, FL 32320, Phone: 855-272-5224
2. Apalachicola Maritime Museum
© Apalachicola Maritime Museum
There are three rivers that come together to form the Apalachicola River, which is the largest river in the state of Florida. At the Apalachicola Maritime Museum, visitors will have the opportunity to learn about this resource and the effect that it has had upon Apalachicola's history. The museum uses activities like boat tours, kayak trips, sunset cruises, and other adventure activities to teach its guests about the river and about the ecosystem that allows it to thrive. Many of the activities at the Apalachicola Maritime Museum are suitable for children and adults, making it a great option for families in the area. Browse our best places to visit in Florida guide for more ideas.
103 Water St, Apalachicola, FL 32320, Phone: 850-653-2500
3. Apalachicola Chocolate & Coffee Company
© Apalachicola Chocolate & Coffee Company
The Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company is a must for those with a sweet tooth. The Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company makes all their own sweets, which include handmade truffles, fudge, caramels, chocolates, and more. There’s homemade ice cream and gelato served on waffle cones, pastries, breads, and cakes for special occasions, and even real New York bagels which are imported straight from the source. Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company also serves delicious coffee from their house-roasted beans, and some great soups and sandwiches for lunch. Florida beaches offer a cheap way to enjoy the state's natural beauty.
75 Market St, Apalachicola, FL 32320, Phone: 850-653-1025
4. Apalachicola River Paddling Trail System
There are nearly one hundred miles of paddling trails on the Apalachicola River, with trip options for paddlers and kayakers of all ability levels. A laid-back trip down the Apalachicola River is a great way to explore the area and see some beautiful nature; often it is common to spot wildlife in the water and at the river’s edges, as well as anglers fishing in the river and hunters on the shores. Some suggested trail options Graham Creek and East River, where kayakers will find groves of cypress trees that turn a brilliant gold in autumn, or Cash Creek, where birdwatchers often enjoy a paddle to spot birds fishing and nesting, and dolphins often play in the waters. Read about the best Florida weekend getaways for a relaxing vacation.
29°51'13. 84°58'23., 8 US-1 BUS, St. Augustine, FL 32084
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5. Things to Do on Florida’s Forgotten Coast: Bald Point State Park
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Bald Point, located on Alligator Point along the northern Gulf Coast of Florida, is one of the most scenic parks in the state. With over four thousand acres of land including coastal marshes, and forests filled with pine trees and thickets of oaks, Bald Point State Park is a natural haven, particularly for bird watchers, who love the place for the wide biodiversity it offers and the huge variety of bird species which can be spotted there. Perhaps most notable are the migrating raptors, including bald eagles, which head south for the winter and call Bald Point home during the colder months. It is also a spot on the migratory path of Monarch butterflies, which flock to the area by the thousands in the right season. Read about the most beautiful white sand beaches in Florida.
146 Box Cut Rd, Alligator Point, FL 32346, Phone: 850-349-9146
6. Big Bend Scenic Byway
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The 220 miles that make up Big Bend Scenic Byway are more than just a road, they are some of the most scenic and beautiful parts of the state. In the areas on either side of the highway, there are over 2500 species of plants and 300 species of birds that have been spotted and call the area home. The Scenic Byway is also bounded by many parks and wildlife areas, which also offer their own host of natural beauty. A drive along the Big Bend Scenic Byway will show drivers the coast as well, and along the way it’s easy to stop in some of the many towns near the highway. Check out these Gulf Coast beaches for an inexpensive relaxing day out.
7. Aunt Ebby's Ice Cream
© Aunt Ebby's Ice Cream
Ice cream and the beach are one of those classic combinations that can’t be beat, and at Aunt Ebby’s Ice Cream, customers can revel in what the company calls the ‘biggest scoops on the beach’. Guests at Aunt Ebby’s can choose from a wide variety of flavors, cones, and toppings, and enjoy their tasty cold treat at one of the indoor tables with the AC on high, or out on the deck at a picnic table, with beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico. Browse our things to do in Florida guide for more ideas.
147 E Gulf Beach Dr, St George Island, FL 32328
8. Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum
© Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum
In 1942, Camp Gordon Johnston opened as a place to train “amphibious” soldiers under the US Army Engineer Special Brigades. More than a quarter of a million men trained at Camp Gordon Johnston, and these soldiers went on to fight in World War II, where they staged amphibious invasions including D-Day at the beaches of Normandy. Their training and achievements are memorialized at Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum, where visitors can see photographs and documents pertaining to the camp, as well as uniforms, equipment, and other artifacts brought back by veterans after the war ended. Check out our romantic weekend getaways guide for more ideas.
1873 Highway 98 West, Carrabelle, FL 32322
9. Things to Do on Florida’s Forgotten Coast: Cape St. George Light
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First built in 1833, Cape St. George Lighthouse on Little St. George Island stood for centuries as a literal beacon of light to ships at sea. But in 2005, the original Cape St. George Light collapsed and fell into the Gulf of Mexico. Beach erosion and relentless waves of the sea were the culprits, and after the lighthouse fell, the St George Lighthouse Association worked tirelessly to gain funding to rebuild. Using as many of the original materials as possible, they finally reconstructed the lighthouse using the original plans from the National Archives. Inside the lightkeeper’s house, which was also reconstructed according to the original plans, there is a small museum that tells the history of the place. Visitors can explore the museum, walk the grounds, and even climb to the top of the lighthouse for a great view.
2B, E Gulf Beach Dr, Eastpoint, FL 32328, Phone: 850-927-7745
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10. Carrabelle History Museum
© Carrabelle History Museum
Since 2009, the Carrabelle History Museum has collected photos, documents, keepsakes, furniture, household goods, and other artifacts to preserve the history of the the community. The museum is located within the old City Hall of Carrabelle, and contains four rooms of educational and cultural exhibitions. Some highlights of their collection include Tarpon, a historic steamship, and a display pertaining to the Native Americans who once called Carrabelle home. Browse RV Parks on the Florida Gulf Coast.
106 SE Ave B, Carrabelle, FL 32322, Phone: 850-697-2141
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11. Crooked River Lighthouse and Museum
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The 103-foot tall iron lighthouse that is Crooked River was built in 1895, and has stood at this place in Carrabelle ever since. The lighthouse contains 138 steps to the top, and visitors over 44 inches in height can pay a $5 fee to make this climb today to see the great views from the parapet. The museum and gift shop at Crooked River Lighthouse are located in the keeper’s house, and are free for visitors. Inside they will find exhibits about the lifestyle of a lighthouse keeper, different types of lighthouses, and the different beacons that are used to light them. Browse day trips from Naples.
1975 Hwy 98 W, Carrabelle, FL 32322
12. Fort Gadsden Historic Site
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Fort Gadsen was known as Prospect Bluff when it was first built during the war of 1812. It was the site of a horrific massacre, in which guns from a ship hit the ammunitions room and caused a massive explosion. A new fort was built on the site of the ruined old one in 1818, under the supervision of Lt. James Gadsden, as a US base inside Spanish territory, and it remained an active fort until 1821, when Florida became part of the United States. The fort is long gone, but in its place is a peaceful park-like area that is accessible by road or by paddling along the Apalachicola River. Browse day trips from Fort Lauderdale for more great ideas.
Wewahitchka, FL 32465, Phone: 850-670-8616
13. Gunner Pontoon Rentals
© Gunner Pontoon Rentals
At Gunner Pontoon Rentals, visitors can take a pontoon or other boat, as well as a kayak or paddle board, out into the bay. Gunner Pontoon Rentals is close to Dog Island and St. George Island, so guests can explore these two beautiful parts of the Florida coast, spotting fish and dolphins along the way, with up to 11 passengers. While aboard, guests can enjoy the sun and water as they swim, fish, dive for scallops, or just relax as they see the coast from the gorgeous waters. Gunner offers full day rental (8 hours) and half day rentals (4 hours) for power boats, pontoon boats, kayaks, and paddle boards, and customers are responsible for their own costs of fuel.
1012 NW Ave A, Carrabelle, FL 32322, Phone: 850-570-3122
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14. Things to Do on Florida’s Forgotten Coast: John Gorrie Museum State Park
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When the young doctor John Gorrie moved to Apalachicola in the 1830s, he became a prominent member of the community, and held positions such as postmaster, bank director, and town councilman. But in 1841, he became concerned for his patients suffering from yellow fever, and worked hard to create methods of cooling their sickrooms. This man’s work eventually produced a machine that created ice, and it became the foundation for modern refrigeration and air conditioning. At the museum, visitors can learn about Gorrie’s life and work, and see examples of some of his inventions.
42 6th St, Apalachicola, FL 32320
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15. Journeys of St. George Island
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St. George Island, a 22 mile barrier off the coast of the Florida mainland, is simply beautiful, with miles of sandy beaches that are practically empty compared to some of the more popular beaches on the mainland, and crystal clear Gulf waters. The Gulf near St. George Island is packed with fish, and the marshes near the shore are a haven for migratory birds and therefore bird watchers as well. With Journeys of St. George Island, guests can take advantage of the experienced and knowledgeable guides, who will take them on a fishing charter, or a guided tour on boat, kayak, or stand up paddle board to see the wonders of the area, and show them the best spots for fishing.
240 3rd St E, Eastpoint, FL 32328, Phone: 850-927-3259
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16. What to Do on Florida’s Forgotten Coast: Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park
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Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park is a wordy name, to be sure, but the place itself is pure simplicity and beauty. The park takes full advantage of the gorgeous nature of the barrier island, and visitors here can enjoy beaches of blindingly white sand, with dolphins swimming and jumping just off shore, and marshes where birds wade to catch fish. On land there are trails which wind through forests of pine trees, and in the water there is ample opportunity for fishing. Shelling and combing the beach are common here, and during certain seasons, it’s not uncommon to find sea turtles nesting on the beach, and migratory birds making their winter homes in the park.
1900 E Gulf Beach Dr, St George Island, FL 32328, Phone: 850-927-2111
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17. Historic Apalachicola Walking Tour
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The town of Apalachicola was first developed during the 19th century, in the 1830s, and it bears distinction because so much of that original town is still fully in tact todayl, including the layout, with easily walkable streets lined with trees. A walking tour of Apalachicola will highlight the maritime industry which has long been its lifeblood, with a waterfront, oyster houses, ice houses, and packing plants for shrimp, as well as the cotton warehouses where cotton was stored before being exported from Apalachicola’s ports. Walking tours will also point out notable historic buildings and houses, many of which are nearly two centuries old. Take a look at these RV Parks on the Florida Gulf Coast for your next trip.
18. Things to Do Near Me: Indian Pass Raw Bar
After Hurricane Kate laid waste to the McNeil family’s wholesale oyster business in 1986, the family took the decision to open a raw bar and share whatever seafood had been spared. Their idea was an immediate hit and more than 30 years later the Raw Bar is still a popular dining venue for oyster lovers. Besides feasting on succulent fresh oysters (in every shape and form you can imagine), diners can also enjoy delicious shrimp, crab and seafood gumbo. For those who cannot (or will not) eat seafood there is a simple choice of popular burgers, dogs and corn on the cob.
8391 Hwy C-30A, Port St. Joe, FL 32456, 850 227 1670
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19. Allegro Sailing
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With Allegro Sailing, visitors to the Florida coast can get a great view from the water. These captained, chartered boat rentals are here to serve a variety of needs from their customers. Guests can choose to go on a half or full day fishing excursion with a seasoned guide who knows all the best spots, or take the whole family on a cruise to see the coast and the islands. Full day trips feature an island barbecue stop midway through, and there are even some gorgeous sunset cruises and full moon rising cruises for an even more unique experience. Cruises take place on either a powerboat or a 30 foot long catamaran.
1648 Alligator Dr, Alligator Point, FL 32346, Phone: 850-766-3227
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20. Orman House
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Orman House was built in 1838 by Thomas Orman, and it is a grand white house with bay windows and a sweeping veranda that overlooks the Apalachicola River. Orman was one of the foremost figures of Apalachicola’s history, and it is largely due to him and his cotton trading that helped put the town on the map as a major merchant port. The house is open for visitors Thursday through Monday, from 9am until 5pm, for $2 per person. Adjoining the house is Chapman Botanical Gardens, which features many beautiful flowers, peaceful walkways, and a butterfly garden. There are picnic tables in the gardens where guests can sit and relax as they enjoy a snack and the nature around them.
177 5th St, Apalachicola, FL 32320, Phone: 850-653-1209
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21. Oyster City Brewing Company
© Oyster City Brewing Company
Apalachicola sometimes goes by another name: Oyster City, for fishing community and the famous Apalachicola Bay Oysters which are found there daily, and shipped all over the country where they are served in some of the finest restaurants in the US. Oyster City Brewing Company celebrates this history and industry, with great beers that compliment the salty oysters very well. With a wide variety of beers to suit any occasion, like First Light of Day, a summer ale to take the edge off of the hot and humid Florida days, Oyster City Brewing Company is a great place to stop and enjoy a fantastic beer during any vacation.
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17 Ave D, Apalachicola, FL 32320, Phone: 850-653-2739
22. Raney House
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Built in 1836, Raney House is a Greek Revival style mansion with stately white pillars on its front porch, and is part of the National Register of Historic Places. Raney House was owned by the Raney family, whose three sons served in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. Their house was turned into a museum in 1973, and it contains artifacts, furniture, documents, and other goods from the 19th century to depict how the family might have lived and what life was like at the time. Admission to the museum is free.
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128 Market St, Apalachicola, FL 32320, Phone: 850-653-1700
23. St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge
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St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge was originally created to protect waterfowl and other migratory birds in the area and preserve their habitat. Since 1968, this massive, 12,492 acre refuge, which includes two islands and two mainland areas, has been a peaceful place for wildlife and humans alike. Bald eagles, sea turtles, red wolves, and other endangered species call this area home, and the various ecosystems, like the natural barrier island sand dunes or the salt marshes, serve as excellent habitats for these creatures. Visitors are welcome to explore the refuge, which has a number of great walking and hiking trails, or go kayaking or fishing on its waters.
3100 County Rd 30A, Apalachicola, FL 32320, Phone: 850-653-8808
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24. Weber's Little Donut Shop
© Weber's Little Donut Shop
Weber’s Little Donut Shop is not aptly named - the shop really is tiny, but visitors to St. George’s Island should make a point of looking for it anyway. This little shop with its corrugated metal walls packs a huge punch, with amazing donuts that are only $1 each. Weber’s Little Donut Shop makes cake donuts, so they are all pretty dense and flavorful, and they are made fresh every single morning.
2702, 65 W Gorrie Dr, St George Island, FL 32328
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The top attractions to visit on Florida’s Forgotten Coast near me today according to local experts:
12 Best Florida Panhandle Beaches
The Sunshine State is well known for its abundance of beaches, but up in the Panhandle there’s a region where visitors won’t find the claustrophobically crowded beaches of places like Miami or Daytona Beach, or the bustle of resorts like Orlando’s Disney and Universal Studios, but they will find a much quieter, more peaceful place to spend a vacation. The Florida Panhandle is full of beautiful nature and parks, and the beaches in this region are full of blindingly white sand that is most often compared to sugar, alongside the waters of the Gulf in all their sparkling, turquoise glory. Beach towns are friendly and small, with quaint local businesses and restaurants, and the beaches themselves are generally a lot less crowded than you might expect, making the Florida Panhandle one of the best kept secrets out there when it comes to a beach vacation.
Panama City Beach
The town of Panama City Beach is a popular vacation spot known for its gorgeous white sandy beaches of pristine quartz sand and the stunning blue waters of the Gulf. Visitors can stake out the perfect spot on 27 miles of beachfront space, where they can spend the day relaxing, swimming, building sand castles, and sunbathing. There is even a pet friendly portion of the beach located across from Pier Park, so visitors can enjoy a jog or a game of fetch in the sand as well. Nearby Shell Island is accessible only by boat, and if you can make the trip, the views and beaches there are unbeatable.
17001 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, FL 32413
St. George Island State Park
With 28 miles of beaches on St. George Island, it’s a great place to hunker down for a day of play. The beach in St. George Island State Oak has nine miles of beachfront to itself, making it the longest beach of any of Florida’s state parks. Boardwalks, picnic areas with grills, tables, and pavilions, and plenty of parking allow access for guests to dig their feet into the soft sand and enjoy the gentle waters. Pets are permitted in the park and on the boardwalks, but not on the beaches. St. George Island State Park’s beaches are a common nesting area for sea turtles, so visitors can have a walk around to spot some of these amazing creatures as they wait for their eggs to hatch, though visitors are asked to keep a safe and respectful distance from their nests to help protect the turtles.
1900 E Gulf Beach Dr, St George Island, FL 32328, Phone: 850-927-2111
Grayton Beach’s soft white sands come from millions of years of erosion on particles of quartz that once were part of the Appalachian mountains. Today, they are soft and buffed, and often compared to sugar. Similarly, the gorgeously clear waters of the Gulf at Grayton Beach come from geological influences as well, in this case the lack of proximity to any large rivers which stir up sediment and make the water cloudy. Both these facts have contributed to Grayton Beach’s reputation and the awards it has been given, rating it above Hawaiian beaches and 650 other beaches in the US. No matter what time of year you visit, Grayton Beach is a gorgeous and picture perfect destination for a beach vacation.
Santa Rosa Beach
Since the founding of the community in 1910, Santa Rosa Beach has served as a vacation destination for travelers from all over the world, who com seeking the sugary sands and stunningly turquoise waters of the beach for which the town is named. The beautiful little beach town has some great dining options, cute shops for souvenir shopping or browsing the racks, and great natural attractions like Point Washington State Forest. Beach cottages and B&Bs serve as great accommodations in town, but of course the majority of the day will be spent - and rightfully so - at the beach.
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
With 20 miles of sandy beachfront area, lined with tall dunes and marshlands, St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is so much more than a beach. The place is completely alive with wildlife, from endangered beach mice and species of birds that rely on the beaches for their nests, to three different varieties of sea turtle. Opportunities for swimming, fishing, and beautiful views are everywhere you turn in St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, and visitors will be thrilled to learn that the park has plenty of campsites just steps from the sand, so they can fall asleep at night under a sky full of stars and wake up in the morning to the gentle sound of the waves lapping against the shore.
8899 Cape San Blas Rd, Port St Joe, FL 32456, Phone: 850-227-1327
In the community of Perdido Key, visitors will find a beautiful coastal beach with clean sands and a well maintained atmosphere. Swimmers, sunbathers, and water sports enthusiasts will have a great time at Perdido Key, and should you feel the need to branch out, there are plenty more beach options in the area. Nearby Big Lagoon State Park has 705 acres of land for natural exploration and yet another beach with options for boating, swimming, hiking, and camping. There’s also Perdido Key State Park, which has a peaceful, secluded beachfront area with plenty of parking, boardwalks, and picnic facilities.
14202 Perdido Key Dr, Pensacola, FL 32507, Phone: 800-874-1234
If relaxation is what you’re looking for, then look no further than Navarre Beach, located on a quaint barrier island with beautiful shores of uncrowded white sandy beaches. At Navarre Beach marine Park, visitors will find gorgeous beaches overlooking both the Gulf and the Sound, with facilities like picnic tables, BBQs, and spacious pavilions for larger gatherings. There is a Sea Turtle Conservation center at the park, and a fishing pier that extends southward into the Gulf. Just offshore on the gulf side, there is even a beautiful reef where snorkelers can spot colorful schools of fish and other marine life.
8739 Gulf Blvd, Navarre, FL 32566
The small resort city of Seaside is just picture perfect, with bright pastel colored houses and buildings with sunny white porches. In fact, the town is well known as a pretty, utopian community, made famous as the filming location for the popular movie The Truman Show. The long sandy beach with its gorgeous views of the Gulf can be accessed by the main pavilion, which looks to be something between a pyramid and a lighthouse. Whether you want to take a relaxing bike ride on the road that runs alongside the beach, or spread out a towel and lay back in the sand with a good book, Seaside provides for a vacation that really is as perfect as it looks.
Fort Walton Beach
Fort Walton Beach is a charming city on the Emerald Coast, with a tourist industry well suited to families looking to get away on vacation. The downtown area is full of quaint shops, fascinating museums, and delicious restaurants, and on the adjacent Okaloosa Island, visitors will find some of the most beautiful beaches in America. The Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier provides amazing views and an opportunity to try your luck fishing, and the nearby Gulf Islands National Seashore is a beautiful beach with warm, shallow waters great for swimming. There’s also the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, a marine park where visitors can get up close and personal with sharks, dolphins, stingrays, and more.
Pensacola Beach might just be one of the best known beaches in Florida. Located on Santa Rosa Island, the amazing beaches in Pensacola Beach include the idyllic Opal Beach, Pensacola Dog Beach, and Casino Beach. There is also plenty of access to the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Pensacola Beach offers access to boardwalks lined with shops and restaurants, amenities like kayak rental or snorkeling, and it’s even part of the Pensacola Beach Eco-Trail, which points out places of interest that have to do with wildlife in the area. Just west of Pensacola Beach is Fort Pickens, a historic nineteenth century fort on the western tip of the island.
Pensacola Beach, FL 32561
Destin prides itself as the luckiest fishing village in the world, so anyone looking for a big catch should head out to this Panhandle city to try their luck. But it’s not just fishing enthusiasts that will find things to love about Destin. The city’s beaches are legendary, and whether you’re making sandcastles or out on a jet ski amongst the dolphins and the waves, you’ll have a total blast. Henderson Beach State Park offers great opportunity for hiking and exploring nature trails among the tall sandy dunes, the many golf courses in Destin offer a great chance to perfect your swing, and the Destin Harbor Boardwalk provides not only great views, but also some amazing shopping and food.