The Florida Panhandle is a laid-back, slow-paced and family-friendly beach destination. Miles and miles of white sand; beautiful state parks; historic sites, and great fishing attract millions of visitors every year, from families with kids, to couples, to groups of friends.
The quiet beach communities are spread out along the coast, also known as the Emerald Coast for its clear green waters. Having a car is mandatory if you want to explore beyond the local beach, and many visitors will want to -- there are great hiking trails, beautiful lakes, wonderful national forests, and some of the best canoeing and kayaking in the state.
Even though visitors don’t visit the Panhandle for its cultural attractions, they do exist. Tallahassee and Pensacola are both steeped in history, with beautiful historic homes, antebellum plantations, a few interesting museums, and solid shopping and entertainment scenes.
The Panhandle might not be as glamorous or ritzy as South Florida destinations, but many prefer its smaller crowds and gorgeous beaches.
Pensacola, featuring low-key nightlife, interesting dining scene, and histiroc sights, is the gateway to Blackwater River State Forest, where visitors can find some of the best canoeing in Florida. It's also within a short drive of a number of great beaches with powdery white sand and emerald waters.
The coast is home to myriad small beach communities, of which Panama City Beach is the liveliest. It is one of the favorite Spring Break destinations on the Panhandle and does get crowds, but many restaurants, bars, shops and hotels close in the off-season. For a quieter stay, head to any of the other coastal towns between Laguna Beach and Pensacola.
Those who want more than just fun in the sun might want to head to Tallahassee, the charming state capital, with an Old South vibe, beautiful 19th-century homes, historic plantations, and lovely parks.
If it’s world-class fishing you’re after, Destin is arguably the best spot.