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Ultimate Guide to the Top Attractions in the Florida Panhandle

  • By Christopher da Costa
  • Published 01 March 2024
  • Revised 11 April 2024
Ultimate Guide to the Top Attractions in the Florida Panhandle
  • By Christopher da Costa
  • Published 01 March 2024
  • Revised 11 April 2024
Ultimate Guide to the Top Attractions in the Florida Panhandle
  • By Christopher da Costa
  • Published 01 March 2024
  • Revised 11 April 2024

The beautiful Florida Panhandle, located in the northwest of the Sunshine State, is one of Florida’s most gorgeous and underrated areas. Usually, when most people think of Florida holidays, they imagine a certain mouse-eared mascot and high flying rollercoasters. Yet look a little further, and you can uncover pristine beaches, charming coastal towns and a wealth of attractions to suit all ages...

Seafronts & Beaches

If you’re visiting Florida’s Panhandle, then you can’t miss seeing the sugar-white beaches and sparkling waters. The lovely village of Destin is one of our favourite spots. Known as the world’s luckiest fishing village thanks to the large fishing community, it boasts stunning beaches like Henderson Beach State Park, where you can enjoy endless watersports such as jet skiing, parasailing and swimming.

Destin beach

The waterfront around Destin, including the Destin Habor Boardwalk, is ideal for cycling along the coastal bike paths or enjoying a sunset stroll. Not far away, you’ll find the 2,000-acre Grayton State Park, which combines a nature sanctuary with a variety of outdoor activities, from hiking and biking trails to kayaking and paddleboarding. 

Finally, don’t forget the aptly named town of Seaside, which has an endless white stretch of beach and cute wooden houses and hosts lots of food and musical festivals throughout the year. All along the coastline, you’ll also be able to explore cute towns with pastel-coloured cottages and local restaurants to sample some of Florida’s best food.

Pretty Pensacola

If there’s one place not to be missed in the Panhandle, it’s the historic city of Pensacola, the westernmost city of the Panhandle, which is home to golden beaches and impressive architecture. Historic Pensacola Village is perfect for anyone keen to learn all about the city’s fascinating heritage, scattered with preserved 19th-century buildings that transport you back in time and 28 different museums to explore.

Historic Pensacola Village

On the far western end of Santa Rosa Island, history buffs will love visiting Fort Pickens, a historic military fort dating back to the Civil War. Not only can you explore the remains of the fort itself, but it also has panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico, and the nearby beach offers the chance to swim and sunbathe.

Pensacola beach sunset

Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key are two spots that sun-chasers should make a beeline for, both of which have sugar-soft sand and warm blue waters ideal for heading out swimming, kayaking, or paddleboarding in the sunshine. If you want to get further out on the water, the area is popular with bottlenose dolphins, and there are a variety of tours to catch sight of them in the wild around Pensacola Bay.

Natural Wonders

Florida’s Panhandle is positively bursting with beautiful state parks, such as Wakulla Springs State Park. It’s home to one of the deepest freshwater springs in the world, which you can see from a glass-bottomed boat or dive into on a snorkelling adventure. There is also a range of hiking trails, with the chance to spot wildlife like alligators and manatees throughout the year. 

Wakulla Springs State Park

The hot springs don’t stop here however, just head over to Ponce de Leon Springs State Park, where you can go swimming and snorkel in the refreshing waters, enjoy freshwater fishing and spot rare birds on a hike through the park. For an even more magical underwater experience, Navarre Beach Marine Park is one of the best spots in Florida to discover tropical underwater life. There are three reefs where you can snorkel with colourful fish and turtles, go kayaking or take part in sea turtle conservation.

For a truly off-the-beaten-track adventure, take a shuttle boat to the stunning St. Vincent Island, a wildlife refuge where the wetlands hide wolves, turtles and eagles. On this remote island, visitors can spot rare wildlife, go hiking, kayaking or cycling, and get away from the crowds on the quiet stretches of beach. 

Tempting Tallahassee

While you’re visiting the Panhandle, let’s not forget Florida’s buzzing state capital, Tallahassee. It combines natural beauty with history and a vibrant downtown area, so you should spend a few days discovering this exciting city.

Tallahassee skyscrapers lake park

The first port of call should be the unique Tallahassee Museum, which spans 52 acres and combines interesting exhibits with a nature trail, wildlife watching, and even ziplining, making it fun for the whole family. The city’s downtown area has tonnes of great restaurants and cafes to check out during the day, but it really comes alive at night when cocktail bars and live music venues get going.

Another popular spot with locals is Cascade Park, which has everything from walking trails to kids' play areas, plus the impressive Capital City Amphitheatre, which hosts plays and open-air performances in the warmer months.  

Delicious Dining

With all its coastline, Florida’s Panhandle boasts some of the best cuisine in the state, with a big focus on excellent seafood. You can find all kinds of eateries, from sophisticated restaurants with white tablecloths to local seafood shacks on the waterfront.

Oysters on beach in Florida

In Apalachicola, you can taste the world’s most delicious oysters, for which this town is famous, and wherever you choose to enjoy them, they’ll often go straight from the boat to your plate. Over in Pensacola, everyone should make time to visit Joe Patti’s Seafood Market, which has been around for more than 90 years and sells an incredible selection of fresh and frozen seafood, delicious sushi, meats and cheese, and a range of fine wines - it’s one of the most iconic spots in the city.

All along the Panhandle coastline, from Pensacola to Panama City Beach, you can also find waterfront coffee shops, local food trucks and dozens more oyster bars, along with seafood restaurants serving up fresh grouper, shrimp and crab on a seafood platter that’s a must-try when visiting for a foodie trip around Florida’s northwest. 

Are you ready to find a Sunshine State of mind? Check out our Florida Panhandle Hotels for 2024 & 2025 holidays here.

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