Florida Panhandle vacation rentals
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Your guide to Florida Panhandle
Welcome to the Florida Panhandle
Known for its fine white sand beaches and turquoise water, the Florida Panhandle is the slim stretch of land that runs west from the rest of the state between Alabama and the Gulf of Mexico. It has a long and complicated history involving colonial powers and multiple wars, and unlike the glamorous resorts on the state’s southern coast, the beach culture here offers a much wider variety. If you’re into the laid-back beach vibe, there are loads of options that will lead you to a private stretch of sand. If nightlife is what you’re after, the Panhandle can deliver action-packed evenings — it’s a magnet for Spring Breakers in the Southern states and beyond. The clear, calm Gulf waters play host to some of the best fishing and diving experiences on the continent, and the rare east-west orientation of the beaches means you’ll get views of both sunrise and sunset. And in the event you’re not here to do the shore thing, the Panhandle has pockets of fascinating history hidden among the dune-lined coastal towns.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Florida Panhandle
The Florida Panhandle is a prime summer vacation spot. The hot and humid weather becomes more tolerable the closer you are to the water. But with more than 320 days of sunshine each year, the weather stays warm well into the fall, bringing in late-season sunseekers to join the fun. Just be sure to stay current on weather alerts in late summer when the hurricane season peaks, as the Panhandle is highly susceptible to the Gulf Coast’s biggest storms. Winter welcomes much colder temperatures on the Panhandle than the further reaches of the state, so it tends to be a quieter season. But by spring, the warmth returns and many Panhandle beaches, like Panama City, are up and running with a full lineup of Spring Break festivities.
Top things to do in Florida Panhandle
St. George Island
This barrier island off the Forgotten Coast portion of the Panhandle embodies the best features of the area, with sugary white-sand beaches and clear waters ideal for swimming, fishing, and paddling. The marshy state park, anchored by a historic lighthouse, provides ample space for bird-watching, hiking in the forests, ambling along the dunes, and keeping an eye out for sea turtles.
Scenic Route 30A
It’s worth going out of your way for this scenic highway that runs about 18 miles — a few more with connecting roads — between the sandy shores and high dunes of the Panhandle. From Panama City Beach to Sandestin, you’ll pass rare coastal dune lakes, a torrent of colorful architecture, and historic sites that line the road, which also connects to state parks and a series of greenways and trails for walking or biking.
Part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Fort Pickens was built in 1834 to help shore up and defend Pensacola Bay. Today, the fearsome-looking brick structure anchors a park on Santa Rosa Island. Tour the maze-like tunnel system and artillery rooms before stopping by the museum for a ranger-led history talk. Save time to explore the park’s trails, popular with local bird-watchers.