The Florida Panhandle is home to some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the country. With miles of sugar-white sand, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque views, it’s no wonder that visitors come from far and wide to experience the beauty of these beaches.
We were stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach for three years, so the panhandle’s gulf coast has a soft spot in our hearts. If you’re planning a trip to the Sunshine State and you’re wondering where to start, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’re going to give you the rundown on the best Florida Panhandle beaches that you absolutely cannot miss.
We loved Perdido Key State Park because it is as beautiful as the more popular beaches in Pensacola and Destin, but much quieter. Perdido Key boasts some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the area. With its white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, you’ll be mesmerized by the beauty of this place. Plus, the area is surrounded by lush vegetation, which adds to the tranquility of the area. Take a stroll along the beach, go for a swim, or simply relax in the shade of the palm trees and enjoy the scenery.
Pensacola has everything you’d expect in a beach town: resorts, vacation rentals, restaurants, and activities galore. Whether you’re looking to sunbathe, surf, or sail, Pensacola Beach checks off all the boxes. With its calm and clear waters, this beach is perfect for families with young children. And if you’re looking for a bit of adventure, you can rent a paddleboard or jet ski to explore the seashore.
For a quieter nearby beach with a lot of history, take the twenty-minute drive to Fort Pickens, which is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore. Situated on Santa Rosa Island, Fort Pickens played a pivotal role in the American Civil War. Constructed in 1834, it was one of four forts built to protect Pensacola Bay and the entrance to the Pensacola Navy Yard. The fort was constructed as part of a national defensive system. During the Civil War, the fort withstood attacks from the Confederate forces. Today, it stands as one of the few remaining examples of American brick fortification.
If you have access to military bases, a great place to stay between Perdido Key and Pensacola is the Blue Angel Recreation Area managed by Pensacola NAS. It has its own private beach, two campgrounds, and rental cabins.
Known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village”, Destin Beach is a must-visit for fishing enthusiasts. But that’s not all this beach has to offer. With its emerald-green waters and white sandy beaches, this is the perfect destination for those looking for relaxation and recreation. And after a day of fun in the sun, you can head over to Destin Harbor Boardwalk where you can experience some of the finest seafood in the area.
Destin has a bay side and a beach side. If you’re looking for a quieter experience with gentle bay waters, spend some time at the Choctawhatchee Bay. There are several bayous in the bay which are fun to explore by boat, or paddle board, canoe, or kayak. Over on the beach side, you’ll find everything you come to expect in a seaside resort town: minigolf, shopping malls, restaurants, resorts, and of course, fabulous (but often crowded) beaches.
Grayton Beach State Park
Named the “Best Beach in America” by Dr. Beach in 1994, Grayton Beach State Park is a natural paradise that you don’t want to miss. With its beautiful dunes, freshwater lakes, and miles of trails, this is the perfect spot for a day trip or a weekend getaway. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some of the area’s wildlife including deer, alligators, and sea turtles.
We love state parks because we find them to be less crowded than the large city beaches. You won’t find all the amenities, just miles of beautiful sandy shores. Being situated south of the more popular resort areas, Grayton Beach State Park is a perfect choice for beach lovers looking for a little serenity on their beach vacation.
If you’re looking for a more laid-back and secluded beach experience, Rosemary Beach is the perfect choice. This hidden gem offers white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, world-class restaurants, and a charming small-town atmosphere. It’s not just your average beach town. The streets are lined with quaint shops, restaurants, and cafes. The architecture is inspired by classical European design, complete with cobblestone streets, fountains, and courtyards. The town was designed for pedestrians, so you can easily explore on foot or bike. Strolling around the town after a day at the beach is one of the best things to do in Rosemary Beach, FL.
Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach in Florida is a hot spot for tourists, especially for those who seek a combination of stunning natural wonders and exciting activities. From parasailing and jet skiing to snorkeling and scuba diving, there’s something for everyone here. And after a day of fun, you can hit up the local bars and restaurants and experience the nightlife that Panama City Beach has to offer. We’d recommend avoiding it during Spring Break if large crowds of college kids aren’t your thing.
Nearby St. Andrews State Park is an ideal location for families or anyone looking for a peaceful escape. Here, you can explore the winding trails of the nature park, birdwatch, spot sea turtles, or take a dip in the calm waters of the lagoon known as the Grand Lagoon. Don’t miss out on visiting the jetties at the northwest end of the state park either; there’s a high chance you’ll spot dolphins swimming nearby.
Plan Your Panhandle Beach Trip Today
The Florida Panhandle is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse beaches in the world. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or simply to soak up the sun, there’s a beach for you. So if you’re planning a trip to the Sunshine State, be sure to include these top Florida Panhandle beaches on your itinerary and experience the beauty and wonder of the Gulf Coast.
Sharing is caring! Feel free to share this article to social media and save the image below to Pinterest.