Are you planning to visit the Florida Panhandle soon? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in the Florida Panhandle. These breathtaking sights and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.
The Florida Panhandle is a hidden gem that can sometimes be overshadowed by its more popular counterparts like Miami and Orlando. However, there are so many things to do in the Panhandle, from the pristine beaches of Destin to the historic streets of Pensacola. This region presents natural beauty, history, and Southern charm that is truly unparalleled.
Imagine waking up to the sound of waves gently lapping against the shore, spending your day exploring hidden coves, and then watching the sun dip below the horizon as you dine on fresh seafood. Sounds dreamy, right? Well, that’s just a typical day here. Whether you’re an adventure junkie, a history buff, or someone who just wants to lay back and soak up the sun, there’s something for everyone.
But wait, there’s more! This region is not just about beaches and water activities; it’s a haven for art lovers, foodies, and those who seek the road less traveled. From quirky museums to mouthwatering Southern cuisine, the Panhandle is a melting pot of experiences that will leave you yearning for more.
So, if you’re ready to escape the hustle and bustle and dive into a world of unparalleled beauty, keep reading. In this guide, we’ll explore the best things to do in the Florida Panhandle, ensuring your trip is nothing short of extraordinary. Here’s the A-Z on fun things to do in the Florida Panhandle.
Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in the Florida Panhandle? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this diverse vacation spot. So keep reading to discover all these unique Florida Panhandle places to visit.
Are you looking to relax on a pristine beach and explore water sports? Or would you prefer hiking through scenic nature trails and exploring charming coastal towns? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in the Florida Panhandle can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in the Florida Panhandle that you should know about.
Ah, Grayton Beach State Park—a place where the emerald waters meet sugar-white sands, creating a picture-perfect backdrop for your next vacation. If you’re wondering what to do in the Florida Panhandle, this is an essential spot. The park is a sanctuary for both nature enthusiasts and those looking to unwind. With over 2,000 acres of diverse ecosystems, it’s a microcosm of the Panhandle’s natural beauty.
The park offers a plethora of activities to keep you engaged. From hiking and biking trails that meander through coastal forests to kayaking in the Western Lake, the coolest activities in the Florida Panhandle are right here. And let’s not forget the beach itself—a serene stretch where you can sunbathe, swim, or even try your hand at paddleboarding.
As the sun sets, the sky transforms into a canvas of oranges and pinks, making it an ideal spot for a romantic evening. If you’re an avid camper, the park’s campgrounds offer a rustic yet comfortable experience under the stars.
Whether you’re an adventure junkie or someone who just wants to soak up nature’s wonders, Grayton Beach State Park is one of the best places in the Florida Panhandle to experience it all.
Seaside is the epitome of coastal charm, and it’s one of those cool destinations in the Florida Panhandle that you simply can’t miss. Picture pastel-hued cottages, cobblestone streets, and an array of boutique shops that would make any fashionista swoon. If you’re compiling a list of Florida Panhandle attractions, Seaside should be at the top.
The town is renowned for its central square, where you’ll find an amphitheater that hosts live music and events throughout the year. It’s a hub of activity, making it one of the coolest things to do in the Florida Panhandle. From food trucks serving gourmet grilled cheese to art galleries featuring local talent, there’s something for everyone.
But what truly sets Seaside apart is its commitment to sustainability. The town was designed with walkability in mind, encouraging visitors to leave their cars behind and explore on foot or by bike. This eco-conscious approach extends to the beach, where conservation efforts are in place to protect the local marine life.
Whether you’re a beach bum, a culture vulture, or an eco-warrior, Seaside offers a diverse range of experiences that cater to all tastes and interests. It’s a must-see in the Florida Panhandle, offering a slice of paradise that’s both idyllic and invigorating.
Fort Pickens stands as a testament to the rich history of the Florida Panhandle. Located on the far western tip of Santa Rosa Island, this fortress has witnessed the ebb and flow of time, from the Civil War to the present day. If you’re wondering about the best things to do in the Florida Panhandle, a visit to this historical site should be high on your list.
Constructed in the 1830s, Fort Pickens played a crucial role in the Civil War, remaining one of the only Southern forts not captured by Confederate forces. Today, visitors can explore its well-preserved ramparts, bastions, and tunnels. The fort’s museum offers a deep dive into its storied past, complete with artifacts and interactive exhibits.
Beyond its historical significance, the area surrounding Fort Pickens is a haven for nature enthusiasts. The pristine beaches are perfect for sunbathing and swimming, while the nearby trails offer opportunities for hiking and birdwatching.
For those seeking a blend of history and natural beauty, Fort Pickens delivers in spades. It’s one of those unique places in the Florida Panhandle that offers a window into the past while being surrounded by breathtaking coastal scenery.
Apalachicola, a point where the Apalachicola River meets the Gulf of Mexico, and where the world’s tastiest oysters call home. If you’re pondering where to visit in the Florida Panhandle, this charming town should be on your radar.
Famed for its oysters, Apalachicola offers a culinary experience that’s second to none. Local eateries serve up the freshest catches, often right from the boat to your plate. But it’s not just about the oysters; the town’s culinary scene is a delightful mix of Southern comfort and seafood extravagance.
Yet, Apalachicola is more than a foodie’s paradise. The town’s historic district is a treasure trove of 19th-century architecture, featuring grand old homes and commercial buildings that tell tales of a bygone era. Take a leisurely stroll down the tree-lined streets, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
For the outdoor enthusiasts, the Apalachicola National Forest beckons with its lush landscapes and diverse wildlife. Whether you’re into hiking, kayaking, or bird-watching, this natural wonderland offers some of the coolest activities in the Florida Panhandle.
In a nutshell, Apalachicola is a multifaceted gem that combines culinary delights, historical allure, and natural beauty. It’s one of the top things to do in the Panhandle for all types of travelers
If you’re a fan of underwater exploration, Navarre Beach Marine Park is one of the coolest things to do in the Florida Panhandle. This isn’t just a beach; it’s a marine sanctuary teeming with vibrant sea life, from colorful fish to intricate coral formations.
Florida Panhandle attractions often focus on the surf and sand, but here, it’s what lies beneath the waves that steals the show. The park features three artificial reefs, each offering a unique snorkeling experience. The Gulf Side Reef, for instance, is home to an array of tropical fish and even the occasional sea turtle.
What sets Navarre Beach Marine Park apart is its commitment to environmental conservation. Educational kiosks dot the area, providing valuable information on the local ecosystem and ongoing preservation efforts. It’s not just a place to snorkel; it’s a place to learn and appreciate the delicate balance of marine life.
For those who prefer to stay dry, the park also offers a sea turtle conservation center and a butterfly house. And if you’re into kayaking, the calm waters make for an ideal paddling environment.
Where to go in the Florida Panhandle? Add Navarre Beach Marine Park to that list, especially if you’re keen on diving into an underwater world of wonder. With its mix of education and adventure, this marine park offers a fulfilling and eco-friendly day out.
Destin Harbor Boardwalk—a place where the ocean meets leisure in the most delightful way. This bustling waterfront offers a smorgasbord of activities that cater to all ages and interests.
First up, fishing. Known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin’s harbor is a paradise for anglers. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-timer, you’ll find plenty of options for deep-sea fishing excursions. And if you’re not into fishing, no worries! The boardwalk is lined with a variety of shops, from quirky boutiques to surf stores.
Foodies, get ready to indulge. The boardwalk offers an array of dining options that range from casual seafood shacks to upscale restaurants with panoramic ocean views. It’s a Florida Panhandle attraction that’s as much about the food as it is about the scenery.
Jet skiing, parasailing, and paddleboarding are just a few of the coolest activities in the Florida Panhandle that you can enjoy here. As the sun sets, the boardwalk comes alive with street performers, live music, and a vibrant nightlife, making it one of the cool destinations in the Florida Panhandle to experience local culture.
Read next: Best Family Things to do in Destin, FL
Eden Gardens State Park is a hidden gem that offers a unique blend of history and natural beauty. If you’re curious about the unique things to do in the Florida Panhandle that combines both culture and the great outdoors, this is your spot.
The centerpiece of the park is the Wesley House, an elegant mansion that dates back to 1897. The house is surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens featuring azaleas, camellias, and roses. It’s a photographer’s dream and a perfect backdrop for a leisurely afternoon stroll.
Aside from the Wesley House and its gardens, it also offers a variety of outdoor activities. Kayaking and fishing are popular here, with Tucker Bayou providing the ideal setting. It’s one of those Florida Panhandle places to visit where you can truly escape the hustle and bustle.
For the history enthusiasts, guided tours of the Wesley House are available, offering a deep dive into the area’s rich past. It’s a Florida Panhandle attraction that educates as much as it entertains.
As you wander through the gardens or paddle along the bayou, you’ll find that Eden Gardens State Park is one of the best places in the Florida Panhandle for a balanced day trip that offers a little bit of everything.
If you’re on the hunt for the coolest activities in the Florida Panhandle, look no further than St. Andrews State Park. This sprawling natural haven is a beach lover’s dream come true, offering pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters that rival any tropical paradise.
For those who love water sports, the park is a haven for snorkeling, scuba diving, and paddleboarding. The jetties provide an excellent opportunity to explore the underwater world, teeming with colorful fish and coral formations. It’s a must-see in the Florida Panhandle for anyone who loves marine life.
The park also offers hiking trails that take you through diverse ecosystems, from coastal dunes to pine flatwoods. Wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate the chance to spot deer, raccoons, and a variety of bird species.
Fishing is another popular activity here, with both saltwater and freshwater options available. Whether you’re an angler looking for a big catch or someone who simply wants to enjoy the serenity of a day by the water, St. Andrews State Park has got you covered.
In a region filled with stunning natural landscapes, St. Andrews State Park stands out as one of the best places to go in the Florida Panhandle for a well-rounded outdoor experience.
When you think of Florida Panhandle attractions, perhaps the ocean comes to mind. But let’s switch gears and talk about one of the unique places in the Florida Panhandle: Wakulla Springs State Park. This park is home to one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world, offering a completely different kind of water adventure.
The main draw here is, of course, the springs themselves. The water is so clear that glass-bottom boat tours are a popular way to explore the underwater world without even getting wet. You’ll marvel at the underwater caves and the diverse array of aquatic life that calls this place home.
For those who prefer a more active experience, the park offers snorkeling and swimming opportunities. The water remains a constant 69 degrees year-round, making it a refreshing escape no matter the season.
Beyond the water, hiking trails weave through the park, giving you a chance to experience the lush Florida wilderness. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including manatees, alligators, and a variety of bird species.
Wakulla Springs State Park is a testament to the diverse range of Florida Panhandle things to do, offering a unique blend of water activities and nature exploration.
Ah, the allure of untouched nature! Gulf Islands National Seashore is one of those must-see in the Florida Panhandle spots that beckons with its pristine beaches and diverse ecosystems. This national seashore stretches over 150 miles, offering a plethora of activities for every type of traveler.
For beach bums, the powdery white sands are a dream come true. You can spend your day sunbathing, building sandcastles, or simply soaking in the views of the emerald waters. And speaking of water, the snorkeling here is top-notch. Dive in to explore coral reefs teeming with marine life.
If you’re more of a landlubber, don’t fret. The area is rich in history, featuring old forts and archaeological sites. Take a guided tour to delve into the past and learn about the region’s cultural heritage.
When it comes to places in the Florida Panhandle that offer a mix of natural beauty and historical intrigue, Gulf Islands National Seashore stands out. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or dive into history, this destination has got you covered.
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park is one of those unique places in the Florida Panhandle that you simply can’t miss. Named after the Spanish explorer who sought the Fountain of Youth, this park is a rejuvenating escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
The main attraction here is, of course, the natural spring. With a constant temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit, the spring is a refreshing spot for swimming, snorkeling, or just floating around. The crystal-clear water offers visibility up to 10 feet, making it a fantastic location for underwater photography.
There are hiking trails that meander through lush forests, offering a chance to reconnect with nature. Birdwatchers will be thrilled with the variety of avian species that call the park home. And if you’re into fishing, the spring run provides opportunities to catch freshwater fish like catfish and mullet.
When it comes to best things to do in the Florida Panhandle that offer a blend of relaxation and outdoor activities, Ponce de Leon Springs State Park is a top contender. Whether you’re diving into the refreshing spring or exploring the surrounding nature, this park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.
Panama City Beach is the epitome of what to do in the Florida Panhandle if you’re traveling with family. This bustling beach destination is a playground for both the young and the young at heart. With 27 miles of sugar-white sand beaches and emerald-green waters, it’s a paradise for sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers alike.
The beach isn’t the only draw, though. The area is teeming with activities for the whole family. From mini-golf courses and go-kart tracks to water parks and dolphin tours, you’ll never run out of coolest activities in the Florida Panhandle. And don’t miss the iconic Pier Park, a shopping and entertainment complex that’s a place to visit.
For those who love fishing, the Russell-Fields Pier offers a chance to catch a variety of fish, including redfish, pompano, and even sharks. If you’re more of a landlubber, the Conservation Park provides hiking and biking trails that traverse through diverse ecosystems.
When the sun sets, the beach comes alive with bonfires, live music, and beachside dining. Whether you’re craving seafood or Southern comfort food, the culinary scene here is as diverse as it is delicious.
Looking for more content on the top things to do in the Florida Panhandle? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to the Florida Panhandle:
The ideal time to visit depends on what you’re looking for. For beachgoers, late spring to early fall offers warm waters and sunny skies. However, if you’re into bird-watching or prefer less crowded attractions, winter can be quite charming. Once you find cheap flights to Florida, the opportunities are truly endless.
Renting a car is the most convenient way to explore the vast landscapes and unique places in the Florida Panhandle. Public transportation is limited, especially in smaller towns.
What is the prettiest town in the Florida Panhandle?
The Florida Panhandle boasts several picturesque towns, each with its unique charm. Among them, Seaside often stands out as one of the prettiest. Here’s why:
- Architectural Beauty: Seaside is renowned for its New Urbanism design. The town’s pastel-colored houses, picket fences, and cobblestone streets create a postcard-perfect setting.
- Beachfront: Seaside’s pristine white-sand beaches and clear turquoise waters are some of the most beautiful in the region. The town’s iconic pavilions leading to the beach add a touch of elegance to the shoreline.
- Central Square: The town’s central square is bustling with activity, featuring boutique shops, art galleries, and gourmet eateries. The amphitheater often hosts events, concerts, and outdoor movies.
- Community Feel: Seaside promotes a walkable community. The town’s design encourages residents and visitors to stroll through its streets, fostering a close-knit, friendly atmosphere.
- Natural Beauty: Beyond its beaches, Seaside is surrounded by lush vegetation, creating a serene backdrop for the town.
While Seaside is a standout, the Florida Panhandle has other beautiful towns like Rosemary Beach, Apalachicola, and Destin, each offering its unique allure.
Absolutely. The Florida Panhandle is generally safe for tourists. Like any travel destination, it’s advisable to exercise standard safety precautions. The area offers popular vacation spots with well-maintained facilities and a low crime rate. However, it’s recommended to stay informed about local guidelines and conditions and be aware of potential weather-related concerns, such as hurricanes during certain seasons.
Indulge in the unique flavors of the Florida Panhandle by trying its must-taste local foods. Savor fresh Gulf seafood, from succulent shrimp to flaky grouper, often served at charming coastal eateries. Dive into Southern comfort with dishes like creamy grits, collard greens, and cornbread. Don’t miss the chance to sample regional specialties like Apalachicola oysters, showcasing the rich culinary heritage of the Panhandle.
What is the hidden gem in North Florida?
North Florida is replete with hidden gems, but one that often stands out for its natural beauty and relative obscurity is Ichetucknee Springs State Park.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park:
- Crystal Clear Springs: The park is home to the Ichetucknee River, which is fed by eight major crystalline springs. The water is so clear that you can easily see the myriad of fish and underwater vegetation as you float or snorkel.
- Tubing: One of the most popular activities in the park is tubing down the Ichetucknee River. It’s a serene experience, allowing visitors to drift lazily with the current, surrounded by lush greenery and wildlife.
- Wildlife: The park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. It’s not uncommon to spot turtles, otters, wild turkeys, wading birds, and even the occasional manatee.
- Diverse Activities: Beyond tubing, the park offers snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, and hiking. There are trails that meander through forests and wetlands, providing a closer look at North Florida’s diverse ecosystems.
- Seclusion: Unlike some of Florida’s more popular springs, Ichetucknee retains a sense of untouched beauty. It’s a place where you can truly immerse yourself in nature, away from large crowds.
The Florida Panhandle is renowned for its stunning white-sand beaches, emerald-green waters, and charming small towns. It’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities like fishing, boating, and hiking. The region is also rich in history, featuring forts and museums, and is famous for its delicious seafood, particularly oysters.
Absolutely! The Florida Panhandle is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and cultural richness. With its pristine beaches, crystal-clear springs, and historic landmarks, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re an adventure seeker or a relaxation enthusiast, the Panhandle offers an unforgettable experience.
There you have it, folks—your ultimate guide to the best places to go in the Florida Panhandle. From the tranquil springs to the bustling boardwalks, this region offers a little bit of everything for everyone. Whether you’re an adventure junkie, a history buff, or someone who just wants to lay on the beach with a good book, the Panhandle has got you covered.
So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to make some unforgettable memories. The Florida Panhandle is more than a destination; it’s an experience that stays with you long after you’ve returned home. And who knows? You might just find yourself coming back, year after year, to discover new Florida Panhandle places to visit and adventures to embark upon.