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Florida Panhandle

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The Florida Panhandle is a region of Florida, in the north west of the state. It has long been popular for its beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. It includes the inland city of Tallahassee – the state capital and home of Florida State and Florida A&M Universities.


The Panhandle region highlighted on a map of Florida
  • Emerald Coast – also called the Miracle Strip, the below mentioned, West Florida and Emerald Coast regions overlap
  • Forgotten Coast – some of the most rural of Florida's coastal counties
  • Middle Florida – between the Apalachicola and Suwannee Rivers, it was once the core of antebellum Florida's slave-based cotton plantation economy (only the western half of the Middle Florida region is actually in the Panhandle)
  • West Florida – once part of the Spanish and British colonies of West Florida (which also included parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana), the above mentioned, Emerald Coast and West Florida regions overlap


Other destinations[edit]


The Florida Panhandle has hung onto its Southern culture better than probably any other region in Florida, so expect traditional Southern hospitality and more conservative values. Exceptions to this trend are Tallahassee and Pensacola; while both retain a great deal of that Southern charm, they also contain pockets of the typical progressive, creative atmosphere of college towns.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Pensacola International Airport - located in Pensacola and the gateway to western Florida. Pensacola International has many flights on many carriers to destinations across the United States, and within Florida, as well as occasional charter flights that fly internationally.

By car[edit]

  • Interstate 10 and its scenic byways slice across the Panhandle parallel to the coast, but several miles inland. I-10 follows the route of the older Highway 90. Closer to the coast, Highway 98 is the most important route. A car is really a requirement to see this area. There is local bus service in most cities, and biking is popular both for getting around town or for longer tours of the coast.

Get around[edit]


St. Marks Lighthouse
  • Florida Lighthouses are numerous in the Panhandle, take some time to visit these iconic images of the coast.

State parks[edit]

  • Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, 3540 Thomasville Road, Tallahassee, +1 850 245-2200.
  • 1 Bald Point State Park, 146 Box Cut Road, Alligator Point, +1 850 349-9146. 8AM to sunset. The park has such amenities as beaches, bicycling, birding, canoeing, fishing, hiking, kayaking, swimming and wildlife viewing. $4.
  • Big Lagoon State Park, 12301 Gulf Beach Highway, Pensacola (approximately 10 miles southwest of Pensacola on Gulf Beach Highway), +1 850 492-1595. Seven hundred thirty-three acres (2.97 km2). It encompasses the northern boundary of Big Lagoon as it snakes toward Pensacola Bay to the east. Wild Grande Lagoon and its minor tributaries lay within the boundaries of the park, as does the alligator-inhabited Long Pond that covers a coastal slough. The park is a "gateway site" for the Great Florida Birding Trail. It features four distinct natural communities including estuarine tidal marsh, mesic flatwoods, wet flatwoods, and is dominated by coastal scrub. The park features a number of threatened and endangered species such as the Eastern Indigo Snake, Gopher Tortoise, migratory shorebirds such as Snowy Plover, Least Tern among some twenty other listed species. The park has such amenities as beaches along the shoreline of Big Lagoon, bicycling down the 2.6 mile park drive, boating from a 40-slip boat ramp, canoeing along Big Lagoon, fishing, hiking along 4 miles of trails, kayaking in Grande Lagoon, wildlife viewing from a four story observation tower and footbridge overlooks at Long Pond and Grande Lagoon, picnicking at 21 shelters, swimming in Big Lagoon and 75 electrified camping sites and a group camp.
  • Blackwater River State Park, 7720 Deaton Bridge Rd, Holt (Fifteen miles northeast of Milton, near Harold, off U.S. 90), +1 850 983-5363. A favorite destination for canoeists and kayakers, Blackwater River offers opportunities for a variety of outdoor recreation. The river is one of the purest sand-bottom rivers in the nation. The park has such amenities as birding, boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking, kayaking, picnicking areas, swimming, tubing, wildlife viewing and full camping facilities. The main picnicking area has covered picnicking pavilions, restrooms, and a spacious parking lot. Bring your tubes and enjoy a leisurely float down the river to the Deaton Bridge. It is a short 1 mile hike back to the parking lot to retrieve your vehicle. Very kid friendly park with a variety of areas for swimming.
  • Camp Helen State Park, 23937 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach (Off U.S. 98 west of Panama City Beach), +1 850 233-5059. The park, which is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is bounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Powell (one of the largest coastal dune lakes in the state). The park has such amenities as beaches, birding, beachcombing, boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking, kayaking, picnicking areas, swimming and wildlife viewing. It also has a visitor center and an interpretive exhibit.
  • 2 Constitution Convention Museum State Park, 200 Allen Memorial Way, Port St. Joe (South side of Port St. Joe, off U.S. 98.), +1 850-229-8029. 9am-12pm & 1pm-5pm. The location and exhibits take the visitor into a time when Florida was only a territory and elected leaders met to bring the territory into statehood with the introduction of a state constitution. You always have an open invitation to spend some time with us and experience a historical look at this great period in time. $1.
  • Deer Lake State Park, 6350 East County Road 30-A, Santa Rosa Beach, +1 850 267-8300.
  • Econfina River State Park, 4741 Econfina River Road, Lamont, +1 850 922-6007.
Eden Gardens State Park
A mound in Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park
Ponce de Leon Springs State Park
Apalachicola River in Torreya State Park

State trails[edit]



  • Festivals/holidays. Major holidays in Pensacola include Mardi Gras and the Fiesta of Five Flags. Celebrations of note in Pensacola are the Greater Gulf Coast Arts Festival, the Seafood Festival, the Bushwhacker Festival, the Bill Fishing Tournament, and the Gay and Lesbian Memorial Day Festival. Fort Walton Beach is known for the Billy Bowlegs Festival, and Panama City for Spring Break. Niceville is know for its Mullet Festival.
  • Spectator sports. Tallahassee is home to the Seminoles of Florida State University, and college football is a religion for many Panhandle residents, with Saturdays in the fall being the holy day. Pensacola is home to the semi-professional ice hockey team, the Pensacola Ice Pilots.


In the Panama City and Panama City Beach area there are many great places for local fare. The most recognized restaurant is Captain Anderson's on Thomas Drive in Panama City Beach. It's located on the lagoon and get there early to see the fishing fleet arrive and unload the day's catch.

Other restaurants of note include Pompano's on Front Beach Road, Saltwater Grill on Middle Beach (Hutchison Road) and Canopies. Canopies is a "fine dining" establishment overlooking St. Andrew's Bay in Panama City.


The Panhandle is home to two of Florida's four dry counties, where the sale of alcohol is prohibited (Washington and Liberty). However, alcohol of any variety can be found in abundance in the college town of Tallahassee and the Spring Break destination of Panama City Beach.

Stay safe[edit]

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to Florida Panhandle is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.