North America > United States of America > Florida > Florida Panhandle > West Florida
- 1 Blountstown — small town on the region's eastern edge, toward Tallahassee
- 2 Cantonment — hamlet north of Pensacola
- 3 Chipley — small inland town near I-10
- 4 Gulf Breeze — town on a peninsula south of Pensacola between it and Pensacola Beach
- 5 Marianna — small inland town near I-10
- 6 Milton — across the river from Pensacola
- 7 — medium-sized city
- 8 Pensacola — the main regional city, with a major military presence and shoreline on Escambia Bay
- 9 Pensacola Beach — beach extension of Pensacola; across the waterway from Gulf Breeze
- 10 Perdido Key — western end of the Florida Panhandle before reaching Alabama
West Florida consists of the Pensacola urban area, plus much of the inland (northern) parts of the Florida Panhandle. These two components are somewhat distinct, as Pensacola is developed and neighbors some beautiful beaches, while the interior is rural and is the part of the state most like the Deep Southern states it borders such as Alabama and southern Georgia. The greater Pensacola metro area has some well-developed towns including Navarre and Gulf Breeze, and a large military presence and interstate highway (I-80) are important to the local economy. The Escambia Bay is a focal point for the region and many of the towns are near it or on one of the several peninsulas or islands surrounding the Bay.
- Pensacola International Airport — the gateway to the Western Florida Panhandle, and the largest airport in West Florida. Flights from as far away as Houston, Miami, Chicago, Newark, and Denver. No international flights as of Nov 2020.
- Fort Walton Beach-Destin Airport — this airport is smaller than Pensacola's airport and serves a number of destinations. It is a focus city for Allegiant.
I-10, the southern route crossing the entirety of the United States from west to east, passes through West Florida and is the best route to reach the region by car.
As a Republican (except for Gadsden County), predominantly rural area, with a major interstate, public transportation and alternative forms of transport to the car are not prevalent in this area. You will want to a car to explore the region. I-10, US-29, and US-98 are important highways, while there are also a number of state roads connecting rural areas to U.S. routes and the interstate.
The public transit network in the Pensacola area is ECAT bus routes, and their website provides a link to a map showing current bus routes.
1 Escambia Bay, 2 Fort Pickens, and the 3 are well-known locally and a point of pride among Pensacola residents. Definitely take Route 399 to the coast (from Gulf Breeze) and visit the beach towns if you're in the Pensacola area.
The coastal towns are the main tourist attractions with their beautiful beaches, while the inland towns' tourist appeal consists of nature reserves and, in some cases, historical attractions. Small towns such as those to the east (Chipley and Marianna) serve as stops along the interstate and offer few activities for a tourist.
The natural preserves and parks include 1 Florida Caverns State Park, 2 Fort McRee, 3 Perdido Key State Park, 4 Ponce de Leon Springs State Recreation Area, 5 Three Rivers State Park, 6 Big Lagoon State Park, 7 Blackwater River State Park, and 8 Falling Waters State Park. Points of interest are explained in detail within the city articles in West Florida#Cities.
The cuisine is American here, and expect to find seafood and steak on the menu, particularly in coastal towns. The inland towns have few restaurants and rarely more than a couple diners.
Washington County (the location of Chipley) is a dry county. All other counties in the region are wet counties.
Hurricanes are the main danger in this region, and it's one of the most hurricane-prone areas in the U.S. Hurricane Ivan in 2004 did damage in the Pensacola, and Hurricane Michael in 2018 did more damage. Hurricanes of category 4 or 5 are not of the question in this area, so it's worth following updates on the NOAA website or other hurricane forecasts before planning a trip to the region. Hurricanes are worst in late summer but can occur across the hurricane season from June to November. The region also experiences some tornadoes.
- Alabama — Mobile is just over the border.
- Within Florida, traveling east is the only option. The Forgotten Coast and the Emerald Coast offer a continuation of the beaches found in West Florida, leading toward peninsular Florida. The only other large city on the Florida Panhandle, beside Pensacola, is Tallahassee, the state capital.