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North America > United States of America > Florida > Florida Panhandle > West Florida

West Florida

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West Florida is in the Florida Panhandle region of Florida. This area is comprised of Calhoun, Escambia, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Santa Rosa, and Washington counties.


Other destinations[edit]

  • 1 Big Lagoon State Park is a 733-acre (2.97 km2) Florida State Park located on the northwestern Florida coast, approximately 10 miles southwest of Pensacola on Gulf Beach Highway. 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.
  • 2 Blackwater River State Park is a Florida State Park located fifteen miles northeast of Milton, near Harold, off U.S. 90. 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.
  • 3 Falling Waters State Park - a 171-acre Florida State Park located three miles south of Chipley, off State Road 77A, in northwestern Florida. The park contains a 73-foot waterfall, the highest in the state. The park has such amenities as birding, fishing, hiking, picnicking areas, swimming, wildlife viewing and full camping facilities. Concessions are also available.
  • 4 Florida Caverns State Park
  • 5 Fort McRee
  • 6 Gulf Islands National Seashore
  • 7 Perdido Key State Park
  • 8 Ponce de Leon Springs State Recreation Area
  • 9 Three Rivers State Park


It is a narrow strip lying between Alabama and Georgia to the north and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. Culturally and in terms of history and climate, the region is more closely tied to the Deep South than to peninsular Florida.

West Florida draws more than seven million visitors annually from around the world. Attractions include golf courses, zoos, world-class beaches, water sports and fine restaurants. It is second only to Orlando's Walt Disney World in terms of visitors traveling to Florida and is one of the most popular vacation destination in the country.

The Emerald Coast, which is slowly becoming the American Riviera, is an area in the southeastern United States on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, roughly bounded by Pensacola, Florida on the west and Panama City, Florida on the east. The area is known to have some of the most stunning and finest beaches in the world, famous for their sugar-white sands and warm, emerald-green waters. The beaches were also deemed to have the whitest sand in the world where it sparkled in the sun and squeaked when walked on. Contrary to popular belief, the sand is not bleached by the sun, but is comprised of Appalachian quartz that filters down to the coast from the mountains. The emerald-green color of the water is due to the sugar-white color of the sand laying beneath the clear blue water thus providing the area's namesake feature. The quartz sand on the beaches of the Panhandle is so white that some traders reportedly sold it as sugar in World War II.

The beach towns, many of which play host to college students during spring break. Popular vacation destinations include Pensacola Beach, Gulf Breeze, Navarre Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Panama City Beach, relative newcomer Destin, and Seaside, a development community whose iconic pastel-paint and tin-roof construction was made famous in the Jim Carrey movie The Truman Show, filmed in the area from 1996-1997. Other communities on the Emerald Coast include Perdido Key, Navarre, Sandestin, Grayton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, and Seagrove.

The area is known as a family drive destination, although in the past decade, its popularity has expanded greatly, leading to new construction booms and seemingly overnight changes. Many development communities similar to Seaside have sprung up in Walton County and the west end of Panama City Beach, raising property values, and some might argue, aesthetic appeal.

Deep-sea fishing is a huge draw for the area, with Destin holding the nickname "World's Luckiest Fishing Village" (and several saltwater world records) and Panama City Beach hosting the annual high-dollar Bay Point Billfish Invitational. Eating seafood is perhaps even more popular than catching it, with a seafood restaurant and/or oyster house seemingly on every other corner.

This roughly 100-mile stretch is home to several military bases, with installations including Pensacola Naval Air Station (home of the Navy's famed Blue Angels flying squadron and the initial training site where all naval aviators earn their "wings of gold"), Hurlburt Field, Eglin Air Force Base (one of the largest military bases in America), Tyndall Air Force Base (home to the Air Force's new F-22 Raptor fighter jets), Coastal Systems Station-Naval Surface Warfare Center (home to the Navy Experimental Diving Unit and Naval Diving & Salvage Training Center), and Corry Station Naval Technical Training Center. The Florida Panhandle has been marked by upscale developments in recent decades. These include Seaside, Sandestin, and countless others. In fact, development in the coastal area has become so commonplace that very little beachfront property remains untouched, unless it is under the stewardship of the Federal or State Government.

Get in[edit]

By Air[edit]

  • Pensacola International Airport - the gateway to the Western Florida Panhandle, and the largest airport in West Florida. Pensacola International will have flights to 18 destinations, across the United States, starting in Summer of 2018.
  • Fort Walton Beach-Destin Airport - this airport, while smaller than Pensacola's airport, still serves a number of destinations, and is a focus city for Allegiant.

Get around[edit]


  • Escambia Bay
  • Fort Pickens
  • Naval Air Station Pensacola




Stay safe[edit]

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to West Florida is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!