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Best Florida Panhandle Beaches For A Vacation

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Best Florida Panhandle Beaches For A Vacation

Are you looking for the perfect beach vacation spot? Look no further than these Florida Panhandle Beaches.

From the crystal clear waters of Destin to the sugary white sand of Panama City Beach which is my favorite. Then add in a sprinkle of some of the most beautiful state parks, and you will find Florida’s Gulf of Mexico has something for everyone.

Whether your idea of a perfect day includes lounging in the sun, variety of water sports and activities, or getting in touch with nature, Florida Gulf Coast offers some of the best beaches in the world and then some.

Emerald waters, artificial reefs, rare coastal dune lakes and more awaits your visit to this part of Northwest Florida.

Let’s start by exploring the Florida Panhandle Beaches located in State Parks

Florida has some of the most beautiful state and national parks and forests to explore. Many of these state parks have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Florida Panhandle Beaches in Florida State Parks

Grayton Beach State Park

Grayton Beach State Park is not only one beautiful Florida state park located in Walton County, Florida, it is a great place for a beach vacation as well. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to sundown year round. Admission is $5 per vehicle or $2 for pedestrians and cyclists. 

This State Park offers visitors 1,200 acres of natural beauty to explore. There are more than three miles of undeveloped beachfront on the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Miramar, as well as nature trails, a freshwater lake, and plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreation. 

The park can be accessed by car via U.S. Route 98 or by bicycle or if you see other folks with backpacks while exploring the nature trail, thru hikers come through this park on the Florida Trail renamed the Florida National Scenic Trail.

There are several pavilions which can be reserved for picnics or gatherings, as well as restrooms and showers available on site. 

One of the main attractions at Grayton Beach State Park is its wide variety of wildlife which can be observed. Enjoy watching while hiking on the nature trails or simply relaxing looking out at the emerald green water from the beach.

Visitors may see deer, alligators, sea turtles, shorebirds, and more! The sunsets here are also spectacular and make for a great photo opportunity. 

Henderson Beach State Park

Henderson Beach State Park Henderson Beach State Park is a Florida State Park located on the Emerald Coast in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. The park is open from 8am to sundown year round.

This beach features some of the most magnificent sand dunes along the Florida Panhandle coastline. Standing up to 30 feet tall and spanning hundreds of yards along the shoreline, these dunes are truly breathtaking.

The park provides many activities for visitors interested in exploring Florida’s natural beauty. Enjoy camping, beachcombing for shells and fossils, sunbathing on the white sandy beaches.

More active? Try kayaking through the shallow bays and lagoons around the park, surf fishing from the shoreline or pier.

There are also three picnic pavilions, multiple picnic tables and a playground area. The park can be accessed by car or bicycle and there is a $6 entrance fee per vehicle.

St. Andrews State Park

This state park is the perfect spot for a beach vacation. Here you can explore miles of white sand beaches and take advantage of the park’s many water activities, such as swimming, snorkeling, fishing and kayaking.

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park offers some of the most pristine Florida beaches. With over nine miles of secluded shores, this Florida Panhandle State Park beach is a paradise for nature lovers.

Stroll along the gorgeous shoreline and take in breathtaking views, or go kayaking, swimming, fishing and more!

Perdido Key State Park

Perdido Key State Park is the next state park on my list, and it is the perfect Florida Panhandle beach vacation spot!

With miles of undeveloped beaches and warm, crystal clear waters, it’s no wonder this Florida beach is a top destination for tourists.

Enjoy a variety of activities like swimming, snorkeling, fishing and much more.

Big Lagoon State Park

Big Lagoon State Park is the perfect Florida beach getaway. With miles of unspoiled, less crowded white sand beaches, plenty of wildlife and a variety of water activities, this Florida Panhandle state park is one of the most popular in the area.

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is the final state park on my list and truly a Florida Panhandle gem.

Enjoy three miles of pristine beaches and plenty of wildlife. Also, available to enjoy are fishing, swimming, snorkeling and much more!

Florida Panhandle Beach Towns

Now let’s dig into the best Florida Panhandle Beaches not in the state parks. I am going to highlight some you may have already heard about and mix in a few smaller beaches you may not be familiar with.

You may be familiar with some of the beaches on this list from previous articles. This area is definitely my number one beach destination in Florida.

Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach is Florida’s absolute beach paradise, with miles of glorious white sand beaches and pristine sapphire waters. And it’s my number one of all the Florida Panhandle Beaches.

This Florida Panhandle beach destination offers an array of activities for the whole family to enjoy, from swimming and soaking in the sun to a thrilling nightlife scene.

The beautiful white sand beach stretches along 27 miles of shoreline, providing plenty of space to spread out and relax.

With over 200 hotels, even more vacation homes to choose from and 17 different public beach access points, visitors can find their own slice of paradise while they explore Panama City Beach.

Aside from lounging on the beach or by the pool, guests can embark upon many outdoor adventures such as stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, parasailing, fishing charters and more.

Get away from the crowds on the beach and rent a pontoon boat to head over to Shell Island. This uninhabited island is one of the best places to look for shells and snorkel.

For those looking for something a bit more tranquil, there are plenty of shops including Pier Park and various surf shops to explore, Gulf World Marine Park is the perfect place to take the family or visit one of the local breweries for great craft beer.

At night, Panama City Beach comes alive with clubs playing top 40 music, retro beach tunes, karaoke for memorable singalongs and more. Truly something for every taste in music.

Panama City Beach Sunset DeniseSanger.com
Panama City Beach Sunset DeniseSanger.com

Foodies will be delighted with the variety of restaurants serving up fresh seafood delicacies including Florida lobster rolls.

This beach does tend to get hit with spring break. If you are planning to visit anytime during March and April, you may want to choose some of the other least crowded beaches on this list.

Destin Beach

Destin Beach offers miles of pristine beaches and beautiful clear waters. This Florida Panhandle beach town offers a variety of activities, from fishing to parasailing, boating to deep-sea fishing.

Destin Beach itself offers something for everyone with plenty of space to relax in the sun or take part in some more adventurous water sports. Not only is Destin called the world’s luckiest fishing village, it is also one of the best places for scuba divers too.

From the Destin Jetties to wreckage of Tugboat Janet and Mohawk Chief, divers can explore the vibrant marine life this part of the United States is known for.

For those looking for a little extra thrill, why not try jet skiing or even kiteboarding? If you prefer more leisurely activities, the beach offers swimming and snorkeling opportunities where visitors can explore the abundance of vibrant sea life found here.

Aside from its many attractions on the beach, Destin Beach provides an opportunity to explore Florida’s rich history as well.

Head out on a boat tour to visit some nearby barrier islands such as Crab Island and Santa Rosa Island; these islands are home to ancient Native American artifacts including shell mounds that date back thousands of years!

There are also many unique shops and eateries for visitors to explore here in Destin Beach, making it one of the best beach towns in the Sunshine State.

Navarre Beach

Navarre Beach boasts miles of pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters that are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and more.

This great beach town not only has a stunning shoreline, but also an abundance of wildlife that visitors can observe in the area.

Whether it’s bird watching or dolphin spotting, visitors to Navarre Beach will be able to soak up the Florida sun while also taking in the beauty of nature.

The beach is also home to a variety of activities like fishing and parasailing, so there’s something for everyone.

With plenty of restaurants, bars and shopping nearby too, Navarre Beach is the ideal spot for a Florida beach vacation.

Pensacola Beach

Pensacola Beach is Florida’s premier beach destination and one of the best Florida Panhandle beach towns. Here, you can find miles of white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and plenty of wildlife.

Best Things To Do In Pensacola Beach Florida

With a variety of activities such as fishing, kayaking, swimming, parasailing and deep-sea fishing, Pensacola Beach is the perfect spot for a Florida beach vacation.

Visitors to Pensacola Beach can explore the many attractions and activities that the area has to offer while taking in stunning views of the Gulf Coast.

From renting a boat out on the bay to discovering local wildlife in its natural habitat, there are plenty of opportunities to make your beach vacation memorable.

Visitors can also enjoy various delicious seafood restaurants with fresh-caught seafood delivered straight from the docks at Big Lagoon State Park.

Pensacola Beach also offers unique shopping experiences like boutique stores along main drag and open-air markets where visitors can find handmade jewelry or souvenirs to take home with them.

This beach as well as several others including those in Alabama are part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore along with Perdido Key and Santa Rosa Island.

Cape San Blas

The white sand beaches of Cape San Blas have some of the highest dune elevations in Florida, ranging from 30 to 40 feet high in some places.

The park offers many nature hikes along these dunes where visitors can take in views of the Florida wildlife and vegetation.

There are also designated beach access points which provide easy access to shallow parts of the Gulf suited for children and families. This allows you to enjoy a day at the beach without the kids venturing out too far in the water.

For those seeking a more adventurous getaway, Cape San Blas also features various camping spots throughout the park suitable for tents or RVs alike.

Whether it’s pitching a tent under the Florida stars or enjoying nature walks along pristine sand dunes, this Florida Panhandle beach provides a unique vacation experience like no other.

Santa Rosa Beach

Santa Rosa Beach is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast and known for its pristine, idyllic beaches and crystal clear waters.

With miles of secluded beaches and untouched nature, it’s no wonder this Florida Panhandle beach town is one of the most popular in Florida.

Enjoy activities like swimming, snorkeling, fishing and much more! Whether you’re looking for a quiet escape or an adventure-filled day at the beach, Santa Rosa Beach has something for everyone.

The views here are breathtaking; you can enjoy the warm sand between your toes while taking in panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.

Plenty of wildlife to be seen, such as sea turtles and dolphins playing in the surf. And the sunsets! The sunsets here are some of the best Florida has to offer.

For those looking for an extra thrill, there are plenty of water sports to choose from—from kiteboarding to paddleboarding or even surfing.

On top of that you can explore a variety of shops and restaurants along 30A Highway that runs through Santa Rosa Beach.

TIP: While you are enjoying Santa Rosa Beach, be sure to make time for Blue Mountain Beach. This is one gorgeous stretch of coastal shoreline with its breathtaking white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming, snorkeling or fishing expedition.

Fort Walton Beach

Fort Walton Beach is tucked away in Florida’s Panhandle, it’s the perfect destination for a relaxed beach vacation with miles of pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and plenty of wildlife to explore.

There are so many fun things to do at one of the most beautiful Emerald Coast Beaches. Enjoy swimming, snorkeling and kayaking in these warm waters and even deep-sea fishing.

This beach town has a laid-back atmosphere which makes it the ideal spot for those looking for some tranquility on their Florida beach vacation.

The Best Fort Walton Beach Florida Beaches

The area also offers a number of outdoor activities to choose from. Bike paths to golf courses, as well as many restaurants and nightlife spots where you can experience Florida’s unique culture.

Also, nearby and located as well along Florida’s Emerald Coast, South Walton Beach is one of the most popular Florida Panhandle beaches. It has miles of turquoise waters and white-sand beaches perfect for swimming, surfing, or soaking up the sun’s rays.

Keep in mind the nearby state parks mentioned above as they provide access to great nature trails for hiking and biking. Visitors can also explore the area by kayak or paddleboard through the coastal dune lakes.

South Walton Beach is home to a variety of attractions such as art galleries, shops, restaurants, and festivals. It is known for having some of the best family-friendly amenities on Florida’s Gulf Coast such as playgrounds and live music throughout the summer months.

Miramar Beach

Miramar Beach is Florida’s paradise and one of Florida Panhandle’s best-kept secrets. This Florida beach town has miles of pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and plenty of wildlife for visitors to enjoy.

From swimming and snorkeling to kayaking and fishing, there are activities for everyone here! Other popular activities include stand-up paddleboarding, parasailing, surfing, bird watching, dolphin spotting, and sunbathing.

In addition to the beautiful beaches, Miramar Beach also offers a variety of restaurants serving local delicacies as well as an array of shops filled with souvenirs and gifts.

Seagrove Beach

If you’re looking for a quiet, peaceful Florida beach town to relax on your vacation, look no further than Seagrove Beach.

This charming Florida Panhandle beach town is located on Florida’s Emerald Coast and known for its sugar-white sand beaches and aquamarine waters as are the other beaches on this list.

Plenty of activities to choose from like swimming, fishing, kayaking, and sunbathing, as well as an array of shops and restaurants to explore.

The views here are as breathtaking as the beaches mentioned above. Enjoy the sound of waves crashing against the shore while taking in panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.

There’s also plenty of wildlife to be seen here such as dolphins playing in the surf or sea turtles nesting on the beach.

Plus, the sunsets here are some of the best Florida has to offer and one of the best things is it is not as crowded as other nearby beaches.

Rosemary Beach

Rosemary Beach has miles of glistening white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and plenty of wildlife for visitors to enjoy.

From swimming and snorkeling to kayaking and fishing, there are activities for everyone here! You can also enjoy the water sports of stand-up paddleboarding, parasailing and surfing.

The wildlife viewing at Rosemary Beach is incredible. Spot dolphins playing in the surf or sea turtles nesting on the beach.

There are also a variety of shops and restaurants throughout Rosemary Beach for visitors to explore, featuring local delicacies as well as souvenirs and gifts.

Plenty of restaurants serving locally caught seafood as well as many shops where visitors can purchase souvenirs and gifts.

Take some time and explore by bike. There are several fantastic bike/multipurpose trails nearby to hop and take off.

Love to golf? Some of the state’s prettiest golf courses are right here in this area. Beautiful views, laid-back atmosphere and abundance of activities to enjoy.

St. George Island Beach

St. George Island is a barrier island off the coast and a must-see Florida beach destination that will take your breath away. The state park at the end of the island by itself is definitely one place you need to visit.

With miles of breathtaking shoreline and spectacular landscapes, St. George Island is a Florida Panhandle paradise. Swim or snorkel in the crystal clear waters of the Gulf.

In the state park, are boat launches for those that prefer to kayak or paddleboard. Serene beaches offer stunning views of the sparkling blue waters while the white sand stretches out beckoning you to take a beach walk.

At sunset, enjoy some of Florida’s best sunsets that light up the sky in brilliant hues of orange, pink and gold.

Getting to St. George Island is easy and there are a variety of options depending on your travel needs. The most popular way to reach the island is by car.

It may take some time depending on your starting point, but the drive on the scenic highway is one to check out.

St. George Island

The closest airport to St. George Island is Tallahassee International Airport (TLH) which is about 75 miles away from the island. From there you can rent a car or take a taxi for the remaining trip to St. George Island.

Or, you can also fly into Panama City International Airport (ECP) and make the short drive south along Florida’s panhandle.

Okaloosa Island Beach

Okaloosa Island is located in the area and calls to you with stunning beaches, emerald green water, and abundance of outdoor activities.

From swimming and snorkeling to kayaking and fishing, there are plenty of water sports and activities to enjoy.

For those who prefer to stay on land, there are plenty of other activities such as golf courses or nature walks along the picturesque shoreline.

Looking for an even more adventurous experience? How about camping?

You can have an unforgettable camping experience with direct access to the beach while still having all modern amenities such as bathrooms and showers available nearby.

Check out the camping options here: Okaloosa Campgrounds and RV Parks.

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About Denise

Denise Sanger lives a life split between her love for fitness and her passion for travel particularly to the BEACH.  Denise also has a love of marketing and lives in beautiful Suwannee County, Florida. You can find out more about Denise here: About Denise