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Vacation Spots in Florida Panhandle/Gulf Coast

tired alreadytired already 249 replies88 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 337 Member
We are trying to plan a vacation that is convenient for multiple family members and it seems like the Florida Panhandle or Gulf Coast might work best for flights and time. Unfortunately we don't know anything about the location and the info I can find on Florida is mostly about the amusement parks. There is some info about the beaches, but having never been there I am looking for more. We definitely need the beach, but would also like decent restaurants and a little night life. Not so much bar scene but things to do after dinner or on a rainy day.

If anyone has visited the area and could make some suggestions I would appreciate it. Thank you.
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Replies to: Vacation Spots in Florida Panhandle/Gulf Coast

  • saillakeeriesaillakeerie 2184 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,184 Senior Member
    We went to Orange Beach a few years ago and loved it.
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  • 1or2Musicians1or2Musicians 1365 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,365 Senior Member
    We go to Pensacola beach. Not as developed as some areas (Destin comes to mind) because it's surrounded by national seashore. But there are restaurants on the island and more if you drive back across the sound. There's also the naval air museum--don't know if that would interest your group but it was great for entertaining my kids on rainy days.
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  • greenwitchgreenwitch 8623 replies41 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 8,664 Senior Member
    Haven't been there yet but hope to soon. The water gets clearer and the sand gets whiter once you're on the East side of Mobile. From there to Port St. Joe it's all beautiful.
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  • Nrdsb4Nrdsb4 16654 replies156 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 16,810 Senior Member
    I've been to Destin, Seaside, and Watercolor. Very nice beaches, probably is pretty touristy, but that is because it's a very desirable location. White sand beaches if I recall correctly.
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  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 6626 replies139 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,765 Senior Member
    Siesta Key/Sarasota - best beach in the world and Sarasota is a good-sized city with things to do and see. Also, other islands nearby with boutique shopping, etc.
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  • jrcsmomjrcsmom 926 replies24 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 950 Member
    edited June 2016
    My son's a student at Bama and in 4 years of visits I haven't made it all the way down to the coast, but this summer I will be travelling with my sister and her young kids and after a quick visit to see son, we're spending the rest of the week in Gulf Shores.

    I'll be travelling with kids (age 6, 7, and a toddler), so what we've looked into may be different than your interests, but here are some of the things we've found -

    We're going to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo (http://www.alabamagulfcoastzoo.org/) - even I'm excited about the prospect of holding a baby kangaroo!

    We're taking the ferry to Dauphin Island and stopping at the Esturaium (http://www.disl.org/Estuarium), even though some reviews say it's REALLY small. There's also a civil war era fort there that I'd stop at, but not sure it will hold the attention of kids. Plus Shell Mound state park and bird watching for those with an interest in nature.

    The Wharf (http://alwharf.com/) has a ferris wheel, mini golf, and a movie theater.

    And we're going to drive to Foley, AL to stop at the outlet mall and http://www.throwedrolls.com/ (how can you vacation with children and not stop at the restaurant where they throw rolls at you? ;) )

    I looked into going to Pensecola one day to Aviation museum and watch the Blue Angels, but they won't be there the week we're in town, so guess we'll just spend that day on the beach.

    Now if I were instead travelling with my son, now in his early 20s, instead of the kids, he'd prefer to keep driving to the casinos in Biloxi.

    edited June 2016
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  • CTmom2018CTmom2018 787 replies10 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 797 Member
    edited June 2016
    My parents retired to Panama City Beach, which has its own airport because of how popular it has become for spring breakers (in distinction to nearby Panama City, which also has an airport.) It's about a half hour drive to Seaside from there. Mom and Dad loved living there.
    edited June 2016
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  • NEPatsGirlNEPatsGirl 2844 replies106 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,950 Senior Member
    Destin (more touristy) and Pensacola Beach (more honky tonk) are great locations with fantastic beaches.
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  • jasmomjasmom 1116 replies37 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,153 Senior Member
    Also take a look at Sandestin.
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  • eastcoascrazyeastcoascrazy 2519 replies22 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,541 Senior Member
    See the Gulf Islands National Seashore and Fort Pickins near Pensacola. Georgeous, and pristine.

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  • conmamaconmama 4036 replies292 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,328 Senior Member
    I've been to Destin and it's very nice. Beautiful water and beach. But my favorite, hands down, is Siesta Key/ Sarasota. Tons of stuff to do by the beach and just 20 minutes away in the thriving Sarasota downtown area and St. Armand's Circle.
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  • partyof5partyof5 2549 replies125 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,674 Senior Member
    I would recommend Destin, the beaches are beautiful
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  • MomofWildChildMomofWildChild 22506 replies188 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 22,694 Senior Member
    Destin is very young-family-ish, though. I think it's a little better to head for Watercolor/Seaside and the like. Destin is also more crowded.
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  • tired alreadytired already 249 replies88 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 337 Member
    Thank you all for your ideas. I should add that the youngest person in our group is 19 so we have young adults and middle aged adults. Thanks again.
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  • Sally22Sally22 712 replies10 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 722 Member
    Look at the 30A area, this is the stretch of road from San Destin to Panama City. Some high end places ( Seaside, WaterColor). We have been going to this area for 20 years and have watched the growth. You can still find the charm of small beach communites along the stretch.

    Bike rental very common, beautiful beaches and great restaurants. We tend to stay closer to Destin at Santa Rosa.
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