Northwest Florida - Hotels, Motels & Area Information

The Emerald Coast of Florida || Florida Gulf Coast Hotels & Motels || Destin :: Panama City Beach :: Santa Rosa Beach

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NORTHWEST, FLORIDA
The gulf coast of Florida, often referred to as "The Emerald Coast", is located in Northwest Florida. Florida's panhandle has a coastline of clear, clean, emerald green waters only found in this area of the state. NorthwestFL.com contains descriptions of the gulf coast cities, as well as destinations included the surrounding Northwest Florida area. You will never be disappointed in the sugar-white sand beaches of Northwest Florida. Thanks for allowing us help in planning your visit to this beautiful destination!

A dignified city, Pensacola blends the influences of outstanding beach, military intrigue, arts, nature and history to create a many-faceted destination where there’s something for everyone. As Florida’s original settlement, its colonization predates St. Augustine by four years. Unfortunately the colony failed and only one single white cross atop a dune on Pensacola Beach commemorates Spaniard Tristan de Luna’s attempt. Northwest Florida Gulf Coast BeachesAlthough it’s not like Pensacola has a shortage of historic sites and buildings. Its importance as the capital of colonial West Florida and as kingpin of Civil War strategy is remembered in great forts, downtown historic districts, a Civil War soldiers museum, and an annual Fiesta of Five Flags, which every June honors the town’s various sovereignties: Spain, France, England, the United States and the Confederacy. :: Pensacola, FL Hotels >

The town of Gulf Breeze, Florida lies between the beach and Pensacola on a peninsula at the mouth of the bay. To the east, small town Navarre Beach crosses a bridge to Santa Rosa Island. A new state park opened recently across from the beach, where a 900-foot fishing pier is central to activities, acclaimed for its stellar spring catches. Gulf Breeze is known for its frequent UFO sightings and a zoo that families love. Also for families, Pensacola offers Dinosaur Adventure Land, a hands-on center with a prehistoric theme. :: Gulf Breeze, FL Hotels >

Still more fort ruins lie on Perdido Key, an out-of-the-way island that meets up with Alabama at the famous Flori-bama Lounge. Here you can take a long, secluded shoreline stroll along the deserted, powder beaches of another part of the National Seashore. Just off the island, Big Lagoon State Park harbors 698 acres of coastal ecology where gray foxes, nuthatches and cardinals live. :: Also see > Northwest Florida State Parks



The Pensacola Scenic Bluffs Highway leads northward out of town to Milton, often hailed as the “Canoe Capital of Florida.” Here the Coldwater, Blackwater, Sweetwater and Juniper waterways make canoeing, kayaking, rafting, paddle-boating and inner-tubing favorite summer pastimes. The Blackwater River is especially loved by paddlers for its white sand bottoms and beaches. Camping and biking facilities are also available.

Traveling East to Destin, Florida you'll find the sand just doesn’t get much whiter than this, and that’s only the beginning of what’s so special about this well-loved band of Gulf of Mexico beachfront dubbed the Emerald Coast. Gulf Coast Florida Beach HotelThe water is bright green, the dunes are lofty, the fish are plentiful, and the excitement doesn’t quit. For families, for lovers, for anyone, this is the superlative in Florida beach vacationing. Book a room in a beachfront bed and breakfast, a marina motel, a rental condo, or a name-brand hotel. Then grab your fishing pole. Destin earns its name as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” by virtue of its famed emerald Gulf shore. :: ...read more about Destin, FL >

The Destin Bridge crosses East Pass to Fort Walton Beach, an older beach community with lots of affordable resorts and family pastimes. To get between the two towns, you pass through one section of Gulf Islands National Seashore, a dramatic landscape of drifted blinding white sand that often puts northern visitors in mind of snow. On the Seashore’s bay side, a public access makes a popular recreational spot for boaters, water-skiers, wave runners and parasailers. Destin hotels and motels are plentiful but make certain you book your reservation on-line before you arrive! :: Fort Walton Beach, FL Hotels >

Beach shops, lively bars, go-kart tracks, batting cages, amusement parks, water sports concessions and beach accesses line the beach’s main drag on Fort Walton Beach’s Okaloosa Island. The Boardwalk is an energetic center of activity with restaurants, clubs, the town’s fishing pier, beach volleyball and the classic Florida’s Gulfarium, entertaining families with flipping dolphins and comical seals since 1955. The island road ends at the entrance to Eglin Air Force Base, inaccessible to civilians.

On the mainland, separated from the island by the wide and beautiful Choctawhatchee Bay, Fort Walton Beach’s livelihood as a military town becomes more evident, especially at U.S. Air Force Armament – all about weapons and aerial fighting machines. Downtown comprises a few square blocks along the bay front with perky little shops, a hometown park, a 17-foot-tall Indian mound and accompanying museum, and the Emerald Coast Science Center, a hands-on haven for kids.

Gifts From The South - Tumbled-marble Stone Coasters

Northwest Florida Cities:

Beaches of South Walton
Blue Mountain Beach
Crestview
DeFuniak Springs
Destin
Dune Allen

Fort Walton Beach
Freeport Grayton Beach
Marianna

Mary Esther
Mexico Beach
Navarre

Navarre Beach
Niceville
Okaloosa Island

Panama City Beach
Pensacola
Perdido Key
Port St. Joe

Rosemary Beach
Sandestin
Santa Rosa Beach
Seacrest Beach
Seagrove
Seaside

Life is a beach... and an amusement park ride, in Panama City Beach, Florida. Two of life’s greatest pleasures come together in one big playground. A favorite for families, especially in spring and summer, Panama City Beach lays out a dizzying selection of parks offering kiddy rides, go-kart tracks, batting cages, paintball, laser tag, a maze, water attractions and miniature golf. Equal in number and variety, its water sports concessions and charters accommodate with glass-bottom boat tours, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, parasailing, kayaking, wave running and anything else water-bound you can fantasize. Choose from a high-speed powerboat ride to a leisurely sail aboard a pirate ship or dinner cruise yacht. Divers take advantage of Panama City Beach’s reputation for shipwrecks dating back to World War II. Fishermen cast for billfish, especially during July’s Bay Point Invitational Billfish Tournament, as well as cobia, mackerel, redfish, pompano and ladyfish. Panama City Beach hotels and motels along the gulf beach are numerous, but make sure you book your reservation on-line before you travel. :: ... read more about Panama City Beach >

St. Andrews, the bay front's original settlement, lures visitors with unusual shops, salty restaurants and a bustling marina full of shrimping and fishing boats. It is stage for the annual holiday Boat Parade of Lights. In April, the neighborhood celebrates its sea bounty with a Shrimp & Oyster Festival. A cycling tour visits historic buildings and sites dating back to 1886. Hop on the Bay Town Trolley to explore the county. Entertainment awaits in the form of bowling, ice skating, greyhound racing, helicopter rides, superlative golf and nature and heritage exploration.

In Panama City’s backyard you will find unusual parks that honor this wild and rural area. In Blountstown, visit the Panhandle Pioneer Settlement, a collection of historic log homes and other country-town structures. Hotels and High-Rise Condos on the Northwest Florida CoastFor deep woods recreation, take to the hiking, biking and horseback riding trails of Pine Log State Forest, Florida’s first state forest near Ebro, Florida. Favorite pastimes include picnicking, camping, fishing, boating, swimming and bird-watching. For more hiking, follow the portion of the Florida Trail currently under development along pristine, bluff-lined Econfina Creek, also a favorite with canoeists and kayakers.

On the Western end of Florida's panhandle, you'll find whopper catches, certain shellfish, and a sense of rural peace and pacing pervade this flashback strip of Florida's Gulf Coast. When you cross the dramatic bridge over the Apalachicola River from the east, time drops you back into the antebellum era. A battalion of brick buildings along the riverfront in Apalachicola reverses time some 170 years, back to the town’s heyday as a thriving shipping port for cotton. The Florida Gulf Coast hotels and motels are beautiful, spacious and affordable. See our hotel and motel links on each page.

Today, oysters are more synonymous with Apalachicola than cotton. The waters of Apalachicola Bay, where the river flushes into the sea, make oysters happy as, well, clams. Apalachicola’s fast-growing oysters have a reputation for sweetness and succulence. Learn more about the ecology of the bay at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve waterfront education center, home to exhibits on local flora and fauna, an aviary, and giant live fish tanks.

Today oysters are farmed in the bay and harvested by oystermen with long-handled tongs and wooden flats boats. Fish houses line the waterfront of Apalachicola and neighboring town of Eastpoint, selling the prized shellfish. The town brags that it produces more than 90 percent of Florida’s oysters and 10 percent of the oysters America eats.

Sugar-white sand beach in Destin, FloridaIt also boasts more antebellum sites than anywhere else in Florida. Upwards of 200 homes and commercial buildings, which hold boutiques, shops, galleries, restaurants, churches and B&Bs, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The circa-1912 Dixie Theatre hosts a summer repertory group. John Gorrie Museum State Park commemorates the 19th-century doctor who invented an ice-making machine, the precursor to modern air conditioning, while searching for a way to make his yellow fever victims more comfortable.

From Eastpoint, one can reach out-of-the-way, 28-mile-long St. George Island via bridge. Here begins the renowned blinding-white, dunes-piled sand beaches of the Florida Panhandle. An intimate inn and rental homes along the beach accommodate vacationers to the skinny island. The best place to take to the beach is St. George Island State Park, where it remains in its natural state of ghost crabs, salt-dwarfed pines, wild rosemary and reindeer moss. On the beach side, loggerhead and green sea turtles lumber ashore to lay eggs every summer. On the bay side, salt marshes host snakes, turtles and a variety of fish among their reeds.

Fishing is St. George Island’s long suit, and you can catch a charter into bay or gulf tours take you canoeing or boating in search of nature or off to islands unconnected by bridge to the mainland. The largest of these, St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, is sanctuary to a rare mix of native animals and exotics that have survived from the island’s former life as a hunting preserve. Here, Asian sambar deer co-exist with native white-tailed deer and reintroduced red wolves.

East of Eastpoint, the tiny town of Carrabelle, Florida offers some of the best charter fishing around. It also has antique shops, art galleries and claims the smallest police station in the world, the size of a phone booth. Here’s another good place to get your fill of fresh oysters at casual fish houses along the waterfront.

Whereas Apalachicola’s world may be the oyster, in nearby Port St. Joe the crustacean of renown is the bay scallop, harvested recreationally during the summer months. Charters take water sports enthusiasts on scalloping expeditions and also snorkeling and diving to local wrecks and ledges. Port St. Joe is the site of Florida’s first Constitution Convention and a museum remembers it and the erstwhile town of St. Joseph.

For sun time, head to Mexico Beach, one of Florida’s least developed beach towns with a mañana sort of personality that earns it its name. The area’s other beaches hide well away from crowds and traffic on a thin peninsula of sand known as Cape San Blas. Finding it requires a trip off the beaten path known as Highway 98, through forests of skyscraping pines and magnolias. A state park and 1,650-acre wilderness area occupy the reclusive far end of the cape, with camping, beaching among the towering dunes, fishing and wildlife spotting as favorite pastimes.

Follow the Apalachee Savannahs Scenic Byway north through the longleaf pines and cypress thickets of 564,000-acre Apalachicola National Forest, where more opportunities abound for hiking, biking, canoeing and wilderness camping in this land where nature still rules.

Northwest Florida
Average Temperatures

Month High Low
Jan 61 37
Feb 65 40
Mar 71 46
Apr 78 51
May 84 60
Jun 90 68
Jul 91 71
Aug 91 71
Sept 88 66
Oct 80 54
Nov 72 46
Dec 64 39

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