Answers from Our Experts (1)
The Florida Gulf Coast is flush with purely recreational things to do (and places to play). Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the best things to see and do in the Florida Gulf Coast:
1. Play golf. Those who want to work on their swing can head to The Nicklaus Course at Bay Point Resort in Panama City. The only Jack Nicklaus-designed course in Northwest Florida, this 7,000-yard beauty offers views of the Grand Lagoon and St. Andrews Bay. If you aren’t quite up for this tricky challenge, The Meadows Course at Bay Point is nearby and offers easier greens.
2. Go fishing. While Panama City, Destin and Pensacola all offer an abundance of high-end fishing excursions, a more tranquil option is to head to the small fishing village of Steinhatchee near Cross City. Often times you’ll get a local angler to show you the ropes and point out a secret spot or two.
3. Take a walk in the park. The Florida Gulf Coast has 33 state parks — each one with its own unique features — the Florida Caverns Park in Marianna has caves to explore, Falling Rivers State Park has Florida’s tallest waterfall. If cycling is your passion, Tallahassee’s St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail is an ideal place to get your fix on its long, traffic-free path.
4. Go shopping. Both unique buys and bargains can be found in the Florida Gulf Coast. For more mainstream brands, check out the Panama City Mall, Destin Commons and Market Shops at Sandestin, along with countless outlet stores in the area. If a rare find is what you are after, peruse the goods at Smith’s Antiques & Interiors Market in Destin.
5. Hit the beach. Florida’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in the country, particularly in the Gulf Coast region. You can join the throng of spring breakers in Panama City or the more subdued crowd in Destin. Wherever you go, you will find the same soft white sand and aquamarine water.