The Emerald Coast is a beautiful piece of paradise stretching through seven counties in Florida's panhandle. The entire region is world renown for its white sand beaches and crystal clear water, which makes it a sought after travel destination. Along with the beautiful coastline, there are several quaint towns that are worth visiting, some being on the beach while others are inland. These are the towns where the "real" Florida culture can be experienced.
Seaside is a picturesque town that was used as the setting for The Truman Show in 1998. A stroll through town shows why this town was chosen for the movie. The cobblestone streets wind through pastel colored houses in late 20th century New Urban design.
This 80 acre resort community was built in 1981 and is a haven for the traveler looking for artisan shops, boutique shopping, and picture perfect beaches. Sundowners can go to the two story Bud and Alley's to enjoy gorgeous sunsets to cap off a day of strolling through town. This is a purposely built seaside resort town and among the prettiest along the Emerald Coast.
Crestview, in Okaloosa County, is widely known for being home to Eglin Air Force Base but it is also a quaint town with a storied history. Along with its history and historic downtown area, it is also home to the Emerald Coast Zoo, a popular tourist attraction.
The town embodies the best of small town Florida and is considered by the state to be a Main Street Town and is part of the Community Redevelopment Agency. Crestview's name was chosen because it rests at the top of a peak between the Shoal and Yellow rivers.
Destin is home to world famous sugar sand beaches and is known as the world's "luckiest fishing village" for good reason. The sport fishing is some of the best in the world, but Destin also has a beautiful history and is a family friendly destination.
This beach town is home to the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, several golf courses, and nature trails in Henderson Beach State Park. There is also a water park and, for a relaxing sun soaked day, historic downtown is worth a leisurely stroll.
Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach (PCB) may be the country's leading Spring Break destinations, but the town has so much more to offer. The beachside town is home to two nature preserves, miles of hiking trails, and St. Andrews State Park. There are also theme parks and a Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum.
Though the 27 miles of beach front is the biggest draw, there is also a downtown historic district with a pleasant mix of brick buildings, boutiques, and eateries for every appetite. This is a great place to visit for playing in the sun and revisiting Old Florida history.
Fort Walton Beach
Fort Walton Beach, also known as the Redneck Riviera by locals, is home to museums, including a marine park, wooded trails, and championship golf courses. This is the perfect getaway for an outdoor adventure that is also shaded by Florida history.
The main historical site is the Fort Walton Mound. This archaeological site was built in 850 CE and, though diminished by time, still stands tall at twelve feet. This is a quaint, well manicured coastal town that has plenty to do for the entire family.
Rosemary Beach is an unincorporated town that is not as well known as the more touristy towns nearby, which is part of its charm. The highlights of the town are its architecture and fine dining. The homes and commercial buildings resemble New Orleans or West Indies architecture that is reminiscent of Charleston, South Carolina.
The quaint buildings are what make this a "walking" town and add to the charm of the white sand beaches and salt tinged air. Only a town since 1995, Rosemary Beach exudes small Florida character and embraces fine dining as its signature cultural signature.
The Emerald Coast in Florida's panhandle is an idyllic location that is immersed in rich history and incomparable natural beauty. Between the white sand beaches, upscale amenities, and nature preserves, there is something for everyone here. The adventurous fishing is sought after by anglers around the world and the funky and eclectic historic districts are a sight to behold.