Florida’s Emerald Coast: Family Vacation Gem

The coast of the Florida panhandle is lined with gorgeous barrier beach islands. The snow-white sandy coastline extends from Pensacola (near the Alabama border) to Apalachicola (past Panama City). It’s a perfect vacation spot for families of any age.

I recommend Destin, nestled between Fort Walton and Miramar Beach for an extended visit because it offers everything you need from peaceful beach walks to all the amenities of home.

The sands of Destin are fine and soft. People compare it to getting a gentle foot massage. You’ll find that your feet are literally softer after a walk. 

Don’t forget your sunglasses! The white sand reflects the powerful Florida sun (as does the water). For that matter, bring a hat and sun lotion.

This stretch of land is known as the “Emerald Coast,” and for good reason! When you see the waves breaking at the shoreline, they’re a marvelous green. This place is a gem.

Interestingly, this gem is nestled in a well-established community. You can easily find groceries, including specialty goods, clothing, sun protection, and even electronics. It’s surprisingly suburban: Whole Foods, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy. These amenities mean three things:

  1. If you forgot anything, you’re covered.
  2. You can stay for a week or longer easily.
  3. You can avoid the junky tourist traps and opt for real stores instead.

If you like dining out, or sunset cocktails, consider Pompano Joe’s. Fantastic fresh seafood, delicious local gumbo, and a view that can’t be beaten. Dine on deck or order cocktails and enjoy the sun dropping over the horizon from the picnic benches or the water’s edge. For dessert, don’t forget the Key Lime Pie! This delicacy is made with the tiny tart fruits of the lime tree variety that grows best in the Florida Keys.

Beyond the beach, there are many other attractions. St. Andrew’s State Park is a remarkable preserve for nature lovers and bird watchers. Follow Hemmingway’s call and join a deep-sea fishing expedition. These waters are well known for award-winning sports fishing. If you’re combing your Florida visit with other travel, you’re only there hours from New Orleans.

The Emerald Coast can be as mellow or as lively as you choose. But rest assured, it’s not a crazy party scene. There’s a lively social welcoming vibe that’s not at all intrusive. It’s a culture that respects the peace and beauty of the coast. It’s suitable for families of all ages to enjoy.