Top 5 Small Beach Towns on Florida’s Gulf CoastPosted on: April 03, 2013 | Written By Staff | | No Comments
Florida’s Gulf Coast has been long known for its Spring Break crowds, more specifically Panama City Beach, but over the past few years, the area has put forth much effort to rebrand what was once mostly referred to as the “Redneck Riviera” as the more alluring “Emerald Coast.” Today, millions of tourists flock to the Panhandle beaches because they are convenient to many of the southeast states, but more so because of the breathtaking beaches of the Gulf Coast. It is not an exaggeration when you hear that the waters are emerald green and the sand sugary white.
So, you’re sold. But now lies the question of which beach is which and what Florida Panhandle destination beach is the best for your next vacay.
After Panama City Beach and Destin, probably the most well-known Panhandle beach is Seaside, movie set of the 90s film the Truman Show starring Jim Carrey. Recognizable by its quaint and colorful beachy cottages, the architecture of Seaside, Florida is what typically first draws people in with its revival style that is reminiscent of the architectural designs of Charleston, Antebellum, and Victorian periods. While the architectural influence on the roof lines and materials used in Seaside construction may bring visitors to the area, it’s what lies deeper that keeps people coming back. This sleepy little laidback town is the realization of a vision that saw a small town similar to an old-world European village where walking is the favorite pastime of the populace. No need for a car here. While some people seek out excitement and adventure in other Panhandle destinations, those who come to Seaside find the peace and quiet that they’ve longed for.
As for the beach, it is peppered with nine distinct pavilions that guard the entrances to the serene and immense calm of the turquoise waters that is Seaside. This beach town is best saved for families and sightseers, as there’s no wild strip going through the middle of town or crazy nightclubs that stay open until dawn. What you see is what you get in Seaside—breathtaking landscapes, beautiful architecture, and people as warm as the sun.
If you enjoy a more artsy community, Grayton Beach has funk and character like no other beach town in the Panhandle. Crushed oyster shells pave the streets lined with Hemingway-esque wooden houses that invoke that feeling that someone was here before. The old-town Florida beaches of yesteryear are in the air, as you encounter some live jazz music and local color at Red Bar, a longstanding institution of Grayton Beach. The beaches are pristine and full of wonder. Visit the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park where you will discover the rare and beautiful sea lakes that are scattered along the rolling dunes.
Blue Mountain Beach
Somewhere between Seaside and Destin lies Blue Mountain Beach, Florida, a beautiful residential area featuring private beach homes available for rent to anyone who wishes to embark upon this magical place. This is the beach for the naturalist, as there is little to no commercial presence, except a couple of gourmet grocery and health food stores. Throw on your favorite pair of board shorts and take a bike ride down the paved 19-mile, scenic Timpoochee Trail that lines the picturesque County Road 30A. Locals say that Blue Mountain Beach gets its name from a blue hue on the dunes that is cast by the lupine native wildflower. Sit back and relax on the powdery sand or float the day away upon sapphire waters and make Blue Mountain Beach your paradise.
If you’ve never been to a new-millennium beach town in Florida, then you really haven’t lived. Uber-small towns like Rosemary and neighboring Seacrest are the new trend for families and singles alike looking for an alternative to the fast and sometimes sordid crowds of Panama City Beach. Here you will find the best restaurants, shops, and beaches in the Panhandle without ever having to start your car. Instead, park your bike at the end of the scenic boardwalk lined with beautiful beach homes and walk down to the picturesque beach sand until your bare feet meet the shoreline of the crystal clear surf.
Nestled within the hot spot of Destin, Florida, Sandestin is a town within a resort. If all the previous recommendations sounded just a bit too slow for your tastes, you will likely feel more comfortable in Sandestin, which has more to offer in terms of activities, restaurants, shopping, and night life. If spending your entire vacation in the emerald waters of the Gulf appeals to you, Sandestin offers all the latest in watersports like wind surfing, kite boarding, jet skiing, skim boarding, parasailing, snorkeling, water skiing, and more. You can also charter a fishing boat or spend the day or week on the golf course, as Sandestin is essentially a premier Destin golf resort.