Road Trip: Florida’s Gulf Coast
I get funny looks when I tell people about my road trip through the Florida Panhandle. Some genuinely forget about this part of Florida, others smile and call it the Redneck Riviera (residents would agree, raise a glass and give you an “Amen”).
Others are in the know. Thousands of “snowbirds” envy the uncrowded, cooler Panhandle beaches and flock to the area during hard northern winters.
Spring breakers pour into Panama City and the Emerald Coast for a few hormone soaked weeks of beachside bacchanalia during March. They envy each other and each other’s beer coolers.
But I’m going for the beaches, sun and an Old Florida vibe virtually extinct farther down the coast. By “old”, I don’t mean busloads of Qtips unloading at interstate Golden Corrals for afternoon blue plate specials or legions of silver-shoed, early morning mall walkers.
I mean the Florida where you still find unpaved back roads lined with moss-draped oaks, follow winding paths through bone-white sand dunes to the beach and paddle miles and miles of bayous, lakes and coastline.
Confession: The Mister and I have history with the area. He was born and bred in Panama City and told me about this magical place of bonfires on the beach, sugar white sands and warm, emerald green water. He was so convincing, I took my first college Spring Break trip there a few months after meeting him. With 13 of my closest friends. Without him.
We married the next year, summered near the beach in lieu of a honeymoon and returned to the area periodically with our growing family. We have lots of happy memories and fell in love with the laid-back lifestyle.
This trip will be different. I’m road-tripping solo. Plans are fluid.
I’ll start near Pensacola and drive the coast roads back to Miami. So far, I have plans from Pensacola to Apalachicola. I’ll visit some old haunts and search for new ones. And after that? I’ll just wing it. Maybe I’m looking for a little bit of home, maybe I just have cabin fever. I know I need some sun and a little adventure. Everyone needs a little adventure.
Hope you’ll come with me on the second of Seven Sinful Trips.
You can follow along here, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Thanks, ya’ll.
Please share this with friends, family and anyone else you think might be interested.
Sandy road photo: @dbrolenrock
Have to been to this part of Florida? Do you have any tips, ideas or things I shouldn’t miss?
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