Since it’s so hot and humid in South Florida during the summer, many people visit the beach towns of Florida’s Panhandle instead. From St. George Island in the east to Pensacola Beach in the west, there is plenty to explore in this sometimes-overlooked region.
Pensacola Beach offers gleaming white sand and warm turquoise waves. The beach is buffered on both sides by lengthy stretches of Gulf Islands National Seashore, a protected national park and wildlife sanctuary where visitors can hike, bike or kayak along more than 20 miles of pristine shoreline.
Pensacola Beach itself is an ideal location for a family vacation or a romantic getaway. The hub of Pensacola Beach is Casino Beach, which sits under a giant water tower painted like a beach ball.
In days past, food offerings on the beach’s main fishing pier were limited to a single hot dog vendor. The new Casino Beach Bar in Grill offers a variety of dishes including shrimp and mango ceviche, seared ahi (yellowfin) tuna and fish tacos.
The restaurant includes a full bar along with a covered beach patio with cooling sprayers. Visitors can enjoy their food while watching surfers go for breaking waves near the pier or cheering on an impromptu game of beach volleyball.
Downtown Pensacola has undergone a major revitalization in recent years. About 10 minutes away from Pensacola Beach, Palafox Street is downtown’s main drag. The street features a variety of shops, bars and restaurants and is home to a regular Saturday morning farmers market with fresh food, vegetables, baked goods and items made by local artists and crafters.