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The big news is that it's now much easier to get to the area with the opening of Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, 6300 West Bay Pkwy., Panama City Beach (tel. 850/763-6751; www.pcairport.com), the first international airport built in the U.S. since 9/11, in Panama City Beach. It's located within St. Joe's West Bay Sector, with service by Southwest Airlines (tel. 800/435-9792). Southwest is offering daily flights to and from Orlando, Nashville, Houston, and Baltimore/Washington, D.C. In addition, Southwest offers direct or connecting service to more than 58 destinations, including Dallas, Hartford, Chicago, and Fort Lauderdale, along with the New York and Boston regions. The airport has the unofficial title of "America's Greenest Airport," planned with the help of several of the state's environmental organizations, developers, and local, state, and federal agencies. The airport also aims to boast the first LEED-certified terminal building in the country.

Flights arriving at and departing from Okaloosa Regional Airport (tel. 850/651-7160; www.flyvps.com) actually use the enormous strips at Eglin Air Force Base. The terminal is on Florida 85, north of Fort Walton Beach, and is served by American Eagle (tel. 800/433-7300), Continental (tel. 800/525-0280), Delta (tel. 800/221-1212), Northwest (tel. 800/225-2525), and US Airways (tel. 800/428-4322).

Avis (tel. 800/331-1212), Budget (tel. 800/527-0700), Hertz (tel. 800/654-3131), and National (tel. 800/CAR-RENT [227-7368]) have rental cars at the airport, while Enterprise (tel. 800/325-8007) is located in town.

Bayside Shuttle (tel. 850/581-1505; www.baysideshuttle.com) provides 24-hour van transportation to and from the airport. Fares are based on a three-person minimum: $24 to Fort Walton Beach, $40 to Destin, $18 to Sandestin, and $75 to southern Walton County.

The Amtrak (tel. 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) Sunset Limited transcontinental service stops at Crestview, 26 miles north of Fort Walton Beach.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.