The Panhandle may be known as the Redneck Riviera to some, but to those in the know, the area has some of Florida's best beaches, with undeveloped stretches of powder-white sand that's a hot commodity in the world these days.
Days 1 & 2: Gulf Islands National Seashore and Pensacola Beach
This is, hands down, Florida's best beach. Not only are there 150 miles of protected beach, but there's also a 1,378-acre natural Live Oaks Area full of oaks, pines, and nature trails. Do not leave without hitting the Flora-Bama Lounge, which prides itself on being the "Last Great American Road House."
Day 3: Destin Beach
Grayton Beach State Park is a sublime white-sand paradise, with 356 acres of pine forests surrounding a lake. You can camp here to get back to nature, or you can choose to explore Destin's other beaches, such as Henderson Beach State Park and Fort Walton Beach's Okaloosa Island. You can't really go wrong with any of them. The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is good for a longer stay, a community unto itself with restaurants, shops, a private 5-mile beach, and, according to the experts, unparalleled golf. Don't get too marooned because you will want to go off property and check out AJ's Seafood & Oyster Bar, the hottest spot on Destin Harbor, famous for its rooftop bar and live music.
Days 4 & 5: Seaside & Rosemary Beach
Live The Truman Show in this stunning, Victorian-style planned community with old-fashioned beach cottages set upon unfettered sand dunes. Just 8 miles east of Seaside is Rosemary Beach, a swanky community of Caribbean-style cottages and old English carriage houses with a stunning private beach and Kodak-worthy Gulf views. Rent a cottage and enjoy the views. Be sure to take a drive up and down scenic 30A and stop for a photo op of the newest planned seaside community, Alys Beach. Or just head to straight to the Red Bar for a cocktail and possible Sheryl Crow sighting.
Day 6: Panama City Beach
St. Andrews State Park has 1,000 acres of white sand and dunes, a common theme in the Panhandle. Shell Island is pristine, uninhabited, and known for possessing shells that aren't available for purchase in those touristy souvenir shops. For a little lunch, shopping, or honky-tonking, head to Panama City's brand-new Pier Park, where restaurants, shops, and a bangin' branch of Nashville's Tootsies Orchid Lounge will keep you out of the sun for a few hours and possibly into the night. Spend the night at Bay Point Marriott Golf Resort & Spa.
Day 7: Apalachicola
Florida's so-called Last Frontier happens to have one of the country's last amazing beaches, St. George Island State Park. Enjoy the 9 miles of nature before having to go back to reality. Spend your last night at the Apalachicola River Inn, the town's only waterfront stay, and home of the popular Frog Level Oyster Bar and Boss Oyster, where you'll be treated to some of the best bivalves you've ever had.
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.