Bob and I recently went on a wonderful vacation to the panhandle of Florida. We wanted to celebrate – both our 21st wedding anniversary as well as our new status as “empty-nesters.”I’d never been to this part of the country before. As a child growing up in Pennsylvania, our beach excursions were limited to the east coast. In my free and easy 20s, I made numerous trips to the Bahamas and other such islands. Since moving to southwest Louisiana, I’ve certainly heard much about the gulf coast, and the myriad of places one can go. Who from here doesn’t vacation in Destin, Florida? I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss is about. Could the beaches in Florida truly be that much better than closer Mississippi and Alabama?
Much to my surprise, I think the answer is yes. At least during the week we were there. To find out, we drove the back roads of Highway 90 between Gulfport, MS and Ft. Walton, FL, stopping here and there along the way to see the sights, enjoy a fresh peach milkshake, and check out the seashore. In Gulfport, the water was a rusty brown color with patches of tar residue on the sand. But farther east, away from that mighty muddy Mississippi River, the ocean becomes an azure turquoise, the “Emerald Coast,” its sand as white and fine as talcum powder. Why travel to the Caribbean when we have all this a mere handful of hours east?
I will say that, while the crowded hubbub and commercialization of Destin seems to be THE happenin’ place to go based on popular vacation choices, and there are fantastic restaurants there, (and putt-putt), Bob and I much preferred the peaceful less-populated beaches in and around the Pensacola area, especially Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll report on several interesting places we visited on our trip.What is your favorite beach destination and why?