Numerous uncrowded beaches, natural areas, and other Florida Panhandle secret sites are among our top Northwest Florida hidden gems. The following hidden jewels around the Florida panhandle are enjoyable, worthwhile, and unforgettable.
The spectacular Florida Panhandle beaches are popular for Gulf Coast spring break, summer beach outings, family vacations, and weekend getaways.
There’s nothing wrong with a week of sun and fun on the beach in front of your Destin property, as well as at neighboring restaurants and bars. But if you want to get your feet out of the sugar sand and explore, visit one or more of these hidden gems along the Florida Panhandle.
Best Places to Visit in Florida Panhandle
Visitors frequently ignore Florida’s panhandle in favor of sites in south Florida. They have no idea what they are missing. There’s history, art, and animals—this is authentic Florida. Here are some of my favorite sites from a road trip throughout the Panhandle.
I went on a tour of Monticello’s historic area. The courthouse takes center stage in the square, with the 1890 opera house across the street. Throughout the district, there are scores of historic homes. ABC-TV dubbed it “America’s Most Haunted Small Town.”
2. St. Mark’s Square
St. Marks is one of North America’s oldest towns and is home to the San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park and the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Here, I noticed a lot of wildlife. Even if it is currently closed, the drive out to the lighthouse is worthwhile.
The Oaks RV Resort and Motel was my Wakulla County home away from home. Each RV site is paved and equipped with electricity, water, and sewage. Everything you need is provided, including a pool and hot tub.
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The bathrooms include a lockable door, a commode, a lavatory, and a magnificent shower decorated in the style of a home bathroom. There is also a charming motel nearby, with each room painted individually.
4. Wakulla Springs, Florida
My favorite horror film as a kid was Creature from the Black Lagoon, which was filmed at Wakulla Springs. Many early Tarzan films, as well as many others, were shot here. I’ve been to the springs before and rode the Jungle Cruise; I loved seeing all of the wildlife.
This time, I went to the historic Lodge for breakfast in the Edwin Ball Dining Room. It was thrilling to see the original creature costume and the world’s longest marble soda fountain. There are also relics of the original Wakulla County post office.
The Torreya tree, a rare species, grows solely on the Apalachicola River’s cliffs. Torreya State Park was named after the trees. It served as my base camp for four days while I explored the surrounding area. My destination was Gregory House, a lovely plantation estate located within the park.
The 36-block historic district of Quincy is wonderful. The walking tour can be downloaded here. One of Gadsden County’s most haunted venues is the Quincy Leaf Theatre. It is still in operation today.
The historic Bell & Bates building houses the Gadsden Arts Center & Museum. Exhibits include work by nationally recognized artists as well as local children’s work.
One of my most amazing discoveries was the little town of Havana, which was once the world’s shadow tobacco center. The distinctive tobacco was first farmed in 1829, and the town was founded in 1906.
It packs a powerful punch for a hamlet of less than 2,000 people. Main Street is reminiscent of the early 1900s, with antique shops, art galleries, cafés, and garden businesses. Murals can be found all across town.
The Chattahoochee Landing Mounds complex, one of the South’s most significant archaeological sites originating from the Mississippian era (AD 900–1550), was a must-see.
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There are just three mounds left, but it is also the location where Native and Black Seminole warriors took an American ship on November 30, 1817, shortly after the commencement of the first Seminole War. I continued driving into the park to visit the Jim Woodruff Dam.
Marianna’s main draw is Florida Caverns State Park. In Florida, people rarely think of caverns, yet they are deep and lovely. I drove by a number of historic residences. The Russ House & Tourist Center, a Classical Revival/Queen Anne home rumored to be haunted, houses the tourist center.
The Destin History and Fishing Museum explains why Destin is known as a fishing village. Exhibits are available both inside and outside. The ancient Old Post Office and Primrose, a historic seine boat that the region’s first fishermen used, are both outside. Inside, attractions include the annual Destin Fishing Rodeo, aquatic life, and more.
In addition, she owns a location in Myrtle Beach. This restaurant is located in the Legendary Marine complex, directly beneath the Mid-Bay Bridge. Lucy, like her brother Jimmy Buffett, enjoys going to the beach. I tried the shrimp and oyster combo, and it was delicious. Dessert was a massive brownie topped with ice cream.
The Gulf of Mexico, Alabama, and Georgia encircle a sizable portion of the picturesque Florida Panhandle. It is culturally closer to the lovely South than the rest of the state, so you can expect a kind and welcoming town.
It has several natural attractions to suit every taste, including state parks, wetlands, and islands. With the Emerald and Forgotten Coasts being the most popular places in the region, there will be plenty of lovely beaches.