From sky to sea, there’s much to see here. Overhead, the Blue Angels practice from mid-March to mid-November (watch from the viewing area at the National Naval Aviation Museum). History dominates at street level. Love history? Pensacola lays claim to being the first European city in North America, established in 1559. Take a guided tour of 19th-century ... homes and the 1832 Old Christ Church at Historic Pensacola Village, or stroll beneath the oaks to the wooden gazebo at Seville Square. There’s ample water sports activity and classic beach fun to be had along Quiet Water Beach Boardwalk, but you can also access the hushed Gulf Islands National Seashore here. For divers, the world’s largest artificial reef, retired aircraft carrier USS Oriskany, lies just offshore. The Pensacola Bay Area is an activity-packed destination featuring culture, outdoor adventure, fine museums, attractions and 52 miles of beaches. Whether an art enthusiast, birdwatcher, golfer, foodie or a shopaholic, everyone will find their niche in the Pensacola Bay Area.
One of the area’s most popular bedroom communities is Gulf Breeze, which is between Pensacola and Pensacola Beach. Its impressive natural resources and community parks include 18 miles of waterfront, three protected bayous and a well-situated boat ramp. If you prefer to stay on dry land, you can take a leisurely walk in 105 acres of undeveloped park property. Gulf Breeze has top-rated schools, a zoo with 900 animals, golf courses, movie theaters and a slice of history nearly 200 years old. In 1828, President John Quincy Adams was seeking raw materials for Navy shipbuilding. He established the Naval Live Oaks Reservation, which was America’s first experimental tree farm. Now the reservation is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, a delightful nature and history preserve along the water.
Cross a narrow bridge from U.S. 98 and you find yourself in a slice of old-time Florida. Navarre Beach, at the east end of Santa Rosa Island, is a small, family-friendly beach community where locals and visitors mingle over sunsets, play volleyball or enjoy music at a thatched-hut bar. With the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Santa Rosa Sound on the other, visitors can take their choice of water sports – parasailing, canoeing ... , jet-skiing. The fishing pier, which extends far into the gulf, is popular with walkers as well as anglers. The fishing is often very productive, and locally owned restaurants offer many tasty meals made from family recipes.
Nestled along the emerald waters and white, sandy beach of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Fort Walton Beach and Destin are home to long, warm, sunny summers, and brief mild winters. These two cities being just a few miles apart combine Fort Walton Beach’s “Best Beach in the South” and “Top Family Destination” with Destin’s prime shopping spots, including the largest collection of factory outlets in the world, and the worlds ...“luckiest fishing.” Take your shoes off and dig your toes into the warm, white sandy beaches or cool off in the emerald-jeweled waters that the greater Fort Walton Beach offers. There are endless strings of recreational fishing fleets and water activities, seaside celebrations, and gorgeous beach side parks, as well as art demonstrations, live music, and all the other community activities that downtown Fort Walton hosts. In addition to the natural beauty, the shopping experience is sure to make an impact. At the Destin Commons you will have access to stores like Banana Republic, Bass Pro Shop, and Ann Taylor Loft. Also, if you tire of shopping, have a bite to eat, let the kids enjoy the playground or take in a movie. This venue has something that everyone in the family will enjoy. Or take a walk in Downtown Fort Walton for skate and surf shops, high fashion, and many other boutiques for every taste. Other places to experience the thrill of shopping are the Silver Sands, the biggest outlet mall in the world, Santa Rosa Mall, and the Village.
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