Last Updated on May 16, 2022

From Pensacola to Panama City Beach, the Florida Panhandle is filled with many fun things to do.  This post will look at 20 of the best beaches to visit while in the Florida Panhandle, as well as free things to do in each of these cities!

 

I’ve personally been to all of the beaches in this post, so I can vouch that they are some of the best around! 

 

20 Best Beaches In

 Florida Panhandle

 

Here are 20 of the best beaches in the Florida Panhandle!  I’ve also included free things to do in each of these Florida Panhandle cities. 

 

Best Florida Panhandle Beaches– Pensacola Beach

Pensacola Beach is the perfect destination for those who want to enjoy a mix of both city and coastal living.

 

With plenty of waterfront restaurants and shops, as well as a beautiful beach and pier, you’ll never run out of things to do.

 

If you’re looking for some outdoor adventure, there are plenty of nearby parks and hiking trails.

 

And if you’re looking for more to do in Pensacola Beach, consider a Sunset Cruise. 

 

There are many great beaches in Pensacola Beach but these are my favorites!

 

1. Casino Beach

Casino Beach is one of the best beaches to visit in the Florida Panhandle.  Its sugar white sands and the Pensacola Beach Pier, make this a top place to see in the area.

 

The beach is also a nice spot for entertainment and music concerts.  There’s plenty of parking in the giant parking lot.

 

Grab a bite to eat and have a drink at Crabs or The Dock.

 

2. Quietwater Beach

Quietwater Beach is the perfect name for this beach since you won’t get the monster waves crashing in here.

 

This beach is on the Santa Rosa Sound side, not on the Gulf, so it’s calmer waters may be a better place to take the little ones.

 

It’s a pretty narrow stretch of beach so come early to grab a good spot.

 

3. Gulf Islands National Seashore/

Opal Beach

Gulf Islands National Seashore is located in different parts of the region, but the beach that I’m referring to is between Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach.

 

This is a fun ride to take with several miles of beach and sand dunes on both sides of the road.

 

With lots of places to pull off the road and park, Gulf Islands National Seashore has miles of incredible white-sandy shoreline and sparking waters.

 

This is an excellent area to hang out and escape the crowds.

 

4. Park West Beach

For another awesome beach in the area, look no further than Park West.

 

Park West is next to the Fort Pickens entrance and has beach access on both the Gulf and Sound sides.  The Gulf side even has a section of beach that’s dog-friendly.

 

Come bring your furry friend to this amazing, soft-sand Gulf beach, but remember to keep your dog on a leash.

 

Pensacola has a couple of dog-friendly beaches- there is also Dog Park East on the eastern part of the city, as you head out of town towards Navarre Beach.

 

 

Free Things To Do In Pensacola Beach

When in Pensacola Beach, you need to visit the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk!

 

With water activities, lots of food, shops, and more, this is the ideal location for a day of fun.  It’s right next to Quietwater Beach.   

 

It’s also just across the street from Casino Beach, the Pensacola Beach Pier, and oceanside restaurants!

 

Take a look at the best restaurants in Pensacola Beach and nearby!

Best Florida Panhandle Beaches-

Navarre Beach

If You’re Looking For Adventure In Navarre Beach, Take Up Learning To Surf!

 

 

Best Florida Panhandle Beaches-

Fort Walton Beach

Okaloosa Island is the oceanside area of Fort Walton Beach.  The city is just a few miles west of Destin and has excellent dining options, entertainment, and shops.

 

6. Okaloosa Island Pier

 

The Okaloosa Island Pier is an ideal beach spot in the city and also offers visitors the opportunity to take a walk on the pier and go fishing.

 

7. Beasley Park

 

For a quieter beach retreat, Beasley Park is a short distance away with pavilions and picnic tables.  Walk the short boardwalks to the beach and emerald waters.

 

Free Things To Do In Fort Walton Beach

 

The Boardwalk At Okaloosa Island is right next to the pier and beach area, and is a nice way to spend the day!

 

This entertainment hub is filled with oceanfront restaurants, local stores, and souvenir shops.  They also do movies at the beach on occasion and fireworks in the summer.  

 

Take a look at The Best Things To Do At The Boardwalk Okaloosa Island!

 

 

Taking A Trip To Fort Walton Beach?  

Try A Sunset Dolphin Watching Cruise 

 

 

Best Florida Panhandle Beaches- Destin

Destin, Florida is a popular vacation destination and is known as the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village, but the city is also famous for its emerald waters and pure white sand beaches. 

This charming town in the Florida Panhandle is the perfect place for anyone looking for an amazing getaway.

 

Destin has something for everyone, from beautiful beaches and world-class golf courses to delicious seafood restaurants and shopping malls.

 

8. James Lee Park

 

James Lee Park is located off of Scenic Gulf Drive at the border of Destin and Miramar Beach and is known for its beautiful Gulf sunsets.

 

This beach has a playground, pavilions, and picnic tables.  If you’re looking for food while here, the Crab Trap is right next door!  

 

9. Norriego Point

 

Norriego Point is across from the Marler Bridge by Crab Island and is located where the bay waters flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

 

If you’re looking for a nice, peaceful beach, Norriego Point is a great spot.

 

10. Henderson Beach State Park

 

Henderson Beach State Park (pictured above) requires a small fee to enter but is well worth it.

 

This park is visually appealing with its spectacular white sand dunes and offers a hiking trail, grills, camping, and the best views of the Gulf.

 

 

Free Things To Do In Destin

 

Harborwalk Village and Destin Commons are both free to explore and have plenty of options for shopping and restaurants! 

 

 

 

Looking for a unique beach day experience in the Florida Panhandle?

Check out a Crab Island Adventure in Destin!

 

 

Best Florida Panhandle Beaches-

Miramar Beach

Best Florida Panhandle Beaches-

Santa Rosa Beach

The highlight of South Walton County, Santa Rosa Beach is a large stretch of coastline along Highway 30A with many of the area’s best beaches.

 

12. Topsail Hill State Park

 

Topsail Hill is almost 2,000 acres of nature preserve with trails, picnic areas, camping, lots of wildlife, and of course an awesome beach with large white sand dunes.

 

It can be a lot of walking, but they have trams that take you through the park and to the beach.

 

Dune Allen Beach, Blue Mountain Beach, Grayton Beach, and even Seaside, are all technically considered to be part of Santa Rosa Beach, but each of these small towns has its own uniqueness and fun areas that are worth exploring.

 

13. Dune Allen Beach

 

Just south of Topsail Hill, Dune Allen is an idylic and less frequented vacation spot.  The area is surrounded with coastal dune lakes and is well known for fishing.

 

Take a dip in the water and grab some food/drinks at Stinky’s Fish Camp or Vue on 30A.

 

14. Ed Walline Beach

 

Come to Ed Walline Beach and enjoy the white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and relaxed atmosphere.  You’ll love the beach so much that you’ll want to tell all your friends about it!

 

This beach is just across the street from lots of shops and restaurants.  Shunk Gully is a popular oyster bar with ocean views and Perfect Pig Grill and Fish House is known for its Southern cooking in a laid-back setting.

 

15. Blue Mountain Beach

 

Blue Mountain Beach is one of the most beautiful on the Emerald Coast.  It’s a popular destination for vacationers, but remains low-key compared to Destin and Panama City Beach since it’s not as well known.

 

The Blue Mountain Beach Creamery is nearby and the perfect place to go for a treat after hanging out at the beach!

 

16. Grayton Beach

 

Grayton Beach is known for restaurants such as Red Bar and Chiringo, which are just a block from the beach.  Try the lobster roll at Chiringo!

 

Grayton Beach State Park is very popular for visitors, as well.

 

Free Things To Do In Santa Rosa Beach

Stop by the Gulf Place shops and restaurants across from Ed Walline Beach.  You can also see the Artists at Gulf Place!

 

 

Best Florida Panhandle Beaches-

Seaside

Best Florida Panhandle Beaches-

Panama City Beach

One of the most popular cities in the Florida Panhandle, if not the most popular is Panama City Beach!

 

Panama City Beach has it all- Miles of the best white sand beaches in the Florida Panhandle, nature preserves, several fishing piers, and waterfront restaurants make PCB the perfect place for your next beach vacation.

 

19. Russell Fields Pier

 

Russell Fields Pier is right across the street from the fun at Pier Park.  Here, you can hang out at the beach or for a small fee, walk the pier, or spend the day fishing on it.

 

You can even take your four-legged friend to the beach next to the pier, Dog Beach.

 

20. MB Miller County Pier

 

MB Miller County Pier is just a few miles west from the city pier and is another great spot to spend the day at the beach or walk the pier.

 

Both piers are around 1500 feet long.

Free Things To Do In Panama City Beach

 

Panama City Beach has Pier Park, which is an outdoor shopping center filled with shops, restaurants, games, and entertainment.

 

Go here for beachfront rentals in Panama City Beach!

The Florida Panhandle is known for its amazing Northwest beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, with white sand and emerald green waters.

 

This stretch of Florida is roughly 200 miles long and gets its name from you guessed it, being shaped like a panhandle, and is attached to the main part of Florida.

 

Cities in the Panhandle that were covered in this post include from west to east, Pensacola Beach, Navarre Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Miramar Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Seaside, and Panama City Beach.

 

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the beaches in the Florida Panhandle! 

 

What Are The Least Crowded Beaches In The Florida Panhandle? 

 

If you’re looking for secluded beaches in the Florida Panhandle, these beaches are a little quieter and less crowded, and make a great spot for a day at the beach!

 

√ Gulf Islands National Seashore 

√ Beasley Park

√ Dune Allen Beach 

 

Where Is The Clearest Water On The Florida Panhandle?

 

This area of the Florida Panhandle isn’t referred to as the Emerald Coast for nothing!  

 

These beaches have bright, white sand and spectacular clear waters.  

 

And in my opinion, Destin has the clearest waters, particularly around Crab Island.  Here, the water is emerald green as the Choctawhatchee Bay waters meet the Gulf of Mexico.  

 

Destin is home to James Lee Park, Norriego Point, and Henderson Beach State Park, and all are great beaches with crystal-clear waters.  

 

Is Pensacola Beach or Destin better?

 

I’ve spent a lot of time in both areas and as fun as Pensacola Beach is, I think Destin is better.  

 

Not only do I feel that Destin has the clearest waters, I feel that there is just more to do in the area. 

 

Destin has the advantage of being closer to Fort Walton Beach, Miramar Beach, the cities on Highway 30A, and Panama City Beach.  

 

With each of those cities having so much to do, as well!

 

 

Conclusion: Best Beaches In

The Florida Panhandle

As you can see, there are many amazing beaches in the Florida Panhandle.

 

For lots more on these beaches and things to do in the area, check out this post on Destin, Florida!

 

4 Comments

  1. Widalys Santiago

    A good list to have in hand. Thanks!

    Reply
  2. amberhaggerty05

    What a great list, thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  3. Paige J. Watts

    I love the beaches in Pensacola and Destin! They definitely have the best beaches and clearest water

    Reply
  4. Kimberly

    I love this! This is definitely going to come in handy when summer comes around!

    Reply

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