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article imagePhoto Essay: Beautiful beaches in Florida's Panhandle Special

By Kay Mathews     Jun 21, 2013 in Travel
The beaches along the Panhandle are Florida's "best-kept secrets," according to the Travel Channel. Two of those beaches with white sand and turquoise water are featured here.
The Travel Channel states, "To experience Florida's most pristine and beautiful beaches away from the masses, consider passing on the perpetually populated peninsula and set your sun-loving sights on the state's loneliest region - the panhandle - instead."
The "panhandle" is, essentially, the northwestern part of the "Sunshine State." It stretches along the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida's "Big Bend" area, and into the peninsula. And, as the name suggests, on a map it looks somewhat like the handle on a pan.
Unlike the Travel Channel, which focused on the panhandle's "lesser-known locales," the two beaches featured here - Pensacola Beach and Fort Walton Beach - are ones well-known along the "Emerald Coast."
In fact, Pensacola Beach is said to be "world famous for its sugar-white sand beaches and emerald-green waters."
Pensacola Beach  Florida.
Pensacola Beach, Florida.
Among the Pensacola Beach attractions is its Pier, which is stretches 1,471 feet and is "the longest in the Gulf of Mexico."
Pensacola Beach Pier.  Pensacola Beach  Florida
Pensacola Beach Pier. Pensacola Beach, Florida
And, for those who may prefer to swim in a swimming pool rather than the ocean, the resort hotels provide lovely accommodations.
Swimming pool at the Holiday Inn Resort.  Pensacola Beach  Florida
Swimming pool at the Holiday Inn Resort. Pensacola Beach, Florida
One of the newest attractions on Pensacola Beach is the observation wheel. Opened in July 2012, it is one of the tallest wheels in the United States at 200 feet. According to the Pensacola Digest, the Pensacola Beach wheel offers "360 degrees of paradise."
Pensacola Beach Observation Wheel.  Pensacola Beach  Florida.
Pensacola Beach Observation Wheel. Pensacola Beach, Florida.
Soft, sandy beaches await visitors to Fort Walton Beach, which is located approximately 40 miles east of Pensacola Beach on Highway 98. The Panhandle beaches are often busier during the winter months, so now is the time to visit. According to the Travel Channel, "Come summertime, crowds thin out and you'll find endless stretches of solitary sand."
Fort Walton Beach  Florida.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
Fort Walton Beach is home to what is officially called the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier. For those who want to stay on shore, the warm, white sand is perfect for beach volleyball games.
Pier and shore at Fort Walton Beach  Florida.
Pier and shore at Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
Fort Walton Beach is a well-known spring break destination. Some readers may recognize the Grotto Bar, or rather the pool, at the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort.
Pool and Grotto Bar at the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort.  Fort Walton Beach  Florida
Pool and Grotto Bar at the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort. Fort Walton Beach, Florida
As the Travel Channel notes, "Planning a Florida vacation without doing your research is likely to land you in expected destinations such as packed-to-the-gills South Florida or not-so-delightfully tacky Daytona Beach." In the Panhandle, however, plenty of beach chairs are just sitting by the emerald-green waters awaiting summer travelers.
Pensacola Beach  Florida.
Pensacola Beach, Florida.
More about Florida, Beach, Beaches, fort walton, Pensacola beach
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