The attractions of Florida’s Panhandle are many and diverse, from the world-class National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola (with plenty of military history) to the natural wonders of Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. State capital Tallahassee, the legislative heart of the state, is a great starting point. The historic Capitol Complex offers a fascinating museum of local and political history, plus daily tours, while the extensive Florida State University features walking tours of its eye-catching campus, but there is also the early-settler history of Mission San Luis de Apalachee and the peaceful walks of the Alfred B Maclay Gardens. Just to the south, on the coast, is St Marks National Wildlife Refuge, with its iconic lighthouse.
This is also one of the few parts of the Sunshine State to boast much in the way of Civil War history, and visitors should make a note of places like the Orman House and Chestnut Street Cemetery in Apalachicola and the full-scale Civil War Museum in Pensacola, as well as more than a dozen sites in Tallahassee and St Marks that all date back to the 1860s.
The big attraction, in every sense, though, is the coastline. Here, a series of historically pleasant, unassuming towns and cities have all become major beach destinations in their own right, and it is hard to go wrong for a really memorable location. The big high-rise resorts are not as prominent here, and it is still possible to find vast stretches of unspoiled beaches from Pensacola, on the Alabama border, to Apalachicola, almost 200 miles to the east.