I grew up in Alabama, so the beaches of Florida and the panhandle from Pensacola to Destin to Panama City were a favorite travel destination for my family. The fine white sand along the Gulf Coast makes for some of the most beautiful and cleanest beaches in the world.
But the area also has lots to offer family travelers beyond a day of sunbathing and sand castle building. Families should escape from the big beach cities and head for the respite of a different kind of Florida panhandle travel experience in some of the less trafficked areas of the coast.
Gulf County Florida Basics for Families
Gulf County Florida – along the eastern end of the Panhandle – offers a real such alternative Florida panhandle escape. The county has made a concerted effort not to overbuild, preserving its natural beauty and a quieter pace of life for locals and visitors alike. Best of all – there’s lots to do in Gulf County, especially for families like mine who love the outdoors, nature, and a few adventures with kids along the way.
Gulf County wants to encourage more families to #InGulf themselves in these kind of travel experiences. Just in time for spring break and summer vacation planning, Gulf County is running an Instagram contest for a chance to win a 7 night vacation in the area (check out the link for details, rules, and how to enter).
Gulf County revolves around water, particularly the interconnected waterways of the Gulf of Mexico, St. Joseph Bay, Indian Pass Lagoon, the Gulf County Canal, the Intracoastal Waterway, and the Apalachicola Bay. The area also has two freshwater bodies of water: the Dead Lakes and the Chipola River. All this water means easy access to kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, diving, paddleboarding, ecotouring, boating and more.
In addition, the mild weather makes is an excellent travel destination year-round. Peak travel season in Gulf County is actually September to May – not necessarily the summer!
Gulf County Family Adventures & Activities
If you’re planning a family vacation to Gulf County, here are a few family-friendly activities to consider that my family is eyeing for our next trip. Best of all – Gulf County has a Concierge Program to help you decide for your vacation too. Simply fill out their form and get customized vacation planning advice at no charge.
Diving and Snorkeling
The warm gulf water makes for a pleasant experience for families who want to see sea life up close on a diving adventure. The area has quite a few artificial reefs rich in sea life for even more to see. My husband and are are SCUBA-certified, so adding a dive to our trips is usually a must-do. If we are bringing our 8 year old daughter along, snorkeling is great alternative we can all do together.
Ever since our family tried stand up paddleboarding together on a vacation last year, we are hooked! My kids are still too small to stand up on their own, but they love getting to ride along on dad’s paddleboard during the adventure. Gulf County’s calm waters offer a variety of peaceful paddleboard experiences for a cost that won’t break the bank for budget-conscious family travelers.
Hunt for Turtles
Gulf County is home to a large loggerhead turtle population, particularly around the Cape San Blas area. Nesting season runs from the spring to the fall and guides from the Florida Coastal Conservancy (an organization that works to protect nesting sites) can take families to view some of these nests in a responsible and eco-friendly way. I know my nature loving kiddos would love the chance to see turtles up close and personal on our next visit.
Gulf County #InGulf Instagram Contest
Have an Instagram account? It is easy to enter to win a vacation so you can try some of these activities yourself. Visit the Gulf County #InGulf contest page for all the details and rules on how you can enter to win a week-long getaway to Gulf County, Florida. It’s as simple as sharing a shot of the adventures you are engulfed in right now!
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