Gulf Coast Florida Vacation Ideas

Gulf Coast Florida Vacations Idea #1:

One area of Florida’s Gulf Coast that really deserves a spot on your vacation ideas list is Beaches of South Walton, also known as "Scenic Highway 30A".

This refers to a 20-mile long section of the coast in the Florida Panhandle that perfectly exemplifies everything that people dream of when they think of a beach vacation in Florida. This stretch of Highway 30A runs along the shore between the towns of Dune Allen and Inlet.

Along the way you will find picturesque small towns like Grayton Beach, Seaside, Seacrest and Rosemary Beach. The town of Seaside was used as the setting for the Jim Carrey movie "The Truman Show".

There are 15 fantastic public beaches here, all with the world famous white sugary fine sand and the emerald green Gulf waters. South Walton is affluent and this shows in the perfectly maintained architecture and landscaping.

Vacationers here are typically couples and families. The spring break crowd usually heads for Destin to the west or Panama City to the east.

Gulf Coast Florida Vacations Idea #2:

Tallahassee, on the Florida panhandle has a lot to offer the vacationer. Just a short walk north of the downtown capital district are three historic districts.

You can explore these on your own or arrange for a tour with Historic Tallahassee Tours or Tours With a Southern Accent. Tallahassee has some excellent museums and art galleries. The Foster Tanner Art Center focuses on African-American artists.

The Knott House Museum is an elegant 1843 Victorian mansion. The city has several archeological sites you can visit. The de Soto Historical Site is a winter campsite used by the Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto in 1539. The Lake Jackson Mounds State Archeological Site is a Native-American ceremonial complex circa A.D. 1200.

Gulf Coast Florida Vacations Idea #3:

White Ibis on Sarasota Beach
Photo Credit:

By Heidi from Florida - Though my boyfriend and I are native Floridians, we decided to take a vacation within the state for my birthday last year. Situated on the Gulf Coast, and only a short drive away from Tampa is beautiful Sarasota. This is one of my all-time favorite places to visit.

We started our sightseeing by visiting the Ringling Museum of Art. This amazing museum is quite large, with an astounding number of paintings from some very famous artists. There are also beautiful gardens to walk through, as well as a courtyard with gorgeous fountains and a recreation of the statue of David.

With its varied mix of Renaissance paintings, sculptures, furniture, and more modern works, there is something for every art lover to enjoy. Aside from the art museum, we also went to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

There was an Asian festival happening during out visit, so we enjoyed the usual plants and flowers on display, a bonsai tree collection, and traditional Japanese drum music performed in the afternoon. And of course, no trip to the west coast of Florida would be complete without a trip to the beach.

Lido Beach and Siesta Key are absolutely beautiful beaches, with incredibly soft white sand and warm water. We stayed until the evening to watch the sun set over the ocean, something we don't get to see living on the east coast. All in all it was a perfect Florida trip, away from some of the more busy and touristy areas.

Gulf Coast Florida Vacations Idea #4:

By Natalie from Louisiana - In 2005 my family and I went to Destin, along the Gulf coast of Florida. The beaches were very beautiful but the water was rough, so there wasn't much swimming in the ocean. But we still had a lot of fun. We did go body surfing in the shallow surf which was really fun! We ate a lot of food that we brought with us, especially for lunch. We ate out a couple times there but not every night in order to save money.

We stayed at a Ramada resort with its own beach and restaurant. It also had two pools in which one had a bar in the middle of it where you could get a daiquiri. All along the beach there were bars people could go to and grab a drink.

There was an aquarium nearby that we walked to that had dolphin shows which was fun. Destin and it's neighboring city Ft. Walton Beach had so many fun things to do it would be hard to do everything in one vacation. These cities are also great travel destinations for vacationers on a budget. I would definitely consider going again and would highly recommend this area for your Gulf Coast Florida vacations.

Gulf Coast Florida Vacations Idea #5:

By Jodi from Missouri - I took my favorite vacation (so far) when I was only twelve years old. My future step-father took my mother, my sister, and me to Cancun Mexico. I had never seen the ocean before and was a little skeptical about going with my mother’s boyfriend.

Not only did I have a wonderful time, I have vivid memories, especially for a trip taken so long ago, of how beautiful the beaches were, how friendly the people were, and how wonderful the hotel was. We stayed at the Omni hotel and the pools there were awesome. One of the pools had a swim up bar, for my soda of course, and tables with umbrellas that were IN the pool!

I also remember a pool that had an upper level with a slide down to the lower level. All of the employees there were very friendly to my sister and I even though we were just children. We all took a trip down to the beach where my mother and soon to be step-father when scuba diving (they provided lessons for my mother) and my sister and I went snorkeling above them.

I remember how gorgeous the wildlife was and how breath-taking the coral was. At one point I swam down to chase a fish around a corner in the reef and a morale eel (the big green ones) swam out of a hole and scared me half to death.

My family still jokes with me about that! I have taken many trips to tropical paradises (Key West, St. Thomas, South Padre, Pensacola to name a few) and none of them were as fabulous as Cancun. I highly recommend going!

Gulf Coast Florida Vacations Idea #6:

By Scott from Virginia - We recently vacationed on Sanibel-Captiva Islands on the Gulf Coast of the state of Florida. We thought it was a wonderful get away from the crowded beach scene where you have to many people and not enough room. The islands are connected to the Florida mainland via a toll bridge which adds to the feeling that you are out of the rat race. Though it is a bit isolated, there is still a lot to do.

For example, the Ding Darling Wild Life Refuge gives you the opportunity to see plenty of wildlife (including the funny looking spoonbills, alligators, and crabs) as well as a place to kayak, canoe, hike, and fish. There are also plenty of nice places to eat where you can get anything from fresh seafood to a gourmet burger.

The access to the beach can be a bit limited but you can always access the shore at Bowman’s Beach. Bowman’s beach also provides an exceptional opportunity to take part in the world famous shelling. The prices for lodging fluctuate with the season but good deals can be found if you are diligent in your search.

Fort Myers airport is a convenient location to fly into and the route to Sanibel (and back to the airport!) is very well marked. Sanibel-Captiva deserves serious consideration if you are looking for a beach vacation that is relaxing but not boring.

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