• Pensacola to Apalachicola, Florida: A Quintessential Beach Drive

      175 miles – 4 to 6 hours

      Soak up sunbeams and sea breezes cruising along the Gulf of Mexico from the “Western Gate of the Sunshine State” in Pensacola to the “Forgotten Coast” in quaint Apalachicola. Emerald green waves brush amazing sugar-white quartz sand beaches. There’s plenty of sun, sea, sand and great seafood shacks along the way. It’s no surprise that leading travel experts rank the Emerald Coast in Top 10 Beaches in the U.S.

      December 2018 Note: Some of this route has damage from Hurricane Michael and is currently closed. This route will be restored when the road opens. The original route included travel along highway 399 which is part of the national park. More about this closure here.

      Here are a few highlights to look out for along the way:

      Pensacola Beach (starting point)
      Unique to Pensacola Bay Area: The National Naval Aviation Museum and high flying practice sessions by the Navy’s Blue Angels precision flying team. From Pensacola Beach, head toward Navarre Beach on Highway 399 South meandering along the dunes just steps away from the sparkling Gulf of Mexico.

      Navarre Causeway (18 mile)
      Picnic at Opal Beach, a part of Gulf Islands National Seashore. Enjoy sweeping views of the Intercoastal Waterway from the Navarre Causeway Bridge before turning right on Highway 98 East toward Fort Walton Beach.

      Fort Walton Beach - Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier (35 mile)
      See what avid anglers are reeling in on the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier, one of the longest fishing piers in the Gulf. Go in early June and join the revelry at the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival - one of the biggest family-friendly swashbuckling bashes in Florida.

      Destin HarborWalk (40 mile)
      Continue east on Highway 98 over the Destin Bridge and book a fishing charter from the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” at Destin HarborWalk.

      Seaside (65 mile)
      From Highway 98E, turn right on Highway 30A to explore the Beaches of South Walton. Discover what makes Seaside special. Give YOLO (upright paddle-boarding) a try on one of the area’s 17 unique ecological coastal dune lakes - the highest concentration of coastal dune lakes in the world.

      Panama City Beach (90 mile)
      Boogie to beach music at famous Club La Vela on Panama City Beach. Beachcomb for treasures on Shell Island.

      Apalachicola (159 mile)
      Old Florida at its best. Celebrate the journey with a stay at the historic Gibson Inn complete with a friendly resident ghost. Slurp down famous Apalachicola oysters prepared a dozen different ways at Boss Oyster.

      Emerald green water, sugar white beaches
      along Highway 98E in Destin, Florida

      Comments 4 Comments
      1. Travelwisdom's Avatar
        Travelwisdom -
        Contrary to some media rumors, there's no trace of the BP oil slick near our beaches. Come on down! They are as beautiful as the photos with this route and the fish are biting. Will post a comment here if things change, but looks like we are not in peril now.
      1. LoveToTravel's Avatar
        LoveToTravel -
        Travelwisdom, with the new law approving red light cameras approved by Gov. Crist on May 13, visitors now need to be aware that they may be photographed and fined $158 per incident for entering intersections on yellow if the light turns red while any part of the car is in the intersection, even half of the back tires and the back bumper. Visitors need to know where these cameras are in every town that they visit before they go to those locations so they don't end up short of money and can protect themselves by taking other routes or avoiding those locations.

      1. Travelwisdom's Avatar
        Travelwisdom -
        Interestingly, according to the Governor's Highway Safety Association, 23 states and the District of Columbia have red light camera programs currently operating. 12 states and the District of Columbia also have speed camera programs currently operating.
      1. Mark Sedenquist's Avatar
        Mark Sedenquist -

        Very good news about the beaches! It would be so tragic if they were ruined.

        Interesting as well about the red light cameras.


        Weird that the post count for comments is still reading zero, when clearly there are four comments herein?