• Tallahassee to Panama City Beach: Exploring Florida's Coast Panhandle

      159 miles - 4 to 8 hours

      Ramble through the rolling hills of Tallahassee to the coastline along Florida's Panhandle. Travelers will discover that right around the corner from the state's capital, is a delightful little town where 'worm gruntin' is so important it calls for an annual festival. This trip showcases the diversity of the Sunshine State and is bound to charm the road tripper. It is a route that includes some of the state's most popular spots, while providing a peek at some of the little known places, which are sometimes the most memorable.

      Here are some highlights along the route.

      Tallahassee, Florida (Starting point)
      Where better to begin a trip than at the state capital, and Tallahassee fills the bill. A few rolling hills scattered about add to the landscape dotted with state buildings. But don't forget, Tallahassee is also home to Florida State University, making it the place visitors flock to cheer on their Seminoles or root for the opposing team during football season.

      Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park (mile 18)
      Head south out of Tallahassee and the hustle and bustle of the state capital and college town seem like eons away, as you pass through the gates of one of the state's most popular parks. Wakulla Springs State Park is home to the world's largest and deepest fresh water spring. Wildlife abounds throughout the park and swimming, snorkeling, hiking and boat tours are all part of the fun. The glass-bottom boats offer a way to 'see' in the spring without actually getting wet. An historic lodge is on the grounds and a delightful dinning room overlooks the springs.

      Sopchoppy (mile 40)
      Don't let this little town fool you into thinking it is just a dot on the map. Sopchoppy is home to the annual Worm Gruntin' Festival, held the second Saturday in April. And in case you don't have a clue about worm gruntin', check out this video to see it in action.

      If you aren't traveling through Sopchoppy during the festival, it is still worth the stop to see some of the town's historic buildings and maybe paddle down the Sopchoppy River.

      Carrabelle (mile 61)
      Carrabelle may be known as a quiet little fishing village, but it is where visitors will discover the smallest police station in the world. It's a nice place to get out of the car, walk around and enjoy the scenery of this little community. Meet some of the folks here, who are sure to greet visitors with a friendly smile and often eager to share stories about their hometown.

      St. George Island (mile 81)
      Hurricanes have not always been kind to St. George Island, but still this beauty of an island survives and its lazy, easy going atmosphere, void of high-rises, makes it the perfect spot for a relaxing day at the beach. St. George Island State Park is at the eastern end of the island.

      Tyndall Air Force Base (140)
      The military presence on the Florida Panhandle is hard to imagine without driving from one end of the Panhandle to the other, as it includes the Naval Air Station, Elgin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field and Tyndall Air Force Base. On this route it is Tyndall Air Force Base, which will be most notable. Although the base is not open to the public, it makes up a good part of the landscape, and if you stop for a meal at a nearby restaurant, it's a pretty sure bet you will have a chance to see some of the men and women who serve our country.

      Panama City Beach (159)
      This may be home to one of the world's most famous beaches, but there is even more to Panama City Beach than its beach. Probably the most unique shopping spot in the town is at Pier Park. Not only is it filled with adorable little shops, a movie theater and a ferris wheel, the restaurants are great too. Parrot Heads, and other Jimmy Buffet fans, will be delighted to discover one of his famous Margaretville restaurants at the heart of Pier Park.

      Pier Park in Panama City is home to 'parrotheads'
      and others seeking nice stores

      Comments 1 Comment
      1. Mark Sedenquist's Avatar
        Mark Sedenquist -
        I'd seen a video clip on the "Dirty Jobs" show about worm grunting -- Pretty funny way to make a living