Gulf of Mexico, Florida

The Panhandle’s Gulf Coast has a very specific draw: the beach. Its shimmering, curving miles of vanilla-white shoreline was formed from a glut of silicate quartz that has been crushed by geologic aeons into sugary powder.
It’s not all sun and sand, though. From Naval Air Station Pensacola in the west to Tyndall Air Force Base in the east, one can find a seemingly unbroken stretch of defence installations and military bases, and the towns here reflect that reality – between the resorts and vacation rentals, you’ll find a glut of federal contracting offices and cigar bars servicing active duty and ex-service members.

Thanks to clouds of green forest, long acres of coastal marsh and a few remaining stretches of stunning sand dune hills, there is a gentle, breeze-blown prettiness to the Gulf Coast. Be on the lookout for decent dining and nightlife in Pensacola and larger base towns such as Destin.