Travel Guide to Florida

2014 Travel Guide to Florida

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America. In November, the town hosts the Florida Seafood Festival, Florida's oldest maritime event. All things oyster are the centerpiece of this two-day feast, which draws visitors from around the world. At the end of the day, sit on the deep porch of C-Quarters Marina with a cool drink and listen to the locals tell tales of oystering on Apalachicola Bay. APALACHICOLA TO PENSACOLA THE EMERALD COAST ROUTE (US 98) 163 Miles, 3.5 hours without stops In the late 19th century, Apalachicola was the third-largest commercial port on the Gulf of Mexico. Today, the town is famous for the oysters still hand-tong harvested in Apalachicola Bay. Between January and March, the restored Dixie Theater hosts professional music and stage performances. Port St. Joe celebrated its centennial in 2013. Have dinner on the patio of the Sunset Coastal Grill—sweet succulent Apalachicola oysters accompanied by their specialty cheese grits—and be mesmerized by a spectacular sinking sun. Panama City Beach came in as No. 51 on CNN's 100 most beautiful beaches in the world in 2013. White-sugar sand, one of the Gulf 's largest natural concentrations of bottlenose dolphins and 320 days of sunshine a year are among the reasons it is the new Spring Break capital. From Miramar Beach west, the Emerald Coast Parkway passes highrises and hamlets, interspersed with nearby stretches of dunes, wilderness and breathtaking water scenes. The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park at Fort Walton Beach offers stimulating hands-on encounters with bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, stingrays and seals. At Navarre Beach, cross the Intracoastal Waterway channel to the barrier islands to drive through the magnificent dunes along the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Pause at one or more of the pull offs and walk this wild sea oat stabilized stretch of the Emerald Coast. At the end of Pensacola Beach's new pier, look down through the clear blue-green water at the sharks and dolphins that often congregate there. The last stop along the dunes drive, Fort Pickens stands guard to Pensacola Bay. Spanish, British and French galleons negotiated this narrow opening in the 16th and 17th centuries as they traded dominion over Florida's first capital. Natural unspoiled beach along the Emerald Coast of Florida FEATURED LINKS Apalachicola National Forest Big Cypress National Preserve Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge Clyde Butcher's Big Cypress Gallery Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Cracker Country Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park Florida Forest Festival Florida Seafood Festival Gulf Islands National Seashore Sunset in the Pensacola Bay area Across the bay in Pensacola, visit the newly expanded National Naval Aviation Museum. Home to the Blue Angels, the original aircraft and artifacts here are priceless national treasures. Try your hand at flying a fighter jet in the flight-training simulators. An in-person visit to Joe Patti's World Famous Seafood Market is a seafood lover's must-do stop. For more than 80 years, this venerable waterside emporium has delivered fresh Gulf seafood to locals and now ships all over North America. FL Honeymoon Island State Park Joe Patti's Seafood Manatee Springs State Park Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park Miccosukee Indian Village National Naval Aviation Museum The Everglades National Park 2014 TRAVEL GUIDE TO FLORIDA 69

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