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First Trip to the Panhandle and overwhelmed already!

Livonia, Michigan...
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First Trip to the Panhandle and overwhelmed already!

Okay, so I'm planning our family's first trip to the Florida Panhandle. We will be visiting from 6/28-7/12.

I've read hundreds of reviews in the past few weeks and am no closer to making a decision than I was to start with. I do know that I want the white sand and beautiful water where ever we choose to stay!

There will be a total of 7 of us, in 2 vehicles - 4 adults and 3 kids ages 6, 7, and 12. We don't plan on doing much but relaxing and swimming and maybe taking in a few sites. We will dine out a few times each week, but we are looking at condos and homes so we can BBQ and cook in our rental more than anything.

Pool access and parking is a huge factor.

Last year we spent time in New Smyrna Beach and on Anna Maria Island. Both were nice but very congested and had issues with the huge crowds. Parking was a big issue at the condo we rented at NSB.

So far, it seems like Navarre Beach, Okaloosa Island and Santa Rosa Beach are fitting for our group. We have a nice vacation budget but don't want to spend over $5000 on accommodations, if possible.

But I am up for mostly anything, so long as it's beautiful, peaceful and clean!

Any suggestions?

Thank you in advance! :)

Pensacola, Florida
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1. Re: First Trip to the Panhandle and overwhelmed already!

Pensacola Beach. Great beaches but nearby activities too. Naval Air Museum. Forts. Children's Museum. TT Wentworth Museum. Biking downtown. So many options. Most free or really cheap. The beaches down the coast are all pretty similar. What sets Pensacola apart is the history and culture that come with the beautiful beaches.

Illinois
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2. Re: First Trip to the Panhandle and overwhelmed already!

Unfortunately, your dates are in peak season for the panhandle and any beach you choose is going to be packed. The secret is out on how beautiful the area is and every year there's more and more people. Navarre Beach and Okaloosa Island are good choices, but I'm not sure you'll find a peaceful beach anywhere late June-mid July.

Livonia, Michigan...
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3. Re: First Trip to the Panhandle and overwhelmed already!

Thank you for the heads up! I have already put in for my vacation during this time, but next year I will know better. :)

Livonia, Michigan...
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4. Re: First Trip to the Panhandle and overwhelmed already!

Thank you so much! I am looking seriously at that area, and Navarre Beach. I think from what I've gathered, they are less crowded and family friendly. I appreciate the free activities you mentioned and will definitely look into them! :)

Miramar Beach
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5. Re: First Trip to the Panhandle and overwhelmed already!

I think Navarre Beach would be a good fit for your group. Make sure you drive the road from Navarre Beach to Pensacola Beach - it is the National Seashore and beautiful drive and maybe you might find a secluded beach area even in the high time. Also in Navarre Beach - right by the bridge is Juana's beach bar - nice place to hang out and have a few beers. Also check out the fishing pier no Navarre Beach as well.

Illinois
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6. Re: First Trip to the Panhandle and overwhelmed already!

I hope I didn't discourage your interest in Navarre because it really is beautiful and less crowded than other panhandle beaches. We never go in the summer because of the crowds but check the webcams all the time and even Navarre was pretty packed last year. However, if you look at accomodations that are away from the pier area such as farther west toward the undeveloped national seashore, maybe you'll find a quiet stretch, especially if you stay out of the high-rises. There are some lovely 4 bedroom townhouses. And there's a great little zoo on route 98 nearby in Gulf Breeze.

Livonia, Michigan...
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7. Re: First Trip to the Panhandle and overwhelmed already!

Thank you all for your help! I booked a condo in Navarre Beach yesterday! :)

We will be staying at Belle Mer, which is a high rise (boo!) but pretty much one of the only ones I could find in our price range and was available for both weeks. Good thing is that it is not near the pier area and is a little further down.

Cool thing I also learned about Belle Mer is that the author Anne Rice ("Interview with the Vampire") has a condo/penthouse in the building. I'm hoping that maybe I will see her/stalk her. :) :)

8. Re: First Trip to the Panhandle and overwhelmed already!

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