The Complete Northwest Florida Travel Guide to Beaches, Shopping, Attractions, Hotels, Museums, Nature and more
Winter is blanketing the region, although if you look at the widget on the right side of your screen you wouldn’t know it. Yes, that’s a correct Fahrenheit temperature. We are, after all, located between 30 and 31 degrees north latitude so we usually stay a lot warmer than the rest of the country.
Because the sun is so far out over the gulf this time of year, we get our best Gulf of Mexico colors, sort of a mixture of teal, blue, turquoise, and shimmer. Sunsets over the gulf are also spectacular and it’s always a contest to see who can snap the best photo. We usually have a lot of them shared by our Friends on Facebook. Sunset clubs all along the beach look to the horizon each evening hoping to see the famous flash as the sun sinks into the gulf waters.
Speaking of sunsets, here are my picks for …
1. St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
3. Dan Russell Municipal Pier in Panama City Beach
4. The Harbor in Destin
5. Any beach walk-over in South Walton
Northwest Florida is an amazing place, still largely undiscovered even by the rest of the state, but we don’t mind. Our style is laid back and easy. You won’t find sprawling metropolises, screaming theme parks, or bumper to bumper traffic here. Southern by nature and birth, our favorite mantra is the farther north you go the more south you are.
Spending the winter here is easy, especially when you compare it to the far, frozen north, and we like it that way. We get to wear sweaters and long pants, and maybe even a trendy jacket and a scarf. We can drink coffee and hot chocolate to warm up (but we still enjoy our sweet iced tea), and we can build a fire in the fireplace without having to turn on the air conditioner.
It’s the perfect season for hiking, building bonfires on the beach (permits required in many places), fishing, and catching those “R” month marine mollusks and shellfish, like Apalachicola oysters. Our busy arts season is filled with concerts and live theatre, and there are plenty of museums, restaurants, and galleries to keep everyone occupied.
December is, of course, the month of holiday events, and celebrations taking place all across the region include boat parades and lots of holiday lights. Santa may arrive on any mode of transportation from a fishing boat to a fire truck or even a helicopter, and yes, you WILL see decorated palm trees. We do, however, have several Northwest Florida Christmas tree farms that grow traditional southern variety Christmas trees, so you can spend an afternoon hunting for your tree and cutting it down.
January is a busy month starting with polar bear plunges into the Gulf of Mexico. Then things warm up with a chili cook-off, a song writers’ festival and the annual Destin Gumbo Festival before we “laissez les bons temps rouler!" into February and the start of Mardi Gras.
Winter is also a great time to do some armchair traveling. If you want to read up on the history and things to do in the region, check out my virtual book club of Northwest Florida travel books. Wine lovers will appreciate my travel guide, the Northwest Florida Wine Tour.
So come on down, y’all, or come on up depending on your present location. We’re always looking for more Explorers like you. Join me as we discover the things to do, places to stay, and where to find the yummiest eats in this fascinating region.
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