Gulf Islands National Seashore. Over 52 miles of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States. I purchase an annual pass to Ft Pickens for $25, and on my day off (or in the off season when tourists are not in the area) I can find places so isolated I would swear I am on an island in the South Pacific... and just as beautiful. Almost everyone I know who moves away yearns to come back to the beaches here.
Water, water, and more water. I own a boat and absolutely love being on the water. There is off-shore fishing, and in-shore fishing in the local bays. The area also offers fresh water rivers (Blackwater River, Yellow River, and Escambia River). My boat can take me to places that no one else can get to. I especially enjoy seeing the marine wildlife; porpoises, turtles, birds, large schools of fish, sharks, etc. It’s the kind of thing you see on TV, but I’m living it.
Blackwater River State Forest. This is the jewel of NW Florida. Almost 200,000 acres of public land. Literally miles, and miles of pristine longleaf pine forest, wildlife, and shallow water creeks for canoeing, lakes, and camping. Let me say it again; this is 200,000 acres of “public land” meaning it is open to the public… for free.
Great Restaurants. Of course, every city boasts great restaurants. But not all can boast of the restaurants we have on the water. And the view? Second to none. Let’s not forget McGuirers Irish Pub; it is legendary across the country. The Fish House. Crabs. Hemmingway’s. Jacksons. Fisherman’s Corner. Then there are the hole-in-the-walls mom-and-pop shops that I’m finding all the time which offer true local cuisine. Each one is a new experience in itself.
Joe Patti’s Seafood. Simply an amazing place. Here you will see some of the most fascinating seafood anywhere. I’ve never been to the famed seafood market in Seattle Washington, but a friend of mine has and says it is small, has a limited selection, and doesn’t even compare to Joe Patti’s. Every time I visit the place I am amazed and the number of tourists who are there. And yet, I live here. If a fresh fish market is something you like, our area offers one of the best
Those are few of the highlights, but I haven’t even mentioned the Naval Air Station Museum, the Blue Angels, Scenic Highway along Escambia Bay, (btw, these are the highest bluffs in the State of Florida), the festivals, live music, the historic districts, Paradise Café on the beach, the marinas, deep sea fishing, Destin, etc.
I guess it was my CPA who said it best last year when I was having my taxes done. He is a native of Boston Massachusetts. We were talking about NW Florida and he said, “Where I’m from, people work 51 weeks a year to spend 1 week here on vacation. But we live here.”
“Yea,” I thought, “I live here.”