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Let the Concierge be Your Guide for Adventure in Gulf County, Florida (April 2017)

Discover Farmview Market in Madison, Georgia (October 2016)

Postcard from Natchitoches, Louisiana (October 2016)

Discover the Essence of the Florida Panhandle at State Parks (October 2016)

Experience Fayetteville, North Carolina (October 2016)

Nine Fun Ways to Enjoy Fall Foliage in Georgia (October 2016)

Postcard from Lexington, Kentucky (September 2016)

Get Out and Explore: Six States, 16 State Parks (September 2016)

Checking In...The Henderson in Destin, Florida (September 2016)

What to Do in Blowing Rock, North Carolina (September 2016)

Postcard from Baton Rouge, Louisiana (June 2016)

From Alligators to Whale Sharks: 10 Aquariums in the South to Explore (May 2016)

Postcard from LaGrange, Georgia (April 2016)

Nine Experiences to Enjoy in Bowling Green, Kentucky (March 2016)

Postcard from Middleburg, Virginia (February 2016)

Go, See, Do: Six Getaway-Worthy Southern Destinations (January 2016)

16 Things to Do in the South in 2016 (January 2016)

Rider or Not, There are Many Reasons to Visit Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson (October 2015)

The Great Georgia Escape: Discovering (and Enjoying) Big Canoe (September 2015)

Quick Glimpse into Birmingham, Alabama's Growing Culinary Scene (August 2015)

Discover the Vast Musical Side of the South with the Americana Music Triangle (June 2015)

Take Grilling to the Next Level with Grillocracy.com (June 2015)

True Cajun Experience Found at Crawfish Haven/Mrs. Rose's Bed and Breakfast (May 2015)

Experience Acre in Auburn, Alabama (May 2015)

Experience the Mississippi Delta with These Four Destinations (January 2015)

Four Days, Three Destinations: Exploring Columbia County and Augusta, Ga., and Aiken, S.C. (January 2015)

Finding the Perfect Southern Destination for Your Next Getaway (January 2015)

So Many Fun Ways to Spend Your Holiday Gift Cash in the South (December 2014)

Behind the Scenes: The Personal Collection (and Memories) at the Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square (December 2014)

Spending a Day or Weekend in Bardstown, Kentucky (September 2014)

"Celebrate" Your Getaway to The Pearl on Rosemary Beach (September 2014)

College Football Hall of Fame Debuts in Atlanta (August 2014)

Discover Alabama's Varied Culinary Side during Alabama Restaurant Week (August 2014)

Get Out and Enjoy Scallop Season (and Scallops) on St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County, Florida (August 2014)

Bringing the Past and Present Together in Rock Hill, S.C. with "75 Years, Still One Gear" (July 2014)

Four Reasons to Plan a Getaway to Sunny Isles Beach, Florida (July 2014)

So Many Ways in the South to Make This Summer One to Remember (June 2014)

Amp Up Your Doughnut Making (and Eating) Experience with Sublime Doughnuts' Kamal Grant's Cookbook (May 2014)

Streamsong Resort: A Golfing Resort Beyond the Ordinary in Florida (April 2014)

In the Kitchen with Chef Douglas Olsen (March 2014)

Celebrating Farmers and Farm Life with the Farm Star Living Website and App (March 2014)

In the Kitchen with Chef Sam Lodovico, The Resort at Glade Springs (February 2014)

Checking Out Charleston's Culinary Scene with Charleston Culinary Tours (February 2014)

Discovering Downtown Birmingham, Ala. with Alabama Road Trips (January 2014)

Season Two of "Emeril's Florida" Highlights Culinary Gems of South Walton (January 2014)

Chatting with Barbecue Champion and Restaurateur Melissa Cookston (November 2013)

"Cast Iron Chef" Competition to Heat Up the 3rd annual Brooks County Skillet Festival (October 2013)

Crowd Pleasing Recipes to Amp Up Tailgating (September 2013)

Discovering Georgia's Lake Oconee Area (July 2013)

Honoring the Man in Black: Johnny Cash Museum (June 2013)

Experience Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island (June 2013)

Build Your Own Memorable Experience in Columbus, Georgia (May 2013)

South Walton’s Art Culture: People Behind the Creations (May 2013)

Louisville, Kentucky Beyond the Derby (May 2013)

City Insider: Mark Wyant, owner, The Saint Hotel in New Orleans (February 2013)

Dining Out at Osteria Tulia (January 2013)

Discover Florida's Charm with Emeril's Florida (January 2013)

Taste Nostalgia (and Fun) with Pure Sodaworks (December 2012)

Find Serenity (and More) at Red Horse Inn (December 2012)

In Tall Cotton: Chef Cory Bahr and Restaurant Cotton (November 2012)

Under the Grand Chapiteau with Cirque du Soleil’s Totem (November 2012)

Feelin’ Presidential: Presidential Sites Throughout the South (October 2012)

Eight Cool Southern College Towns (September 2012)

Mark Your Calendar... Fabulous Southern Fall Music Festivals (September 2012)

In the Kitchen with Chef Eric Fulkerson (August 2012)

Visiting The Inn at Magnolia Oaks (August 2012)

Journey to New Orleans Plantation Country (August 2012)

Turn Your Vacation into an Experience at the Plantation on Crystal River (July 2012)

Dazzle Your Summer with Fata Morgana (July 2012)

Coming Home to Hightower Creek Vineyards (July 2012)

Exploring I-95 in the South with Barbara Barnes, Author of What’s Great About I-95: Maine to Florida (July 2012)

Timeless Experiences Await You at High Hampton Inn (June 2012)

Discover Cummins Falls, Tennessee's Newest State Park (June 2012)

See Savannah on a Segway Tour (June 2012)

Newest Addition to Biloxi, Mississippi - Margaritaville Casino & Restaurant (May 2012)

Coming Home: Chef David Guas set for New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (May 2012)

Experience Southern Sweetness with South Carolina's Firefly Distillery (May 2012)

The Running of the 71st Iroquois Steeplechase (May 2012)

100 Years and Counting: Riding the African Queen (May 2012)

Get Into the Wild with Safari Wilderness Ranch (May 2012)

Discover Another Side of Spartanburg with the Underground Guide to Spartanburg (April 2012)

Get Out and Explore National Parks During National Park Week (April 2012)

Glide Through Downtown Memphis on the Segway Experience of Memphis Tour (April 2012)

Congratulations to Our "Adventure Time Getaway" Winner (April 2012)

The Tennessee Aquarium, 20 Years Later and Still Going Strong (March 2012)

Fashion Weeks Show Off Stylish South (March 2012)

What to do When You’re Not Breathing Baseball During Spring Training in Florida (March 2012)

Tables are Set for Restaurant Weeks in the South (January 2012)

Congratulations to our Couples Comedy Getaway Winner (December 2011)

Discovering South Florida’s Three Distinctively Different Kimpton Hotels (November 2011)

Congratulations to our Back To Nature Getaway Winner (November 2011)

“Fall” for the Outdoors and More in Wilmington, North Carolina (October 2011)

Festivals, Football, Foliage and Fun: The Many Reasons Fall is Great in the South (October 2011)

The New Must-Do’s in Raleigh, North Carolina (September 2011)

Culinary Delights and Cultural Gems Await You Along SW Alabama's Culinary Trail (September 2011)

Exploring Seaside with the Seaside Walking Tour (September 2011)

Ending the Summer with a Bang: Labor Day Weekend Fun in the South (September 2011)

Celebrating Food and Music at The Shed in Ocean Springs, Miss. (August 2011)

Extend Your Summer with an Outdoor Concert (August 2011)

Discover Southern Charm and Hospitality at Fairview Inn in Jackson, Mississippi (August 2011)

Living History (and More) Awaits You at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill (August 2011)

Exploring New Orleans’ Culinary Scene During COOLinary (August 2011)

Celebrate Hampton Bear and Teddy Bears at High Hampton Inn (July 2011)

Fireworks, Parades and More: 25 Ways to Have a “Blast” This 4th of July Weekend in the South (July 2011)

Simply Southern...James Madison Inn in Madison, Ga. (June 2011)

Fun and Free (or Inexpensive) Ways to Celebrate Dad this Father's Day (June 2011)

Congratulations to Our Simply Delightful Getaway Winner (June 2011)

Discovering One of Florida’s Surprises: Paddling the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail (April 2011)

Rediscovering old Florida at the Florida House Inn (March 2011)

Sip and Taste at the 26th annual Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival (March 2011)

Congratulations to our "Savannah's Best" Getaway Winner (March 2011)

Let’s Play Ball! Spring Training in Florida (February 2011)

Getting Back to Nature: Touring Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge (February 2011)

Spotting Winter Wildlife (and Possibly Whales) in Virginia Beach, Virginia (January 2011)

Congratulations to our “Let’s Just Go” Getaway Winner (January 2011)

Finding “Treasures” on Jekyll Island, Georgia (January 2011)

Yo, Ho Ho: Exploring the Life of Pirates at the Pirate and Treasure Museum (January 2011)

It’s All About Experiences This Year in the South (January 2011)

Holidays are Hot at Hotels Across the South (December 2010)

It’s Nice on Ice–Where to Go Ice Skating in the South This Holiday Season (December 2010)

Congratulations to our Private Island Getaway Winner (December 2010)

Celebrating the Holiday Season in Williamsburg Virginia (December 2010)

Discovering Nu Wray Inn in Burnsville North Carolina (December 2010)

Thanksgiving Day Chef Competition at Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation (November 2010)

Many Reasons to Celebrate the Holiday Season at Gaylord Opryland (November 2010)

Discover the Birdhouse Trail in Monroeville Alabama (November 2010)

Congratulations to Our Casino Giveaway Winner (November 2010)

Get Out This Saturday for VISIT FLORIDA’s Great Beach Walk (November 2010)

Nathan Beaver set to Return to Perform in Madison Georgia (November 2010)

Fall for Fishing Along North Carolina’s Coast (October 2010)

Savor the Flavor in Polk County, Florida One Bite at a Time (October 2010)

Congratulations to Our Beach Giveaway Winner! (September 2010)

Discovering Mississippi's Culinary Trail (August 2010)

Going Coastal…Now is the Perfect Time to Visit the Florida Panhandle (August 2010)

Ways You Can Support the Recovery Effort in the Gulf (June 2010)

Get Out and Go to Alabama’s Gulf Coast (June 2010)

Soak in the Sun (and Fun) Along Florida's West Coast Beaches (June 2010)

It's New - The Titanic Museum Attraction (June 2010)

Celebrate Dollywood and Dollywood's Splash Country in 2010 (June 2010)

Tell Orlando (and the World) Why the City Makes You Smile (June 2010)

Fun Awaits You Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast (June 2010)

Staying Current on the Oil Spill in the Gulf (May 2010)

Where to Go for the Latest on the Nashville Floods (May 2010)

Keeping Current with the Oil Spill (May 2010)

Published: August 2010
Going Coastal…Now is the Perfect Time to Visit the Florida Panhandle  



Have you visited the Florida Panhandle lately?

If not; well, what are you waiting for?

Right now is the perfect time to visit the area. Along with the beaches, great restaurants and activities, there’s a lot going on.

Just take a look.

  • Pensacola


It’s a change in attitude in Pensacola Beach when Hotel Margaritaville opened its doors in late June. Gulf Coast’s favorite son, Jimmy Buffet lent his touch and brand to the 162 rooms and 24 suites property.

“We are thrilled to be here,” comments Tamara Baldanza, marketing director with the hotel.

Situated just so that visitors can enjoy views of both the gulf and the bay, the property has the typical features, such as a business center, health/fitness facility, pool and poolside Tiki bar, and more. In addition, there’s an on-site restaurant, Frank and Lola Loves Pensacola (named after Buffet’s 1982 song) that serves coastal cuisine and Land Shark Landing, a great hangout place to enjoy the beach.

And for foodies, the area doesn’t disappoint either. New to the ever-growing dining scene is The Grand Marlin (opened in March), with the North Drop Bar. Located in Pensacola Beach, the restaurant serves coastal cuisine that the area is known for. Open for lunch and dinner, menu items include crispy lobster fingers (hot appetizer, $13.95), wild American shrimp & grits ($16.75) and much more. In Pensacola, within the historic Belmont Devilliers neighborhood, you’ll discover the Five Sisters Blues Cafe. Here, you can enjoy good southern fare and good music. Some highlights from the lunch/dinner menu include fried green tomatoes ($5.50), southern seafood platter ($13.99) and smothered pork chop ($8.99). The restaurant serves also serves Sunday brunch.

Don’t miss out: Blue Angels Practice (August 18-19, 24-25; September 7-8, 14-15), Light of the Moon Tours (August 20-21; September 24-25) and 33rd annual Seafood Festival (September 24-26).

  • Destin


“Destin is still open for business,” says Mark Bellinger, president and CEO of the Emerald Coast CVB. “We’ve been extremely fortunate. The beaches weren’t affected, and on one occasion we had a few tar balls.”

This summer the destination has promoted a FREE (yes, you read that right) Concert Series. Bellinger describes these as first-class concert, and this isn’t just a statement. Past performances this seasons have included Kenny Loggins and The Dobbie Brothers. And on August 15, the beach (more specifically, Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island) will be rockin’ with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Josh Thompson.

Any weekend is a great time to discover why Destin has been voted for 14 consecutive years a “Favorite Family Vacation Destinations” by Southern Living readers. Trust me, I know it’s hard to tear yourself away from the beach, but once you do, you can explore places like Gator Beach or Gulfarium, the second oldest marine park in Florida. Take time to learn about Destin’s fishing history and then take to the water, bay or bayou to try your luck. Then cap off the evening enjoying yourself in such as places as Destin Commons or HarborWalk Village.

Mark your calendar: Red, White and Blue Celebration (August 19; September 2), Stand Up and Paddle (SUP) Jam at Fish Lipz (August 28; September 10) and 32nd annual Destin Seafood Festival (September 17-19).

  • Beaches of South Walton


What will you “be” in the Beaches of South Walton?

Don’t worry if you can’t come up with an answer yet, because the area offers many possibilities for you to explore.

“We are showcasing all what this area has to offer,” says Tracy Louthain, director of communications with Beaches of South Walton TDC. “People come here for so many reasons, and we are saying that this is the year to try something new.”

So, why not be…

  • adventurous and go zip lining at the Village of Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin.

  • creative by taking a cooking class at Culinary Gallery or an art class at Studio b.

  • energized as you spend time in the outdoors kayaking, YOLOing, hiking, or horseback riding through Point Washington State Park with Seaside Stables.


And if you need further incentive to visit the area, how does $250 dollars sound? Through September 30, stay three or more nights at one of the participating accommodations, and receive either a $250 gift card to Southwest Airlines or Silver Sands Factory Stores.

Don’t miss: 23rd annual Sandestin Triathlon (August 20-21), Santa Rosa Beach Centennial Celebration (September 11-12) and Autumn Tides (begins September 29).

  • Panama City Beach


Panama City Beach wants to thank you for visiting their beaches, and they are showing it through a token of appreciation: a $25 AMEX gift card through their REAL.FUN.RANDOM ACTS., initiative, a part of SUMMER OF FUN.

“It’s a cool idea the members of the Panama City Beach CVB came up with,” says Dan Rowe, president and CEO of Panama City Beach CVB. “Representatives walk up to random visitors,thank them for visiting the area and then hand them a certificate that they can redeem at the Pier Park Guest Service Kiosk for a gift card.”

“It’s one of the ways we can reinforce the fact that we are glad visitors are here.”

He adds that not only do they want to make it fun, but also encourage people to come down here.

In addition to the gift cards (ending on September 7), is another initiative called REAL.FUN.REWARDS., (ending on August 30) that encourages visitors to stay a little longer. For instance, if you book a three-night stay at one of the participating properties, you can receive a $50 AMEX gift card, a four-night stay will earn you a $100 AMEX gift card, and a five-(or more) night stay will get you a $200 AMEX gift card.

And while I’m talking about fun, you’ll be hard-pressed not to have any when visiting Panama City Beach. Whether it’s kiteboarding, riding the Ferris wheel at Miracle Strip at Pier Park, cooling off at Shipwreck Island, visiting ZooWorld or Gulf World, or enjoying the beaches, you are guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face.

And families, don’t forget that WonderWorks has recently opened in Panama City Beach as well.

Remember these Dates: REAL.FUN.MUSIC., (August 20-22), Pre-Season Tailgate (August 26-28) and 21st annual Lobsterfest at Schooner’s (September 16-19).

 

photo credit: personal photos

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