What is the Florida Panhandle? In simplest terms, the Florida Panhandle is a 200-mile long and 50–100-mile stretch in the northwestern part of the state. But there is a lot of detail missing here. So, let’s break down exactly what the Florida Panhandle is, why it’s called that, and what cities lie within the area.
Where is the Florida Panhandle?
The Florida Panhandle is renowned for shimmering white sand beaches and emerald waters. So, it stretches from Pensacola, Florida southeast to Cedar Key along the Gulf of Mexico and is comprised of two vast stretches of white sandy beach.
The stretch of land between Pensacola to Port St. Joe is called the Emerald Coast. So the other stretch is called the Forgotten Coast which refers to the coastal portion of the Florida Panhandle that extends from Mexico Beach on the Gulf of Mexico to St. Marks on Apalachee Bay.
Mostly rural and one of the more sparsely populated areas in Florida, it’s also considered by many to be one of the state’s best-kept secrets. And the Panhandle boasts some of the state’s best beaches.
So, with a great climate throughout, there is year-round boating, biking, hiking, canoeing, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, camping, and fishing.
The Panhandle is also home to 10 aquatic preserves, 36 state parks, and the Gulf Islands National Seashore. And it’s also home to the 234,000-acre Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Why is it called the Florida Panhandle?
The word “panhandle” is used to refer to a long, narrow projection of a larger territory that is not a peninsula. So, it calls to mind a narrow portion of the state that tugs away from the main state.
What Cities are in the Florida Panhandle?
There are 52 cities in the area called the Florida Panhandle. Some of them have populations of barely over a hundred. Others, such as Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, have upwards of 50,000 people in them.
The Panhandle, which is comprised of 13 counties, is home to such popular beach destinations as Destin, Panama City Beach, Pensacola, Santa Rosa Beach, Fort Walton Beach, and Port St. Joe. But there are many lesser-known cities and towns like
Wewahitchka and Ponce de Leon. They have some hidden gems within their borders for those who enjoy more natural surroundings.
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