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Where to Stay in the Florida Panhandle

Florida’s Panhandle has some of the most beautiful beaches on the Gulf Coast, and plenty of places to stay to enjoy them.

Know Before You Go

All of the options listed are LGBTQ friendly. Also, the Florida panhandle is home to several TAG Approved properties. This means management has met standards centered-around inclusion and safety for workers and guests alike. These include enforcing non-discrimination regarding sexual orientation, LGBTQ diversity and sensitivity training, and they employ diverse staff. They also give back to their community. These are noted as TAG Approved below.

Unless otherwise indicated, children are welcome. Pets are welcome at many, but not all properties. Please verify when reserving.

Luxury Hotels & Resorts

Margaritaville Beach Resort, Pensacola Beach

The Margaritaville Beach Hotel in Pensacola Beach sits on over 800 feet of gulf-front property, with an additional 800 feet overlooking Little Sabine Bay.

It was the first hotel to open under Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville brand. The hotel has a relaxed, tropical feeling. Rooms are elegant, clean, and airy, with large, furnished balconies.

This resort has a 24-hour indoor fitness center, an outdoor pool with a tiki bar, and an upscale, yet casual, cafe. It wouldn’t be Margaritaville without a beach bar! Indulge in the best margaritas in town, then make yourself comfortable in a hammock between the palms. WaterColor Inn, Santa Rosa Beach

The WaterColor Inn, Santa Rosa Beach

The WaterColor Inn is an intimate and luxurious 60-room boutique hotel overlooking the Gulf.  The laid-back property sits on 500 acres bordered by the Gulf and a lake. Relax on the balcony of your room in the Adirondack chairs. First floor rooms have a patio with a private outdoor cabana shower.

As part of a larger resort guests can enjoy golf and beach club access. There are beautiful pools and beach water sport rentals. The full-service spa and fitness club are great for unwinding. Then, enjoy a meal at one of the gourmet restaurants.

The Henderson, a Salamander Beach & Spa Resort, Destin

The Henderson is a luxurious 5-star beach resort. This property offers 170 upscale guest rooms and eight suites.  All offer luxurious pillowtop beds, furnished balconies, and deep soaking tubs. Each room has a magnificent Gulf or garden view. And if that isn’t enough, this resort is dog-friendly!

Relax on the beach or sip a drink at the beachside bar. Enjoy the two pools, or drift down the lazy river.

With a bustling activity schedule, the whole family will find something to do here. There’s even a children’s club so parents can have some quiet time together at one of the four restaurants or lounges.

Guests can enjoy treatments in the full-service spa. Check the website for details. The Henderson is a truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

LGBT-Friendly Hotels

Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf & Spa Resort, Panama City

The pet-friendly Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf & Spa Resort has something for everyone.

The resort’s restaurants offer breathtaking sunset or golf course views from indoors or out. You and your pooch can enjoy treats at Flip Flops Pool Bar where they have a specialty menu for dogs!

Golfers will love the only Jack Nicklaus Designed golf course in northwest Florida. Fitness fans will enjoy the 24-hour state-of-the-art gym.

Get pampered with a massage or mani/pedi at the full-service spa. Catch some rays at the private beach. Lounge on the deck of the large bayside heated pool. Then enjoy a drink at Flip Flops Pool Bar, where your pooch can have a treat from their canine menu!

At the end of the day, return to your spacious, elegant accommodations. Rooms feature plush Sheraton Signature beds.

The resort is also a wonderful place to hold a wedding or other event, with it’s amazing oceanfront setting, customized menus, and complete planning services.

On a Budget

Hyatt Place Pensacola Airport

The Hyatt Place Pensacola Airport is a 4-star hotel just 20 minutes from Pensacola Beach. All guest rooms are spacious, with a sitting area and free WiFi.

The hotel offers a fitness center, indoor swimming pool, and a wonderful restaurant and bar.

For late night cravings they have a 24-hour market store with grab-and-go items.

Family-Friendly

Club Wyndham Beach Street Cottages, Destin

Club Wyndham Beach Street Cottages is a quiet resort overlooking the Gulf. With its small-town ambiance, you’ll enjoy a relaxing retreat near bustling Destin.

Each one-bedroom suite can comfortably sleep up to six guests. Accommodations include a mini-kitchen, oversized baths, and private balcony.

Take a dip in the outdoor heated pool or soak up the sun on the deck. Enjoy the resort’s “Play Days” program activities.

Guests also have use of the facilities at its sister resort, Wyndham Vacation Resorts at Majestic Sun, just a 6-minute drive away. That’s where you’ll find the fitness center, tennis courts and golf course.

Vacation Rentals

If you’re looking for a different kind of experience, or want a long stay, consider vacation rentals. Florida’s panhandle has many to choose from.

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, Destin

The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort has over 1,250 vacation rentals on this 2,400 acre resort. Choose from studios with kitchenettes to luxury penthouses with full kitchens. The resort is organized into small villages, each with its own style.

Getting around is easy on the resort-wide tram service. Or take a cruise on a complimentary bike. Families will love the wide range of recreational activities. Options include land sports and water sports. Adventurous travelers can try the zip line. Shoppers will enjoy the resort’s with dining, shopping, and entertainment.

Golfer can check out all four of the resorts golf courses.

Portofino Island Resort, Pensacola Beach

Portofino Island Resort is situated on 28 gorgeous waterfront acres in Pensacola Beach next to the National Seashore.

The resort has 2- and 3-bedroom condos, or “Sky Homes,” each located on the 5th floor or above. Rooms offer amazing water views. These units have balconies, 1-1/2 baths, full kitchens, and a washer/dryer.

This large family-friendly resort has lots of things to do. Each building has its own pool. If you prefer the Gulf stroll over to the beach. There are water sport rentals available.

There’s also onsite spa and a large fitness center. Sports minded guests can hit the tennis center. Take the free water taxi over to the Portofino Boardwalk for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

The Great Outdoors

Falling Waters State Park/Pine Ridge Campground, Chipley

Pine Ridge Campground in Falling Waters State Park offers a unique experience. At 324 feet above sea level it’s the Sunshine State’s highest elevation. The park is also home to Florida’s longest waterfall.

Pine Ridge Campground has 24 sites nestled among longleaf pine and dogwood trees. Sites offer Each water, 20/30/50 amp electric service, and a fire ring. There’s a full-facility bathhouse and a dump station for your convenience. Your pet pals are even welcome at your site.

The park has a two-acre freshwater lake for swimming.

Reservations are recommended and can be made up to 11 months in advance through ReserveAmerica.

Henderson Beach State Park, Destin

Henderson Beach State Park is a laid-back Destin option for the whole family – even your pets are welcome!

The park offers 60 campsites for tents or RVs (60′ limit). All sites have water, 30/50 amp electricity, picnic tables, grills, and clothesline posts.

Guests will appreciate the heated and air-conditioned restrooms and showers. The park’s family-oriented beach stretches for more than a mile along the Gulf. The park has a lot to do. Try your luck at geocaching. Hit the hiking or nature trails. Fishing is allowed (you’ll need your gear and a license).

Reservations are encouraged at this popular camping destination. Find out more and book yours through ReserveAmerica.

Destin RV Beach Resort

Destin RV Beach Resort is about as close as you can get to the beach without getting sand in your RV. The beach is just a block away via the resort’s private access.

This gated property has 36 back-in campsites. Each has a full hookup, patio, free cable TV and WiFi. Beyond your site enjoy the heated pool, bathhouse, and entertainment area.

There are choices of dining options within walking distance and a beach shop next door. Rent a golf carts to zip around in!

Emerald Coast RV Resort, Panama City

You’ll find a family-friendly atmosphere at Emerald Coast RV Resort.  This well-maintained property has something for the whole family. Including your fur babies! If you don’t have your own RV, don’t worry – there are gorgeous park models available to rent or buy.

The campsites have pull-thru and back-in sites. All offer full hookups and 30/50/100 camp electric. Each site also has a picnic table, patio furniture, and a charcoal grill.

Take a dip in one of the two heated pools or relax in the hot tub. Active guests can burn off calories in the fitness center, on the pickleball courts, or on a rental bike. Enjoy the laid-back competition of horseshoes or bocce.

Nearby, you’ll find Coconut Creek Family Fun Park and Shipwreck Island Waterpark. You can swim with the dolphins at the Gulf World Marine Park or talk to the animals at the ZooWorld Zoological and Botanical Conservatory.

For more information on exploring Florida’s Panhandle, click here.

Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Written by Marsha Adelson

Marsha AdelsonMarsha is a retired Federal Employee, having spent 32+ years as a cartographer creating aeronautical navigation maps. After retiring, she started a second career as a Certified Tour Manager and Tour Guide. Although she focuses on guiding visitors to the Washington, DC area, she has escorted groups to many other places in the mid-Atlantic region. She’s had a lot of experience taking groups to museums, galleries, concerts, and staying in a wide variety of hotels and inns. In addition, she and her partner have traveled cross-country in a motorhome from Maryland to Fairbanks, Alaska and back, visiting many National Parks along the way.


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