Glance at a map of Florida’s west coast and it’s hard to grasp just how beautiful the beaches and small towns are. Though Florida’s east coast is home to famous cities like Miami, Daytona Beach, and Orlando, Florida’s west coast also has many interesting and notable cities and beaches.
What follows is a map of Florida’s west coast as well as information about the major cities and notable beaches to be found on it.
Fort Myers is the largest city in Lee County, Florida and home to a population of approximately 78,000 people. Fort Myers is a major tourist location for Florida and is the primary gateway to Southern Florida for those coming from the north. The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad connects Punta Gorda to Fort Myers. Thomas Edison once had a winter home in the city and many landmarks are named after him, including the Edison Mall and the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Notable landmarks in the city include the 6-mile Cyprus Slough Preserve, the Lakes Regional Park, and the JetBlue Park. The Railroad Museum of Florida, the Southwest Florida Museum of History and the Imaginarium Science Center are all located here as well. Tours are run that take tour groups through the everglades to see wildlife.
The Tampa Bay region encompasses three cities: Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. Combined the metropolitan area is home to approximately 3.1 million people. The Tampa Bay region is a large tourist destination, home to many theme parks like Busch Gardens, Dinosaur World, the Florida aquarium, and the Florida Botanical Gardens. The Tampa Bay region is also home to many museums and arts centers. The local economy relies heavily on information technology research and military bases.
The Tampa Bay region is known for its excellent restaurants which cater to a wide variety of different cuisines such as Caribbean, Italian, Spanish, and Cuban cuisines. The aforementioned Busch Gardens is a popular theme park in the area, and both the Florida aquarium and Big Cat Rescue give tourists an up-close view of wildlife. The Bayshore Boulevard is a popular running path. Tampa’s home to the Museum of Science and Industry, the Tampa Museum of Art, and the Tampa Bay History Center are all fascinating places to visit in the city. Those looking to enjoy nature might want to pay a visit to the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens or the Lettuce Lake Regional Park.
Panama City, Florida (not to be confused with the Panama City of Panama) is the set of Bay County Florida and home to approximately 38,000 people. The city gets its name from the fact that it functioned as a port town which moved goods to Panama. The city is a popular resort city, known for its smooth and inviting beaches as well as wineries and ocean-going tours. Different companies offer dolphin sightseeing tours out of the city’s bay, and snorkeling/swimming with the dolphins is a popular activity. The Panama City Beach and St. Andrews Park are popular spots for picnicking and other family activities. The Panama City Beach Winery sells high-quality wine, and the Cold Spring Eco Tour lets you kayak or snorkel around Crustal Springs.
Pensacola, Florida is only around 13 miles to the Alabama/Florida border, making it the westernmost city in the state. It has an estimated population of around 54,000 people. Pensacola, Florida has a strong military presence, which drives much of its economy. It is frequently called the “cradle of Naval aviation”. This is due to the fact that the Naval Air Station Pensacola can be found there, which trains many Navy pilots. Appropriately, the National Museum of Naval Aviation is located there as well. Civil War Tours of Pensacola are offered in the city, and the Destination Archeological Center offers information about local archeology. The Bay Bluffs Park and the Perdido Key State Park are popular areas for hiking.
Notable Beaches In Western Florida:
Panama City Beach
The Panama City Beach runs for about 27 miles. It’s a popular spot for diving, surfing, and picnicking. The area is known as the “wreck diving capital of the South”, and dolphin gazing tours as well as other coastal tours are offered in the area. The nearby St. Andrews State Park offers excellent hiking opportunities and views of wildlife.
Known for being quite a bit quieter and more relaxing than the nearby Panama City Beach, Seaside and its beachfront are considered a picture perfect and family-friendly getaway spot. Hiking trails can be found around the area that wind through beautiful canopies of oak, pine, magnolia and hickory. The Farmers Market of Seaside has fresh fruits you can purchase for your afternoon. The town and its beaches were made famous by the movie The Truman Show, which was filmed there.
Santa Rosa Beach
Santa Rosa is regarded as one of the best places in Florida for travel and leisure, and the Santa Rosa Beach is a popular destination for tourists from around the world due to its soft white sands and clean waters. Boat tours are offered in the area, and the nearby topsail Hill Preserve State Park is an excellent area for hiking and biking.
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
The St. Joseph Peninsula State Park encompasses around 10 miles of beachfront covered in warm white sands. The beaches here have been rated as some of the best beaches in the United States, and all sorts of activities are welcome here. Fishing, kite flying, surfing, and swimming are all common activities in the Bay and its grasp lacks. Overnight camping is even welcome at the state park, and hiking trails in the region offer excellent chances to observe wildlife.
Navarre Beach is sometimes referred to as Florida’s playground because of its inviting and easily accessible beachfront. Canoeing and kayaking are frequent activities here in the fairly calm waters off the beach. The beachfront is typically quiet and relaxing, with white sands and turquoise waters. The Gulf Islands National Seashore has a rich and fascinating history that tour guides will educate you about. There’s also a scenic bike path that runs through the area.