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5 Favorite Spots in the Florida Panhandle

I am definitely loving how my little life is shaping up down here in Vero Beach.  I love the convenience of having stores just a few minutes away.  Of being able to step out onto my patio and take a swim if I feel.  Of running over to the beach and having some drinks with the boy.  But there are some things that I do miss about North Florida, and they're becoming more apparent as Summer slips into Fall.

Madison Blue Springs.  This state park was just a few minutes from our house, and we didn't explore it nearly enough.  There was a reason though.  In the Fall and Winter it's too chilly to go into the spring, and in the Spring and Summer, there are just too many people taking advantage of the coolness of a natural spring.  We just loved how blue the water is, and it was crazy actually being able to see the line in the Suwannee where it changes color.

Madison Blue Springs State Park in Madison County, Florida

Florida Caverns.  Did you know that there are a series of caverns under the state of Florida?  I sure did not.  This state park is the only one that hosts entries to the caverns, which are closed after heavy rains (due to flooding.)  We had only been living in Tallahassee a short time before we ventured over to Marianna to the Florida Caverns State Park.  Of course, this was before I had gotten my little State Park Passport that maps out all the state-run parks in Florida, which you get stamped when you go to a new one.  It's also before I discovered Geocaching.  When we found out that we were moving, I wanted so very much to go back and check it out, realizing that the opportunity to do so would be limited afterward.  Well, life got in the way and we never made it over to the panhandle / Gulf coast / beaches again.  Which is sad, because they are truly my favorite.  We also learned from visiting the springs that other caverns can be explored via diving.

Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna, Florida

St. Joseph Peninsula.  The further west you go in Florida, the more gorgeous the beaches get.  One of my favorite, within driving distance for a day trip, was the beach at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.  The time of year we went, which was spring (before Memorial Day), made for almost a deserted beach.  Which was crazy, because the water was so warm!  I also think that the general population strays from state-run beaches because of the rules, and the $2 or so entrance fee.

Storm coming in, St. Joseph Peninsula, Port St. Joe, Florida

Pensacola.  We didn't get to explore Pensacola nearly enough.  It was a good 3 hours from when we were living in Tallahassee, and almost four when we moved outside of the city.  We did venture over there a couple times, and were met with pristine beaches, forts to explore, and (one time) a concert on Perdido Key.

Hotels in Pensacola, as seen from Perdido Key

"Winter".  I know it's beginning to change to fall.  My mother-in-law has posted some pictures of trees in Tennessee changing color.  Down here in Vero, it's still (sometimes, oppressively) hot.  Up in Tallahassee, we had a fall, and even a mild winter.  We slept with the windows open, and got lots of hiking and outdoor projects done.  Right now, I can't bare to be outside more than a few minutes without taking a dip in the pool immediately following.  I know- the problems I face!  Scott has warned me that it does get a little chilly at night, and there may be some days (or even weeks) that it wouldn't be prudent to take a swim.  It'll be interesting to see for sure!

Have you all been to the Florida panhandle?  Where's your favorite spot and things to see?

Linking with Coffee with Caitlin / Bright on a Budget /Cup of Tea / Della DevotedSeptember Farm / The Farmer's Wife, and Meet @ the Barre

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