While many vacationers head to the Caribbean for their summer getaways, some travelers prefer to stay a little closer to home. Whether you’re restricted by cost, convenience or time, there are still plenty of great places to visit in the Gulf of Mexico.
Destin, FLSouthern Florida might get all the accolades when it comes to the state’s premier beach towns, but there’s a reason why the northwestern shores are referred to as Florida’s Emerald Coast. The waters here are stunning. Destin in particular has some of the country’s best shorelines and 12 different access points along the beaches. It is more laid back than Miami, making it perfect for someone who wants beautiful waters and a relaxing vacation.
Orange Beach, ALJust down the road from Florida’s famed Emerald Coast is Alabama’s Orange Beach. It boasts the same sugary white sands as its neighbor, along with a wealth of outdoor activities to partake in. There are dolphin cruises, deep-sea fishing excursions and even plenty of hiking and jogging trails along the Back Country Trail.
Pensacola, FLPensacola is absolutely gorgeous and one of the state’s most exciting cities to visit. It’s home to not only picturesque stretches of shoreline but also attractions like the National Museum of Naval Aviation and the Portofino Boardwalk, where you can lose an entire day shopping and eating at various seaside restaurants. Of course, if you stop by in July, you’re likely to see the Pensacola Beach Air Show, the city’s real pride and joy.
Siesta Key, FLWhile the 35-mile stretch of sand might be a great selling point for Siesta Key, it’s actually the sheer enormity of golf courses here that make it a favorite destination; there are more than 100 of them within short driving distance. Once you’re done putting around, you can head on over to Point of Rocks to get up close to the area’s wide variety of marine life.
Key West, FLIt doesn’t get much better than Key West, often seen as the go-to Spring Break destination in the country. From endless bars, pure white sand and crystal clear waters, there’s no shortage of things here to keep you entertained. It’s certainly a party spot and popular among the youngsters, but even the young at heart can have a great time shopping and dining here, if you can afford it.
North/South Padre Island, TXTexas’ North & South Padre Islands are popular not only among the natives, but beach lovers from around the country flock here in the summer months as well. The area has gained notoriety thanks to its wealth of watersports like kayaking, windsurfing and paddle boarding. It also doesn’t hurt that the islands have some of the country’s most immaculate sands and 70 miles of dunes, prairies and flats at the Padre Island National Seashore.