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The Northwest Florida Region
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A Surprising Stretch of the Sunshine State

Florida's Northwest Region

Northwest Florida stretches from the historic city of Pensacola on the state's western border, east to Apalachicola. With miles of undeveloped natural beaches, quiet fishing villages and quaint historic districts, visitors will feel like they are among the first to discover the "Other Florida."

The beaches of Northwest Florida, from Pensacola Beach to the eastern stretches of the Beaches of South Walton, offer miles of unspoiled natural beauty and endless options for fun. Referred to as the "Emerald Coast," the cities of Destin and Fort Walton Beach offer wonderful shelling and several unique small-town attractions.Along the Beaches of South Walton, visitors will discover an eclectic blend of old and new beach communities that give this area a special charm. The century-old community of Grayton Beach, with its sand streets and wooden houses made of weathered cypress, is full of surprising contrasts.

With no major highways, and not a single stoplight in the entire county, Franklin County might easily be missed on a trip through the Florida Panhandle. But summertime travelers have at least one very cool reason to visit, as air conditioning was invented here! Nearly 150 years ago, a young physician named John Gorrie developed an ice machine to help cool down patients suffering from yellow fever. This revolutionary achievement helped transform Florida from a sparsely populated wilderness to the tourist mecca it is today. Travelers can stop by the John Gorrie State Museum in Apalachicola and pay their respects to the man who made cool Florida living possible. A replica of his ice-making machine is on display. Apalachicola's working waterfront charm and historically significant structures provide a rare glimpse into Florida's past.

With more than 100 miles of sparkling beaches, Northwest Florida's pristine coastal areas are its crowning jewel. Freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities are plentiful throughout Northwest Florida. What angler can resist tossing in a line when visiting the lucky fishing village of Destin? This small coastal town boasts five saltwater fishing world records, and more billfish are caught off the Emerald Coast each year than all other Gulf ports combined.

Sea life also abounds in Apalachicola Bay, which is one of the most productive bays in the country. Characterized by a series of rivers, bayous, tidal creeks and barrier islands, the bay is part of the vast Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve. Its ecosystems support important breeding grounds for oysters, shrimp, crabs and finfish as well as habitat for more than 315 bird species and rare or endangered mammals.

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