We decided we needed to make some very serious distance due to spending so much time in Florida. We have really loved it, but it still only 29 out of 48 we intend to travel to, so Chris drove 350 miles in one long, humid slog. We got some pretty torrential weather, some of which was frankly scary, with flash flooding on the road.
We also briefly stopped into the capital city of Florida, Tallahassee. Naturally we went to the capitol building itself, practically out of habit, after having seen so many of them. It’s not a bad one:
We carried on to our hotel, which turned out to be an hour further away than anticipated due to unexpectedly changing time zones. US time zones are messy and odd. They do not always or even often follow state borders and they aren’t really straight lines. Just a few counties in the last little bit of the Florida panhandle are in central time. This was good and bad. We had to drive an hour longer than planned, but it was ‘earlier’ when we arrived at our destination. Our destination was pretty impressive, so we were quite happy to have ‘gone back in time’ a bit.
Panama City isn’t very nice, but Panama City Beach has the best beach we went to in all of Florida. It has what we described to us by people in Jacksonville as ‘sugar sand’. Often these kinds of descriptions are massive exaggerations, but this was honestly the consistency of sugar. It wasn’t too far off on the color either. It felt lovely. The water of the gulf is clear with hardly any seaweed, just nice little fishes occasionally breezing past. It also felt much less salty than the Atlantic side. Does anyone know if it is? Either way, it made for a fantastic swimming experience. I’ve now officially done a back flip in the sea, it was that tranquil (that is a skill I still have, which surprised me – I am a massive klutz on land, but I think I might be more of a natural in water, even though that is mostly not useful in life in the slightest).
We can also highly recommend the hotel itself. It was right on the beach, but more than that, it was basically a series of apartments. They all had full kitchens, a separate living room area, balconies looking out to the gulf and two separate air conditioning units for different rooms. We only payed 120 with tax for this. At first we thought we were splashing out (which we would be with the idea of doing all of the continental US), but it is surely worth that. We were able to use the oven to have pizza and then make proper breakfast the next day as well and drink coffee and eat bacon sandwiches while looking at the sea. Lovely.
Here are some excellent views from our seventh floor balcony:
We met some slightly naughty locals who had snuck into the pool area. The woman said it wasn’t a very good area because there were lots of drugs around and she wouldn’t recommend it for families. This means we probably don’t want to live in Panama City, but we would definitely come back to visit as the beach area didn’t seem to suffer from the problems of the rest of the area, which was actually fairly far from the beach itself. Panama City is a different city from Panama City Beach technically, as with many cities in Florida like Miami and Miami Beach or Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach.
This was our last night in Florida. It was a cracking end to a wonderful week, getting to watch the moon on the sea from our balcony (which of course, is just unphotographable, as good our phone cameras are). It was a great ending to a great state.
We spent more time in Florida than any states other than Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, which were all due to staying with friends and family. It was well worth doing. We have driven the length and breadth of Florida and we really loved a lot of it. It has a few iffy spots, for instance, Miami had horrible traffic, parking and customer service (at least in our hotel). We are highly considering somewhere in Florida. It is a fantastic state and the first ‘famous’ or ‘fashionable’ state that we felt lived up to the hype. People keep going to Florida because it’s bloody lovely and has many well run places in beautiful locations. I think I even felt a bit healthier there just being able to swim so much and people were, by and large, nice to us and fairly easy to talk to.
Do check out the video of one of the best beaches in a state full of amazing beaches: