Although Florida has one big mouse and many rats, my favorite thing to do is in the panhandle and involves Gulf Islands National Seashore. GINS is a large park, covering two states and many areas. My favorite three sections are Naval Live Oaks, Opal Beach (named after Hurricane Opal), and Fort Pickens.
To enjoy these best parts, follow this path.
|Naval Live Oaks|
Go to Naval Like Oaks and hike the visitor center trail. Look at the
large Live Oaks and find the bows of ships in the live branches. I love
imagining how arborists and engineers came together to find the perfect
branch to build navy ships.
Next, drive east on hwy 98 to Navarre and take the Navarre bridge to Navarre
Beach. Drive west to Opal Beach (aka Santa Rose Day Use Pavilions). Get out of your car at the rest area. Rather than walking to the Gulf, walk north to Santa Rosa Sound.
Enjoy a random trail through the dunes (don’t step on any plants!) and
track the footprints of all the critters who live there. See if you can
find fox or armadillo tracks. After tracking critters, go back to the
Gulf and enjoy a swim.
|Hunt for critter tracks in the dunes|
Next, Continue heading west through Pensacola Beach, grab a bite to eat at
Peg Leg Pete’s, and enter the Fort Pickens area. You’ll need to pay an
entry fee into the National Park, and it’s totally worth it. Make your
way to the Fort and take a tour.
From the bookstore, walk toward the point and find the pier that juts into the bay. Sit on the edge of the pier and enjoy a gorgeous view of Pensacola and its bay. Turn off the noise and just simply relax. Ahh. You’ve found my favorite corner in all of Florida. Say hi for me.
|Sit on the Fort Pickens pier and see Pensacola|
|Drive from Naval Live Oaks to Navarre to Fort Pickens, FL|