The kids may be back in school but fall is still a perfect time to take an off-season family vacation. Gulf County is located in Florida’s panhandle and home to 43 miles of natural shoreline. Absent are high rises and traffic but present are spectacular sunsets, an abundance outdoor activities and the Dead Lakes, one of the richest ecosystems in Florida. It’s the perfect place to unplug for a weekend with the family.

Of course, summer is a great time to visit Gulf County, Florida (GCFL) but pleasant fall weather still allows families to enjoy all of the following features outside of peak holiday season—which could also mean less crowds and potentially better value for money.

1. Gulf County’s Rustic Beaches


Whether you prefer to lounge near the action or on a quiet stretch of beach, both can be found in Gulf County. Cape San Blas, the westward-facing peninsula with white sand beaches on the Gulf side and shallow calm water on the bay side, seems more our speed. The sometimes blue, sometimes green ocean water has a gentle break that’s perfect for kids.

Those who like fishing may prefer the also quiet Indian Pass. Located across from the St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge, kids will love spotting birds and other animals with more frequency here.

2. Laid-Back Vibe

Escape the chaos of the school year and decompress before the holiday season starts by totally unplugging (you may have to—spotty WiFi is one of the area’s quirks). Leave the laptop behind and swap fancy clothes for comfortable athletic and beachwear. There’s no traffic either, In fact, there are only two stoplights.

Eclectic shopping may surface some interesting holiday gifts, not to mention the crafts kids can make with all of the shells they’ll be collecting off the gorgeous beaches.

3. It’s Pet-Friendly

Gulf County beaches are frequently hailed as the most pet-friendly in the nation. Leashed pets are welcome on most beaches.

We love taking our dog to the beach. Though he’s a little wary of the ocean, sniffing seaweed and hanging out with the family is fun and great exercise for all.

Camping with him in tow would certainly be a highlight for my 7-year-old. Pets can stay with you at a number of Gulf County campgrounds while vacation rentals roll out the red carpet for traveling pets, too.

4. Delicious Seafood and More


Love shrimp, oysters and other seafood? You’re in luck. Sidewalk cafes, bistros and even some tasty food trucks throughout Gulf County serve seafood fresh from the ocean. You’ll also find Southern comfort food like fried green tomatoes and some northern-southern fusion to enjoy during chill live music—a common feature at a number of local dining spots. And, if you’ve just been fishing—flounder, trout, redfish, mullet, and pompano are common catches—local restaurants will prepare your fish for you.

5. Outdoor Fun in Florida

From kayaking on the Dead Lakes to see prehistoric-looking animals and trees to stand-up paddleboarding in the ocean, Gulf Coast is the active family’s paradise. Bike along seaside trails or snorkel amid starfish. Some of the nation’s best bass fishing awaits in the Dead Lakes, too.


What kind of adventure would you like to have in Gulf County? Have you been?

Not too far from here, you can swim with manatees in Crystal River.

Katie Dillon headshot

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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