attractions en route Clearwater to Pensacola

Old Jan 15th, 2003, 04:20 AM
David Brewer
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attractions en route Clearwater to Pensacola

My wife and I from England are motoring Clearwater to Pensacola and would like to take in anything interesting on route while we have the chance. Any suggestions?
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 05:11 AM
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*What* a drive!! I really don't envy you. If you are doing a leisurely several day drive, you might make a side trip to St. George State Park, Seaside, or Destin etc. That entails getting off the interstate and taking the looong way around on 98.

If you were hoping to make it in one day, it will take you that long just driving the interstate. It's probably 7 hours of interstate driving--can't tell you how long it would be if you took 98 through the Panhandle.

Is there a particular reason for heading toward Pensacola? (Eventual destination of New Orleans or whatever) If not, I'd probably contain my trip to southern FL (Clearwater-Naples, Key West-Ft Lauderdale) as there is a heck of a lot of nothing between here and Pensacola, but quite a bit to see in this area!
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 09:17 AM
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theres a weapons museum right off of I-10 about 1 hour before reaching Pensacola. guns, bombs, fighter jets etc..

Pensacola has the naval air museum and ft. pickins.
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 12:44 PM
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Actually, I have to disagree with OliveOyl that there is nothing to see between Clearwater and Pensacola. My family did just such a trip last fall to discover parts of Florida that we have never seen, and we really enjoyed the trip. We headed to Pensacola on I-75, and I-10, and stopped in Tallahassee, the state capital. While there, we took a short drive (30 min.) to Thomasville, Georgia, named one of the top 5 "Main Street" towns in the U.S. Very quaint and historic. From there, we drove straight to Pensacola, which has a great area on the water. On our way back, we made stops at Ft. Walton Beach with their beautiful beaches, Seaside, which is a very pretty community portrayed in the movie "Truman Show", and Apalachicola, a great historic fishing village which is wonderfully preserved in old Florida style. We stayed 1-2 nights in each of these places and felt it was plenty of time to see what each town had to offer. Another interesting place is Cedar Key, but it is quite a drive off the main highway to get to.
I hope this helps!
Old Jan 16th, 2003, 10:45 AM
David Brewe
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Thanks olive Kris and Rob
Old Jan 16th, 2003, 02:11 PM
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I don't know much about the trip from Clearwater to Apalachicola, but know the route from Apalach to Pensacola pretty well. I also disagree with OliveOyl - there is plenty to see. DEFINITELY stop in Apalachicola, it's a beautiful old town with plenty of unique shops. If you want a really nice dinner there, you can eat at The Gibson Inn or Caroline's or That Place on 98 (yes, that is what is it named!) - or there are several less formal places right in town.

Most of the way from Apalach to Panama City, Hwy 98 hugs the coast (except for the 15 minutes you drive through Fort Tyndall)and it's a very pretty drive. Unless you are staying on the water in Pensacola, I recommend you stop somewhere on 98 where there is public access to the beach (like Cape San Blas or Mexico Beach) and just take a walk on the beach - take your shoes off and feel how incredibly soft the sand is. You will hit some pretty major traffic as you drive through Panama City and it remains somewhat busy all the way to Pensacola. But if you aren't in a huge hurry, just sit back and enjoy the drive. The water only gets bluer and prettier as you get towards Pensacola.

I've never been to Seaside, but have heard much about it. And in Pensacola, I would also highly recommend the Naval Air Museum - very interesting.
Old Jan 16th, 2003, 02:35 PM
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Oops, I didn't mean Fort Tyndal - it's Tyndall Air Force Base - and Highway 98 runs right through it.
Old Jan 17th, 2003, 09:53 AM
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It is a long drive from Clearwater to P'cola, but assuming that you know that here are some of my favorite places - just my opinion, and I DO live in the panhandle...

Ceder Key is a quaint little fishing village. Apalach is also a wonderful "old style" florida fishing village with great antiques shopping etc. However I WOULD NOT eat at Gibson Inn - ok to stay in (although starting to run down), but I have eaten there 3 times, each time the meal is worse, and got food poisioning the last time! Have not heard from any of the locals that it has improved very much lately either (I live in Port St Joe which is only 20 mins from there). If you want oysters (this is the area of the world for them) go to Indian Pass and dine at the Raw Bar. It is between Apalach and Port St Joe, and is historic. They converted an old gas station into the resturant, very quaint. The service is famous for being non existant, but they are friendly people and the oysters are the best you'll ever eat (esp the baked ones!) Mexico Beach would be a great place to pull off the side of the road to "dip your feet in the Gulf" and walk on the sugar sand. Seaside is a pretty little town - watch the Truman Show to see exactly what it looks like. Destin is great for shopping but personally I find it very touristy and only go there to go to the outlet malls, and occasionally out to eat. P'cola is wonderful, very mcuh a "navy town" and the Naval Museum is interesting. On the way up, in centeral FL - if you care to go in that far, Ocala is a beautiful place to see and it would be interesting to see the "non beachy" side of FL (large live oaks, moss, old homes, HUGE horse farms, etc).

One word of note though if you are going to the Panhandle during the months of March - April AVOID PANAMA CITY, the traffic on Hwy 98 is horrible due to the Spring Breakers at that time! Destin also tends to be busy during this time period, but the traffic flows a little better around there. Also as an aside, the wind chill today is in the 20's so if you are coming very soon, it may not be beach weather (sorry!, so much for sunny fl!).

Oh, while I live in PSJ, and there really isn't anything to see yet in the town, it is where the constitution of FL was signed, and there is a cute little museum about that. Also there is a wonderful new resturant right on the bay for dinner called the Sunset Coastal Grill. It is on 98 and is faboulous! Since PSJ is only 20 mins from Apalach, you can stay there and eat in PSJ if you so desire, or this summer they are supposed to be reopening the historic hotel that they have been renovating.
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