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Navarre Beach in Santa Rosa County, Florida, is an unsung wonder of the Emerald Coast. This small town has beautiful beaches and is one of Florida’s best kept secrets.
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Located in the Florida Panhandle, Navarre Beach is one of Florida’s most relaxing places. Not only does this beach community have 12 miles of coastline but it is uniquely located about 25 miles from Pensacola Beach and 15 miles from Fort Walton Beach.
The Gulf Islands National Seashore runs along the waters off of Navarre. It all adds up to four miles of perfect white sand beach with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Santa Rosa sound on the other. If you’re a fan of the beaches in Destin, expect to find the same stunning beach scene in Navarre Beach.
Navarre Beach Florida: When the Beach is All You Need
My husband and I headed to Navarre to spend our anniversary weekend together. He is not a beach bum like me but he was thrilled to escape the hustle and bustle with our jobs and three girls back home. We both hoped Navarre Beach would offer us some much-needed peace and quiet.
When we arrived, it was clear that Navarre Beach is not a traditional ‘beachy’ town. It’s untouched by the commerce I typically expect to find in a beach town: t-shirt shops, fudge shops and kitschy souvenir shops. I knew right away that this would be a place we visit again in the future.
Untouched Beauty Means Fewer Lodging Options
Navarre Beach is so unspoiled by tourism that when you book lodging (and believe me, you want to book a stay here!) you’ll find fewer options than other popular beach towns. Most families look for a VRBO vacation rental in the area. If you prefer to stay in a hotel, check out the SpringHill Suites by Marriott, which has beachfront rooms. The hotel boasts a stunning pool and lazy river that screams rest and relaxation. If you’re looking for a condo, check out ResortQuest to get help finding the right lodging for your family vacation.
Coldwater Gardens is also very impressive for lodging. This out-of-the-way spot works well for families that want to get away from it all. Expect to find ‘glamping’ tents, a treehouse, and cabins available for rent.
While the lack of hustle and bustle was immediately apparent to me when we arrived I don’t think I truly realized how much of a difference it made until I stepped on the beach. There were no high rises fighting for space and every inch of sand was not covered by people. It was just pure coastal beauty.
Where to Eat in Navarre Beach
This quiet little beach town has some fantastic restaurants.
One of our favorites was WindJammers on the Pier. We enjoyed lunch on the patio overlooking the beautiful ocean. Later that evening we returned to have drinks around the fire pit. With a soundtrack of crashing waves it was the perfect way to end the evening. For a delicious homestyle breakfast, I highly recommend TC’s Front Porch. Make sure to order one of the famous scones (some of the best in Florida). Those are just two of our 5 favorite restaurants that you must visit during your trip to Navarre.
Things to Do in Navarre
This is the obvious choice. Families can easily spend the entire day swimming and playing on Navarre’s pristine beaches. Be sure to pack what you need for a perfect beach vacation and bring the right sunscreen.
Visit the Pier
A Navarre Beach vacation also offers something unique; it boasts the Navarre Beach fishing pier. This is the longest pier in the Gulf of Mexico with fantastic views of the Gulf’s clear waters. It costs $7/ per adult (kids 5 and under are FREE) to walk on the pier. Pay once and you have access, with your receipt, until 11 p.m. The pier is an attraction all by itself. You may catch a glimpse of pink jellyfish the size of frisbees or dolphins ready to snag fish off the fishing lines.
Have an Adventure
Adventures Unlimited is just minutes away from Coldwater Gardens. It offers a wide variety of, you’ve guessed it, adventures! We opted for the zip lining tour and had the best time! TravelingMom Allison Taylor took the kayak trip with her family. They were kayaking newbies and a got a brief paddling lesson before heading off on the river. She says it was the perfect first foray into kayaking — the river was only waste-deep, so she was comforted to know that if she fell out of the kayak, she would be fine. (In case you’re wondering, she didn’t fall out, although she “came very very close.”)
Commune with the Animals
The Gulf Breeze Zoo is located about 15 minutes from the beach and it was so much fun. The zoo is not so large that it is overwhelming, or that it would take the entire day to see unless you really wanted to spend your whole day there. The exhibits are all fairly interactive and the animals seemed generally happy. Bonus points to the zoo for having reasonable prices in the gift shop.
Explore Gulf Island National Seashore
I highly recommend renting paddleboards or scooters from Sage to enjoy a cruise through the Gulf Islands National Seashore with its white sand dunes and emerald blue water. Taking this ride was easily one of the highlights of our trip to Navarre.
Why We’ll Go Back to Navarre
Navarre Beach was such a gem and I found myself head over heels in love with the little coastal town. Navarre is one of those spots that you love so much that you hesitate to tell others about it for fear it will be overrun with tourists.
If you’ve visited this quiet beach town, tell us your favorite things to do or places to eat in Navarre.