Gulf Breeze is a small peninsula city in Santa Rosa County with some of the best waterfront property in the area. It is a popular community for water lovers both young and old.
The Gulf Breeze school district is one of the highest rated school districts in the state of Florida so it remains a great place to raise a family and it is also a popular spot for retirees. The schools situated in the city include Gulf Breeze Elementary, Oriole Beach Elementary, Gulf Breeze Middle School, and Gulf Breeze High School.
Gulf Breeze has only two zip codes 32561 and 32563. Some popular Gulf Breeze neighborhoods are Plantation Hill, Williamsburg Estates, Grand Pointe, Grande Point East, Tiger Point, Santa Rosa Shores, Crane Cove, Villa Venyce, Polynesian Islands and Whisper Bay. The area is filled with many residential streets and neighborhoods featuring high-quality homes. You can also find many different condos and townhomes for sale. Gulf Breeze proper features multiple condominiums including, Bahama Bay, Baybridge, Sailwind, and Sunchase.
Florida Communities: Pensacola
As one of the oldest cities in United State’s history, Pensacola features not just over 450 years of history, but also within its city limits, you will find culture, excitement, adventure, and nightlife. It’s home to the Blue Angels, Seville Square, a large military presence, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Historic Downtown Pensacola
In addition to its many thriving businesses, Downtown Pensacola maintains an active calendar of events. Take in a live show at the historic Saenger Theatre, walk through the art galleries, or listen to live music at Seville Square, and there’s plenty more to do including shopping, dining, or enjoying an afternoon run.
It seems like the fun never stops at Pensacola Beach. You can enjoy a relaxing day building sand castles on the sugar white sands, fish off the 1,471 foot Pensacola Beach Pier, shop on the boardwalk, or dance the night away. And there is plenty more to do including boating, parasailing, jet skiing, and dolphin watching. Regardless of how you spend your time on Pensacola Island, one thing you must do is eat, and there is no shortage of restaurants to choose from. You can find everything from pizza to seafood with a side of Bushwhacker, Pensacola’s featured drink.
While the Blue Angels perform perilous aviation maneuvers all over the world, they only call Pensacola their home. The team made up of Navy and Marine, officers perform their rolls, passes, and configurations in shows from March to November awing audiences with heart-stopping moves, but locals can see them practice most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings for free.
Pensacola Naval Air Station
Pensacola’s Naval Air Station is an active military base that employs both civilians and military personnel. Its grounds are open to civilians with the proper ID and has two main attractions.
National Naval Aviation Museum
See more than 150 restored Marine Corp, Navy, and Coast Guard aircraft at Pensacola’s National Naval Aviation Museum, the world’s largest naval aviation museum. The 37-acre grounds has plenty of attractions including the museum and various exhibits, a giant screen theater, flight simulators, a virtual flight deck, and Kiddie Hawk play area.
Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum
Take a tour of the lighthouse, built in 1859, and don’t forget your camera, so you can capture the view from the top. Then explore the museum where you can learn about Pensacola’s military history and archeology. If you’re lucky, or not so lucky, you could encounter one of the lighthouses rumored ghosts as it is been called one of the most haunted places in America.
In 2012, the Carolina Mudcats made Pensacola their home under the new name Pensacola Blue Wahoo’s. This minor league baseball team unites fun, family, and baseball in a state of the art stadium that was named “2012 Ballpark of the Year” by Baseballparks.com. The stadium hosts a variety of community events including baseball centered youth camps, Kazoo’s Grand Slam Reading Program, appearances by Kazoo, the team mascot, concerts, and the Craft Beer Festival.
Florida Communities: Pace
On the west side of Santa Rosa County nestles Pace, a rural community known for its excellent schools and naval base. Pace is small but growing. In fact, the city of Pace claims to be the fastest growing community in Florida. The city does have employment and shopping within its limits at Wal-mart Super-Center, Home Depot, Publix, and several other larger stores, but with its close proximity to Milton and Pensacola, many of the residents opt to commute to work.
It’s a small town, so residents looking for the culture and adventures of the larger cities and nearby beaches take the 30-minute drive into Pensacola or one of the other surrounding towns. Pace, however, does have its charm, which is why many choose to live there. Take a look at some of the things Pace has to offer.
The Santa Rosa County School district was rated “Best in State” and has held the title of Florida’s number one school district since 2010. Pace averages 16.5 students per teacher in its public schools and has several private schools within 20 miles of the city. The high school graduation rate is 93% according to Livability.com
Stonebrook Golf Course
Stonebrook’s semi-private, 18-hole golf course offers an enjoyable but challenging game. They have both individual and group lessons, and membership allows for use of the tennis courts and pool facilities or an opportunity to join one of their golf leagues.
NAS Whiting Field
On the Northeast end of Pace is NAS Whiting Field which employs both military and civilian personnel. The 12-acre facility produces over 1,200 pilots annually, and in July 2016, it celebrated its 74th year in operation.
Pace is the place to raise children. Not only are its schools the best in Florida, but it has plenty of family oriented recreation features including Benny Russel Park, Pace Area Recreation Park, and Simpson River Fishing Pier. For the athletic family, Pace offers the Santa Rosa Sports Plex with sixteen lighted fields, two concessions, two play areas and batting cages, and the Pace Athletic and Recreation Association which organizes youth baseball, softball, cheerleading, and football.
Florida Communities: Milton
On the North corner of Pensacola is Milton, known as the “Canoe Capital” of Florida. The Santa Rosa County Seat sits in the center of historic Downtown Milton. The city, a mix of rural and urban charm, is one of the oldest in Florida and records activity as far back as the early 1800’s when people established homes along the Blackwater River. It is said that the name, Milton, came from “Milltown” supporting the lumber industry in the town.
If water activities are what attracts you to a city, you will want to see the Blackwater River, one of the last white-sand bottom rivers left in the United States. There is plenty to do on the Escambia River at the Blackwater River State Park including fishing, canoeing and Kayaking, swimming, camping, and hiking. Enjoy a family day geo-caching in the wildlife or tubing along the river, or take your camera and enter a photo in the state park’s photo contest.
Milton has two main walking trails—The Blackwater State Heritage Trail and the Jackson Red Ground Trail. The Blackwater State Heritage Trail is part of Florida’s statewide system of greenways and trails. It’s suitable for hikers, runners, bicyclists, and in some sections, horseback riding. The Jackson Red Ground trail follows the path of early traders, natives, and settlers that once traveled through the area.
Florida Communities: Cantonment
Twenty miles north of Pensacola is Cantonment where, in 1914, Andrew Jackson camped his troupes. Most of the city residents commute to Pensacola, Pace, or Milton to work. Even though Cantonment is a small city, you will find facilities only a short distance as Florida Mentor and Northview Community hospitals and the University of West Florida are just Seven miles away.
Cantonment has twelve schools in the area including Beulah Academy of Science, Blessed Star Montessori Christian School, and the Pensacola Jr. Academy. One feature of the area, however, is the Roy Hyatt Environmental Center. Not opened to the public, the center was established in 1968 and holds educational field trips during the school year. The facility features classrooms, laboratories, a bird bus for bird watching, a butterfly gazebo, and an outdoor educational classroom.
With five lakes and the Escambia River, the fourth largest river in Florida, Cantonment has plenty of appeal for fishermen and families looking to spend a day on the water. Becks Lake Fish Camp, not really a lake but rather a bayou of the Escambia River, has 85 native fish species including Bass, Bream, Crappie, and Blue Gill. The camp also has boat ramps, hiking, and kayaking and is a popular base camp for hunters who access the Florida State Wildlife Management Area.
Cantonment boast having 124 bike trails ranging in distance from approximately 1.5 to 20 miles and 390 running trails.
Florida Communities: Navarre
If Pensacola beach offers a little more excitement than you’re looking for, take a short drive east and enjoy the slower pace of Navarre’s beaches. The scenic route is ten miles of pristine white beaches, emerald waters, and wind built sand dunes. You’ll want your camera because Navarre’s beaches are some of the best in the world and offer a less crowded and quieter way to enjoy the beach.
Get back to nature
If you enjoy nature, you’ll love living in Navarre and its surrounding areas. Much of the island is untouchable thanks to the area’s conservation efforts. As a reward, residents, and visitors can enjoy bird watching, hiking, and bicycling in the purity of a natural island environment. If you want to get involved, Navarre has several opportunities. The Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary, Sea Turtle Conservation Center, and Marine Science Station have programs that both entertain and educate children and adults alike while encouraging residents to take part in their efforts to keep Navarre beaches the best in the world. Take a look at what you can do by getting involved with these three conservations efforts.
Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary
The Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary is a three-phase project initiated by Navarre resident, Brenda Stokes. Phase I and II include reef areas in the Santa Rosa Sound, and phase III, currently in progress, is the addition of a reef in the Gulf of Mexico. Residents and visitors can enjoy snorkeling, diving, or fishing at any of these three locations, or join in the fundraising efforts by “Adopting a Reef” or racing in the “Run for the Reef.”
Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center
Dedicated to the preservation of Sea Turtles, Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center provides education and community outreach to residents of Navarre. While the center has many dedicated volunteers, they are always on the lookout for new people to join their efforts.
Navarre Beach Marine Science Station
Navarre Beach Marine Science Station serves its mission, “to promote the appreciation, conservation, and understanding of the marine ecosystem of coastal Florida through education and service.” The station provides the area’s schools and residents with many learning opportunities including overnight and day field trips for students of all ages. Their efforts continue to keep Navarre beaches and dunes in a clean and natural state.
There is plenty to do on the water in Navarre. In addition to relaxing in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, you can rent sailboats, paddle boards, jet skis, pontoons, and kayaks to cruise both the gulf and the Santa Rosa Sound. Looking to try something new? Consider joining the Aqua Life and Fitness Yoga Center that features finding your balance with yoga on a stand-up paddleboard in the water.
Navarre Fishing Pier
Navarre doesn’t have the nightlife that Pensacola Beach has, but it does have fishing where you can snag a Snapper, Amberjack, Grouper, or Cobia off Florida’s longest pier, measuring at 1,545 feet out into the clear waters and 30 feet above them. The waters are so clear that you can see stingray floating along the bottom or watch as schools of Amberjack look for their next meal. Maybe they will find their last meal on the end of your line. One of the fascinating gifts of the area is the regular dolphin sightings as they dive out of the water to welcome both residents and visitors to Florida.
At the Far East end of Navarre, near the Navarre Bridge, you’ll find several dining establishments that offer everything from seafood to California style Mexican. On one side of the road, you can sit on the patio and enjoy a beer and the breathtaking view of the Gulf of Mexico. On the other side, take in a meal and the sights of the Santa Rosa Sound. Both sides offer food, music, and views with an amazing island atmosphere.
Florida Communities: Fort Pickens
Discover Florida’s military history at Fort Pickens dating back to 1834. One of the few forts to remain in Confederate’s control during the Civil War, Fort Pickens is now a National Park open to civilian exploration. Visitors can tour the grounds to see the gun rooms, prisoners’ quarters, mine chambers, the Parade Ground, and experience climbing on Civil War Canons.
Florida Communities: Perdido Key
West of Pensacola sits Perdido Key. This “Long Island” is where the water meets the sand—fourteen miles of water meeting sand. Along the scenic route, you will discover white sand dunes and the Gulf of Mexico as far as the eye can see. Quieter than some of the other tourist towns, the atmosphere in Perdido Keys is as calm as the waters unless of course, you visit Flora-Bama Lounge and Oyster Bar.
Perdido Key has several state parks including Johnson Beach at Gulf Islands National Seashore, Perdido Key State Park, and Big Lagoon State Park. As protected parks, they offer the best of nature. Take a hike through the trails or enjoy an afternoon paddling on the water. Florida’s Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail begins at Big Lagoon State Park—700 acres of salt marshes and nature. Bring your camera and enjoy the many varieties of migratory birds and indigenous plants. This area is the nesting ground for sea turtles and is home to many other varieties of wildlife.
In addition to great fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, you can enjoy many other water sports and outdoor activities in Perdido Key. The area has several charter boat companies ready to take you deep sea fishing and dolphin watching. On the beach, you can try body surfing, parasailing, or jet skiing.
In 2014, with the support of Escambia County, Perdido Key became home to an artificial snorkel reef. The reef has 24 modules of underwater life including octopi, crabs, tropical fish, and plants. Residents of Perdido Key and its surrounding areas can enjoy this underwater playground located minutes from their front doors.
Perdido Key has two golf courses—Lost Key and Perdido Bay Golf Club. Live where you play in a WCI community at Lost Key. This gated community is nestled in the boundaries of a full-service golf club with amenities such as dining, tennis, pool, and a community center, and of course, you will find golf and all the features that come with an 18-hole golf course including lessons and a golf shop. Also in Perdido Key is Perdido Bay Golf Club, the former site of the Pensacola Open and voted “best new public golf course” by Golf Digest. In addition to the 18-hole course, you can enjoy the driving range, putting green, chipping green, and fairway and a greenside bunker.
Lost Key Marina and Yacht Club
If you and your family like boating, you will enjoy the benefits of having a state of the art marina close to home. The Lost Key Marina and Yacht Club has 47 wet-slip and 140 dry-slips capable of storing 20’ to 60’ vessels. The marina is located near the Gulf of Mexico along the Intercoastal Waterway. Within minutes of leaving your house, you could be at your boat preparing to spend a day on the water.
For nightlife in Perdido Key, Flora-Bama is the place to be. The lounge has three stages and live bands every day of the week and holds several annual events including, Bulls on the Beach with live professional bull riding in the sand, Shindig on the Sand, and the Interstate Mullet Toss where guest can attend what Flora-Bama claims to be “Gulf Coast’s Greatest Beach Party” and participate in a fish-throwing contest to see who can throw a dead Mullet farthest over the Alabama-Florida state line.
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