Nestled on the barrier Gulf Coast, St. George Island boasts 22 miles of tranquil beaches and unblemished wildlife sanctuaries. Your relaxing stint in the sand begins at one of Tip Top Vacation Spot's furnished rental properties, outfitted for every family, couple, or couple of families looking to take bets on their children’s beach volleyball games. Rates start as low as $485 (standard fees not included) for a three-night stay in a quaint, two-bedroom villa during the low, summer season, and range upward of $3,600 for a week-long, mid-season stay at a five-bedroom house equipped to corral larger herds of vacationers.
The professional pilots at Timberview Helicopters ferry passengers high into the clouds aboard a sky-scraping whirlybird during flight tours through Destin, Kansas City, and Key West. Having chartered flights for National Geographic and the Travel Channel, these pilots expertly navigate planes toward sweeping, picturesque views, allowing sightseers to steal glances of Fort Walton Beach, downtown Kansas City, and Key West's ocean views from a perspective normally reserved for birds and astronauts with binoculars. Additionally, their high-definition videos grant guests a lasting commemoration of their in-flight experience. When they're not chartering tours, they teach budding pilots the gravity-defying tricks of their trade through pilot training and lug precious shipments from port to port with their cargo-lifting services.
At the authorized Cessna Pilot Center, Island Air Express's certified pilots and instructors curate training courses, helm scenic tours, and glide above clear waters during private flights to the Bahamas. They help aspiring flyers to accrue hours for a private pilot's license, as well as prepare them to complete official flight tests with FAA–approved blindfolds for instrument ratings.
The PADI-certified instructors at Panama City Diving run their classes with a focus on the heart of scuba diving-fun and adventure-while keeping safety and each student's diving success as the primary goals. With online courses as well as pool and open-water instruction available, the team prepares divers to explore the region's aquatic splendor, such as Vortex Spring and Morrison Springs. The squad also arranges adventuresome ocean-scuba-diving trips and spearfishing outings during which divers kick through crystal-clear waters to hunt treasure, catch dinner, and play Go Fish with the local mermaids.
Between the 1820s and the 1940s, ships chugging down the Apalachicola River turned Blountstown into a bustling settlement. Today, 18 buildings from those days still bear witness to the joys and trials of pioneer life in the form of Panhandle Pioneer Settlement’s living museum. There, visitors can admire such structures as an 1860s-era round-log structure and an 1820s hewn-log cabin whose dovetailed joints marked carpenters' transition away from holding wood together with scotch tape. Nearby, a horseless carriage and antique fire engine nestle in the firehouse, and an antique piano rests in the Red Oak Methodist Church. Housed in a shotgun-style abode, Doctor Dowling’s Office sheds light on medical practices of the day, and the two-room school makes students grateful they don’t have to chisel their answers into marble scantron tablets anymore.
The settlement also strives to preserve knowledge of pioneer trades with educational programming and classes that preserve the arts of blacksmithing, basket weaving, and jam making. Additionally, the settlement welcomes the public at events ranging from an annual peanut boil and hog-butchering demonstration to hand-stitched quilt shows, which remind audiences that there are cozier alternatives to today’s blankets woven from discarded computer motherboards.
The fermentation specialists at Panama City Beach Winery craft their lush tinctures from a cornucopia of Florida produce, winning over the taste buds of various competition judges across the country. During the 30- to 45-minute tasting, guests can cleanse their palates with 10 to 12 of owner Larry Honeycutt's delicious concoctions, a bacchanalian cascade that includes everything from banana and guava to carrot and blueberry sparking. Honeycutt will talk guests through the individual characteristics of each libation, detailing cocktails and ideal pairings such as banana wine and peanut butter or tomato wine and bad comedians. Beverage testers will leave with a pair of souvenir wine glasses emblazoned with the palm-tree logo and a bottle of Category 5 sangria.