Nestled in the Florida Panhandle, just between Pensacola, Florida, and Orange Beach, Alabama, lies a serene barrier island that seems almost lost in time. This is Perdido Key – a narrow strip of land stretching around 16 miles long and only a few hundred yards wide at most points.
Boasting an incredible variety of different terrains, this barrier island is filled with picturesque marshes, white sandy beaches, and lush pine forests. But that’s not all – Perdido Key also has fantastic outdoor activities for tourists of all ages. And when it comes to planning a beach vacation, Perdido Key won’t disappoint!
If you’re looking for a place to relax in the sun and enjoy the sound of the Gulf Coast waves, then read on. We’re going to cover everything the area has to offer – helping you plan the perfect vacation to Perdido Key.
Perdido, Florida – The Allure of the “Lost Key”
Perdido Key, translating to “Lost Island” in Spanish, is a haven for both nature and people, effortlessly combining Southern charm with coastal living and the preservation of its abundant natural beauty.
With approximately 60% of the land designated as federal and state parks, Perdido Key is an idyllic getaway for outdoor enthusiasts and environmentalists. That means no matter where you turn, you’re likely to find a unique ecosystem and wildlife that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Perdido Key Beaches
The beaches of Perdido Key are among the region’s most enchanting features. Immaculate white sands, crystal clear waters, and stunning views of the Gulf make the beaches a sought-after destination for relaxation and recreation.
The beachfront extends from Alabama through Perdido Key State Park, Johnson Beach, and is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, making it one of the last remaining wilderness stretches on the Gulf Coast. Access to the beach is free, and the beach is patrolled daily by lifeguards to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors.
Water sports are plentiful in Perdido Key, with numerous local rental shops offering jet skis, paddleboards, kayaks, boats, and other watercraft for a day of fun on the Gulf. Just make sure to read up on the rules and safety regulations before heading out.
For those looking for a more laid-back experience, there are plenty of beachside activities to enjoy in the Perdido Key area, including sunbathing, beachcombing, fishing, and strolling along the shoreline of the Emerald Coast. There’s even an offshore coral reef ready to explore!
Perdido Key State Park
A central attraction is the Perdido Key State Park, boasting rolling white-sand dunes and serene views of the calm Gulf waters. Open from 8 a.m. to sunset, the park offers two parking areas and eight covered pavilions, making it a perfect place for a family picnic while enjoying the refreshing Gulf breezes.
There’s plenty to see and do in the park, including two nature trails that meander through sand dunes and maritime forests brimming with wildlife. The beach offers a beautiful spot for swimming, fishing, and sunbathing, while the interpretive center provides visitors with educational exhibits about Perdido Key’s ecosystem.
For those looking to stay overnight, cabins are available for rent in the park or you can pitch your tent in the campground. The park also features a boat ramp, playgrounds, and other amenities to make your visit comfortable and enjoyable.
Big Lagoon State Park
Just across the bridge on the mainland lies Big Lagoon State Park, a haven for camping, hiking, and birdwatching. Its unique position offers a stunning contrast to the beach landscape of Perdido Key, with abundant wetlands, estuaries, and diverse wildlife.
Big Lagoon State Park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset and offers visitors several amenities, including hiking trails, bike paths, playgrounds, and nature trails. The park also has a boat ramp, two fishing piers, and picnic areas where you can enjoy an afternoon in the sun with friends or family. And when you’re ready to rest, rent a cabin or sleep in the campground.
Another key destination in the area is Johnson Beach, a 9-mile stretch of white sand that’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and shelling. The beach also offers a secluded spot for fishing, with two fish-cleaning stations providing convenience to anglers.
While visiting, make sure to take a stroll along the boardwalk and explore the many species of shorebirds that populate the area.
For those looking for a more active adventure, guided tours, and kayak rentals are available. You can also take in the breathtaking views of the Gulf from one of the observation towers located at Johnson Beach.
Top Things To Do In Perdido Beach
Beyond the beach, Perdido Key offers plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy. Check out the local art galleries, explore the area’s unique shops and eateries, or take a guided boat tour to experience Perdido Key from the water.
Here are some of the top things to do in Perdido Key on a vacation!
Visit Flora-Bama For Fun and Entertainment
The iconic Flora-Bama is a legendary beach bar and entertainment complex located on the border of Florida and Alabama, hence its name. It has gained iconic status and has become a popular attraction for both locals and tourists visiting the Perdido Beach area.
Flora-Bama is known for its vibrant atmosphere, live music, and friendly beach culture. It has multiple stages where talented musicians and bands perform various genres of music, including country, rock, and blues. The music ranges from local artists to well-known names, creating an eclectic and lively ambiance that keeps visitors entertained throughout the day and night.
The bar itself is massive, with multiple indoor and outdoor areas spread across three levels. Each section has its own unique vibe, offering visitors different experiences depending on their preferences.
One of the highlights of Flora-Bama is its annual events and festivals. The most famous of these is the “Interstate Mullet Toss,” which takes place in April. Participants line up on the Florida side of the bar and throw mullet fish across the state line into Alabama, competing for distance and accuracy. It’s a fun and quirky event that attracts thousands of participants and spectators – and will surely be an unforgettable experience for any visitor!
Get Out On The Water In A Cruise or Charter
Perdido Key offers a range of cruises and charters that allow visitors to explore the stunning waters of the Gulf Coast and enhance their vacation experience. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely sightseeing cruise or an adventurous fishing charter, there are options to suit every preference. Here’s more about cruises and charters in Perdido Key:
Dolphin cruises are a popular choice among visitors to Perdido Key. These cruises take you out into the Gulf of Mexico or the back bays, where you can observe dolphins in their natural habitat. It’s a delightful experience as you watch these playful creatures swim, jump, and interact with each other.
Enjoy the breathtaking beauty of a Gulf Coast sunset with a relaxing sunset cruise. These cruises provide the perfect opportunity to unwind and witness the vibrant colors of the sky as the sun sets over the horizon. Many sunset cruises offer onboard amenities such as live music, drinks, and snacks, creating a romantic and memorable experience.
Perdido Key is renowned for its excellent fishing opportunities, and fishing charters allow you to make the most of it. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, charters are available to cater to your needs. Experienced captains and crews guide you to the best fishing spots, where you can try catching various fish species, including red snapper, grouper, mahi-mahi, and more.
If you prefer a more tranquil and leisurely experience on the water, consider a sailing charter. These charters offer a peaceful and intimate way to explore the coastal waters. Sit back and relax as the wind guides you along the scenic shoreline, providing a unique perspective of Perdido Key’s beauty.
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving Charters
Explore the underwater world of Perdido Key with snorkeling and scuba diving charters. These excursions take you to vibrant reefs, submerged wrecks, and crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life. Whether you’re a certified diver or a beginner, options are available for all skill levels.
For a more personalized and exclusive experience, consider booking a private charter. Private charters allow you to tailor your itinerary and activities to your preferences, whether a family outing, a special occasion, or a group adventure. You can customize the duration, destinations, and onboard amenities to create a truly memorable experience.
When planning your cruise or charter in Perdido Key, you should check with local tour operators or charter companies for availability, pricing, and specific offerings. They can provide guidance on the best options based on your interests, group size, and budget.
Shopping in Perdido Key
While you can fill up your days in Perdido Key with outdoor activities and exploring the area’s natural attractions, there are also plenty of opportunities for shopping.
The town of Perdido Key is home to many unique boutiques, galleries, and gift shops where you can find locally-made souvenirs and handcrafted items to take home with you. There are also national chains to help you get your shopping fix:
- Cordova Mall: A shopping destination with a wide range of stores, including Dillard’s, Pac Sun, The Loft, Belk, and more. Enjoy various food options in the food court as well.
- Baby Beach Rentals: Provides rental services for cribs and other baby equipment to vacationing families along the Gulf Coast. Trusted by major rental agencies and VRBO properties in the area.
- Tanger Outlet Mall: Located in Foley, Alabama, near Perdido Key. Offers over 120 brand name stores for some retail therapy. Grab a bite to eat in between shopping in Perdido Key!
- Target: A well-known retail chain in Perdido Key, offering various products from fashion to fishing, shoes to soup. Shop for everyday needs at great prices – and grab your vacation essentials!
- The Market in Perdido Key: A name-brand shopping destination carrying popular brands like Eileen Fisher, J Brand Jeans, Michael Stars, and more. Large selection of shoes and bathing suits for the season.
- The Wharf: Located in Orange Beach, Alabama, this destination offers shopping, movies, live concerts, spa services, and gourmet dining.
- Vivian’s Loft: Situated on the north end of Perdido Key, Vivian’s Loft features new apparel, jewelry, shoes, accessories, and even some vintage items.
Other Florida Panhandle Must-See Locations
While there’s plenty to keep you busy in and around Perdido Key, there are countless other Florida Panhandle attractions worth visiting. From the white-sand beaches of Pensacola to the charming small towns of Apalachicola and Cedar Key, here are some must-see spots for a memorable Florida getaway.
Known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin is a popular vacation destination. Its emerald-green waters and sugar-white sand beaches draw visitors who come for swimming, fishing, boating, and water sports.
Destin Harbor Boardwalk offers shopping, dining, and entertainment options, and the area is also home to several championship golf courses.
Panama City Beach
Famous for its vibrant atmosphere and beautiful beaches, Panama City Beach is a hub of entertainment and outdoor activities. Enjoy a variety of activities, including water sports, charter fishing trips, dolphin tours, and snorkeling excursions.
The city is also known for its lively nightlife and Pier Park, a shopping and entertainment complex with restaurants, shops, and an amusement park.
Located in the western part of the Florida Panhandle, Pensacola is rich in history and culture. The city is home to the National Naval Aviation Museum, showcasing historic aircraft and offering interactive exhibits.
Visitors can explore the historic Pensacola Village, visit the Pensacola Lighthouse, or enjoy the vibrant downtown area with its restaurants, art galleries, and lively nightlife.
This charming coastal town is renowned for its picturesque streets, historic architecture, and delicious seafood. Apalachicola is known for its oysters, and you can enjoy fresh oysters at local restaurants around the region. The town is also a gateway to the pristine beaches and diverse ecosystems of St. George Island and the Apalachicola National Forest.
Grayton Beach State Park
Located near Santa Rosa Beach, Grayton Beach State Park offers a tranquil and unspoiled coastal environment. If you are looking to get away from the hustle of the cities, you can relax on the pristine beaches, hike through sand dunes and pine forests, and enjoy various water activities such as swimming, fishing, and paddleboarding. The park is known for its scenic trails and the iconic Western Lake, a rare coastal dune lake.
Fort Walton Beach
Situated between Destin and Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach offers beautiful beaches, water sports, and family-friendly attractions. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park provides an opportunity to see marine life up close, while the Indian Temple Mound Museum offers insights into the area’s Native American history. The Okaloosa Island Pier is a popular spot for fishing and offers panoramic views of the Gulf Coast.
St. George Island
Accessible via a bridge from Eastpoint, St. George Island is a pristine barrier island known for its uncrowded beaches, clear waters, and abundant wildlife. The island is home to St. George Island State Park, offering swimming, fishing, bird-watching, and nature walk opportunities. It’s an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful and natural coastal getaway -and it’s a great spot for oyster lovers, too!
Plan Your Perdido Key Getaway with Florida CFY
Perdido Key offers the taste of unspoiled nature with its wild and secluded beaches, diverse ecosystems, and beautiful views. An excellent spot for a family getaway or to spend some quality time by yourself, Perdido Key has something to offer every single member of the family.
If you are planning a getaway to Perdido Key, explore the area with Florida CFY. Our Perdido Key vacation rentals are the perfect way to enjoy the beauty of this coastal spot in comfort and style.
We offer a variety of properties to help you make the most of your trip and are ready to answer any questions you may have about the area, from its wildlife to its coastal dune lake. Book your Perdido Key adventure today with Florida CFY – and let’s get exploring!