Florida's Emerald Coast Transportation
Tampa International Airport serves Tampa/St. Petersburg as well
as most of Florida’s Gulf Coast. From Fort Myers to Spring Hill,
most of the major cities on the Emerald Coast are a short drive
from the Tampa area. If you are headed for Naples, Marco Island
or the Everglades, Miami International Airport is closer than Tampa.
Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers has flights
from Miami and Tampa International and several flights from commuter
and smaller airlines.
If you want to fly to the Panhandle, it may be difficult to get
to your destination without a short drive. Jacksonville International
airport has daily flights from around the country, so it is your
best bet for visiting the Eastern Panhandle. Mobile (AL) Regional
Airport only has connecting flights from Houston, Dallas, Memphis,
Atlanta, Charlotte and Orlando. So if you’re traveling from one
of these cities it might be closer to your destination.
From Tampa, I-75 runs south to Miami and north into Georgia. It
also runs into I-10 which connects Jacksonville with Tallahassee
and the rest of Florida’s Panhandle coastline. If you want to take
a scenic drive along the western seaboard, you can take Highway
41 from Miami, through the Everglades and north to Tampa. Highway
98 runs along the coast of the Panhandle west to Pensacola.
Florida's Emerald Coast FAQ
1. What type of golf does Florida offer?
Much of Florida’s tourism industry was originally rooted in the
peninsula’s southernmost regions. Due to its consistently flat topography,
most early courses offered beach golf filled with palm trees and
lots of water. The first tourist golf courses were located near
Miami and Palm Beach. This is the state’s flattest area and Florida
golf quickly became stereotyped.
Beach golf has continued to thrive in Florida, but today it offers
more than just white sand and sapphire pools. Along the Gulf Coast
and in Northeastern Florida, newer courses are being built on rolling
pasture lands and in pine forests. Courses like World
Woods Golf Club, Southern
Dunes and Camp
Creek are breaking the mold in Florida.
2. What are Florida’s most notable Gulf Coast golf destinations?
Florida’s panhandle is home to many coastal courses. Pensacola,
Panama Beach and Tallahassee are established golf destinations,
while Destin draws vacationers to its enormous Sandestin Golf and
Beach Resort. The Brooksville area, north of Tampa, is rapidly becoming
a Florida favorite as more and more courses are built there each
year. World Woods Golf Club and The Dunes at Seville are located
here. Southern Florida cities like Fort Myers, Naples and Marco
island are also popular with vacationing golfers.
3. Florida’s western Gulf Coast is also known as the Emerald
Coast. Where does this name come from?
The water along Florida’s Gulf Coast is exceptionally clear and
sparkles a lovely shade of blue-green during the day. When they
light reflects off the water, it is said to look like emeralds.
Micro-algae in the water are reflected by the sun giving the water
its green tint. The water is so clear because there are no large
rivers dumping sediment into it.
4. What is the area’s most complete resort?
While this is certainly up for debate, one of the largest and
most popular resorts is in Destin, between Panama City and Pensacola.
Resort is a mega-complex straddling 2,400 acres between the
Gulf and the Choctawhatchee Bay. It is home to four 18-hole courses
and rivals any resort in the South.
Its two marquee courses, Burnt Pine and The Raven, are respectively
designed by brothers Rees and Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Both courses
are among the best in the Panhandle.
5. What else is there to do along the Florida coastline?
If the beaches aren’t enough for you, there are numerous theme
parks and zoos along the coast. Tampa is home to Adventure Island
and Busch Gardens. The Clearwater Beach Marine Aquarium, just north
of Tampa, is a non-profit marine animal rehabilitation center. You
can see dolphins, sea turtles, river otters and many other sea creatures.
If you’re near Naples, the Caribbean Gardens is home to many African
predators and local ocean animals.