Dune fence and sea oats on the dunes at Pensacola Beach, Florida on Gulf Islands National Seashore.; Shutterstock ID 217923022; Your name (First / Last): Emma Sparks; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: Best_in_the_US_POIs

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Gulf Islands National Seashore

Top choice in Gulf Coast

The highlight of the Florida Panhandle, this 150-mile stretch of mostly undeveloped white-sand beach is a prime example of what the Gulf Coast looked like before human settlement (which, to be fair, can often be seen in the form of high-rises in the distance). The National Seashore is not contiguous, but you'll find portions all along the coast: long swaths of sugar-white dunes crowned with sea oats, a perfect example of pristine flatland beach.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Gulf Coast attractions

1. Naval Live Oaks Reservation

6.73 MILES

This section of Gulf Islands National Seashore doesn't actually contain (much) seashore – instead, it consists of groves of local maritime hammock (forest…

2. Shoreline Park UFO Spotting

9.54 MILES

Maybe it's activity from the nearby Pensacola Naval Air Station, but this stretch of the gulf has apparently had hundreds of UFO sightings in the past few…

3. Bay Bluffs Park

11.38 MILES

Off Pensacola Scenic Bluffs Hwy, this 32-acre park has wooden boardwalks that lead you along the side of the steep bluffs, through clutches of live oaks,…

4. Historic Pensacola Village

12.24 MILES

Pensacola's rich colonial history spans more than 450 years. This fascinating and attractive village is a self-contained enclave of photogenic historic…

5. Pensacola Children's Museum

12.3 MILES

Learn about more than 450 years of local history and have some fun along the way in this compact museum occupying two floors of the historic (and…

6. TT Wentworth Jr Florida State Museum

12.33 MILES

Housed in an enormous historic mansion, this state museum showcases two floors of Florida and Pensacola history, and one floor of Wentworth's collection…

7. Voices of Pensacola

12.33 MILES

Part oral history archive, part interpretive center, this museum highlights, via videos and audio recordings, the different cultural groups that have…

8. Pensacola Museum of Art

12.33 MILES

In the city's old jail (1908), this lovely art museum features an impressive, growing collection of major 20th- and 21st-century artists, spanning cubism,…