Perdido Key State Park, Pensacola, Florida
Perdido Key (850/492-1595 or floridastateparks.org/perdidokey) has “some of the finest, whitest sand in the world and emerald-green water,” says Dr. Beach. Aside from picnic tables and
outdoor showers, that’s all you get here. But it’s plenty.
Stay: Rental condos and beach houses rule in Perdido. Try gulfcoastrentals.com and meyerre.com.
Eat: Locals love the royal red shrimp, gumbo, and weekend bluegrass at the ramshackle Original Point Restaurant (850/492-3577 or point-restaurant.com). The proudly ungenteel Flora-Bama Lounge (850/492-0611 or florabama.com), which straddles the Florida-Alabama line, serves good oysters.
Shop: Tallulah’s Treasures (251/981-6003) in nearby Orange Beach, Alabama, stocks local and regional arts and crafts—what the owner calls “girlfriend gifts.”
Local secret: Still-warm weather and water make the uncrowded months of September and October the best time to visit.