Florida Panhandle

Panhandle: Rosemary Beach, Seaside, Destin, Pensacola, Gulf Shores

Hey, here’s something new to us: states with two timezones.

After arguing amongst ourselves, and then with our car’s clock, we finally reached the conclusion that our paths through both Georgia and Florida had indeed been straddling the Eastern and Central timezones. How will we know when The Bachelor is on? HOW WILL WE KNOW?!?!

So here we are, Panhandle-bound. Thus far Rogue Trip has been a slightly more exuberant pace than we’d thought — not necessarily making it less enjoyable, but requiring faster research to find the hidden gems between the pre-planned destinations. Nevertheless, we nailed it crossing the border from Alabama: behold, the tallest waterfall in Florida!

It’s 73 feet. Also, it’s cheating because about 68 feet of that is a sinkhole. Still, topographical variation is topographical variation, as the saying goes. We didn’t know you had it in you, Sunshine State.

Know what else is literally in the Sunshine State? These caves. You’re getting the highlights below, which include not only stalagmites and stalactites, but also the soothing-yet-motherly voice of our veteran tour guide. Does spending 32 years walking through caves do this to a person? Or are some of us just destined for caveness? The world is a mysterious and drippy place.

From Florida Caverns State Park, we jumped on scenic Route 30A to see what the Gulf Coast looks like right before spring break unleashes drunken hell upon it.

Rosemary Beach

We’re guessing this isn’t a spring break stop for the college crowd. Rosemary Beach had a lovely Mediterranean vibe, though it became clear the town was recently constructed as a high-end vacation rental community, and not exactly a spot you just pass through. Case in point: the beach entrances are locked gates, which we managed to get inside, but ironically had trouble getting out of. Trapped on a beach and forced to watch a beautiful sunset on Valentine’s Day… how magical! But no really, we need to get off this beach.

Other items of note: inexplicable fly problem on the beach; impressive Sombrero house; Hailey looking good.

Ok, these people don’t want our non-existent tourist dollars. Let’s stroll down 30A to the next hunk of sand…


Aha! This is more like it. Though to be fair, it’s actually the same beach. But… the sundries!

Seaside boasted these little Airstream food trucks lining the neighborhood center, and public bathrooms with very nomad-friendly hours (24 hours, to be exact.) Plus, free beach-going “for the rest of us.”

Seaside airstream food vendors


Seaside Beach, Florida

America has beaches like this! The sand on the Panhandle coastline is incredible. Near the water, it feels like you’re stepping in hot cereal, prompting Hailey to proclaim it “Cream Of Feet.”

Seaside Beach, Florida

Another phrase Hailey turned during our Seaside stroll was in reference to those 24-hour restrooms, which were plentiful and well-kempt. She said this place was “a hobo’s dream.” Then she ran to the front of the band shell stage to curtsy for no one in particular.

Seaside band shell

The only car on the street at 11pm was this vintage Pontiac GTO, and that’s fine by me.

Seaside Florida at night

Worth noting that there’s some local love for an adjacent neighborhood called Grayton Beach — we checked it out but didn’t have time to delve into whatever details it may have been hiding. They certainly deserve credit for having hand-drawn signs on everything. Literally everything.

Grayton Beach, Florida

Here’s an uncomfortably up-close photo of a storefront, just to break things up:


Word on the street said that a storm front was coming through, so we hit the hay early. Ominous clouds were nearly all gone by morning, but decided to come back and torture us once they saw my yoga routine. Ok, the chi has been channeled. Where to from here?



Hailey’s past life just keeps popping up, with her childhood beach vacation spot of Destin appearing on the horizon. If Seaside is Jamaica, Destin is Jimmy Buffett.

So, what do you do when you’ve already soaked up the best beaches in the U.S., and are now at a similar but less notable beach? You go pay money to play in pool water, of course.

Inside was an arcade, where Hailey proceeded to demolish me in the mini-hoops game as she always does with any poor soul who crosses her mini-hoops path.

Playing the mini-hoops game earned us 4 tickets. Skee-ball got us like, 8 tickets. We then went to the “fish bowl game”, whatever that is… and apparently set a record, which resulted in earning us 500 tickets. Neither Hailey nor I have ever seen that many tickets come out of an arcade game before, and neither had anyone who passed us by, as they clearly thought we had somehow broken the machine. Nope, just raw talent over here folks!

Here’s us feeding our winnings into the ticket-o-matic-count-a-matron… which of course, still only resulted in our choice of crappy stuffed animals or embarrassing handfuls of candy.

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We went with the candy and felt pretty cool about it. Not pictured: me choking on off-brand Pop Rocks, yellow flavor.


We’d bet Pensacola is a cool place, but didn’t spend much time there beyond hitting up the Planet Fitness for showering, and stopping by a cool coffee shop armed with a player piano, dubbed The Drowsy Poet. They were peddling a black and white cookie there, and so it was my duty as a New Yorker to purchase said cookie and judge them on its failure.

It was, in fact, very close to perfect. Kudos, Drowsy Poet. You live to fight again.


We also drove the Scenic Bluffs, which was a nice little road culminating in, I think, Liberace’s house? And his other house? Very strange. I managed to find pics of the interior on the internet, and that’s where the crazy gets turned up to 11.

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Gulf Shores

Back in Alabama! So, Gulf Shores is a protected National Seashore crossing the Florida/Alabama border. Cool. Want to see the most condescending turtle sculpture on the planet?


The purpose of federal intervention on Gulf Shores is basically the protection of sand dunes. It’s nothing to write home about visually, if you’ve been driving west from the Panhandle. So, we got out to stretch our legs and partake in some recreational activities. Tennis, biking, eating.


Did you know there’s a regional chain of chicken restaurants called Foosackly’s? Is this what happens when you decide to start a company and ask literally no one for their input on your decisions?


Well, that’s all for this leg of Rogue Trip! If you really like parades, and are angry about the lack of parade coverage in this blog, you will definitely want to tune in to the next post.


By the way, we decided it would be much less confusing if we started leaving a map at the end of each post. Not that we question your memory of 5th grade geography or anything. See you next place!