The Florida Panhandle
Northwest Florida, commonly called the Panhandle, is very different from the rest of Florida. The Florida panhandle has a lot to offer including some of the most wonderful beaches in the world that tend to be far less crowded than Florida’s east and west coast beaches. Panhandle beaches have beautiful white sand and bright turquoise water. I especially recommend Pensacola, Panama City, Seaside, Navarre, Perdido Key, Santa Rosa and Fort Walton. In addition, tucked in between these beautiful beaches are small and historic villages and sleepy fishing towns ready to be explored in places like Apalachicola and Port St Joe.
The biggest surprise of all is the Gulf Islands National Seashore just to the west of Pensacola Beach. This National park covers much of the far west shoreline of Florida and extends into Alabama and Mississippi. In the Florida portion you have beautiful beaches with aquamarine waters. There are activities for everyone from swimming, to fishing and boating; but, exploring is my favorite. There are unique displays explaining the history, culture, plants, animals and the unique ecosystems of the Gulf Islands. The highlight is stopping at Ft Pickens and viewing the fortification that has stood since before the Civil War and was an integral part of the nations defense up to World War II.
As you move inland and north the terrain quickly changes to rolling hills and hard wood forests such as Tate’s Hell, Blackwater River, Pine Log and Point Washington all of which are Florida State Forests featuring hiking, birding, camping, boating, swimming, off-highway- vehicle (OHV), biking and horseback riding.
Hidden Lake Nudist Resort
Tucked away in the northwest corner of the Panhandle in Santa Rosa County, adjacent to Blackwater River State Forest is Hidden Lake Nudist Resort. The resort is located at 4414 Wildhorne Trail, Jay, FL. 32565. Hidden Lake advertises itself as “quiet and serene” and it is accurate on both counts. This is a place to get away and enjoy. You can fish, swim, paddle boat or just relax and do nothing.
The resort is surrounded by small family farms. There are many acres for nude hikes and a large lake for fishing, canoeing, kayaking or paddle boating. On August 17 they are planning a Build Your Own Boat competition on the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon is the center piece of the resort. It has a sandy beach and a newly built boardwalk. The lagoon is fed by a well and the water is treated and sparkling blue. Because it is well fed it stays moderately cool in the hot Florida summers so it is very refreshing. It is a great place to float and socialize.
Hidden Lake has a large clubhouse with a full kitchen. It has an adjoining deck for lounging and even a spot to fish from. Amenities include Bocce Ball, horse shoes, corn hole and a large fire pit that is very popular with the Friday night happy hour crowd. The resort is open year around with Pot Luck dinners every third Saturday, 5K races in April and October. Their web site has a full schedule of events for the rest of the year. The resort has a large campground to accommodate rigs large and small, tent camping sites by the lake and a few rentals. I stayed in an air-conditioned one room cabin with a queen bed and refrigerator and a 12×12 screened in porch on the lake which was very affordable and comfortable.
If you just want to get away and relax, Hidden lake Resort is highly recommended.