The Gulf Coast is known for having some of the best beaches in the world. Time and again, they’ve ranked as top vacation destinations. From Gulf Shores, Alabama, to Panama City Beach, Florida, the sugar white sand and clear, emerald water is unlike anything else. What you may not know, however, is that the Gulf Coast is also a historically-rich area with a thriving artists’ community.

Pensacola Beach

Pensacola Beach  is the earliest settlement in the United States. While most people know St. Augustine as the oldest city in the country, the technicality lies in the fact that settlers continually inhabited St. Augustine from the time of its founding. Pensacola Beach was settled in 1559, six years earlier than St. Augustine. Just a few weeks after the Spanish landed in Pensacola Beach, however, a hurricane sank all but three of their ships and put an end to the colony. Nevertheless, the history remains.

Additionally, Pensacola boasts Fort Pickens, the Pensacola Museum of Art, the Saenger Theatre, and Vinyl Music Hall.

Fort Walton Beach & Destin

The Indian Temple Mound Museum in Fort Walton Beach is a landmark. Established in 1962, it is the first municipally owned museum in the state. It houses the Heritage Park & Cultural Center and showcases historical artifacts dating to 14,000 B.C.

Likewise, the Destin History & Fishing Museum is home to more than 5,000 square feet of Native American displays, in addition to exhibits on the science of Destin’s white sand and the Destin fishing rodeo gallery.


In Seaside, you’ll discover one of the first cities in the country to execute New Urbanism. This town, founded by Robert Davis in 1981, promotes environmentally responsible practices with its walkable neighborhoods and businesses. Now a haven for artists, Seaside is widely known for its annual events. These include the Writer-In-Residence Conference, Repertory Theater Performances, and Art Week. Not to mention, Seaside is one of the prized venues of the 30A Songwriters Festival. Held every January, hundreds of singer/songwriters perform at intimate venues like coffee shops, bookstores, and cafes. Past performers include Matt Kearney, John Oates, and Daphne Willis.

Of course, no matter where you go in Northwest Florida and Coastal Alabama, you can discover its rich history and thriving arts scene.