They call this area of the Florida panhandle the "forgotten coast" because most of it lacks the big wide white sandy beaches and wall-to-wall condo buildings that are found in the Destin area (and in most coastal towns in Florida these days). But the "Forgotten" coast between Panama City and Tallahassee have virtually no large buildings or dense populations of tourists (or locals for that matter).
The neatest town along this stretch is Apalachiacola, the oyster capital of the world, and the original state capitol of Florida. It's a small historic town with cute little shops that are lit up with white christmas tree lights at night. We stumbled upon a terrific restaurant at the main intersection in town called The Seafood Grill. Wonderful oysters, crab cakes, shrimp, as well as some "to die for" desserts! Friendly service and great prices too. We liked it so much we ate there twice!
The best beach in the area is out along the longest barrier island called St. George. You drive out a long 3 or 4-mile bridge to get there, and a cute lighthouse welcomes your arrival to the island. There's a nice state park with camping at the very end of the island. I would have loved to stay there, but I needed to work a few days and needed the wi-fi and cell phone connectivity available in Carrabelle.
Our park was called Carrabelle RV Resort and had 1/2 the sites available for purchase or long-term rental, and the other 1/2 available for shorter-term stays. They had great facilities too-- a newer pool and bathhouse, nice clubhouse, etc. Many folks in the park were retiree snowbirds who come down year after year to enjoy this quiet peaceful place.
The park is across the street from the only large beach for a good 50 miles east of Apalachiacola. Fortunately, the state of Florida owns it and has a nice roadside picnic area there (so no big condos can ever block the view for RVers!).
Maybe this beach gets more crowded in later spring and summer, but while we were there (the last week of February), there was never more than 4 or 5 people on the beach at one time.... and it's a huge beach!
But the absolute best thing about this beach is that it's about the ONLY large beach in Florida that is dog-friendly (only Franklin and Gulf counties along the panhandle permit dogs on beaches--- all other Florida counties prohibit them).
Millie had not done any swimming since her visit to Maine in October, so she was eager to get in her daily afternoon swim time!
Our last full day in Carrabelle, Millie and I got up early to watch the sunrise. Each morning walk along the beach revealed different wildlife-- one day I watched a group of dolphins swim up and down right along the shoreline; another day, a blue heron walked along the waves in front of us. A fabulous, fabulous place to be a snowbird!