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Florida Lodging Florida Beaches Florida Vacation Rental Destin Florida Vacation Rental Fishing

As the sun set on the Emerald Coast, Bryan Sorte’s feet merged with sugar-white sand as a wave receded back into the Gulf of Mexico. A slight, salty breeze fluffed his hair as he looked just beyond the surf at fishing boats wrapped by orange and pink hues.

“Even though I’m here for the Fishing Rodeo,” he said, nodding to the scene and taking a drink of his pina colada. “This is the real reason I came to Destin, Florida.”

Sorte’s one of the lucky ones who’s learned that Florida is not just about Miami, the Keys, Orlando and Walt Disney World. The snow-white beaches and clear water make the Panama City and Destin area a hidden paradise for sunbathers, snorkelers and boaters.

But there’s more here than hanging out on beautiful beaches. With world-class golfing, diving, myriad seafood restaurants, huge fishing tournaments and other events, visitors will be exhausted when they return to their vacation rental to sit back and watch legendary sunsets.

There are plenty of hotels in the Destin area. But the best way to experience this place is with a vacation rental. There are homes, condos, villas and beach cottages that line the Gulf that can give visitors a comfortable stay in huge accommodations with more bang for the buck. The Web sites: www.Rooster.com and www.VacationRoost.com have a huge selection of professionally-managed vacation rentals all along Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

Year-round festivals and activities make this area a primetime playground. Stunning green golf courses line the coastline where shipwrecks and coral reefs lay submerged waiting to be discovered by scuba divers and snorkelers. Chamber/Bureaus in Panama City and Destin, respectively, say their towns are the “Shipwreck Capital of the South” and the “Billfishing capital of the Northern Gulf.”

Florida State University’s High Flying Circus brings “Circus by the Sea” to Frank Brown Park in Panama City. Its daily aerial and stage shows run June 13 to Aug. 22. Destin’s Track Recreation Center offers family-oriented activities like roller coasters, bumper boats, glass-bottomed boat rides and dolphin cruises.

More than 25,000 people will pack HarborWalk Village for the 30th annual Destin Seafood Festival to enjoy fresh seafood, live entertainment, arts and crafts booths and children’s activities. Condos, beach houses and cozy villas next to lush tropical gardens are the norm for Destin vacation rentals. Since Destin is located on a barrier island, most rentals have ocean views and easy access to beaches and entertainment.

For the saltwater fisherman, this is the place to be whether you like to sight cast to tailing redfish in the shallows or lug a grouper from the depths. The area is known for its abundant fish and varied species.

Visit Panama City through August and see, or join, the “Grand Lagoon National Fishing Tournament” where about 40,000 spectators are expected to watch more than 2,000 anglers compete for a $1 million prize in various divisions. Giant firework displays, parades, parties, tournament cruises and of course, tasty food will be there to welcome the tournament.

The “Destin Fishing Rodeo,” runs throughout October. Destin boasts it as the “ultimate fishing tournament for anglers of all kinds” where roughly 30,000 anglers compete for more than $100,000 in prizes. Anglers of all ages can register for free.

Whether you want to play or unwind on Florida’s white beaches, book a vacation rental in Destin or Panama City and discover the Emerald Coast. Find some great places to stay at www.VacationRoost.com and www.Rooster.com.