In the tiny Jackson County town of Graceville, you’ll find the Service Drugstore, the oldest continuously operated pharmacy in Florida. There’s a captivating old-time ambience here, with original apothecary cabinetry, hardwood floors and pressed-tin ceiling, not to mention the old-fashioned milkshakes, ice-cream floats and hand-dipped ice-cream cones whipped up at the 1950s-soda fountain.
Reid Avenue in Port St. Joe is a half-mile-long stroll back into the Old South. Outdoor gear? Books? Jewelry? Local pottery or artwork? Luxury spa treatment? It’s all here, along with restaurants running the gamut from Italian and Southern to Chinese and Mexican. At the Salt Air Farmers’ Market, on the first and third Saturdays from April through November, you can find clothing, antiques and timeless treasures along with the fresh produce.
As you drive through the charming little town of Mexico Beach, you’ll come to Frost Pottery Garden, with imported pottery, great kites for the beach, wind chimes, jewelry and local artwork. The Shell Shack offers gifts plucked from one of Florida’s most beautiful beaches, and Toucan’s gift shop features great gifts for the folks back home.
The Little Village in Panama City has an offbeat collection of outdoor shops. At The Little Mustard Seed, wander through three stories overflowing with custom furniture, handmade soaps and lotions, jewelry, and a thousand items that have been revived, renewed and restored. The town’s historic St. Andrews neighborhood has shops that have been featured on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow.
Across the water in Panama City Beach, Pier Park is an “outdoor shopping and lifestyle center” with a wide variety of items to buy, eat or ogle. The Market Shops, on the Beaches of South Walton, offer outdoor shopping accompanied by musicians and artists. In Rosemary Beach, a planned town built in the mid-90s on the principle of “New Urbanism” (much like its neighbor Seaside, which preceded it by 15 years), the French Quarter, with its balconies and vividly colored buildings and curling wrought-iron railings, is a delightful place to while away an afternoon shopping and dining.
In Destin, HarborWalk Village has an old-time feel, with vendors, artists and street performers outside, and stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay. On The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island, you’ll find five restaurants and some shops. Nearby Fort Walton Beach is filled with boutiques, restaurants and galleries—even a brewery. Hunt for bargains at Silver Sands Premium Outlets in Miramar Beach, and the Fort Walton Beach Antique/Flea Market District has treasures you never knew you needed until now.
And if you have a yen to bring home something new from Pensacola, head for the shops on Palafox Street.