WELCOME TO SANTA ROSA COUNTY
On behalf of the Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce, welcome to Santa Rosa County, Florida. Whether your travel to this beautiful community is for business or pleasure, we hope you find it rich with resources and activities that will leave you excited to return. Santa Rosa County is unique because of its amazing natural resources and inspiring geography from the sugar white beaches of Navarre Beach to the breathtaking woodlands of the Blackwater River State Forest. Santa Rosa County offers a little bit of something for everyone, whether you are an outdoor enthusiast that enjoys the beach, golfing, hunting, fishing, hiking, zip lining, or canoeing and kayaking, or someone that simply wishes to explore the rich history of our community.
Santa Rosa County is proud of our veterans, reservists and active-duty military; we are especially proud to be the home of Naval Air Station Whiting Field, the “backbone” of Navy aviation.
Additionally, Santa Rosa County has a strong education system, one that consistently leads Florida in K-12 academic test scores and a university system that is best in its class.
Furthermore, we are proud to say that Santa Rosa County is a safe place to live, work and play, recognized for its dedicated law enforcement agencies and world-class healthcare delivery system.
Once again, welcome to our little piece of paradise. Relax and enjoy everything the community has to offer, and we hope you will return again soon.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Gulf Islands National Seashore stretches 160 miles along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico from Cat Island in Mississippi to the Okaloosa Area in Florida, and includes maritime forests, bayous and marine habitat. All Florida areas are accessible by car and include some of the most historic forts and beautiful beaches in the United States.
The Florida areas of the Gulf Islands National Seashore are home to historic sites and some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States. Relax and enjoy the scenery, hike a trail or explore the beautiful historic brick forts within the park. Whether you visit the seashore for a day or a week, there are many activities and places to explore.
Visitors can do a variety of activities while visiting the seashore’s Florida areas including swimming, bicycling, snorkeling, fishing, hiking, beach combing, bird watching, boating and camping. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/camping.htm.
The Perdido Key Area, www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/perdido-key-area.htm, is near Perdido Key, Florida, and features the beautiful Johnson Beach.
The Fort Barrancas Area, www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/fort-barrancas-area.htm, is onboard Pensacola Naval Air Station where visitors can tour Fort Barrancas and the Advanced Redoubt.
The Naval Live Oaks Area, www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/naval-live-oaks-area.htm, near Gulf Breeze, Florida, features several hiking trails.
The Fort Pickens Area, www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/fort-pickens-area.htm, is located west of Pensacola Beach features historic fortifications from the early 1800s through the mid-1900s, as well as miles of beaches.
The Santa Rosa Day Use Area, Opal Beach, www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/santa-rosa-day-use-area.htm, is located on Hwy 399 east of Pensacola Beach and is one of the most popular beach locations.
The Okaloosa Day Use Area, www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/okaloosa-day-use-area.htm, on U.S. 98 near Fort Walton, has picnic tables, a boat launch, parking and restrooms with outdoor showers.
Navarre Beach Pier
Drop your line or take a stroll on the longest pier in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. At 1,545 feet long and 30 feet above the water, the pier offers fun for the whole family. Visitors can rent a fishing pole at the privately operated bait and tackle shop or enjoy the breeze at the outdoor restaurant. Whether you are an experienced angler looking for world-class fishing, it’s your first time to wet a hook, or you want the perfect spot for spectacular views of the sunset, the Navarre Beach Pier is the place to be year-round. Admission is free for disabled veterans and people with mobility or visual impairments. The pier has an accessible entrance ramp and 16 handicapped accessible railing locations. Hours for the pier are 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fishing license is included in admission.
For more information about Navarre Beach Pier, visit www.santarosa.fl.gov/live-play/index.cfm?Menu=155.
Blackwater River State Park
Blackwater River State Park was established in 1967 and opened in 1968 with 360 acres. In 1981 an additional 230 acres were acquired from the Florida Forest Service. The park and adjoining Blackwater River State Forest are known for their historic trams, sawmills and timber industry, especially near Milton. It is interesting to note the geographical distribution of mills along the streams and watersheds. When mills were at peak operation, everyone made trips to mills. The earliest roads led to mills, and as the community grew, commercial ventures such as the blacksmith shop, livery and general store would spring up nearby.
A favorite destination for canoeists and kayakers, Blackwater River State Park offers opportunities for a variety of outdoor activities. The river is one of the purest sand-bottom rivers in the nation, making this park a popular place for swimming, fishing, camping and paddling. Shaded campsites are just a short walk from the river, and a picnic pavilion overlooks the river. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy strolling along trails through the more than 600 acres of undisturbed natural communities. In 1980 the park was certified as a Registered State Natural Feature for its exceptional illustration of Florida’s natural history. One of the largest and oldest Atlantic white cedars stands among the many that line the river, and, in 1982, it was recognized as a Florida Champion tree.
Available activities include birdwatching, swimming, bicycling, boating, hiking, fishing, visiting historic sites, geo-seeking, star gazing, snorkeling, tubing, canoeing/kayaking and more.
For more information, visit www.floridastateparks.org/park/Blackwater-River.
Gulf Breeze Zoo
The Gulf Breeze Zoo is a 50-acre park located in Gulf Breeze, Florida, in the Southern part of Santa Rosa County. The zoo proudly displays more than 200 kinds of animals, and a path through the zoo enables visitors to see a wide variety of animals including primates, big cats, marsupials, tortoises and more. The zoo is proudly home to two baby giraffes born in 2016, Gibson and Kelly. A large number of birds are present in the park, some within exhibits and some which wander freely, such as the peacocks, throughout the zoo. There is also a miniature train which takes visitors on a 20-minute tour of a 30-acre enclosure which houses a variety of African wildlife such as impala, antelope, zebras, rhinos and hippos.
Visit www.gulfbreezezoo.org for information on hours and admission.
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Spend the day exploring animal exhibits, enjoying dolphin and sea lion shows, and discovering new things about the animals you love. Gulfarium offers the opportunity to walk around the park and see a wide variety of fish, birds, marine mammals and reptiles. Then, when you’re ready, get up close and personal during an animal encounter. Discover dolphins, seals, sea lions, sea turtles, penguins and many more; or even become a trainer for a day. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is dedicated to educating, entertaining and inspiring our guests to respect and preserve wildlife by providing unique and memorable experiences for visitors of all ages to connect with marine life. Visit www.gulfarium.com for more information on hours and admission.
Call the Parks Operations Office for more information at 850-983-1940.
There are 11 baseball parks throughout the county with a variety of facilities to sponsor recreational play, league competition and more. Check out the county’s site at www.santarosa.fl.gov/live-play/index.cfm?Menu=79&ParkType=BaseballField.
A dozen basketball courts are scattered across the county for use by residents. Check out the information site at www.santarosa.fl.gov/live-play/index.cfm?Menu=80&ParkType=Basketball.
Santa Rosa County is a fisherman’s paradise with 25 boat ramps throughout the county to gain access to the wealth of freshwater and saltwater fishing available throughout the area. See www.santarosa.fl.gov/live-play/index.cfm?Menu=81&ParkType=BoatRamp for maps and additional details.
Most localities in Santa Rosa County maintain community centers to help further recreation, health and fitness goals. Milton, Bagdad, Chumuckla, Navarre Pace and Tiger Point all have centers or sports complexes for residents. Please see www.santarosa.fl.gov/live-play/index.cfm?Menu=82&ParkType=CommunityCenter for additional details and the full list.
Man’s best friend has a few places to play in the county as well including two parks for dogs in Navarre and Optimist Park in Milton. For additional information on the locations, visit www.santarosa.fl.gov/live-play/index.cfm?Menu=83&ParkType=DogPark.
Five different parks sport football fields for residents’ use. East Milton, Navarre, Optimist, Pace Area Recreation and Tiger Point parks are your place to be for football games. See www.santarosa.fl.gov/live-play/index.cfm?Menu=84&ParkType=FootballField for more information.
East Milton Park and the Santa Rosa Soccer and Horse Complex sport horse arenas. See www.santarosa.fl.gov/live-play/index.cfm?Menu=85&ParkType=HorseArena for exact locations and information on use.
More than 20 playgrounds are scattered around Santa Rosa County to provide residents a place for their kids to play, take a walk or ride a bike. See the full list and locations at www.santarosa.fl.gov/live-play/index.cfm?Menu=87&ParkType=Playground.
There are eight different sports associations in the county that provide youth athletic competition. See the list at www.santarosa.fl.gov/live-play/index.cfm?Menu=176.
Eight of the county’s parks also boast tennis courts for use. Visit www.santarosa.fl.gov/live-play/index.cfm?Menu=92&ParkType=TennisCourts for hours of operation and contact information.
National Naval Aviation Museum
The National Naval Aviation Museum is the world’s largest naval aviation museum and one of the most-visited museums in the state of Florida. See more than 150 beautifully restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviation. These historic and one-of-a-kind aircraft are displayed both inside the museum’s nearly 350,000 square feet of exhibit space and outside on its 37-acre grounds. Admission is free. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
For more information, call 800-327-5002 or visit www.navalaviationmuseum.org.
Santa Rosa County Veterans’ Memorial Plaza
Dedicated Nov. 11, 2004, this memorial is dedicated to United States veterans, the heroes of centuries past and freedom’s defenders of days to come. The plaza is dedicated to the ideal that history will long remember the sacrifices of America’s heroic veterans, and this memorial is dedicated to the honor, memory and respect of those brothers and sisters who have proudly and faithfully served this great nation.
The foundation is centered with a large white star surrounded by bricks with the names of veterans engraved on them. Large black marble slabs form a portion of the walls to the monument with details of our nation’s wars engraved upon them and empty slabs for the unfortunate wars to come. Large base reliefs honoring each of the nation’s services surround a single statue of a soldier holding the dog tags of a fallen friend. This memorial also stands as a chronicle of America’s history and the importance of never forgetting. May all who visit this memorial recognize and appreciate the sacrifices and contributions America’s veterans have made for all mankind. The plaza is in Milton’s downtown Riverwalk area.
Visit www.santarosa.fl.gov/vetplaza for more information.
The West Florida Railroad Museum
The museum occupies the L&N Milton combination freight and passenger depot that was built from 1907 to 1909 on the site of the original 1882 P&A depot. The station was closed in 1973, bought by the Santa Rosa Historical Society, and partially restored with a 1976 Bicentennial grant. The museum moved into the building in 1989 and completed the restoration. Its car displays include L&N Dining Car 2722, Globe Coffee House, a former Pullman sleeper car, renovated into L&N baggage-dormitory car 1652, L&N caboose 1148, Frisco caboose 1102, L&N box car 18050 and L&N flat car 21107. The museum houses a wide variety of memorabilia from the L&N, Frisco and other railroads. Visit the museum at 5003 Henry St. in Milton from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday and by appointment.
Go to www.wfrm.org for more information.
Jay Peanut Festival
Celebrate one of Santa Rosa’s staple crops: the peanut. This year, the popular annual event over a weekend in October marks its’ 28th year and showcases farming life past and present and gives people a chance to experience country life. The festival features more than 200 vendors from across the southeast plus a 1930s Farm Museum and 1940s John Deere Dealership, food booths, games and fun. Visit http://thebeachestowoodlandstour.com/event/jay-peanut-festival for more information.
July 4 Riverfest
Celebrate our nation’s independence with an all-day festival in downtown Milton. There is live music, motorcycle and car shows, the Great Mill Town Duck Race, karaoke, children’s activities and, of course, fireworks. Call 850-623-2339 for more information.
The annual Forestry Conclave and Lumberjack Festival is held in early March at Pensacola State College’s Milton campus, 5988 Highway 90. The free community event features forestry competitions, food, bluegrass music, children’s activities, and nature and wildlife exhibits. Forestry competitions for adults ages 16 and over take place throughout the day and include knife and axe throwing, log rolling, cross-cut sawing, pulpwood tossing and more. Festival-goers get to select free tree seedlings from a variety of species and receive information from experts on planting and proper care. For more information, call 850-484-1034 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Riverwalk Art Festival
This wildly popular event has been drawing people from near and far throughout the southern region for more than 30 years. The Riverwalk Arts Festival occurs every Spring and features juried fine art, heritage folk art, cultural performances, continuous music and food, the All County Youth Art Exhibit and a cool Kid’s Fun Zone. Visit http://sracf.org for more information.