The city of Milton is located in the west Florida panhandle just to the northeast of Pensacola.
At the time of the last census, Milton was home to about 9,500 residents. Its proximity to the Gulf Coast, as well as a variety of historical and natural attractions, makes it the perfect place to hang your hat while visiting the area.
Fort Walton Beach, Destin, and Panama City are all beautiful coastal towns that are perfect day-trip options, and some of the state’s most magnificent beaches are less than an hour away by car.
The neighboring states of Alabama and Mississippi offer a variety of convenient urban and natural attractions as well, so staying busy shouldn’t be a problem.
1. Carpenter Park
For convenience, affordability, and a wealth of activity options, there’s no beating the city of Milton’s Carpenter Park.
Located near the city’s center at the corner of Broad Street and Munson Highway, it offers lots of activity-inducing amenities that have been known to keep families busy for hours.
There are boat ramps for fishermen and pleasure boaters, covered pavilions and picnic areas, and an abundance of children’s playground equipment that’s appropriate for most ages.
There are also restrooms and drinking fountains, and previous guests have noted that the park is small enough to permit parents to keep an eye on their little ones easily.
2. McKinley’s Sandwich Shop
Though much of Florida is known for its internationally influenced fusion cuisine and trendy dining establishments, most average folks generally prefer hearty, straightforward fare after a long day of sightseeing.
McKinley’s Sandwich Shop in Milton is known for its large portions, fresh ingredients, and comfortable atmosphere that keep most guests coming back time and time again.
Grilled cheese, club sandwiches, and BLTs are among the perennial favorites, but there are plenty of less traditional options for those who’d rather try something new.
Their sweet tea and soups are big hits too, and rumor has it that their homemade cupcakes are to die for.
3. Blackwater Heritage State Trail
The Blackwater Heritage State Trail winds its way for nearly nine miles through Milton and the surrounding towns and countryside. It’s the perfect escape destination for those looking to burn a few calories, experience the great outdoors, and distance themselves from the crowds at more touristy attractions.
The paved trail connects with other area trail networks and is open to inline skaters, bikers, and walkers. It leads through a variety of natural areas that tend to make explorers feel like they’re farther away from civilization than they really are.
There’s no cost to use the trail, and it’s open daily from 8 AM until sunset.
4. Coldwater Creek
With such an abundance of lakes and wide-open natural spaces, the central Florida region around Milton is an outdoor enthusiast’s wonderland.
Golfing, biking, and hiking have always been favorite activities, and kayaking has become more popular in recent years as well.
Coldwater Creek meanders through nearly 20 miles of undisturbed natural terrain and features surprisingly clear and cool water year-round.
Most of the creek is only moderately difficult to navigate and is appropriate for most reasonably fit adults and kids.
Paddleboards and kayaks may be rented in town or on-site, and the most accessible launch area is off Tomahawk Landing Road.
5. The West Florida Railroad Museum
Florida has always been a big exporter of natural resources and agricultural products, and the railroads have played significant roles in the development and economy of the central portion of the state around Milton.
The West Florida Railroad Museum is on the site of a passenger and freight terminal of a now-defunct railroad; it’s full of fascinating exhibits and memorabilia that are big hits with traveling historians and railroad buffs.
The museum is only open from 10 AM to 3 PM on Saturdays and Sundays, and admission is free, though they do gladly accept donations.
Guided tours are available, but must be scheduled in advance.
6. Gulf Islands National Seashore
Though it doesn’t draw the beach crowds like the Atlantic coast does, Florida’s Gulf region is home to some amazing stretches of pristine beaches; they’re often in less developed areas than their east coast counterparts.
Gulf Islands National Seashore stretches more than 150 miles from Florida to Alabama and Mississippi, and a large portion lies along the coast just minutes from Milton.
The most popular access point is along Gulf Breeze Parkway in Gulf Breeze. Swimming, sunbathing, fishing, snorkeling, and shell collecting are popular activities.
There’s no better place to catch a sunset as well, so consider an evening visit and don’t forget your camera.
7. Arcadia Mill Archaeological Site
From the early to mid-19th century, the area that’s now part of the Arcadia Mill Archaeological Site was home to an early industrial center that was powered by flowing water and included small factories, a mill, and a busy village.
It wasn’t until the ‘60s that the site’s historical significance was realized; since then, it’s been preserved to showcase the region’s rich past that includes conflicts with Native Americans and Civil War battles.
The site’s distinct areas are connected by well-marked trails, and there are plenty of historical markers along the way.
Guided tours are available too, but must be booked in advance of your trip.
8. The Pensacola Blue Wahoos
The spring weather in Florida is darn near perfect. While many of the Northeast and Midwest states are still ensconced in ice and snow, Major League baseball teams from all over the country descend on the Sunshine State.
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos are a Minor League team associated with the Cincinnati Reds, and for the last half-decade, they’ve played their games at Pensacola’s Blue Wahoo Stadium.
The stadium hosts a number of visiting teams during the Grapefruit League season, and there are ample opportunities for kids and fans to meet the players, get autographs, and participate in a variety of activities.
9. National Naval Aviation Museum
The National Naval Aviation Museum is located on Radford Boulevard on the grounds of Naval Air Station Pensacola. It’s purported to be the world’s largest museum dedicated solely to naval aviation.
The museum features more than 100 air and spacecraft from eras past, including helicopters, jets, and propeller-driven aircraft that have operated in both military and search and rescue roles.
One of the museum’s most popular amenities is the IMAX Theater that gives guests a surprisingly exhilarating and lifelike feel of what it’s like to be strapped into the cockpit of a Blue Angels F-18.
Keep in mind that a photo ID is required to get onto the base.
10. Pensacola Museum of Commerce
Located on East Zaragoza Street, the Pensacola Museum of Commerce is a popular historic attraction housed in a refurbished commercial building that dates back to the turn of the 20th century.
The museum’s exhibits include a unique and eclectic array of items, most of which are from the late 19th and early-20th centuries.
The museum is just one of many historic buildings in the area, and it’s open every day except Sunday.
Most guests spend an hour inside the museum, but choose to see other nearby historic buildings in the area, which can add another few hours for those inquisitive souls with free time.
11. Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum
Pensacola’s historic lighthouse dates to the 1850s when much of the coast in the area was relatively dangerous and uncharted.
Though it started life as a ship-based lighthouse, it was originally transplanted onto land. It still functions as a beacon for ships around Pensacola Harbor, which is the deepest harbor on the country’s Gulf Coast.
Visitors can scale the nearly 180 steps it takes to get to the top of the lighthouse, from which they’ll have stunning views of the sea, harbor, and Pensacola Naval Air Station.
In addition to the lighthouse, the museum’s exhibits touch on the Civil War and commercial and military maritime history.
12. 5 Flags Speedway
Located on Pine Forest Road in Pensacola, 5 Flags Speedway is a half-mile paved oval race track that’s been hosting a variety of auto racing events since the early-‘50s.
Considered by many to be one of the country’s fastest short tracks, it boasts a full schedule of racing events during the season that generally lasts from March until October.
The speedway is also famous for its Snowball Derby. Held in December, this event draws NASCAR racers from all over the country to compete in the 300 lap race that typically sustains some of the highest average speed statistics of any similar track in the country.
13. Fort Barrancas
Fort Barrancas was built between the late 1830s and mid-1840s as a coastal defense fortification and saw extensive action during the Civil War.
Located inside the Gulf Islands National Seashore along Taylor Road in Pensacola, it combines history, culture, and outdoor recreation options for those who like to get the most out of their limited vacation time.
The fort’s visitor center is an excellent place to stop first, as it’ll give visitors a thorough insight into the things they’re about to see.
The fort and grounds are connected by well-marked trails and include a variety of historic markers. Though many visitors decide to show themselves around, ranger-led tours are available as well.
14. Blackwater River State Park
State and national parks are often the centerpieces of many traveler’s vacation plans, and Blackwater River State Park is a convenient option for those staying in Milton.
The park offers outdoorsy types and nature lovers a complete array of fun activities to choose from, and the Blackwater River is especially popular with anglers and boaters.
Canoes and kayaks aren’t available to rent in the park, but there are nearby outfitters that rent them on a daily basis, and they’re surprisingly inexpensive.
The park includes nearly 60 acres of varied landscapes and dozens of miles of river; there are almost 30 campsites as well for those who’d like to stick around and spend a few nights under the stars.
15. Pensacola Museum of Art
Pensacola Museum of Art is unique among its art museum contemporaries in that it’s housed in the city’s old disused jailhouse that dates to the early years of the 20th century.
The museum is on the small side, but previous visitors have been pleasantly surprised at the impressive collection that includes priceless works from titans of the art world like Dali, Warhol, and Tiffany.
The museum’s permanent exhibits include paintings, glassware, drawings, and even significant works from other continents. The staff offer several educational and instructional programs and courses for adults, as well as some for kids during the summer months when schools are closed.