Travelers to Florida's Gulf Coast have a number of commercial airports to choose from when planning a getaway to the Sunshine State. Stretching from the Panhandle to the lower portion of the peninsula, these airports are all within an hour's drive of the blinding white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, many much closer. Whether you're vacationing in the Pensacola area in the northwest part of the state, Fort Meyers or anywhere in between, you'll be close enough to smell the Gulf's sea-salty air when the plane touches down.
In the Panhandle
The Panhandle is home to four commercial airports providing regular service to and from regional cities. Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport near Panama City Beach and Pensacola International Airport -- formerly Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport -- are "international" in name only. Neither provides regular commercial airline service to another country. Tallahassee Regional Airport is the farthest away from the beaches, about an hour inland from the coast. Northwest Florida Regional Airport at Fort Walton Beach is actually inside the grounds of Eglin Air Force Base.
On the Peninsula
In the more crowded stretch along the peninsula, five commercial airports near the coast provide regular commercial service. In the Tampa Bay area, Tampa International Airport is a large facility with a number of national and international flights, and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport is a much smaller airport with fewer airlines. Farther south, there's Punta Gorda Airport, formerly the Charlotte County Airport; Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport; and Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Meyers. The latter two are larger airports hosting a number of domestic and international carriers.