We are back with our Panhandle Series and off to Walton County, Florida! As I mentioned in the title, Walton really is a hidden gem. While it is definitely one of the more rural counties in the panhandle, it is far from boring.
The serene landscape is rarely interrupted, allowing for nature lovers to flourish. If you are seeking large expanses of land, this is the place to do it! For those more interested in history, Walton County has some of the richest history in the state. If neither if these are your speed, the fertile soil led to some world-renowned wineries popping up in the area. Of course, as with every other panhandle county we have covered so far, there are beautiful expanses of snow-white beaches laid across the bottom of the county, too.
As I mentioned before, history is the great claim to fame Walton County has. In fact, several Presidents, military Generals, and other leaders have walked the very same ground you would when visiting Defuniak Springs, the county seat. Beginning in about 1885 in Florida, but already popular throughout the United States, was the Chautauqua movement, which was an "adult social and educational movement" focused on bringing famous speakers and entertainment to the community. President Theodore Roosevelt even commented that the Chautauqua movement was "the most American thing in America." You guessed it: the Chautauqua Building in Defuniak Springs was where these famous orators came to speak.
Right behind this historic building is Lake Defuniak, commonly referred to as Circle Lake, which is one of only two near-perfectly circular lakes in the world! (Fun fact: the only other perfectly circular lake is also in Florida!) Oh, to think you could be sitting at the same water's edge as some of our country's greatest leaders.
Because of Walton County's rather central location, it is no more than a couple hours to Pensacola, Tallahassee, Destin, or any of the other large cities in the panhandle. You can have your country living, vast land, and lack of neighbors, all while being able to make a quick commute to the city for a day of fun. The schools are all well rated, with several scoring more than an 8/10, homes moderately priced, and all of the amenities without all of the crowds. Walton County really is a gem waiting to be discovered!