Fort Walton Beach Travel Guide

How about a spontaneous trip this weekend? If you’d rather be bobbing in a fishing boat than battling the winter cold, the Sunshine State of Florida has some very tempting options for you. Fort Walton Beach is located along the Emerald Coast, a section of Florida’s coastline between Pensacola and Panama City on the Gulf Coast. With a little help from VacationRentals.com, your vacation will be complete with a cozy oceanfront villa to watch the sunset below the Gulf of Mexico.

What to Do in Fort Walton Beach

fort walton beach activities

Outdoor Adventure in Fort Walton Beach

Any quality Fort Walton Beach travel guide will begin with the great outdoors. The inviting white sand beaches are ideal for days of sunbathing or more adventurous activities including boating, swimming, and snorkeling. Many visitors love to head out onto the water for a dolphin watching cruise too.

One of the most popular pastimes in this area of Florida is fishing. If you’ve always wanted to teach your kids how to fish or want to give sport fishing a try, the Fort Walton Beach weather and scenery is perfect for this type of excursion. When you try your luck in the deep blue waters of the Gulf, you are likely to catch mackerel, bluefish, tarpon, and more.

Fun Beyond the Beach

While the miles of white sand beaches are the star of the show in Fort Walton Beach, there are also many other activities that might steal your attention. Golf enthusiasts will want to start their day on one of the local courses, while couples might want to charter a boat for a romantic afternoon picnic or sunset sail. However you spend your day, an evening at Fort Walton Beach restaurants will be one of the best pleasures of your trip. There are plenty of ways to work up an appetite here, from water skiing to parasailing to windsurfing. This romantic spot is also ideal for a destination wedding, and there will be plenty of activities to keep your guests busy beyond the big day!

Entertainment: Florida Style

Fort Walton Beach is known as a great place for entertainment from spectacular fireworks displays to soaring down a water slide at the local water parks to browsing local art galleries. Many visitors also love the Emerald Coast of Florida because it has established a good reputation for nightlife. The party doesn’t have to stop once the sun goes down; here it is possible to dance the night away!

Undoubtedly one of the biggest thrills of visiting Fort Walton Beach is the opportunity to see dolphins in their natural environment. Both Santa Rosa Sound and Destin Harbor are breeding grounds for dolphins, so many visitors are lucky and spot the playful creatures during their visit.

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What to See in Fort Walton Beach

fort walton beach fishing

Local Attractions

One reason to rent a car when you visit Fort Walton Beach is to visit local attractions. Take a day away from the beach and the fishing boat to visit Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park or the Emerald Coast Science Center. There are attractions all around for sunny days or even a rainy day.

If you’re interested in fishing, don’t miss out on exploring the Destin History and Fishing Museum. Visitors who are fascinated by wildlife will want to check out Gator Beach, where alligators can be seen. Goofy Golf is a fun way to pass a few evening hours.

Historical Attractions

You might not be planning a trip to Fort Walton Beach for the history, but there is plenty to see here. Some visitors will come and go without even knowing that the U.S. Air Force Armament Museum is located in this part of Florida. Kids will love the opportunity to see the fighter and bomber planes on display. The Old Destin Post Office Museum is a cute spot to spend a few hours while the Heritage Park and Cultural Center will help visitors to discover Southeastern Indian artifacts. The Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida is another option for history buffs.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Fort Walton Beach

fort walton beach shopping

Sensational Shopping in Fort Walton Beach

Many visitors are surprised by the southern hospitality they find when shopping Fort Walton Beach. Here you will find unique shops, outlet stores, and boutiques to satisfy any shopping craving. Especially if you’re willing to get in the car and check out the shopping options in nearby Destin, you will find just about anything on your wish list. Some popular options include Destin Commons, an open air center with upscale shopping and fine dining. Along the Fort Walton Beach Main Street there are several stores and restaurants that have earned the street the nickname of "The Miracle Strip." Destin’s HarborWalk is another place to find excellent shopping.

Dine in Style in Fort Walton Beach

No Fort Walton Beach travel guide would be complete without providing some mouth-watering details about the local restaurants. Whether you’re looking for a casual oyster bar or a fine-dining experience with great views, Fort Walton Beach will deliver. There are at least 20 types of local fish that are caught daily, providing fresh ingredients for chefs to work their magic.

There are many local favorites for Fort Walton Beach restaurants including Angler’s Beachside Grill, Black Pearl Seafood, and The Crab Trap. Beyond seafood, visitors will also be able to find Italian, Indian, French, Thai, and Mexican options. Whatever type of food you’re in the mood for, you’ll be able to find at a restaurant along the Emerald Coast of Florida.

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When to Visit Fort Walton Beach

The Fort Walton Beach weather is one of the most significant draws to the area. The Emerald Coast experiences consistently sunny weather, making the beaches perfect for soaking up the sun. There are a few factors however that might influence your trip. This area of northwestern Florida doesn’t stay as warm as south Florida, so if you’re looking for some real heat in January, you won’t find it in Fort Walton Beach.

However, many travelers love the milder temperatures of this part of Florida. It’s still warm enough to sunbathe, but it might take brave visitors to go for a swim. If you’re planning on fishing and boating, the weather is ideal in the winter. During the summer, days can get very hot and humid. Late August and early September brings hurricane season, which you may want to avoid just in case your vacation might be interrupted by a storm.

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What to Bring to Fort Walton Beach

A complete Fort Walton Beach travel guide will provide some ideas on what to pack. The first things into your suitcase should be your casual beach basics: a bathing suit, sunscreen, and flip flops. Remember that Fort Walton Beach restaurants can be as casual or fancy as you desire, so pack according to how you envision your evenings. If you’re planning a romantic getaway, throw in a sundress or two with some funky jewelry to dress up your evenings. For a family trip, some entertainment in the vacation rental can make all the difference. From board games to a deck of cards, these things can help to create quality family time.

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Local Services in Fort Walton Beach

The Emerald Coast of Florida has established a reputation as a carefree destination in Florida. Part of this reputation is the quality of the local services. Whether you need groceries, items for your dog, or beachwear, you will find it with ease in Fort Walton Beach. ATMs, convenience stores, and wedding planners are all widely available in this area of the sunshine state.

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What to Know About Fort Walton Beach

Fort Walton Beach is just one destination along what is considered the Emerald Coast of Florida. If you have heard that term before and not known what it meant, it extends also to the towns of Destin, Okaloosa Island, and Cinco Bayou, along with Fort Walton Beach. This area has a great reputation for fishing, golf, and the spectacular colors of the beach and Gulf of Mexico.

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Getting to Fort Walton Beach

Fort Walton Beach is located in northwestern Florida, between Pensacola and Panama City. It is easy to reach from either of these airports. Most travelers choose to rent a car from the airport, for the freedom it provides to both stock your luxurious vacation rental with groceries and also to explore the surrounding attractions. Especially during the winter season travelers will see a great deal of flights to these Florida destinations.

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Why Fort Walton Beach Vacation Rentals?

The odds are if you’re trying to get away from the cold and snow of the north, then you’re trying to relax. The Florida sunshine and sinking your toes in the sand will be the first step, but only a vacation rental will complete the picture. Instead of returning to a crowded hotel room where family members have to wait to use a single bathroom, choose a vacation rental that offers extra space, amenities, and comforts. Of the long list of things you’ll appreciate about a rental, extra bathrooms will probably be at the top of the list.

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