The idyllic oceanic vistas of the Emerald Coast are perfect backdrops on which to commemorate your summer vacation. Every year, we’re lucky enough to meet people from all over the country who come to our beloved beach paradise to have their portraits taken on the sandy shores of the Florida Panhandle. The waters in the gulf have a distinctly more peaceful, tranquil quality than those on the eastern coast of the state, making them the preferred destination of many seasonal visitors. With so much to see and do in the area, your beach portrait session should be the first, but certainly not the last item on your to-do list on the Emerald Coast.
Many people travel to Destin for deep sea fishing. Destin, FL, is known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” At the Destin Harbor, you can reserve a charter boat for small groups or go on a party boat. Whether you go for a half day or all day, you’ll have fun and probably come back with fish to cook for dinner or to pack in ice to take home. Remember your sunscreen and Bonine (if you’re subject to motion sickness).
The Harbor Walk Village, located between the Emerald Grande Hotel and the Destin Harbor, is packed with fun things to do. There are many shops, restaurants and bars. The best place to watch the sunset is from the upper deck of Margaritaville from which you’ll have a killer view of the boats returning to the harbor, Norriega Point and the Destin Bridge. Also along the Harbor Walk are fun things for the kids, including bungee trampolines, hamster balls for walking on water, a zip line, and a bungee jump and a children’s train. On Tuesdays they have a Mardi Gras Parade, and every Thursday night there are fireworks. Click on the Harbor Walk Village link above for a complete list of activities.
If you don’t like to fish, there are plenty of other water activities to enjoy along the coast from Pensacola Beach to Panama City Beach as well. There are many places to book parasailing, stand-up paddle boards, wave-runners and kayaks. At the Harbor Walk, you’ll find dolphin cruises, pirate ship cruises, sunset cruises and speed boat rides. At Destin Snorkel you can book many water activities including snorkeling, scuba diving and snuba
Want a night out away from the kids? Enjoy a dinner cruise on the Solaris which sails from the Baytowne Wharf Marina in Sandestin.
There many other things for the whole family to do at the Village of Baytowne Wharf. The kids will love the Baytowne Adventure Zone. Attractions include a ropes course, a zipline, a tower climb and great tree house to explore. In Baytowne Wharf, you’ll also find great shops and restaurants.
Are you looking for educational activities? Our area has many opportunities to make learning fun. Start with the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, located on Hwy 98 on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach. While you’re in Fort Walton Beach, visit the Indian Temple Mound Museum, then visit the Air Force Armament Museum in Valparaiso. If you really want to see some historic sites, visit the old forts in Pensacola and the Pensacola Lighthouse. Fort Pickens was completed in 1834 and Fort Barrancas, located on the Naval Air Station was originally built in 1763 by the British Navy. The Pensacola Lighthouse, also located on the Naval Air Station, was built in 1859.
The Naval Air Station is the home base of the Blue Angels flying team. From March through October, you can watch the team practice their intricate flying maneuvers on most Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
While you’re at the Naval Air Station, the real attraction is the National Naval Aviation Museum. This is a “must see.” It’s similar to the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. It’s truly an amazing place and is the perfect rainy day activity. It’s about a one hour drive from Fort Walton Beach and two hours from the Beaches of South Walton.
Tired of educational stuff? Let’s have fun. There are amusement parks and a great water park: The Track amusement park and Big Kahuna’s are both located in Destin on Hwy 98. Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone is also on Hwy 98 but located across the highway from the Gulfarium on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach.
Not looking for that much excitement? How about golf? We have both full size golf courses and miniature golf courses. For the kids and less serious golfers, we have Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone and Goofy Golf in Fort Walton Beach and Surfing Safari Mini golf and The Track in Destin.
Have we mentioned restaurants? There are far too many to list, but we have just about any type that you want, from fine dining to casual, and also any type of ethnic food you can think of. Of course, seafood is king, though. Try some of our local seafood places, such as Marina Café, Dewey Destin’s, Captain Dave’s, Louisiana Lagniappe, the Back Porch, and Harbor Dock’s. Looking for a fun place? Try Fudpucker’s in Fort Walton Beach and Destin, Lulu’s, and Margaritaville.
Last, but not least, let’s talk about shopping! We’ve mentioned Baytowne Wharf and the Harbor Walk Village, but they pale in comparison to Destin Commons and Silver Sands Outlet Center! Be prepared to be dazzled, and don’t forget your credit card! Set aside a day for some serious shopping.
Already see yourself on the beautiful beaches of the Florida Panhandle? Give us a call today and make that vision a reality. There’s nothing we love more than helping vacationers preserve their precious memories of their time on the Emerald Coast.