Destin and Ft. Walton Beach in Florida are considered the heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast. Named for the stunning emerald green water that can be found next to the sugar-white sand. Our yearly visits to this destination are filled with incredible seafood, beautiful sunsets, wildlife, and an assortment of activities for the entire family. The Emerald Coast beaches are some of the most breathtaking in Florida.
6 Reasons To Visit The Heart Of Florida’s Emerald Coast
When planning our 10th wedding Anniversary, we discussed visiting a lot of places. We decided that it wasn’t the right time for an overseas adventure. As we looked at various places, I already knew where I felt we should go. We have visited the Emerald Coast almost every year. We have traveled as a multigenerational family to this destination and even attended a wedding there. I’m always ready for a new adventure, and I prefer to visit places we have never been before, with the exception of visiting Destin and Ft Walton Beach, Florida.
This destination has become my “happy place”. Sitting on the sugar-white sand as the emerald green waves crash next to me is truly the ideal backdrop for a family getaway. There are 6 reasons why I think your family would love this destination.
Join our NEW Facebook Community: Making Travel Easier. We promise to always tell you what we would tell our best friend -- what works for kids, what doesn’t and what you need to know before you go to have the Best. Family. Vacation. Ever. Our group of travel experts are ready to answer your travel questions!
1. The Beaches
Whether we stay in Ft Walton Beach or in Destin, Florida the beaches are brilliant. The sand is ultrafine and feels great underneath bare feet.
You can find secluded beach areas to relax in privacy or find popular areas where kids are building sand castles and couples are soaking up the sun. On the weekend, close to sunset, you will see several weddings taking place alongside the beach.
We always stay somewhere that has access to the beach so that it’s a short walk to and from where we are staying.
My favorite time of day on the beach is right at sunset. I’ve been to Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Jamacia, and the sunsets off the Emerald Coast are comparable to those elsewhere. We always end our day with a stroll along the coastline, watching as the sun makes its exit for the day.
2. The Family-Friendly Attractions
The first time we visited Destin, Florida, my daughter was only a couple years old. I remember thinking there was so much for her to enjoy when she got a little older. Now, as we travel there with our 4, 6, and 8-year-old girls, we never run out of ways to keep them entertained. I could stay at the beach every day of our vacation but my husband and kids enjoy exploring the fun things to do in the area.
Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park is a fun place for the whole family. We’ve visited the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park when the kids were younger. Theme parks, museums, science centers, zoo’s and more can all be found in the area.
On our most recent trip, we took the kids on the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise. This 2-hour cruise is absolutely worth checking out! The kids all loved it and they were the perfect age for it. Most of the kids onboard were under the age of 10. They had sword fighting, face painting, treasure hunting and lots of joke telling. The cruise also serve alcoholic drinks on the ship for the moms and dads!
3. Shopping and Dining
There is a never-ending supply of great places to shop and eat! If you are looking for someplace to start, be sure to check out the Harborwalk Village. Every visit we take the kids down to the Harborwalk and we enjoy the dining options, shopping, and live music.
I also highly recommend dining at The Back Porch, McGuire’s Irish Pub, Hog’s Breath Saloon, and Fudpuckers. The kids will love Fudpuckers. They have an arcade in the restaurant and they also have an alligator that the kids can take a picture with!
We have stayed at many places during our visits. On our most recent visit, we stayed at the ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Home Rentals. We loved how family friendly it was. Our girls loved the kid-friendly pools and lazy river.
On this trip, we spent as much time at the pool as we did the beach because we were having so much fun. I overheard a couple families discussing the other places they have stayed before and they both agreed that this was the most kid-friendly place yet.
I loved that they also had an app which made it easy to get all of the information I might need during my stay. We had a small kitchen and laundry room which is ideal! When we’ve spent a long day at the beach, I don’t always want to get all dressed up to venture out for dinner, staying in and using the small kitchen is the perfect solution. It was also a great option to be able to come in and dry our swimsuits each day in the dryer. These are all things to consider when looking for accommodations in the area.
We had a partial beach view. I woke up every morning before everyone else and sipped coffee while I enjoyed the fresh salty air. I really enjoyed the two bedroom condominium we stayed, it was the perfect size for our family.
5. The Wildlife
I love when we can enjoy wildlife during our trips whenever we may go. We took a walk down the Okaloosa Island Pier, we could walk to it from where we were staying. It’s only $2 for anyone over the age of 5. As we walked down the pier, we watched people fishing down both sides of it. Before we could even make it to the end of the pier, we spotted dolphins, sea turtles, and stingrays! That was the best $6 we’ve ever spent!
6. The Ideal Place To Reconnect As a Family
As the Bonding TravelingMom, I have to make mention of how great this destination is for slowing down and relaxing together as a family. We all live very busy lives and sometimes we have to schedule time away for us to reconnect with each other. Our many days and nights spent at the beach and the pool were where our best memories were made. If you’re looking for a destination that will be fun for the whole family, consider the Emerald Coast!