Things to Do in Fort Walton – 2024 Ultimate Guide

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Welcome to Fort Walton, a hidden gem along the stunning Emerald Coast of Florida. This charming coastal town is brimming with a rich history, beautiful beaches, and a plethora of exciting activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or simply looking to relax on the beach, Fort Walton has something for everyone. Join us as we explore the top things to do in Fort Walton and uncover the beauty and charm of this coastal paradise.

Can’t-Miss Attractions

Fort Walton Beach, located in the beautiful Florida Panhandle, offers a variety of attractions that cater to different interests. Here are the top 5 must-see attractions in Fort Walton Beach:

1. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park: Dive into the wonders of marine life at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. This attraction allows visitors to interact with dolphins, sea lions, and other marine animals through shows, feedings, and educational presentations. The park’s emphasis on conservation and education makes it a must-visit for families and animal lovers alike.

2. Okaloosa Island: Okaloosa Island boasts pristine white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it a paradise for beach lovers. Visitors can relax on the shore, go for a swim, or engage in water sports like paddleboarding and parasailing. The island’s natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere make it a top attraction for those seeking a peaceful retreat.

3. Indian Temple Mound Museum: Delve into the rich history of the region at the Indian Temple Mound Museum. This archaeological site showcases artifacts and exhibits that highlight the Native American heritage of the area. Visitors can explore ancient burial mounds, learn about indigenous cultures, and gain a deeper understanding of the area’s past.

4. Air Force Armament Museum: Aviation enthusiasts will appreciate the Air Force Armament Museum, which features a vast collection of aircraft and weaponry used throughout history. From World War II bombers to modern fighter jets, the museum offers a comprehensive look at the evolution of military aviation. Interactive exhibits and guided tours enhance the visitor experience, making it a must-see for history buffs and aircraft aficionados.

5. Emerald Coast Science Center: Spark your curiosity at the Emerald Coast Science Center, a hands-on museum that explores various scientific concepts through interactive exhibits and experiments. From astronomy to physics, visitors of all ages can engage with STEM activities that educate and entertain. The center’s focus on learning through play makes it a great destination for families and inquisitive minds.

Each of these attractions in Fort Walton Beach offers a unique and enriching experience that showcases the area’s natural beauty, history, and cultural significance. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, learn about local heritage, or engage in hands-on activities, Fort Walton Beach has something for everyone.

One-day trip

If you’re looking for exciting day trips within a 2-hour drive from Fort Walton, you’re in luck! Here are five fantastic destinations that offer a perfect mix of outdoor adventures and cultural experiences:

1. Grayton Beach State Park: Known for its pristine white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, Grayton Beach State Park is a paradise for nature lovers. Situated just an hour’s drive from Fort Walton, this coastal gem offers opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, and picnicking. Hiking enthusiasts can explore scenic trails surrounded by towering sand dunes and rare coastal dune lakes.

2. Seaside: Famously featured in “The Truman Show,” Seaside is a charming coastal town located less than 45 minutes away from Fort Walton. This picturesque community is renowned for its pastel-colored cottages, boutique shops, art galleries, and local eateries. Visitors can stroll along the scenic boardwalk, rent bicycles to explore the area, or simply relax on the beautiful beaches.

3. DeFuniak Springs: Just a short drive from Fort Walton, DeFuniak Springs is a historic town known for its stunning spring-fed lake, Lake DeFuniak. Visitors can take a leisurely walk around the lake, admire the Victorian-era architecture, and visit the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood. Don’t miss the chance to attend one of the town’s cultural events or festivals.

4. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park: Nature enthusiasts will love Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, located approximately 30 minutes from Fort Walton. This coastal preserve boasts over three miles of pristine beaches, rare coastal dune lakes, and diverse ecosystems. Outdoor activities include hiking, birdwatching, fishing, and wildlife viewing. The park is also home to ancient dune systems and unique plant species.

5. Pensacola: Just an hour’s drive from Fort Walton, Pensacola offers a mix of history, culture, and outdoor adventures. Explore the historic downtown area with its Spanish colonial architecture, visit the National Naval Aviation Museum, or relax on the beautiful beaches of Pensacola Beach. Don’t miss the chance to try fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants or take a sunset cruise along the coast.

These five destinations near Fort Walton provide a perfect blend of outdoor beauty and cultural richness, making them ideal choices for memorable day trips. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or simply seeking relaxation by the sea, these locations offer something for everyone.

Restaurants and bars

When exploring Fort Walton, make sure to visit these five exceptional dining spots:

1. Seagull’s Nest: This cozy seaside restaurant offers stunning views of the Gulf and serves up mouthwatering seafood dishes. Don’t miss their signature dish, the Seagull’s Catch, a fresh seafood platter that perfectly captures the flavors of the region.

2. Harbor House: Known for its charming waterfront setting, Harbor House is a local favorite for its delicious steaks and seafood. Be sure to try their famous Harbor Surf and Turf, a delectable combination of grilled shrimp and tender steak.

3. Sunset Grill: For a taste of Caribbean-inspired cuisine, head to Sunset Grill. Their Jerk Chicken is a must-try, perfectly seasoned and grilled to perfection. The laid-back atmosphere and live music make it a perfect spot for a relaxing evening.

4. Bayview Bistro: Offering a fusion of flavors from around the world, Bayview Bistro is a culinary gem in Fort Walton. Indulge in their Mediterranean Lamb Chops, a dish that perfectly balances savory and sweet flavors for a truly unforgettable dining experience.

5. The Salty Crab: This beachfront eatery is a hotspot for seafood lovers. Their Crab Stuffed Shrimp is a crowd-pleaser, combining the best of land and sea in one delectable dish. The casual vibe and friendly service make it a top choice for locals and visitors alike.

When it comes to cafes and bars, Fort Walton has some hidden gems worth exploring:

1. Brew & Bites: This cozy cafe is a haven for coffee aficionados and foodies alike. Their artisanal coffee blends and freshly baked pastries are a hit with locals looking for a caffeine fix or a sweet treat. The laid-back atmosphere and friendly staff make it a must-visit spot in town.

2. The Tipsy Mermaid: A quirky and vibrant bar, The Tipsy Mermaid is known for its creative cocktails and lively ambiance. From their signature Mermaid Mojito to the refreshing Sea Breeze Spritz, each drink is crafted with care and attention to detail. The eclectic decor and welcoming vibe make it a favorite hangout for those looking for a unique drinking experience in Fort Walton.

Interesting Facts

Welcome to Fort Walton, where history meets adventure! Let’s uncover three surprising and fascinating facts about this charming city on the Florida Panhandle.

1. Native American Heritage: Fort Walton Beach is named after the ancient Temple Mound that once stood where the city is now located. This area was home to the Native American mound-building civilization known as the Fort Walton Culture. Visitors can explore this rich heritage at the Indian Temple Mound Museum, which showcases artifacts and exhibits dating back over 12,000 years.

2. Emerald Coast Watersports: With its stunning white sandy beaches and crystal-clear emerald waters, Fort Walton is a paradise for watersports enthusiasts. From snorkeling and paddleboarding to deep-sea fishing and dolphin cruises, there’s no shortage of aquatic adventures to enjoy. Don’t miss the chance to explore the vibrant underwater world of the Gulf of Mexico!

3. Air Force Armament Museum: Did you know that Fort Walton is home to the largest collection of military aircraft in the state of Florida? The Air Force Armament Museum features over 29 aircraft on display, including bombers, fighters, and helicopters. Aviation enthusiasts will be thrilled to see iconic planes like the B-52 Stratofortress and the SR-71 Blackbird up close.

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or an aviation enthusiast, Fort Walton has something for everyone to enjoy. Come and discover the hidden gems of this coastal gem on your next adventure!

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