Have a Ball at the Beach

After months in Old Man Winter’s icy grip, a sunny spring break getaway is a natural choice. Families seeking a laid-back destination that is authentic, affordable and accessible head to Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island in Northwest Florida.

As spring temperatures heat up so does the fun. Award-winning beaches, championship golf, shopping, spas and a slew of family-friendly attractions and activities for all ages and stages are just minutes away on the Emerald Coast.

In the Spotlight

Not many beaches can boast accolades like these:

  • One of the “10 Most Beautiful Places in America” – ABC Good Morning America
  • One of “Top Three Family Vacation Destinations in the South” for 14 straight years – Southern Living
  • "Best Beach in the USA” – USAToday.com

Beaching It

Days along 24 miles of sugar-white shoreline are all about action and relaxation.

  • Soak up sunbeams and sea breezes. Build a sensational sandcastle. Collect a cache of coquina shells that look like tiny angel wings. Snorkel in crystal-clear waters.
  • Soar aloft by parasail with Just Chute Me.
  • Fly a kite. Choose from awesome designs at Kitty Hawk Kites.
  • Join the latest craze along the coast – Stand-Up Paddleboarding. Take a tour or class at GUSU Paddlesports in Destin.
  • Get eye-to-eye with sealife and natural aquatic habitats, and still stay dry aboard Boogie’s Glass Bottom Boat Dolphin Cruise.
  • Go fishing on the kid-friendly Captain Nemo.

Free and Almost-Free Fun

As the saying goes “the best things in life are free”… or nearly free.

  • Visit Heritage Park and Cultural Center. The authentic mound was once the center of one of the largest and most advanced Native American civilizations on the Gulf coast.
  • Watch a skeleton ride a bike at the hands-on Emerald Coast Science Center.
  • See the fastest spy plane in the world and lots of other cool stuff at the U.S. Air Force Armament Museum.
  • Check out free flicks, fireworks and festivals at Uptown Station, HarborWalk Village and Destin Commons.
  • Stock up on money-saving coupons for activities, dining and shopping at the Visitor’s Center on Okaloosa Island.

Kid-Friendly Eateries

When action fuels furious appetites, chow down at local restaurants, like Fudpucker’s in Destin, with kids' menus and added fun. Kids get a kick out of feeding the gators at Fud’s Gator Beach. The Crab Trap at The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island is another family favorite. Turn the younger set loose on the beachfront playground while Mom and Dad dig into a seafood platter and sip sunset libations nearby.

Stays for all Budgets

Don’t worry about blowing the budget at a high-priced, mega-resort. Ramada Plaza Beach Resort, Holiday Inn Sunspree and Hampton Inn are examples of Emerald Coast hotels that are priced to please. Enjoy plenty of privacy, space and savings at vacation rental condos and beach homes. Rental companies like ResortQuest, Legacy Vacations and Legendary Hospitality pack on perks, including bonus nights and free local attractions. Surf spring specials online at the Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Fastest Way to the Beaches

More good news: No time wasted getting to the Emerald Coast. It’s less than a day’s drive from most of the southeast. And, five major airlines offer daily flights into Northwest Florida Regional Airport from hubs like Atlanta, Memphis and Dallas-Fort Worth.

This article is brought to you by the Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau. To plan your trip to the Emerald Coast, visit www.EmeraldCoastFL.com

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners


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