While generations of Atlantans have enjoyed the sugar-white sand beaches and emerald-green waters found in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida, perhaps there has never been a better time to get outside, and out of your comfort zone, than now. Leave in the morning and start an adventure later that afternoon, exploring the outdoors together and challenging yourselves to try something new. With access to the Gulf of Mexico and protected bays and bayous, the destination makes water-based adventures both possible and welcoming for every member of the family, from reeling in a first catch to exploring reefs and sandy shores while snorkeling. The result is not only family fun, but memories that last long after you’ve returned home.
Dive Right In!
The destination’s beautiful, clear water offers endless adventures for families, and ideal conditions to take a first step in. Destin-Fort Walton Beach boasts 24 miles of beach to enjoy, and as a bonus, there is so much to appreciate while out on the water. Observe the local marine life (colorful fish, turtles, sand dollars, and more) under the water with a snorkeling lesson or scuba excursion, or hop on a paddleboard or a kayak to learn a new skill together and take in the surrounding natural beauty. Set sail on a family catamaran trip and see the dolphins up close, swimming alongside the boat. If you prefer to captain your own vessel, rent a pontoon and cruise the calm waters, charting your own course. Interested in catching your dinner? Charter a fishing boat. Charters can be customized by the ages of your children or the type of fish you’re interested in catching. Back on land, many local restaurants specialize in “cook your catch” menu items to celebrate your success.
Observe and Encounter Wildlife
An array of wildlife call Destin-Fort Walton Beach home, inhabiting areas along beaches, trails, parks, and, of course, out in the water. Take the Nighttime Educational Beach Walk and learn about sea turtles and the local efforts to protect them. Explore Henderson Beach State Park’s winding nature trail, a haven for shore birds, including six listed and protected species. To fully immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, camp sites are also available for overnight stays.
Learn all about the habits and habitats of marine animals, local conservation efforts, and meet many of residents up close, including dolphins, seals, penguins, and more at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. And, for an even closer look, the destination’s local sea life and extensive artificial reef program creates excellent sites for diving and snorkeling activities that are easily accessible. The clarity of Gulf waters and its white sandy bottom make spotting a range of fish, crabs, and other colorful wildlife easy even for beginners.
Get Out and Play!
Destin-Fort Walton Beach is an environment that naturally encourages kids to play and interact with their surroundings, each other, and their parents. To make it even easier for families to discover what lies in store and take that first step in exploring the destination from a new view, the destination recently introduced Adventure Packs that pair unique water adventures with great local food. With the help of an online guide (a local Mom) guests can chat one-on-one and review several mom-approved packs to select an adventure that fits their family’s interests and ages. The packs offer a variety of options at a special price, including hook and cook fishing trips with expert captains, pontoon rentals to explore independently, sand sculpting lessons to build a work of art, guided paddleboard tours, and more, all paired with menu offerings from some the area’s best restaurants, bringing Gulf-to-Table dining right to you.
More than your typical beach vacation, Destin-Fort Walton Beach offers families the unique opportunity of time spent relaxing, learning, and simply playing together. Plan your personalized adventure to Destin-Fort Walton Beach and give your kids more than a vacation—give them experiences that will last a lifetime.