Fort Walton Beach Vacation Guide

Located between Pensacola and Panama City along North Florida’s glittering Gulf Coast, Fort Walton Beach offers visitors its powdery white beaches, emerald waters, enjoyable golf courses, and much more. The small-town atmosphere includes eleven traditional neighborhoods, seven of which are located along the shoreline, and each with their own distinct personality and charm.  Fort Walton Beach boasts all the fun of the major vacation spots, minus the fuss. Home to family-friendly resorts and attractions such as parks, museums and aquariums, it’s not just the calm, green waters and cool, white sand that make this northwest Florida destination a family favorite.  Visit the area beaches in Fort Walton Beach and along the Emerald Coast.  Read thru our Fort Walton Beach Vacation  Guide so you can start planning your trip today!

Fort Walton Beach Weather – When to Visit

The best time to visit Fort Walton Beach is between mid-September and October when both spring breakers and family vacationers have departed the city, leaving the beaches, attractions and restaurants devoid of peak season crowds. The weather is still moderate this time of year, and the risk of hurricanes wanes, too. The late fall and winter months of November through February are considered low season, with dropping temperatures and room rates. Heavy crowds of students and families swarm the city and its beaches in peak season’s early spring and summer to take advantage of the prime beach weather.

Fort Walton Beach Attractions

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Gulfarium-Marine-Adventure-Park-300x95.jpgGulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is dedicated to educating, entertaining, and inspiring their guests to respect and preserve wildlife by providing unique and memorable experiences for visitors of all ages to connect with marine life.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Air-Force-Armament-Museum-300x153.jpgAir Force Armament Museum

The Air Force Armament Museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to the collection, preservation and exhibition of artifacts and memorabilia associated with Air Force Armament and its platforms of delivery. There are over 29 different aircraft that have found a home at the Air Force Armament Museum including an AC-130, B-17, B-25, B-52, P-51, A-10, F-15, F-16, F-100, F-101, and many other aircraft from the WWII era to the present.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is OK-Island-Fishing-Pier-300x128.jpgOkaloosa Island Fishing Pier

Take a stroll down the fishing pier, where sea turtles and dolphins gather as gulls circle overhead. Watch fishermen cast their lines and reel in their catches. Herons hover nearby hoping to snag an easy snack. You can also rent poles and buy fish and tackle.  The pier provides your fishing license for everyone who pays the daily fishing fee.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is John-C-Beasley-Park-300x225.jpgJohn C Beasley Park

John C Beasley Park is the perfect place to get to know the beaches, Gulf waters, dunes, wildflowers, and wildlife of Okaloosa Island. Overhangs provide shaded picnic spots, while restrooms and freshwater shower heads are available for rinsing off. Short boardwalks, including a handicap ramp, take you to the beach itself, while Indian Blanket and Dune Sunflowers bloom near the parking area. The waters here are emerald green, and can be absolutely calm or provide fun waves, depending on the weather.

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Wild-Willys-Adventure-Zone-300x122.jpgWild Willy’s Adventure Zone

Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone lets you fly like a Pterosaur on a reverse bungee trampoline and climb to the treetops on a 60-foot-high ropes course. The largest family entertainment center in Northwest Florida, it also features a spinning roller coaster, remote-control battle boats, laser maze, 4D movie theater and a 16,000-square-foot arcade with more than 65 of the latest high-tech games.

Things To Do in Fort Walton Beach

Cattywampus Eco Tours

Enjoy unique eco cruises off the shores of beautiful Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island, and Destin aboard the power Cattywampus catamaran. They offer some of the best sights and experiences with our catamaran cruise. Whether you are in Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island, Destin or surrounding areas, the Cattywampus catamaran is the perfect vessel for an unforgettable experience.  Telephone:  850-586-0450  Web:  Cattywampus Eco Tours.

Fort Walton Beach Parasail

Parasailing is a wonderful way to see the Island and a great way to highlight your vacation experience. Fly high and see the entire area, add a banana boat ride and do a combo, with photo packages available as well.  Telephone:  850-438-5555  Web:  Fort Walton Beach Parasail.

Destin Airboat Tours

Ride along the shore of Choctawhatchee Bay & Santa Rosa Sound aboard PUC DAT, their Diamondback 15 passenger airboat! Ages 2 thru 11 –  $25 Ages 12 & over – $45 Discount Coupons available @ Fudpucker’s.  Weather and seas permitting they offer daily departures.   Telephone:  850-461-9585   Web:  Destin Airboat Tours.

Fuddpuckers Watersports

Fuddpuckers Watersports is the perfect place for riders of all levels and ages. Never attempted a water sport? Not to worry! Their mission is to ensure that their customers have a fun day out on the boat, whether it is swimming, inner tubing, or just sun bathing. They are there to make sure that you have to great time out on the water.  Telephone:  850-424-7625  Web:  Fuddpuckers Watersports.

Best Fort Walton Beach Restaurants

Soi Bistro  $11 – 30

The healthy alternative, Soi Bistro features an inventive and traditional mix of sushi paired with the largest selection of sake. Prepared with the freshest ingredients, they offer a dining experience full of creative flavors, combined with a casual relaxed atmosphere. Indulge in their signature rolls or Asian inspired dishes.  Telephone:  850-586-7645  Web:  Soi Bistro.

Stewby’s Seafood Restaurant  $11 – 30

STEWBY’S Seafood Shanty is a small take out and drive thru seafood restaurant in Fort Walton Beach. Offering the most affordable and freshest local seafood. You can eat on their enclosed deck or take it to-go. All their seafood is fresh and locally bought. The fish comes straight of the boats in Destin. Average order time is between 4-6 minutes. So if your in a hurry, don’t worry. They’ll have you on your way in minutes. STEWBY’S also offers a drive thru window for your convenience.  Drive thru and take some to go or stop by and order from the walk up window. STEWBY’S is always providing the best quality seafood at the best price!  Telephone:  850-586-7001  Web:  Stewby’s Seafood Restaurant.

Blue Collar Cafe  Under $10

Fresh-baked goods, yummy breakfast (their maple bacon makes life better; trust em) and mouth-watering deli sandwiches!  Come try Marc’s famous scratch-made bagels–or even better, get a B.O.B. (Breakfast on a Bagel).  A selection of fresh gourmet coffee; beans roasted in-house!  Telephone:  850-586-7211  Web:   Blue Collar Cafe

Rick’s Crab Trap  $11 – 30

They offer fresh seafood straight from the Gulf, as well as other favorites, shipped to us fresh.  Add in tasty appetizers, fresh salads, great sandwiches and wraps, plus lots of steamed, fried, and broiled entrees. They have something for every taste.  In addition to being a family restaurant, and a full service bar, they also LOVE sports.  Every night you will find the game on one of their dozen or more TV’s   From  NFL, NCAA, MLB , NHL and NBA, to soccer from the world stage, they have the sports you are looking for.  Telephone:  850-664-0110  Web:  Rick’s Crab Trap.

Old Bay Steamer  $11 – 30

Old Bay Steamer is an independent, locally owned  and operated seafood restaurant in Fort Walton Beach FL.   They opened in 1995 on Okaloosa Island just in time for Hurricane Erin.  Shortly thereafter, Hurricane Opal delivered a spectacular smack down.  Against all odds and pathetic customer counts, they did not perish.  Word of mouth and local support, has been the foundation of their success. The Place for Steamed Seafood in Ft Walton Beach FL : Maine Lobster Tails • King Crab • Snow Crab • Royal Red Shrimp • Clams • Mussels • Oysters.  Telephone:  850-664-2795  Web:  Old Bay Steamer.

Best Fort Walton Beach Bars & Nightlife

Tapworks

TapWorks specializes in craft beer, craft spirits, and elegant wine. They have 60 beers on tap as well as about 25 bottles. They also have an extensive liquor line up that includes the “norm” plus over 30 small batch craft spirits. Their specialty craft drink menu utilizes some of these unique spirits. Their wine list includes over 15 wines that were handpicked by their staff.  Telephone:  850-244-1087  Web:  Tapworks

Props Brewery & Grill

Props Brewery is the location where great people come to meet, eat, and drink their amazing hand crafted beer.  Take the entire family or just go and hang out with friends to watch their brewery in action or catch the game.  They are the center of all things sports and craft beer in Fort Walton Beach.  So, go out to watch as they craft these amazing beers and most importantly relax, kick back, and enjoy a craft beer in their pub or outside in their beer garden.  Telephone:  850-586-7117  Web:  Props Brewery & Grill.

Salty Duck

They bring Fort Walton Beach many tastes from local breweries and from across the country.  They are the original American craft beer bar in Fort Walton Beach and pride themselves in bringing new and different brews to the local crowds and to you, at a price that is way affordable compared to those other guys.  So if you’re looking for rare and exclusive American craft beers available in the local area, they are the guys that have them and if you’re looking for big-name, nationally and internationally marketed commercial beers, they have a few.  Telephone:  850-226-8336  Web:  Salty Duck.

The Boardroom Pub & Grub

The Boardroom Pub and Grub specializes in craft beer, choice wines, and food no one would expect to come out of their closet of a kitchen. Try the Massive Pork Nachos.  They offer 80+ beers, a premier wine selection, and healthy food options all day and night.  Telephone:  850-200-4741  Web: The Boardroom Pub & Grub

Rick’s Crab Trap

They offer fresh seafood straight from the Gulf, as well as other favorites, shipped to us fresh.  Add in tasty appetizers, fresh salads, great sandwiches and wraps, plus lots of steamed, fried, and broiled entrees. They have something for every taste.  In addition to being a family restaurant, and a full service bar, they also LOVE sports.  Every night you will find the game on one of our dozen or more TV’s   From  NFL, NCAA, MLB , NHL and NBA, to soccer from the world stage, they have the sports you are looking for.  Telephone:  850-664-0110  Web:  Rick’s Crab Trap.

Best Fort Walton Beach Hotels

Town Place Suites Fort Walton Beach


The only mid tier, pet friendly all suite extended stay property with full kitchens located in the Fort Walton/Eglin AFB area offering apartment living with the comfort of hotel amenities, services and breath taking water front views. Minutes away from world renowned sandy beaches , golf courses and within close proximity to various restaurants and shopping.

Holiday Inn Resort Fort Walton Beach


This hotel is perfect not just for family vacations, but for romantic getaways, meetings and events, and business travel. We have the best pool in the area with a lazy river, waterfall, and hot tub as well as an an indoor pool, American Grill, pool bar, family suites, supervised children’s activities, ‘Dive-Inn’ movies, interactive pirate and mermaid shows, private beachfront balconies, 24 hour fitness center, 24 hour business center, free WiFi, and free parking.

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Fort Walton Beach


The La Quinta Inn & Suites, Fort Walton Beach awarded 2010 Inn Of The Year and recently named a 2011 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence award winner, is located less than one mile away from beautiful white sandy beaches. The La Quinta Inn & Suites is near plenty of fun activities nearby including water sports, boating, waterparks, fishing excursions shopping outlets and golfing.

Best Western Ft. Walton Beachfront

The Best Western Ft. Walton Beachfront hotel boasts luxurious amenities, on-site entertainment and close proximity to exciting activities. This boutique-style hotel adds a touch of class to the traditional Best Western family-friendly atmosphere. Hotel amenities include an on-site outdoor pool with adjacent cabana bar and meeting facilities.  Every guest room is decorated in a stylish art deco design and boasts extras such as free high-speed Internet access, microwave and refrigerator.

Hilton Garden Inn Fort Walton Beach


The Hilton Garden Inn Ft. Walton Beach hotel is located on Okaloosa Island, with coastal views. Our warm, inviting guest rooms provide a great base for your beach side vacation. Experience our Lazy river with rock waterfalls, heated indoor pool and a beachfront hot tub. Guests can also enjoy on-site dining at our restaurant and bar.


Booking.com

30 Comments

  1. Helen Vella

    I love this post I live in Florida and appreciate this post as am always looking for places to visit and this looks very inviting. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Wow, where do you live Helen? I am moving to St Pete, hopefully within a month. I cannot wait. I plan to continue my beach trips, only this time they will be road trips 🙂 If you have not been to Fort Walton Beach, you surely need to go!

      Reply
  2. Angie

    Hi,Leahrae, I am very impressed with your website, as a customer looking for the first time it certainly makes me want to find a beach travel destination. I cannot find anything critical to say, you either had a good grounding already in website construction ,or, you have worked extremely hard at the lessons . There is plenty of relevant content without being,` overloaded` It is well organised and informative with just about the right number of relevant adverts. How long did it take you to get to that standard? I feel very inferior ,just starting with my site …I have only just found out how to activate ,`comments`.
    WELL DONE to you.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so much Angie! I have done website design before, and I tend to be very detail oriented and a perfectionist…so I spend a lot of time on one post. I picture what I would like to find if I were traveling to these places. A lot of them I have been to, so it is easy to talk about them. Some require a LOT of research. I am glad you enjoyed reading!

      Reply
  3. Ryan Basham

    Lots of great information here! Like many others who have commented, I have had never heard of Fort Walton Beach. With a family of 4, including two small children, this looks like a great destination for us to consider. We love beaches and don’t like crowds. Sounds like Fort Walton Beach may be a winner!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, you will find it quieter here, and it is also less expensive. Anything on the west coast of Florida or the panhandle will be much cheaper than the east coast of Florida, and less crowded as well. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  4. Emma

    Oh my, Fort Walton looks absolutely idyllic! It’s the deep dark cold of winter here and I can’t help but imagine my feet in that luscious white sand as I bathe in the sunshine. I’ve been looking for Florida destinations outside of the usual suspects and this post has shot Fort Walton to the top of my list!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You know, anywhere on the Emerald Cost is going to be beautiful. They have the whitest sand beaches anywhere in Florida, and so soft. It’s smooth and warm on your feet. I am glad you enjoyed reading about Fort Walton beaches.

      Reply
  5. Yvonne

    Fort Walton Beach sounds like a great place for a vacation. The weather during the hot season is quite similar to Singapore, where I live. The travel sites for the best air fares is very useful. I’ll definitely check it out. Thanks for the travel guide!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome Yvonne! I don’t consider it hot at all there, but then I am a beach bum and enjoy the sunshine and warm weather that comes with it. Thanks for checking out the Fort Walton Vacation Guide!

      Reply
  6. Fay

    I have never heard of Fort Walton but it looks and sounds amazing. This page also has a great compilation of everything one would need when planning a trip there. You don’t need to open a million different webpages when planning a trip there, its all consolidated into on page, so thank you for that! The video at the end is also a good touch!

    Thanks again!
    Fayelee

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Fay and I am glad you enjoyed reading about Fort Walton Beach on the Emerald Coast. It really is a beautiful area with white sand beaches.

      Reply
  7. David

    What a super guide for a beach vacation to Fort Walton, I really like the suggestions you outline for restaurants and things to do, one question – is there any golf courses nearby???

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, beautiful golf courses as a matter of fact. The Fort Walton Beach Golf Club is your best bet. You can also go to the Shalimar Pointe Golf Club which is amazing as well, or the Gator Lakes Golf Club. Thank you so much for visiting and let me know if I can answer any other questions!

      Reply
  8. Eric Cantu

    Girl I’m right here with you. I have extreme wanderlust and your posts are fueling the fire lol. Thanks for sharing this! Great tips! I’m headed to australia in a couple months and thailand a couple months after that. I may need some beaches closer to home in my life after that. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Wow, I do envy you Eric! Pack me in your suitcase when you head to Australia and Thailand please! Glad you enjoyed reading and thanks for visiting Beach Travel Destinations!

      Reply
  9. Brent

    Yeah, Fort Walton looks like a great place to visit. You really can’t go wrong with Florida as long as it is not too bad into the summer dog days at all. Thanks for sharing another great review.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      That is true, you cannot go wrong with Florida no matter where you go. I do have my favorites and the beaches of the Emerald Coast are awesome! Thanks for reading Brent!

      Reply
  10. Madison

    Wow! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Fort Walton before! This place looks beautiful! And all the information you have here will certainly be helpful for anyone planning a trip there. Comprehensive but not confusing! Awesome info!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Madison 🙂 I am glad you enjoyed. Thanks for visiting!

      Reply
  11. Udoh

    So over the past couple weeks I have been looking into tickets for a cruise ship from Miami to Bahamas for 5 days. so far, the cruise tickets are under $500 per a person but my only problem is I have to pay about $800/person for airfare from where I live to Miami. After finding this information, I figured I will wait and look for other places to vacation.

    Now it seems that Fort Walton might be a great place to check out. Okaloosa-island sounds great too.
    My family (there are 6 of us) wanted to just get away from the cold weather and check out some beaches and also spend some time together.

    Thank you for the info

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome, and you will find the weather so nice there during the winter. Doesn’t really matter what time of year you go. What is nice about the Emerald Coast is, you can drive literally from one end to the other in a day. Don’t do it during rush hour traffic, as it is pretty congested with only one highway going thru. But the Emerald Coast Beaches cannot be beat. Thank you for reading!

      Reply
  12. Melissa

    Oh my gosh this place looks so gorgeous! I could definitely use a vacation right now. It’s nice to have all of this information in one place and not have to search everywhere for it.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Fort Walton Beach and the whole Emerald Coast is beautiful! I am glad you found the information informative. Thank you for visiting Fort Walton Beach Vacation Guide.

      Reply
  13. Mike

    I can’t believe all of this information for Fort Walton Beach. This is AWESOME and by far the most informative travel site I have come across in my search. This beats out some of the major sites. Thank you for being so detailed and the pics help a lot. I look forward to planning some family trips this spring…I’ll be back to this site.

    Best wishes,
    Mike

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so much Mike! My whole goal is to be the number one site when you are looking for a beach vacation. I am glad you enjoyed! I will be posting often on different beach destinations throughout the world.

      Reply
  14. Cris Santos

    Hello Leahrae,
    I thinking now to have a vacation like this. I would probably suggest to my wife this wonderful Fort Walton beach in Florida. I like their weather as well not too hot and not too cold. You even provide the information where we can get a good deal for airfare and hotel. That is really nice. Yeah, I would definitely get a vacation I think I deserve that . Thanks Leahrae.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are welcome Cris! Yes, the whole area of the Emerald Coast is beautiful. Your wife would be very happy with you if you took her to these wonderful Florida beaches 🙂

      Reply
  15. Ashley

    Oh my gosh, I didn’t realize how badly I need a vacation!
    Fort Walton Beach looks beautiful and it looks like a place my husband and I could enjoy!! (If we can find a babysitter) We live in Augusta, GA, so I’m not sure how far away that is.
    Thank you for the information on Fort Walton Beach, I hadn’t heard of it before, but now think this will be our next vacation spot 🙂 Thank you! ☀️
    Ashley

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Ashley, it’s really not that far and airfare is so reasonable. I pay about $60 round trip from Dallas. I know you would love it, and you could take the whole family 🙂 as it is not near as expensive as other beach destinations.

      Reply

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