7 Best Things to Do in Ft. Walton Beach

10/17/2023 | by BuildUp Bookings | Local Activity Guide

Just a 10-minute drive from the iconic gem known as Destin, Ft. Walton Beach offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life without the loss of its amenities. 

Fort Walton Beach, nestled along the stunning Emerald Coast in Florida, is an unparalleled vacation destination that captivates visitors with its breathtaking natural beauty and vibrant seaside culture. 

Known for its pristine white-sand beaches and emerald-green waters, this coastal paradise offers an array of outdoor activities, from water sports to fishing, that cater to adventure seekers and relaxation enthusiasts alike. Add to this the city’s charming downtown area filled with unique shops, delicious dining options, and lively entertainment venues, and you have a destination that truly has something for everyone. 

Fort Walton Beach promises an unforgettable experience with these excellent options for things to do when you stay at a Coastal Vibe vacation rental

1. Relax on Okaloosa Island

Photo Credit: Sandy Weaver via Flickr CC2.0

With an unmatched view looking out at the Gulf of Mexico, Okaloosa Island is a must on any Ft. Walton Beach adventure! You can easily spend an entire day trip here even though it is just minutes from the mainland. 

The white sand beaches are unmatched, and the island is full of exciting things to do. Go for a walk along the Okaloosa Island Pier to check out the fishermen in action and keep your eyes out for marine life like dolphins and sea turtles. The island pier is also one of the best places to catch the sunrise or sunset, thanks to its 1,262-foot reach into the Gulf of Mexico.

Spend the rest of your time relaxing on the sandy beaches or walking along the boardwalk. Okaloosa Island is the definition of a beach vacation! Make the island your home base for a perfect emerald coast getaway.

2. Check Out Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Photo Credit: Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
  • Address: 1010 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, Fort Walton Beach, FL
  • Website: gulfarium.com

And speaking of Okaloosa Island, staying at a Coastal Vibe vacation rental also means you get quick access to the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park! This is easily one of the most exciting and family-friendly things to do in Fort Walton, and it’s not hard to figure out why. This adventure park lets you get up close and personal with a variety of animals like dolphins, penguins, sea lions, stingrays, and more!

Plus, when you aren’t deciding which animal encounter to experience next, you can enjoy one of Gulfarium’s many marine life shows! Check out the sea lion or the dolphin presentation to see these beautiful creatures in action, or stop in to learn more about the animals you see at one of the many “Animal Chats” throughout the park.

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park even hosts weddings and proposals! Want to have penguins walk down the aisle or help you pop the question? Gulfarium can make that dream come true!

3. Visit a Farmers Market

Whether you are looking to get unique souvenirs for your friends or hoping to buy some local ingredients for tonight’s special dinner at your condo rental, a farmers market is the way to go. Lucky for you, there are two major farmers markets that happen in Fort Walton Beach!

Downtown Fort Walton Beach Farmers Market

Photo Credit: Downtown Fort Walton Beach Farmers’ Market

On the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month, the Downtown Fort Walton Beach Farmers Market takes over the Fort Walton Beach Landing. This charming park is transformed into a local shopper’s mecca with handmade crafts, artisanal food options, local meats and produce, artwork, and so much more! 

Walk amongst the many stalls, but don’t be surprised if you walk away with a batch of fresh cinnamon rolls, a new handcrafted necklace, some goat milk soap, a basket of fresh fruit, and the list goes on. 

Okaloosa Farmers Market

Photo Credit: Okaloosa Farmers’ Markets – Fort Walton Beach

While the Okaloosa Farmers Market is only open seasonally, it makes up for it by being open three days a week! On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, make your way over to the Northwest Florida Fairgrounds for a market focusing on local produce. Enjoy fresh fruits, vegetables, preserves, freshly baked goods, and more!

4. Go for a Sunset Cruise

With unmatched sunsets and the emerald coast right at your fingertips, it only makes sense that a sunset cruise makes the itinerary. There are plenty of options around the Fort Walton Beach area – whether you are looking for a dolphin excursion or dinner with a view!

Sunshine Watersports

Photo Credit: Sunshine Watersports

Sunshine Watersports offers an affordable way to get out on the water. Marvel at an emerald coast sunset as your captain takes you to some of the best places to spot dolphins in the area. If you are lucky, the dolphins may join you on the journey by swimming alongside the boat. So, don’t forget your camera!

Destiny Water Adventures

Photo Credit: Destiny Water Adventures

For a more personalized experience, opt for a private sunset cruise with Destiny Water Adventures. Enjoy the luxury of a private captain as you and up to 5 friends sip on drinks (BYOB) and watch the sky transform into a collection of cotton candy clouds. During the summer months, they also offer fireworks cruises!

Sunquest Cruises

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Sunquest Cruises – Solaris Yacht

Hop aboard a 3-story yacht for an evening that you’ll never forget! Sunquest Cruises goes above and beyond with a sunset paired with drinks on the open-air Sky Deck followed by a gourmet, 3-course meal in the main dining room. Have your pick between menu items like crab cakes and short ribs, and head up to the Sky Deck after dessert to enjoy live music under the stars.

5. Explore Fort Walton’s Culture Through its Museums 

Need a break from the beach? Fort Walton may be known for its clear green waters and white sandy beaches, but the fun doesn’t stop there. The inner streets of Fort Walton are gushing with character, and you can easily spend an entire day (or five) exploring the museums of this charming town alone!

Air Force Armament Museum

Photo Credit: RaksyBH

With free admission and a collection of Air Force armament unlike any other place in the world, the Air Force Armament Museum is one of the coolest attractions in the area.

Camp Walton Schoolhouse Museum

Photo Credit: Brent Moore

One of many museums within the Heritage Park and Cultural Center, Camp Walton Schoolhouse Museum takes you through a historic building retelling the history of education in Ft. Walton during the early 1900s.

Garnier Post Office Museum

Photo Credit: Silvia Calderon via Flickr CC2.0

Similar to the Camp Walton Schoolhouse Museum, the Garnier Post Office Museum is a restored building from the early 1900s that teaches visitors about the postal era of the time. It is also located right around the corner from the Camp Walton Schoolhouse.

The Indian Temple Mound Museum

Photo Credit: Innisfree Hotels via Flickr CC2.0

The first museum established within the Fort Walton Beach Heritage Park and Cultural Center, the Indian Temple Mound Museum is a great place to start your museum-hopping adventure. Admire more than 1,000 artifacts here dating back nearly 12,000 years ago.

6. Kick Back at John Beasley Park

Photo Credit: Mary Ellen

If you are looking for the perfect beach experience without the typical beach crowds, look no further than John Beasley Park. This beachfront park is the perfect middle ground between full amenities and a serene experience. 

You’ll need to pack your own lunch, but the picnic pavilions provide lunch with an unparalleled view. Rent a chair and umbrella from the park, or lay out your towel to relax on the white sandy beach. Enjoy the sounds of pelicans overhead and waves crashing along the beach. Go searching for shells along the shoreline. Cool off with a dip in the inviting, cleat waters. The options are endless!

Liza Jackson Park

Photo Credit: Tiffany Boatner

If your idea of hanging at a park doesn’t involve spending hours laying out in the sun, then Liza Jackson Park is a great alternative. Home to a fishing pier, multiple playgrounds, walking paths, and a dog park, Liza Jackson Park has something for everyone.

7. Channel Your Inner Child

You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy an afternoon of go-kart racing, and there is no better time to channel your inner child than when you are on vacation. The good news is that Fort Walton makes it easy with a variety of family fun activities that will be sure to get your heart pumping and your competitive juices flowing.

Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone

Photo Credit: Martin Lewison via Flickr CC2.0
  • Address: 1306 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, Fort Walton Beach, FL
  • Website: wwazone.com

Stretching out more than 17,000 square feet, Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone is the gift that keeps on giving. This massive entertainment complex has a variety of attractions ranging from a tree-top rope course to an impressive laser tag arena. Bring the whole family for a round of mini golf and have your pick between a Jurassic or pirate-themed golf course. Then, hop on the go-karts to race around the track or head to the arcade to tackle up to 65 games.

The Emerald Coast Science Center

Photo Credit: Kate Fox
  • Address: 31 Memorial Pkwy SW, Fort Walton Beach, FL
  • Website: ecscience.org

The Emerald Coast Science Center isn’t your average museum. This hands-on experience lets you get up close and personal with animals like the African Pygmy Hedgehog, the Sugar Glider, and the Blue and Gold Macaw. When you aren’t gushing over these adorable creatures, you can enjoy a large variety of interactive exhibits!

A Gulf Coast Adventure

Pack your bags and book your vacation rental in Fort Walton Beach today! With its picturesque landscapes, exciting activities, and warm, welcoming community, it’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in nature, dive into a thrilling adventure, or simply relax and recharge, Fort Walton Beach has got you covered. Don’t miss out on the chance to experience this coastal gem. Book your Coastal Vibe vacation rental today

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