Part of the area known as The Emerald Coast the southern sea town of Fort Walton Beach offers a collection of area attractions that celebrate simplicity with fun “flip-flop” museums and amusements from marine to military.
Fort Walton Beach’s calm, green waters and cool, white sand make this northwest Florida destination a family favorite, as do family-friendly resorts and attractions such as parks, museums, and aquariums.
Fort Walton Gulfarium
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park hosts everything from 600-pound (270kg) gray seals to two-ounce (56g) clown fish in 14 intriguing exhibits. The crowd-pleasing “Dolphin Show” features Bottlenose Dolphins jumping 18 feet (540 cm) above the water’s surface.
The Gulfarium is an absolute must-see. It’s the best place to learn about marine animal habitats and habits, Florida conservation efforts, and meet many of the Park’s aquatic residents up close in special Animal Encounters.
The Gulfarium offers Animal Encounters for a truly one-of-a-kind animal adventure. Pre-book your Encounter to swim with dolphins, snorkel with stingrays, or pet seals, sea lions, reptiles, penguins, and other animals. In addition, if you’re in town for a reunion, professional meeting, or special event, the Gulfarium has packages to ensure your entire group has an adventure to remember.
1010 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548
Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone
Wild Willy’s park, billed as the largest family entertainment center in Northwest Florida, is simply enormous! Stay inside on the most humid or rainy days and spend an afternoon playing your favorite games at the arcade, or go outside and ride the rides that make your heart race and remember what it’s like to be a kid again; the choice is yours, and we can guarantee you’ll find something you enjoy!
The indoor air-conditioned area features a 17,000 square foot arcade kids can explore, a 3D movie theater with moving seats, and a laser maze that challenges participants to climb over and slither under laser obstacles. Outside, there are two mini-golf courses, one for older children with scary animatronics and one for little kids with cartoonish baby dinosaurs.
1306 Miracle Strip Parkway SE, Fort Walton Beach, Florida 32548
Indian Temple Mound Museum and Park
The Indian Temple Mound Museum and Park – guarded by the largest ancient (1400 A.D.) mound – journeys through 10,000 years of over 6,000 ceramic artifacts from four prehistoric tribes and is America’s most extensive collection.
Native Americans in the area were deeply agricultural, and they built burial and sacred mounds. The majority of the museum’s 1,000 artifacts date from 1100 to 1550 AD, but it does have a fine collection of much earlier prehistoric ceramics.
139 Miracle Strip Parkway SE, Fort Walton Beach, Florida 32548
Air Force Armament Museum
The Air Force Armament Museum exhibits aircraft, bombs, guns, missiles, and rockets used by the United States Air Force during WWII, as well as the Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf Wars. There are four vintage aircraft, a large collection of weaponry, and interactive cockpit simulators inside the museum. Outside, visitors can see 29 aircraft from WWI to the present day, including the fastest plane ever built, the SR-71 Blackbird. Every day at regular intervals, a 32-minute film about the Eglin Air Force Base and its role in the development of armaments is shown. The gift shop at the museum sells high-quality commemorative souvenirs.
100 Museum Drive, Eglin AFB, Fort Walton Beach, Florida 32542
Emerald Coast Science Center
Also in Fort Walton Beach, for more whimsical fun, the Emerald Coast Science Center is a child’s science fantasy, filled with interactive experiences and kid’s educational displays enjoyable for any age.
At the Emerald Coast Science Center, you can immerse yourself in a world of hands-on learning. Step outside the box and immerse yourself in science in an interactive museum that includes a STEAM Makerspace, over 45 exhibits, over 30 animals, and much more!
A display on wind and flight, as well as the opportunity to interact with live animals, are also highlights. A gift shop on-site sells toys and games with a scientific theme and does not require a ticket to enter.
31 Memorial Parkway SW, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548
Fort Walton Beach Golf Club
Although the preferred activity in this laid back slice of Florida’s upper Gulf coast is “relaxing and doing as little as possible,” visitors also enjoy teeing off on 1,080 challenging holes of famous golf, fishing from Florida’s largest charter boat fleet for the elusive big blue, sailing in the emerald-flecked surf and sun bronzing on white powdered shores.
The city-owned Fort Walton Beach Golf Club features two superb 18-hole championship courses that are beautifully maintained and set in pristine North Florida landscapes. The Pines Course is 6,800 yards long and climbs steeply through a pine forest.
1955 Lewis Turner Boulevard, Fort Walton Beach, Florida 32547
Cattywampus Catamaran Cruises
Cattywampus Catamaran daytime cruises begin by anchoring on a sandbar in the bay, allowing passengers to snorkel in shallow waters to see marine life and search for shells and sand dollars. The catamaran then heads into the Gulf of Mexico, which is teeming with friendly bottlenose dolphins.
Thursday night sunset cruises aboard the Cattywampus provide passengers with the best view of the fireworks displays set off at Fort Walton Beach and nearby Destin.
1318 Miracle Strip Parkway, Fort Walton Beach, Florida 32548
Fort Walton Beach
Undoubtedly the most mesmerizing distraction on the Emerald Coast is the combination of sun-bleached, shocking white shores, stretching 24 miles like ribboning white satin, with rich, emerald-jeweled waters. Sprawling shores provide seating for performances by dancing dolphins and sandpipers, as well as postcard-perfect sunrises and sunsets over the Gulf – all compliments of Mother Nature. More than 60 percent of the area’s beaches will be preserved forever in sweeping, virgin purity. (Beware – the reflection of the white sands makes sunglasses and substantial sunscreen a must.)
Active adventures begin at the beach. Although the sugary shores are swept bare, about a mile out, an aquarium of treasures from sea horses to cockles, clams and striped cowries are discovered. Exceptional snorkeling and diving are possible close inshore – a rarity – due to the underwater 100 Fathom Curve. Pontooning, parasailing, waterskiing, sailing and windsurfing are additional Gulf and Choctawhatchee Bay water escapades.