In southwestern Florida on the barrier island of Santa Rosa, sits the friendly beach community of Navarre Beach. This area provides a low-key vacation, where you and your family can kick back and spend some quality time together. Find a Navarre Beach vacation rental along one of the waterways or along the Gulf of Mexico to wake each morning to stunning views. Pass the days enjoying the sunshine of the beach, swimming in the Gulf, and biking around the small community. With kids, make sure that you have a few trips up your sleeves when they complain about boredom. Here’s a quick look at the top 9 things for your family to do in Navarre Beach.

1. Gulf Breeze Zoo

Load the family in the car for the short drive to the Gulf Breeze Zoo, where you and your family can see some pretty cool animals. This small zoological park offers a behind-the-scenes tour, letting you take in some interesting sights and learn more about the operation of a zoo than most of the visitors. Other activities include the chance to feed the giraffes and an exclusive train ride through the safari area, where it’s easy to catch sights of your favorite animals, such as lions, tigers, and zebras.

2. Panhandle Butterfly House

Open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the Panhandle Butterfly House welcomes your family to come in and learn more about its favorite flying creature — the butterfly. You and your kids get to learn more about the life cycles of butterflies and a variety of species from around the world. Smile as your kids squeal with delight when a butterfly lands on their finger or shoulder. This location also offers an indoor and outdoor garden to explore before returning to your vacation rental.

3. Navarre Beach Pier

Running down the pier and stopping to gaze at the ocean below them is an adventure for any kid. Pack a picnic lunch and fishing gear before leaving your vacation rental for a day of fun and fishing. Teach your kids how to put bait on their hook and toss it into the waves. While waiting for the fish to bite, spend time talking with your children and spend some quality time together. If you bring a cooler, you can take your fish home with you for dinner or throw back smaller ones.

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4. Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary

Grab your snorkeling gear or rent it at the Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary for some of the best underwater views you’ve ever seen. This sanctuary offers tours on kayaks with a guide available to explain the history of the sanctuary and steps being taken to preserve the area. If you don’t want to spend a day on the water, then take a tour of the sea turtle center and learn more about the endangered animals that make their nests along the beaches.

5. Emerald Coast Science Center

Less than 20 miles away in the town of Fort Walton is the Emerald Coast Science Center, where you and your kids get to explore the exhibits on a rainy afternoon. Your kids will learn more about science without even realizing it as they play with the hands-on exhibits. After seeing all the galleries, and everyone’s had a chance to try the hands-on exhibits, make your way to the planetarium to learn more about the stars you see in the night sky.

6. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Also located in nearby Fort Walton, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park opens daily with your family’s chance to get up close and personal with dolphins and other friendly sea creatures. Opened in the 1960s, this marine park has mastered the art of the marine animal live shows, and your kids will squeal in delight as the Dolphins spring from the water to jump through hoops. Your kids might touch a stingray or sea turtle before coming nose to nose with a dolphin as part of this park’s animal experiences.

7. Kayaking

Since Navarre Beach sits on a barrier island, you’re surrounded by water to take kayaks out for a day of fun. If you decide to kayak on the Santa Rosa Sound, you’ll find calm waters to help beginners learn the finer points of navigating the water in a kayak. Make your way up and down the shoreline, noticing the homes, animals, and birds along the way. Even if you decide to kayak in the Gulf of Mexico, the water is luxuriously calm most days.

8. Gulf Islands National Seashore

On the west side of Navarre Beach, the Gulf Islands National Seashore offers pristine beaches and beautiful walking paths through the protected area. Bring your bikes and enjoy biking through the dunes and the beautiful scenery. This is a popular area for sea turtles to make their nests, so be careful as you walk along the beach, or come at night to see if you can catch the turtles emerging from the sea to nest.

9. Jet Skiing

Stop by Navarre Beach Ski and Sail for an afternoon of fun. Rent jet skis and spend an afternoon zooming around the water. Younger kids can ride with you, while kids with a driver’s license can drive themselves. Enjoy the feel of the wind in your face as the scenery whizzes by you.

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