The relaxed vibe of Florida’s Gulf Coast awaits you when you book a Fort Walton Beach vacation rental, which sits just east of Pensacola along Florida’s panhandle. Head to one of the area’s several amusement parks, grab your snorkel or scuba gear, or just chill as you stretch out on a white sand beach. You can find amazing vacation rentals, many with spectacular ocean views, all up and down the beaches here, including rentals in these 11 hot areas.

1. Fort Walton Beach

night scene at the seaside

Staying in Fort Walton Beach puts you in easy reach of all kinds of entertainment and relaxation. Rent a condo with a wraparound balcony to enjoy expansive views of Choctawhatchee Bay, or slip on your flip flops to head to the beach right outside your front door. The beaches of Okaloosa Island are within easy reach here, or you can take an educational break when you visit the Air Force Armament Museum.

2. Okaloosa Island

long legged bird
Source: Flickr / Infrogmation of New Orleans

This long barrier island, which shelters Fort Walton Beach from the Gulf of Mexico, is a popular resort destination. Choose a condo that comes equipped with an outdoor grill so you can dine on the lanai with your family, or opt for a vacation rental right on the beach and loaded with amenities like tennis courts and heated pools. Fishing from the Okaloosa Pier lets you enjoy incredible views up and down the island while you catch tonight’s dinner.

3. Destin Island

people at the beach
Source: Flickr / Ricardo’s Photography

Just over a bridge from Okaloosa Island is Destin Island, where white sand beaches greet you. Treat your family to incredible luxury when you rent a harborfront home with its own boat slips, or choose an oceanfront condo with beach service to make sure you have the umbrellas and chairs you need waiting for you each day. From Destin Harbor, you can rent a boat to go dolphin watching or fishing.

4. Santa Rosa Beach

beach view with bridge
Source: Flickr / Tobin

Head west on Okaloosa Island to reach Santa Rosa Beach, where wildlife preserves pair with nighttime pub crawls to continue the fun around the clock. Choose a cottage-style vacation rental with lots of outdoor space for entertaining and relaxing, or lounge on the balcony of your high-rise condo, waving to pelicans as they fly by. Renting a bike lets you explore the island at your own pace, or sign up for a beer tasting tour to get the party started.

5. Miramar Beach

beach chairs for sunbathing
Source: Flickr / blgrssby

Visitors come to Miramar Beach to indulge in luxury, whether it’s high-end shopping or a spa day that leaves you more relaxed than you ever thought possible. Enjoy unobstructed views from your condo balcony before you stroll down to the beach to enjoy parasailing and sailing, or take a surfing lesson just for fun. After a day spent on a boat tour or at a local golf course, you can pick up some fresh goodies at a local farmers market to create a feast in your kitchen.

6. Navarre

shrubs at the beach
Source: Flickr / James Willamor

Navarre is home to the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center, where you can learn more about these fascinating creatures. Rent a spacious condo with views of the Intracoastal Waterway, or opt for a spot just minutes from the Gulf with a community pool where the kids can play. Hang out on Navarre Beach for relaxation, or head to Bay Haven Farms to explore this part of the island on horseback.

7. Pensacola Beach

building made of bricks

Pensacola is one of the largest cities near Fort Walton Beach, and staying in Pensacola Beach lets you enjoy Gulf breezes, white sand and a little bit of history. Enjoy your stay at a beachfront condo with a fully stocked kitchen and tennis courts available, or opt for a high-rise paradise with a spa, fine dining options, and an expansive fitness center. You have the chance to spend some time exploring Fort Pickens, a Civil War-era fort restored in parts to its original state.

8. Grayton Beach

magnificent view at the sea

The historic beach village of Grayton Beach puts you within a couple of miles of Grayton Beach State Park while giving you a funky town filled with interesting art galleries to explore. Stay in a spectacular multi-level beach house that gives you plenty of room to spread out, or choose a cozy cottage facing Western Lake and within walking distance of all the fun. In the village of Grayton Beach, you should check out some of the art workshops hosted by various galleries, and don’t forget to stop in at the much-loved Red Bar for a drink.

9. Seaside

sea waves during sundown
Source: Flickr / Jim Sorbie

Foodies and art lovers flock to the beach community of Seaside for relaxing vacations with no agenda. Rent a palatial home where you can open all the windows and doors to enjoy true indoor/outdoor living, or opt for a charming condo in an artist’s colony. Independent book and record stores, art galleries, farmers markets, and relaxing spas combine to make The Seaside a welcoming vacation destination for everyone in your family.

10. Gulf Breeze

setting sun viewed at the bay
Source: Flickr / Martina Roell

Enjoy beachfront luxury when you stay near Gulf Breeze, right next to the Gulf Breeze National Seashore on one of the barrier islands opposite Pensacola. Some vacation rentals come equipped with kayaks for you and your family to take out onto the Gulf as well as bikes to explore the paths running along the National Seashore. Take your kids to the Gulf Breeze Zoo, or just enjoy relaxing on the beach to create a fulfilling day.

11. Rosemary Beach

vacation rental homes
Source: Flickr / Architecture, Food & One

Pamper yourself at a day spa when you choose a vacation rental at Rosemary Beach, just down the Gulf Coast from Seaside and Fort Walton Beach. Freestanding rental homes put you within walking distance of the beach and local playgrounds, or choose a beachfront rental with a pool and wraparound deck just calling you to set up a family barbecue. You can explore the Timpoochee Trail by bike or on foot to see why so many people come to this part of Florida to vacation.