In northwestern Florida along the panhandle sits the coastal community of Fort Walton Beach, where you’re invited to discover the gorgeous white sand beaches and calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Fort Walton Beach vacation rentals include condos along the beach that stretch many stories and more modest family homes just a few blocks away. No matter where you stay, it’s easy to ensure that everyone in your family has a good time, from playing in the water to soaking up the sun on the beach. Once you’ve had some time to relax, it’s time to strike out for some adventure. Here’s a quick guide to the top 10 things for you to do with kids in Fort Walton Beach.
1. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Learn a little bit more about the critters that live in the Gulf at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. This marine park offers up close and personal experiences with dolphins designed for kids and adults alike, along with the chance to touch a stingray. While visiting this park that dates back to 1955, take in one of the shows, where sharks, stingrays, and dolphins are the stars. After watching the dolphins perform tricks, take the kids to learn more about what it takes to train these animals.
2. Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier
Pack a cooler before leaving your vacation rental for a day of fishing with the kids at the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier. This concrete pier extends into the ocean and makes it easy to do some saltwater fishing without hiring a charter boat. On the pier, the local shop offers bait, snacks, and even fishing pole rentals if you don’t have your own. Popular catches include Black Snapper, Lady fish, Reds, Bonito, and Kings. In the summer months on the weekends, this is a great spot for watching the fireworks displays.
3. John Beasley Park
Spend a day on the beach at the John Beasley Park. This beach side park helps to make your day complete. When you need a break from the sand, enjoy the snack bar or unpack a picnic lunch in the dedicated picnic area with spacious tables. This park offers showers and changing rooms so you can leave the beach and stop for dinner before returning home, or have breakfast at one of the diners before you change into your swimsuits.
4. Air Force Armament Museum
Next, to Elgin Air Force Base is the Air Force Armament Museum with it is indoor and outdoor displays and museum areas, where your kids have the opportunity to learn about the Air Force and its rich history with airplanes. There are 25 planes from various eras of history for your children to examine, along with military artifacts from a variety of conflicts and peacetime periods. In the Gun Vault, see the weapons that the planes use in dog fights with other militaries.
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5. Fort Walton Mound
Learn more about the history of the area before European settlers arrived. This Native American mound dates back to 850 CE. Along with the chance to view this large platform mound, you can visit the indoor museum with exhibits and information that help children learn what life was like for these native families. Historians believe that the Native American residents had to remove more than 200,000 basket loads of earth to create this mound.
6. Emerald Coast Science Center
On a rainy afternoon, take the kids to the Emerald Coast Science Center to have some fun while learning about science. This cool science center lets kids and adults step into a hurricane simulator and see a working robotics exhibit. In addition to the working hands-on exhibits in science, there are a variety of animals living on the property, including birds, spiders, reptiles, and an adorable hedgehog that looks nothing like Sonic.
7. Goofy Golf
Do your kids love a fun challenge? Then take them for an afternoon of friendly competition and mini golf at Goofy Golf. This mini golf course offers two different layouts, and each one has 18 holes. The entire family can take turns trying to sink the ball in the hole while navigating the obstacles in the course. The course has a T-Rex as its mascot, and Hammy stands a stunning 23-feet tall.
8. Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone
Wild Willy’s park has a little something for everyone. There are two mini golf courses and an arcade where teens and tweens can spend hours playing their favorite video games. Take small kids to the Inflatable Zone to jump in dino-themed bouncy houses. The Spin-o-Saurus Coaster offers fun, laughter, and thrills as you go up and down and twist around on the figure-eight track. There’s also a ropes course for your thrill seekers. Take in a movie at the 4D theater and hold on to your seat as you move with the movie.
9. Camp Walton Schoolhouse Museum
In the days before travel became so popular, Fort Walton was a rural area with a small year-round population. Camp Walton Schoolhouse Museum teaches visitors the experience of attending school in a small country school. This historic building offers both actual artifacts from these old schools and replicas of items. A guided tour teaches your kids what it’s like to attend a rural school of the past and the challenges that the children and teachers faced getting educational materials and other essential items.
10. Dolphin Tour
The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico invite dolphins to make their home here. Schedule a dolphin tour with one of the local companies, such as Southern Star Dolphin Cruises, for an afternoon on the water and the chance to see these animals frolicking in the wake of the boat. Your kids will gasp and cheer as the dolphins jump in and out of the water and play together.
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