By Gabriele Walkow
Named as one of the Top 10 “Best in the U.S.” for 2017 by Lonely Planet, the Emerald Coast is a popular Northwest Florida Gulf Coast destination—home to fabulous fun for everyone! Here are Sunseeker’s top 5 things to do on these sunny shores.
HENDERSON BEACH STATE PARK
Home to pristine white sand beaches and more than 6,000 feet of natural scenic shoreline along the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, this state park is breathtakingly beautiful. Boardwalks provide access to swimming, sunbathing and fishing. Explore the pet-friendly nature trail and savor the stellar sunsets. floridastateparks.org/park/Henderson-Beach
The heartbeat of Destin is home to waterfront shopping, an array of restaurants, live entertainment, paddleboard, kayak, pontoon and jet ski rentals, parasailing, glass bottom boats, world class fishing, pirate ship excursions, dolphin cruises, concerts, weekly fireworks and Fat Tuesday parades. Prepare to play and dive into adventure!
OKALOOSA ISLAND FISHING PIER
Located next to the Gulfarium, the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier extends 1,262 feet into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Tarpon weighing over 100 pounds, tuna, king mackerel and cobia will put your abilities to the test. Beverages, snacks, bait, tackle and pole rentals are available. See dolphins dancing through the water and watch the sun sink into the Gulf each evening. okaloosaislandpier.net
GULFARIUM MARINE ADVENTURE PARK
Located on Okaloosa Island, enjoy daily shows, animal chats, animal exhibits and interactive animal encounters at this popular Fort Walton Beach attraction. Become a VIP trainer and work side-by-side with the staff to learn what it takes to train and care for marine mammals. Don’t leave without getting a kiss from a harbor seal! gulfarium.com
WILD WILLY’S ADVENTURE ZONE
Nearby, is Northwest Florida’s largest family entertainment center. Featuring 17,000 square feet of air-conditioned space, Wild Willy’s is home to a state-of-the-art arcade, 4D movie theater and laser maze. Step outside for more fun at two dinosaur-themed mini-golf courses, a 60-foot ropes course, spinning roller coaster, reverse bungee trampoline and remote battle boats. wwazone.com