Attractions Events and Festivals

GUIDE TO MUSEUMS, HISTORIC SITES, ATTRACTIONS, FESTIVALS & EVENTS, PLACES TO GO:

The Emerald Coast is filled with facilities that offer a glimpse of bygone eras, favorite area pastimes and so much more. Here are a few of the places to go and things to do that we’ve discovered.

 

MUSEUMS AND HISTORIC SITES:

Air Force Armament Museum
(850)651-5253 Eglin Air Force Base
Artifacts and memorabilia detailing the history and development of air force armament. Includes air craft from WWII, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War.

Camp Walton School House
Fort Walton Beach
Built 1912, used through 1936

Destin Fishing Museum
(850)654-1011
Catch of the Day photos from the 1940s to the present, antique fishing gear and 100 game fish mounts. Dry aquarium.

Eden State Gardens and Mansion
(850)231-4214
Point Washington
Greek revival mansion built by William Henry Wesley in 1897 houses a collection of 17th, 18th and 19th century furnishings.

Historical Society Museum
Valparaiso
History of Okaloosa and Walton counties.

Indian Temple Mound Museum
Downtown Fort Walton Beach
10,000 years of life on Florida’s Gulf Coast are captured here. There are more than 4,000 artifacts, all collected within a 40-mile radius of downtown Fort Walton Beach.

Old Destin Post Office Museum
Artifacts and photos reflecting the lifestyle of the area’s early settlers.

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ATTRACTIONS:

Big Kahuna’s Water Park
Destin
(850)837-4061
Water park, tropical golf, grandprix racing, arcade and kiddie rides.

Chautauqua Vineyard
DeFuniak Springs
(850)892-5887
Largest vineyard in Florida

The Focus Center
Fort Walton Beach
(850)664-1261
A hands-on museum for children of all ages, filled with touchable, workable exhibits.

Gulfarium and the Living Sea
(850)243-5769
Fort Walton Beach
Performing dolphins and sea lions are just a few of the sights to be seen here. The Living Sea features sharks, stingrays, sea turtles and moray eels.

Monet Monet Garden Inspirations
(850)231-5117
Grayton Beach
Gardens designed to recreate the home and gardens of Claude Monet. The gardens include replicas of Monet’s water lily pond and Japanese footbridge.

Seaside
(850)231-5424
Award-winning, world class village of Victorian style homes, shops and restaurants. Outdoor concerts, jazz, art, wine tastings and more.

Vortex Spring
(850)836-4979
Snorkeling and canoeing in Florida’s largest diving facility. The fresh water spring produces millions of gallons of water daily.

The Zoo
(850)932-2229
Gulf Breeze
The Zoo is privately owned and receives no municipal subsidies, making it a rare and unique area commodity. Features more than 700 animals surrounded by botanical gardens. Lions, tigers, zebras, giraffes and more. There’s The Farm, where children can feed domestic animals. Also of interest is Safari Line – a train trip through 30 acres of free-roaming animals as well as the Primate Island, which features two lowland gorillas. Season passes are a bargain.

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EVENTS CALENDAR:

January
Great Southern Gumbo Cook-Off – Sandestin
Navarre Beach Half Marathon
Annual Emerald Coast Chef’s Tasting – Sandestin

February
United Way Chili Cookoff – Mary Esther Mall
Mardi Gras Parade – Navarre Beach

March
American Cancer Society Relay for Life
International Festival Spring Splash
March of Dimes
Annual Walk

April
Chautauqua Festival
Entertainment, arts, crafts, booths, food
St. Mary’s Spring Fling
Seafood Festival
Fort Walton Beach
Saturday In The Park – Valparaiso

May
Mayfest – Destin
Memorial Day Sailing Regatta
Grayton Beach Fine Arts Festival
Mayfest Jazz Jubilee
Old Spanish Trail Festival – Crestview
Rodeo, trail ride, arts and crafts, food, beauty pageant, carnival, entertainment and more! Draws 35,000 annually

June
Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival
Navarre Beach Chamber Festival

July
Little Art Festival – Seaside
Art, acting and music for children. Make and take arts and crafts
Destin Shark Fishing Tournament
Annual Twin Cities Fireworks – Niceville/Valparaiso
Destin Fireworks Display

August
Elephant Walk Triathlon and Baytown Duathalon
Emerald Coast Pig Challenge

September
Festival of Greece – Fort Walton Beach
Fort Walton Beach Chamber International Festival
Seaside Red Wine & Music Festival – Seaside

October
Destin Seafood Festival
Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival – Niceville
Walton County Fair
Destin Fishing Rodeo
Entire month of October. Daily prizes. Now in its 50th year.

November
Okaloosa County Fair
Holiday Bazaar – Crestview
Greater Gulf Coast Arts Festival
South Walton Sportsfest
Three weekends in November. Competitive events include a triathlon, duathalon, 10K run, half-marathon, bike race and more.

December
Christmas Parades
Destin, Crestview, DeFuniak, Fort Walton Beach and Niceville
Tour of Homes – Seaside
Candlelight Christmas Tour at Eden Mansion
Illuminated, old-fashioned Christmas Celebration.