We have visited the Emerald Coast in Florida many times and always love the white sandy beaches and family friendly atmosphere along our favorite beaches and hangouts. Whether you are planning a late summer weekend get-away or looking forward to a fall break adventure, here are 10 things to do on the Emerald Coast that you won’t want to miss.
10 Things to Do along the Emerald Coast
#1. Take a Dolphin Cruise:
One of the highlights of a beach trip is the chance to take a boat cruise out into the Gulf looking for dolphins. There are many dolphin cruise ships that advertise up and down the coast, but our favorite family friendly cruise is the Southern Star in Destin, Florida. Tip: When you are booking your cruise, check to see if there is plenty of seating areas in the shade and ask if you can take your own food and drinks on the boat.
#2. Eat Fresh Seafood:
Sure, you can play it safe and eat at your favorite chain restaurants while you’re on vacation, but we prefer to find the local places.
A few of our favorite places to eat fresh seafood:
- Floyds (Ft Walton Beach)
- Flounders (Pensacola Beach)
- Dave’s Oyster Bar (Gulf Breeze – near Navarre)
Tip #1: Always check the menu ahead of time to see if there is a special priced entrée or appetizer if you go at a certain time of day. Tip #2: Restaurants like Floyds let the kids eat off a souvenir Frisbee that they get to take home after the meal!
#3. Get your toes in the sand:
One of the things that makes the Emerald Coast so special is the white sandy beaches. Remember to allow plenty of time to just relax on the beach and enjoy the sand and surf!
#4. Collect Seashells:
Whether you are looking for sand-dollars, clam shells or just trying to find the prettiest olive shells, take the time to collect your favorites when you’re on vacation. There are so many ways to display them and have a personal souvenir of your time on the beach. Check out all the ways to display and preserve seashell memories.
#5. Visit the National Naval Aviation Museum:
If you are in the Pensacola area and love history or aviation, you should definitely check out the free museum located on the Naval Base.
#6. Explore the Lighthouse:
The Pensacola lighthouse is a beautiful landmark to explore, climb and discover. Just remember to wear close toed shoes or you’ll be climbing the lighthouse barefoot.
#7. Visit a Fort:
If history is your thing, then make sure you check out some of the local forts with historical significance. Ft Pickens and Ft Barrancas are two great places to explore and learn about what happened before the Emerald Coast was the family friendly vacation destination.
#8. Make a Sand Castle:
Sand castles don’t have to be elaborate works of art. Just get out there with a shovel and start building! Challenge your kids to a sand castle contest! Just make sure you build above the waves!
#9. Experience Water Sports:
For the more adventurous family members, there are plenty of options for enjoying water sports out on the waves. Rent a kayak, canoe or jet ski and head out into the water. If you feel like taking it up another notch, check out a parasailing adventure or rent a fishing boat.
#10. Look for crabs after dark:
Grab the family, a flashlight and some glow sticks so you can walk the beach and look for crabs along the water’s edge. This is a great way to relax together and enjoy the fun of the ocean after dark.
What are you favorite things to do along the Emerald Coast? I’d love to hear your favorite places!
This article first appeared in the print edition of the Advocate Messenger, Danville Kentucky 7/26/15.