Attractions in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, and on Okaloosa Island

Vacations on the Emerald Coast are all about having fun with those you love. From museums and water parks, to arcades and dolphin encounters, our attractions are as varied as the fish in the sea.

Museums

Museums are unique ways to explore the Emerald Coast and get a real sense of place ― where we’ve been and where we’re going.

The Destin History & Fishing Museum highlights the founding families of the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village. The museum boasts over 75 species of mounted fish pulled from the Gulf of Mexico. They even have a reel and rod used by Ernest Hemingway.

In Fort Walton Beach, the Indian Temple Mound Museum traces local culture all the way back to Native Americans and Spanish explorers. There you’ll find armor worn by a conquistador and pottery shaped by Native American hands.   

Emerald Coast Science Center celebrates our bright future. Exhibits range from physical science, robotics, and natural history, to high tech instruments. Get up and moving when you collaborate with your family in SMALLab ― a room sized iPad used to solve puzzles, create stories, and study the world. Check the website for SMALLab hours.

Amusement Parks

Theme parks are big on family fun, especially on Florida’s Emerald Coast. Ride the wave at Big Kahuna’s, the large water park where water slides and a kiddie pool with a yellow submarine provide all-day fun. Race go-karts down a three-story wooden course at The Track, then head to the arcade and rack up tickets for cool prizes.

The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park and CARE Center have been active in marine rehabilitation and conservation since rescuing their first bottlenose dolphin in the 1950’s. Today, the Gulfarium is still caring for animals, and having fun while doing it. Lots of families love visiting the Gulfarium for dolphin shows and up close and personal encounters with marine life. Since the park overlooks the Gulf of Mexico, the views are amazing.

Climbing a mountain would also lend to amazing views. Our beaches may not have mountains, but our attractions do! Rock Out Climbing Gym is a fun way to test your climbing skills. The bouldering gym uses no harnesses or ropes, and welcomes ages 3 and up to step up on the mat and try a climb.

Walkable Waterfront and Shopping

Destin Commons open-air shopping center has fun for the whole family, too. The lifestyle center is the place for food, fashion, and fun in Destin. You can find everything at Destin Commons, from high-end cosmetics, to a new boat; authentic pizza, to the latest blockbuster film. Children love the playground’s splash pad, and families will often hang out in the center while their little ones play in the water.

HarborWalk Village in Destin Harbor is a fun place to spend the day and night, enjoying entertainment like water adventures, dolphin or pirate cruises, and fishing charters. You can also get lost in the Mirror Maze or solve the puzzles to get out of the Gulf Coast Escape Room. Enjoy funnel cakes and other fun foods or try seafood at HarborWalk’s many restaurants. Take a break from the fun and buy beach fashion and gifts at HarborWalk Village shops, as well.

Venture into Downtown Fort Walton Beach where you will find unique shopping at funky boutiques and antique stores, as well as fun entertainment. During the day, enjoy a coffee at Mass Coffee Roasters or take it out by The Fort Walton Beach Landing for a quiet break by the waters of Santa Rosa Sound. Don't’ miss the BOTE store, which has the best boards for standup paddleboarding and knowledgeable staff should you choose to try your skills at this popular sport. When it’s time for a drink, grab a beer and a bite at Fokker’s Pub or Props Brewery and Grill, makers of house-made craft beer.

The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island is another top attraction. Find your distinctive beach style with the many shops on The Boardwalk. Once your outfitted, access the public beaches and enjoy the emerald-green waters and sugar-white sands. Bring a feast to share in the many picnic areas or grab a bite from restaurants on Okaloosa Island, many either on or near the Boardwalk.

Whether you prefer to rock climb or chill at the movies, attractions on Florida’s Emerald Coast help you get the most out of your vacation time while moving at your own pace. Swim with a dolphin, climb a rock wall, or explore local culture. Making memories is about creating experiences with the ones you love. Check out all there is to see and do on the Emerald Coast including family fun and indoor activities, and explore the full list of attractions below.

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