Plan your next trip to Florida's Emerald Coast to visit Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island. Get Travel Channel's suggestions on where to stay, what to do and where to eat.
Located in the <a title="Florida" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/destinations/florida" target="_blank"><em>Florida</em></a> Panhandle, Destin traces its history back to 1845, when Captain Leonard Destin settled in Northwest Florida. He pioneered the fishing industry. Today, this fishing town -- known as “world’s the luckiest fishing village” -- is a hot spot for trolling, jetty fishing and deep sea fishing. Charter fishing is very popular; so we suggest you book your family fishing adventure before visiting the Emerald Coast.
Looking for a place to stay? Check in at the family-friendly Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village. The hotel has a Crew Club for kids. It provides a variety of fun activities, including scavenger hunts, pirate parties, face painting and movie nights. For adults, enjoy a relaxing spa treatment. The hotel has an outdoor pool, well-equipped fitness center and free Wi-Fi. Get the real scoop, and check out Oyster.com’s <a title="hotel review" href="http://www.oyster.com/florida-panhandle/hotels/emerald-grande-at-harborwalk-village/#" target="_blank"><em>hotel review</em></a>.
On you mark, get set, shop! Destin has numerous places for you to shop until you drop. Start your shopper’s retreat at one of these shopping malls: Destin Commons (pictured), Santa Rosa Mall, Sunsations Plaza, Shoreline Village Mall, The Boardwalk Okaloosa Island, Emerald Coast Centre or Shoreline Village Mall.
Watch the sun set or fish from the pier of Okaloosa Island, where locals and tourists also flock to the island for the white-sand beaches.
According to online hotel reviewer, Oyster.com, Sterling Shores Resort is one of the nicer and larger condo resort s in Destin. The rooms -- some with a Gulf view -- are bright and airy, and there are 2 pools at the resort. Sterling Shores offers special events for kids, and it also has small movie theater . Take a look at Oyster.com’s full <a title="hotel review" href=" http://www.oyster.com/panama-city/hotels/sterling-shores/" target="_blank"><em>hotel review</em></a>.
Destin’s Kelly Plantation Golf Club, located along the Choctawhatchee Bay, has 18 holes built on the former site of a turpentine plantation owned by Mattie and Coleman Kelly. American pro golfer Fred Couples and Gene Bates, an Australian cyclist who owns the Bates Golf Design Group, designed the Kelly Plantation Golf Course. Rated 4 1/2 stars by <i>Golf Digest </i> the Golf Course has more the 7,000 yards of large contoured greens surrounded by Magnolias and Palmettos.
Visit Destin’s HarborWalk Village, where you can find waterfront shopping, water sports, boat pontoon and jet ski rentals, world class fishing, dolphin cruises, bars and clubs, weekly fireworks, seasonal festivals, live entertainment and a variety of restaurants to so suit the most discriminating foodie’s taste.
Go dolphin watching on the Sea Blaster, a 73-foot passenger boat that carries up to 119 passengers -- the Gulf’s largest speedboat. Sea Blaster offers snorkeling and dolphin cruises. Boogie Water Sports, Olin Marler’s Charter and Southern Star are other choices to book your fun dolphin watching excursion.
Regatta Bay Golf and Country Club is a golfer’s paradise. The 6,894-yard, par-72 offers an extraordinary golf experience for players of all skill levels was named one of <i>Golf Digest</i>’s “Top Places to Play in North America” and one of the Top 15 courses in Florida. Enjoy the state-of-the-art Parview GPS system on the golf carts; chilled apples on the 1st and 10th tees; and cool off with mango-scented iced towels. And with this picturesque scenery, this golf club makes it a perfect place for a destination wedding.
The rooms at the Courtyard Sandestin are spacious with flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges and free Wi-Fi. The hotel has a lobby bar, mini market, big outdoor pool and a fitness center. View Oyster.com’s hotel review of the <a title="Courtyard Sandestin at Grand Boulevard" href=" http://www.oyster.com/florida-panhandle/hotels/courtyard-sandestin-at-grand-boulevard/#" target="_blank"><em>Courtyard Sandestin at Grand Boulevard</em></a> in Destin.
Get up close and personal with dolphins, otters, stingrays, sea lions, seals and turtles at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. Open since 1955, the Park has attracted millions of visitors. For outdoor enthusiasts, we also recommend visiting Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park, Gator Beach, Emerald Coast Dirt & Vert and Sasquatch Zoo.
We suggest you head to Fort Walton Beach if you’re looking for a little rest, relaxation and sun bathing. This city is a year-round fishing and beach resort community, and 1000s of people flock to Fort Walton Beach and the Emerald Coast for spring break and during the summer -- its busiest time of the year.
Destin attracts thousands of campers, and some of those avid campers have RVs. If you’re on the road, make a pit stop at the Destin West RV Resort, a luxury RV park on the coast of Okaloosa Island’s Choctawhatchee Bay. The Resort provides complimentary cable and Wi-Fi, and it’s located near laundry facilities, the beach and a miniature golf course. Playground RV Park, Henderson Beach State Park and Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park are other ideal places to go for campers.
Enjoy fun in the sun on Crab Island, an underwater boating and party island located on the North side of the Destin bridge. From April to November, tourists will notice anywhere from 10 to 200 boats anchored in the bay. Locals anchor their boats to spend the day swimming, snorkeling, and playing football, Frisbee and volleyball. During the summer, there are boats selling burgers, shrimp, boiled peanuts, ice cream and much more.
Destin was ranked as one of the Top 10 Places to Live and Boat by <i>Boating</i> magazine. The city may be known for its various outdoor activities, but it’s also a popular spot for a destination wedding.