Emerald Coast Florida: A Gem of a Family Travel Destination
Our family loves to travel. Anytime we can escape from the cold winter months of the Canadian Prairies, we will. With theme parks and sunny blissful weather, it’s not hard to believe Florida has been a frequently visited location for our family. Recently, I spent a few days in Destin, Ft. Walton Beach and Ookaloosa Island and was pleasantly enlightened on this hidden gem in Florida’s Emerald Coast.
The area is not in short supply of beautiful emerald water, sugar-white sand, Southern charm and friendly hospitality. It’s absolutely stunning and one that I know my family would love to experience.
FOUR POINTS SHERATON IN FT. WALTON BEACH FLORIDA
Located right on the beach a quick walk from white sand squishing between your toes, the Four Points Sheraton in Ft. Walton Beach has everything a family needs. Not only does the hotel have a mini spray pad with 2 pools and a hot tub, the hotel beds are comfortable, the staff friendly and the food tasty. Try the pretzels with beer cheese in the lounge; you will not be disappointed!
The Emerald Coast has exceptional cuisine. Nestled on a private beach, LuLu’s has it all, good food and a friendly family atmosphere. I could have stayed at LuLu’s all evening listening to the musician, watching the horizon snuggled in a beach chair or sampling ALL the food.
There is a ton of stuff to do at LuLu’s for the whole family. Let the little ones play on the beach while you finish your meal right next to them, rent paddle boards, test out the Jollyfish Jumper and, did I mention, sample all the food?!
LuLu’s was brought to be by the famous Jimmy Buffet’s sister, Lucy Buffet; with the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding it’s no wonder LuLu’s has become so popular in the area. Yes, you heard that right; Krispy Kreme! It’s absolutely delicious and although I was stuff by all the other food, I managed to squeeze in this delicious dessert. Twist my arm.
GULFARIUM MARINE ADVENTURE PARK
For a day where you want to enjoy a little educational fun with the family, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is where to head. From alligators to rehabilitated cranes, sea lions to Dolphins, there is plenty to learn about throughout your walk at the park. It’s also conveniently located within a short walking distance of the Four Points Sheraton in Fort Walton Beach. I know my kids would love to spend a day at the Gulfarium.
ROCKIN TACOS GRILL
Located overseeing the water on Okaloosa Island, Rockin Tacos Grill offers dinner with a view. We absolutely loved the atmosphere and enjoying dinner while listening to music, watching people play volleyball or dancing on the beach and watched as the sunset went down over the pier. What I didn’t expect was the Gator Taco’s. My husband is always saying to try new things so I was brave and tried them; I’m not sure what I expected but they were delicious.
Sunset watching at Rockin Tacos last night. What a cool atmosphere and view while dining. ??? Try the Gator Tacos, if you’re in the area. Delicious! ? #sunset #instasunsets #instasunsets #sunrise_and_sunsets #sunrise_sunsets_aroundworld #beach #sand #beachvolleyball #travel #wanderlust #happy #instatravel #picoftheday #LoveFL #travelblogger #traveblog #sky #landscape #skyporn #skylovers #skyline #ocean #florida
SOUTHERN STAR DOLPHIN CRUISE
While in the Emerald Coast, we made our way down to the Boardwalk which had a lot of fun things to do for families and where I boarded my first Dolphin watching cruise. I’ve been on a whale watching cruise before but I never imagined the opportunity to watch Dolphins swim in the wild; it was breathtaking.
We boarded the Southern Star Dolphin Cruise which started with a short tour of the area before we arrived at a spot where Dolphin pods were playfully swimming all around us. You can imagine the excitement when we all saw Dolphin after Dolphin jumping alongside the boat; it was sure they were playing with us.
AJ’S SEAFOOD & OYSTER BAR
AJ’S Seafood & Oyster Bar is a restaurant located on the water along the boardwalk. Naturally, my husband would have loved the food but the atmosphere had a vibe all it’s own. Walking up and down the boardwalk with live entertainment and family fun, AJ’s is a place I could see frequenting a lot.
I learned that in October there is an annual fishing tournament that lasts all month long. Fishermen bring their catch to be weighed right out from of the restaurant with crowds cheering them on. You can imagine the excitement that builds; I know a few friends that would be just as excited.
In the true Southern/Cajun style AJ’s is well known for, the Shrimp and Grits on a massive biscuit with a roasted tomato in garlic had to be the most authentic dish I could have chosen. I mean, biscuits in gravy? Yes, please.
Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill
We were introduced to Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill in Destin, Florida. Although we didn’t truly spend time there, I could see hours of family fun spent here. This bowling alley is decorated in an aquarium theme; it looks and feels as though you are in a fishbowl. If you are in there area, this would make for a very fun rainy day outing.
Magnolia Grill in Fort Walton Beach, owned by Tom and Peggy Rice, was one of my favourite places to eat. The restaurant is a piece of history dipped into the charm of the residents. I loved learning about the history of the restaurant; it was originally a box house ordered from the catalogue and shipped in pieces for the owner to put together.
Today, the restaurant offers a historic dining experience with some of the best comfort food around. I tried the award winning Gumbo and Lime Coconut Cake. Both are so good! If you are in the area, you must pop in for a visit and a bite to eat.
I am so glad I had the opportunity to visit Florida’s Emerald Coast area. The area is stunning and packed full of family friendly locations and activities. We experienced a lot but I couldn’t believe the number of activities in the area for families that we didn’t experience for lack of time, a teen club, high rope climbing park and waterpark to name a few. If you are planning your next vacation, I strongly suggest you consider Florida’s Emerald Coast; you’ll be happy you did.
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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% my own.