Aside from digging your toes into those famed, sugar-white sandy beaches, the list of things to do throughout Northwest Florida’s beach towns is long. From Perdido Key to Panama City Beach, you’ll find plenty of family-friendly activities both in the water and on land. Here are a few of the attractions you can’t miss during your family’s next trip to the Emerald Coast:
Visit the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola
Venture to the world’s largest Naval Aviation Museum, taking in the rich history of more than 150 restored Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aircrafts. Get a closer look at the history of aviation through the years in this interactive museum. Your children will adore the Flight Adventure Deck Summer camps, from launching their own rockets and catching a movie in the giant screen theater to experiencing exciting flight simulators. Don’t forget to catch one of the many United States Navy Blue Angels practices or their annual Homecoming Air Show.
Dive, snorkel or paddle through the Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary
If heading out into the Gulf of Mexico and immersing yourself in the beautiful local marine life is your forte, you and your family will love the Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary. Approximately 340 feet from the shore, this large man-made reef is the perfect place for an up-close encounter with sea turtles, a variety of fish species, dolphins and more.
Enjoy endless family entertainment at Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone
Looking to spend a day filled with exciting entertainment for the whole family? Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone provides fun for all, rain or shine. With two dinosaur-themed mini golf courses, a 60-foot ropes course, a spinning roller coaster, a reverse bungee trampoline and remote-control battle boats, Wild Willy’s boasts a variety of activities – the kids will never want to leave! You’ll also find an indoor arcade, a 4D movie theatre and a challenging laser maze. Take a break from the excitement with the on-site pizza shop or some frozen yogurt.
Explore local culture and cuisine on the Destin Harbor
The number of locally-owned restaurants that boast freshly-caught seafood straight from the Gulf itself is sure to satisfy every palate. Destin Florida, known as the “Luckiest Fishing Village,” offers unparalleled cuisine options. Along with delectable dishes, the Destin Harbor offers plenty of shopping, action-packed activities and a great coastal atmosphere. Rent a jet ski or pontoon boat and venture straight from the harbor to Crab Island, the most popular sandbar in Northwest Florida with waist-deep, crystal clear water. For the adventurous travelers, be sure to experience a parasailing trip directly over the Gulf waters.
Bike or drive down the 24-mile stretch of Highway 30A
Scenic Highway 30A boasts many local, small-town beach communities, each with its own hip happenings, from delicious restaurants in Santa Rosa Beach and live music at the Red Bar in Grayton Beach, to tasty food trucks and quaint shops in Seaside. Further East to Alys Beach, Seacrest Beach and Rosemary Beach, you will find even more unique boutique shops and incredible food selections. You will fall in love with these small beach communities, so take a day or two to live like a local and find your family’s go-to spot for years to come.
Discover Shell Island just off Panama City Beach
Take the Shell Island Shuttle to this pristine, undeveloped barrier island, approximately seven miles long, nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrew’s Bay. Search for one-of-a-kind indigenous shells and get up-close with the fascinating endangered species that inhabit the area. The secluded island offers a picturesque scene with endless adventure for the whole family. Bring a blanket and a picnic basket filled with your favorite snacks to enjoy on the sand or simply channel your inner explorer and hunt for all the unique shells you can.
To plan your next family vacation in Northwest Florida Beaches, browse vacation home rentals.