The Gulf of Mexico offers sugar-white beaches, bountiful fresh seafood, chartered boat cruises, and personal watercraft sports.
Secret of the Sands - The pristine, white sand of the Emerald Coast is made up of quartz crystals produced by the weathering of the Appalachian Mountains.
Although tourism peaks in the spring and summer, vacationers and part-time residents enjoy the mild fall and winter months. Add this population influx to the local population of 200,000 and that equates to a stable year-round retail environment. Every dollar spent in Okaloosa County from tourism goes through the local economy 1.8 times or more!
Okaloosa County has three main-street areas offering quaint downtown atmospheres for shopping, dining and family entertainment.
Shopping and Dining - Okaloosa County is becoming the South's most popular shopping destination. There is a magnitude of international cuisine to be enjoyed from beach casual to 5-star dinning. Outdoor dining is an enjoyed past-time with the year-round moderate climate. Savory pastas, juicy steaks, sushi bars, and fresh local seafood are yours to enjoy.
- There is a variety of water and adventure parks for family entertainment and all day fun. The more adventurous can enjoy the go-carts, bungee-jumping, and sky-flying. Children friendly arcade centers, miniature golf courses, and animal and marine-life parks also offer fun for the whole family.
During the summer there are numerous Kids' Days with an art camp and movie series. There is also a children's theatre and science center.
- Okaloosa is home to the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village." There are over 100 charter and party boats with deep-sea bottom-fishing as one of the specialties of the Destin Fleet, the largest in the World. There is offshore and inshore fishing opportunities with multiple fishing piers available. Freshwater fishing can be enjoyed in the Blackwater, Shoal and Yellow Rivers.
- Hitting the driving range or playing an 18-hole course sets the scene for a golfer's paradise. The area golf clubs offer uniquely mapped courses ranging from beginner to professional. The manicured greens at select locations wave amongst lush foliage and sparkling lakes. Some courses were even designed by top architects in the business. Acclaimed for its sporting collection of green golf escapes, the Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island area tees up an incredible 1,080 holes.
- The Okaloosa County Park System offers recreational facilities from coastal to heavily shaded parks. Visitors can enjoy covered pavilions, picnic tables, playground equipment and rest rooms. The northern county area offers miles of river rafting, canoeing and kayaking with picnic facilities. Camping and hiking can be enjoyed in the wilderness preservations of Blackwater River State Park and the Eglin Reservation. Rocky Bayou, the main feature of the park, is the trailing arm of Choctawhatchee Bay and is popular for boating and fishing. A double-lane boat ramp makes this one of the best boat launching locations on the bay, where both freshwater and saltwater fish are found. Other opportunities for fun include hiking, bicycling, picnicking and wildlife viewing. As a dog friendly community, multiple dog parks are available for furry family members.
Tennis enthusiasts are offered over 100 courts throughout the area.
- Complementing the area's superb fishing are endless water sports to include snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, tubing, windsurfing, parasailing, Flyboarding, paddle boarding and all types of boating! The Blackwater River State Forest offers canoeing, kayaking, and tubing in clear-water rivers. Bodies of water such as the Choctawahatchee Bay, Intercoastal Waterway, multiple bayous and the Gulf of Mexico offer ample opportunities for boating and personal watercraft sports. Multiple businesses offer cruises, rentals and lessons. Dolphin cruises and pirate ships are high on the list for kids of all ages.
Museums & Galleries
- Okaloosa County is a cultural center with many museums, art galleries, historical sites, and a science center. Local museums exhibit Okaloosa's heritage such as the Camp Walton School House, Carver-Hill Museum, Destin History & Fishing Museum, Heritage Museum of NW Florida, and the Indian Temple Mound Museum & Park. With the county housing the largest Air Force Base in the world, the Air Force Armament Museum is centrally located outside of Eglin AFB in the Town of Shalimar. The Armament Museum's Air Armament Institute sponsors the Engineers for America (EFA).
The Arts Center
- Music, art and the theater are yours to enjoy from a relaxing outdoor concert, to an enjoyable community theater, to a state of the art facility. The Arts Center of Northwest Florida State College is a performing arts center with two fine art galleries, a theater-in-the-round, a 3,500 capacity amphitheater, a music wing, and a 1,650 seat main theater that is home of the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, and also the site for performances by the New York City Opera, Broadway show troupes, and renowned entertainers. The local Stagecrafters provide theatre performances throughout the year at different locations.
- There are two amphitheaters; one in Niceville at the Northwest Florida State College Arts Center and the other in Destin where summer concerts are performed. There are several venues for outdoor summer concert series.
– There are numerous festivals around the county offering safe and fun activities for adults and children. There is the Saint Mary's Spring Fling offering creative crafts; the Billy Bowlegs Festival full of adventure; BBQ & Bluegrass festivals with music and best-eats; the Destin Seafood and Arts Festival with world famous seafood; the Boggy-Bayou Mullet Festival with its famous fried mullet, crafts and nightly entertainment; the Mardi Gras Parade and Jester's Ball, and many international celebrations. The Emerald Coast Car Show has 38 classes of classic and modified vehicles while the Emerald Coast HOG Rally highlights the two and three wheeled versions.
- The Emerald Coast Convention Center offers 35,000 square feet of meeting space with equipment, service and catering. The Center can host groups of 15 or 2,000 in rooms ranging from 450 to 1,800 square feet as well as a 21,500 square foot ballroom. The Conference Center offers accommodations from banquets to concerts and trade shows to weddings. Okaloosa's Tourist Development Council offers free local transportation via the Emerald Coast Shuttle. The shuttle services Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island, and Destin.