Given Destin’s recent ranking as Florida’s second most sought after destination for visitors traveling by automobile, it should come as no surprise that tourism is a major contributor for Okaloosa County. The consumer activity undertaken by millions of visitors each year – coupled with steady local consumer activity – ensures a stable year-round retail environment. Okaloosa’s robust consumer base has served to attract numerous national retail and restaurant chains, many of which are often only found in much larger metropolitan areas. These businesses, along with countless local boutiques and unique restaurants, generate significant retail sales activity for Okaloosa County as depicted on the chart to the right.
Not surprisingly, Okaloosa County is most renowned for its beautiful sugar-white sand beaches and clear, emerald green water. Visitors and locals alike enjoy the many activities tied to these beautiful, natural amenities. At the top of many “must do” lists are inshore and offshore fishing excursions – most of which are led by North America’s largest charter fishing fleet in Destin (a community appropriately known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village”). The highly productive Gulf of Mexico fishery also provides a bounty of fresh seafood for the area’s many markets and restaurants. Other abundantly available aquatic pursuits include sailing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, snorkeling, SCUBA diving and parasailing.
In addition to the myriad activities tied to the Gulf, visitors to the southern part of Okaloosa County may partake of world class golf, shopping and entertainment. In particular, music lovers enjoy Concerts in the Village produced by the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation and the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra - the Emerald Coast's premier, fully-professional orchestra that performs at the magnificent $30 million Mattie Kelly Fine & Performing Arts Center at Northwest Florida State College.
Meanwhile, visitors to north Okaloosa County will find a historic “All American” downtown in Crestview, plentiful fresh produce from the many family farms located in this region, craft distilleries and miles of river rafting, canoeing and kayaking. Camping and hiking can be enjoyed in Blackwater River State Park and the Eglin Reservation.
For more information on all that the beautiful Emerald Coast has to offer or to obtain access to local tourism data, please visit the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Department website.