By Gabriele Walkow
Among many accolades, the Emerald Coast was recently recognized by TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards as one of the U.S’s “Top Destinations on the Rise for 2016”. Perfectly situated in the center of Northwest Florida’s panhandle on the dazzling Gulf of Mexico, the charming towns of Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island are the heart of the Emerald Coast. Here, Allegiant travelers will discover blissful beaches, abundant activities and ample amenities.
Famous for 24 miles of sugar-white sand beaches and shimmering emerald-green waters, the Emerald Coast is paradise perfected. Fabulous fishing, fresh seafood, scenic dolphin watching and pirate cruises, romantic sunset sailings, exciting water sports, stellar snorkeling and scuba diving, and an abundance of marine life complement the award-winning beaches and warm waters.
Nature lovers flock to the many parks of the Emerald Coast to go bird watching and hiking. Visitors can also go geocaching in various Okaloosa County Parks. This outdoor treasure hunt using GPS-enabled devices leads to containers called “caches” hidden at various locations. Golfers of all skill levels are challenged at the eight championship golf courses and country clubs. Sunny skies, coastal breezes and lush landscapes lend themselves to a wealth of ways to go Emerald Coasting—year-round.
Families can also create memories in the sand with sandcastle lessons! The sandcastle coaches bring all of the tools and equipment for this fun two-hour family experience. Then splash around at an oversized water park, go mini golfing and go-kart racing at one of several entertainment centers or interact with a live dolphin at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. Discover the area’s rich history and culture at no less than five museums. This stretch of paradise also has a vibrant arts and entertainment scene. Visitors can gallery hop, attend an arts festival and take in some theater—artistic inspiration is aplenty here.
The Emerald Coast is also home to delectable and creative Gulf-to-table cuisine sure to delight every appetite. From rustic oyster bars to open-air, casual cafes to candlelit restaurants, many local eateries offer an abundance of freshly caught seafood, with several catches of the day.
The heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast features a range of accommodation options from luxurious beachfront homes and condos, to beautiful hotels and charming coastal inns, to RV parks on the edge of the Bay.
For more information on this enchanting destination, visit emeraldcoasting.com.