Certainly one of the most popular destinations for a Florida family beach vacation, the Emerald Coast boasts more than just miles of white sand dunes and warm emerald Gulf water. Otherwise known as Florida’s panhandle, the Emerald Coast is so jam-packed with fun, family things to see and do, no matter how long your vacation is, you’ll never fit it all in one visit. Also see; Best Florida Family Beach Vacations; Ft. Walton Beach for lots more about the area and local things to see, do, play and where to stay, also be sure to check out Angie’s write up of the Destin area about vacationing with kids in the Florida panhandle, (Angie is another one of bestkidfriendlytravel.com’s writers) See it here.
You may also want to Check out the Emerald Coast Online Visitor’s Guide.
Come see why Florida’s Emerald Coast was voted as having the “Number One Beaches in the South” and “The Best Family Destination” for 13 years in a row!
The area of Florida’s Emerald Coast consists of many family beach vacation cities such as; Perdido Key, Navarre, Niceville, Sandestin, Mexico Beach, Grayton Beach, Inlet Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Seagrove, Panama City Beach, Destin,Pensacola, Port St. Joe,Fort Walton, and Ft. Walton Beach. The Emerald Coast is bordered on the Florida coast of the Gulf of Mexico, from Pensacola on the west to Port St. Joe on the east.
It had previously been dubbed the “Playground Area of the Gulfcoast” from the 1940s through the 1980s, as witnessed by the name of the Fort Walton, Florida, later Fort Walton Beach, Florida (from 1953) newspaper, the Playground News, later the Playground Daily News, now the Northwest Florida Daily News. Another unofficial term is the “Redneck Riviera,” which also is sometimes considered to stretch to Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Popular vacation destinations include Pensacola Beach, Gulf Breeze, Navarre Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, WaterColor, Panama City Beach, Destin, and Seaside, a planned community whose iconic pastel-paint and tin-roof construction was made famous in the Jim Carrey movie The Truman Show, filmed in the area from 1996-1997. Other communities on the Emerald Coast include Perdido Key, Navarre, Sandestin, Mexico Beach, Grayton Beach, Inlet Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, and Seagrove. Approximately 80% of the Emerald Coast’s 4.5 million yearly visitors go to Destin, FL.
Kid-Friendly Activities & Fun Things to Do on Your Florida Family Beach Vacation:
Besides playing in the soft white sugar sands and warm gulf waters of Florida’s Emerald Coast beaches, I found so many kid-friendly and family fun things to do that I couldn’t list them all, but first see my post on Best Florida Family Beach Vacations; Ft. Walton Beach, as it lists many of the area’s best places to visit on the Emerald Coast. Some of the most popular areas are, Destin, Panama Beach, and Pensacola Beach. The entire Emerald Coast is filled with family fun things to do, so much, in fact, that you’ll never have time enough to see and do them all.
Here are a few favorites:
Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park – An amazing waterpark, one of the best on the Emerald Coast, fun for the whole family during those hot summer months! Located at; 1007 US Highway 98 East, Destin, Florida 32541, Phone: (850) 837-8319.
*Destin Commons – “The newest premier shopping center in the Florida Panhandle, Destin Commons specially invites families with young children with their outside playground, movie theater, toys stores, and children’s clothing stores.” Read more about Destin Commons at Angie’s write up of the Destin area.
Gator Beach – Gator Beach is the region’s only alligator attraction. Here you will find over 100 live alligators. Experience a unique environment where you can see live Florida gators, participate in daily alligator shows, stroll through our Florida wildlife exhibit and even have your photo taken holding a live alligator. Gator Show times run everyday from noon – 4pm and admission is free. –Located at; 20001 Emerald Coast Parkway Destin, FL 32541, Phone: (850) 654-4200 ext. 40.
The Track Family Recreation Center– The Track in Destin is your family headquarters for fun! This action-packed recreation center features tracks like the “three-tiered go-kart/roller coaster hybrid”, “Wild Woody”, and big fun for little tykes at “Kids Country”. Also has miniature golf, bumper boats, or even a bungee jumping tower. See their website for 10% OFF and FREE shipping on tickets!- located at; 1125 Highway 98 East Phone: (850) 654-4668.
Emerald Coast Science Center– Voted one of the best “Almost Free Activities” on the Emerald Coast, the Emerald Coast Science Center is a wonderful place to bring the kids. Stimulate your child’s imagination with amazing interactive science displays ranging from a reflecting Castle of Mirrors to over-sized bubble makers even a hair-raising Vandergraph generator and an electrifying Illuma Storm. Come see for yourself the great adventures you and your child can experience. Admission is only $3.75 for kids, and $5.75 for adults! (Kids 2 and under are FREE!!) Located at; 139 Brooks St., Ft Walton Beach, FL- Phone: (850) 664-1261
You may also want to check the emerald coast.com for the latest and most current activities and news happening in the area.
Kid-Friendly Restaurants on the Emerald Coast
*Kid-Friendly Beach Access at The Crab Trap – Angie says, “If you’re new to the Emerald Coast, you may not know the secrets to getting on the beach”, so visiting *The Crab Trap is one way to have a great place to play on the beach and eat good food too. The Crap Trap is very, very kid friendly, and a favorite tourist spot because it is one of the only restaurants that sits right on the beach. This is the best around!
The Back Porch located right on a gorgeous beach in Destin, FL. This one welcomes swimsuits and flip-flops as normal attire, with fabulous seafood to boot.
For more kid-friendly restaurants also see the urbanspoon.com
Kid-Friendly Hotels and Kid-Friendly Resorts; Places to Stay during your Florida Family Beach Vacation on the Emerald Coast
Sandestin Golf And Beach Resort;
One of the best all-inclusive places to stay in Destin, Florida with many different types (condos, villas and town homes) to choose from. Sandestin is like a world of its own. Carved from 2,400 beautiful acres, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is located in Northwest Florida, between Pensacola & Panama City, eight miles east of Destin and approximately 30 minutes from Northwest Florida Regional Airport.
Book your trip with us and be guaranteed the best prices around.
Thanks for reading my Florida family beach vacation post on The Emerald Coast. I hope you choose to visit, and if you already have, please leave me a comment; I’d love to hear about your adventures!