The white, sandy beaches, clear blue-green water, and intense sunshine bring millions of visitors and return-vacationers to the beaches year-after-year.
I was lucky enough to grow up just across the Bay in Niceville. Yes, Niceville, and yes, people are nice there. Since leaving several years ago, my family and I head up to the area at least once a year, if not more. Now that I have my girls, we’re experiencing the vacation viewpoint of the Emerald beaches.
Taking children, even young children, to the Florida Panhandle is a breeze. The soft, white-sandy beaches are easy on your kids’ toes, fun to build sandcastles in, and the mild water temperature is fun for your kids to splash in.
A few of our favorite kid-friendly places to visit while you’re vacationing include the following free or inexpensive locales:
*Fudpucker’s in Destin – Not just a restaurant, but a destination in itself. Your kids will LOVE writing on the walls, benches, ceilings, shirts, you name it, you can write on it! You can even ask for a marker if you forgot yours, then feel free to tag your name! After you’ve eaten your Shrimp Pucker (my personal favorite sandwich), head down to the World Famous T-Shirt store and pick up a t-shirt for every member of your family. No visit to Destin is complete without a Fudpucker’s t-shirt to show off that you were there! With your bag of t-shirts in hand, feel free to wander around the maze of decks, super-kid-friendly playground, and find your way down to Gator Beach. Here you can feed their over 100 real live Florida Gators!
20001 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Destin, FL 32541
*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. My favorite store to spend time shopping is in the Learning Express. Stuffed to the rafters with toys, games, and more toys, Learning Express is an easy place to take your kids to cool off from the sunny heat. Another of my not-to-miss stores is Hugs and Hissyfits – a children’s boutique clothing store with some of the cutest clothing for your kids. Take a break from shopping and hop on board the kid’s train that takes a trip through the streets of the Commons. You might even catch one of the Commons special kids events. Check out their events page for their schedule of activities. Who knows – you might just catch the Mad Hatter himself in person!
4300 Legendary Drive, Destin, Florida 32541
*Kid-Friendly Beach Access at The Crab Trap – If you’re new to the Emerald Coast, you may not know the secrets to getting on the beach. Much of the beach is only accessible to residents or visitors staying on the beach. If you’re not one of those lucky enough to stay at the beach, it can be difficult finding public beach access. At The Crab Trap, you’ll find the perfect place to enjoy the beach. You may need to arrive early (before lunch time) to find a parking spot, but once you park, you won’t need to leave until well after lunch time. Walk through the covered picnic area (which houses fresh water outdoor showers AND public restrooms), down the wooden walkway, and down to the powdery sugar-sand beach. Set up your umbrella or rent a pair of the covered chaise lounge chairs set up for you. When you need a break from shell hunting and sand castle building, head up to The Crab Trap for a fresh seafood lunch. Your kids will get their own bucket with shovel to take back down to the beach as a souvenir! (The background for the pictures of my girls featured on this article were taken at the beach at The Crab Trap.)
3500 Scenic Highway 98, Destin, FL 32541
Now that you’ve planned your visit, head on down to the white, sugar-sand beaches of Northwest Florida! Tell them I sent you.
Angie is a Florida Native, work-at-home mom to 2 young girls, and online business owner of Good for the Kids.