Fort Walton Beach ~ The Southern Scoop’s Featured Locale of the Month

Okaloosa Island’s Gulfarium has been open since 1955 and features dolphin encounters, sharks, rays, and various other marine wildlife.[/caption]

When you think of the Florida Panhandle, specifically Northwest Florida, all too often you’ll only hear about Destin, Panama City, Pensacola, or another city. One of the best kept secrets is within Okaloosa county, but a little more off the beaten path. Enter Fort Walton Beach ~ The Southern Scoop’s Featured Locale of the Month. A year round fishing and beach resort community. In addition to being home to some of the country’s most beautiful white sand beaches, the United States Air Force Special Operations Command and “Florida Phase” Of U.S. Army Ranger school also call Fort Walton Beach home.  Additionally, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park has been serving as a conservation and educational center since 1955. All of these subcultures are only complemented by a combination of coastal cuisine and entertainment.

It started out as a water skiing festival in 1953, and now Billy Bowlegs annual festival is one of the nation’s longest running and most popular pirate gatherings! Much like Gasparilla in Tampa, for an entire weekend pirate ships, great food, thousands of people, and world-class entertainment flow through the community. Eye patches, cannons, and tall ships everywhere, and thousands of visitors each year flock to Fort Walton Beach to enjoy the festivities!

Some history of Okaloosa Island and Fort Walton Beach…

Formerly known as “Tower Beach” in the 1930s, Okaloosa Island was initially an entertainment-focused area operated by Thomas E. Brooks, for whom the Brooks Bridge is named. Largely

destroyed by fire in 1942, wartime priorities precluded its reconstruction. Furthermore an event facilitated by Bob Sikes in 1950 was of paramount significance to Okaloosa as we know it today; the county paid the federal government $4,000 to complete the exchange of 875 acres of Santa Rosa Island to Okaloosa County.

Tower Beach on Okaloosa Island was a premier tourist destination in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Casinos, a busy boardwalk, concession stands and restaurants attracted thousands of visitors annually. Former congressman Bob Lee Fulton Sikes, and many prominent Floridians during the mid-1900s were critical to the booming tourist economy northwest Florida enjoys to this day.

Floridians have memorialized Bob Sikes by naming three pieces of public infrastructure after him: The Bob Sikes Bridge connecting Gulf Breeze to Santa Rosa Island; the Bob Sikes Airport near Crestview and Okaloosa; and Bob Sikes Elementary School, located in Crestview, Florida.

Restaurants in Fort Walton Beach

The G.O.A.T., for short is about modern relaxing and fun atmosphere with awesome fresh food menu, craft beer, craft liquor drinks! The G.O.A.T., The Greatest Of All Time!

 Activities in Fort Walton Beach

Before you go!

It’s important to point out that you can always check our Southern Perks program for exclusive discounts and access to featured activities and dining for the whole family. Parasailing, horseback riding, dolphin tours, evening cruises, fishing charters, exquisite Gulf seafood, the possibilities are endless! Finally make sure you also check out local events and add some local flavor during your stay to your dream vacation plans! Thanks for checking out Fort Walton Beach ~ The Southern Scoop’s Featured Locale of the Month! We’ll see you next month for another featured locale in the Southern Scoop!