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HELP please!! I need convincing!!!!

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Carencro, Louisiana
posts: 201
reviews: 2
HELP please!! I need convincing!!!!

We are planning our 1st ever beach vacation in June 2014!! My husband and I are not big beach people, I'm scared of the water, well what's in the water (sharks) and I'm not a huge shopper!! Our daughter has been asking to go to the beach one year for vacation, so we are taking her in June, but we aren't convinced that we will have fun! We usually vacation in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge Tennessee!! Please convince me that we will have fun and guide me please!!

Thanks in advance,


Woodbury, Minnesota
posts: 764
reviews: 6
1. Re: HELP please!! I need convincing!!!!

Nobody seems to be answering, so I thought I would jump in. I am not familiar with Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge. What sort of things do you do there on vacation. I had a quick look, looks like it is a walking and hiking area. So if you like active vacations, walking along the beach is wonderful. You can go west on the Island and it is completely unbuilt and walk for miles. Before you come down watch the dvd the The Truman show with Jim Carrey and then go to Seaside for the day. You drive along the 30a and there are cute little towns, you can stop and rent bikes and it is a beautiful area to ride.

I personally do not get in the gulf above my knees but I love to walk the beach. If you do not mind a bit of a drive the National Sea Shore park near Navarre to Pensacola is beautiful too. Sitting in a beach chair under an umbrella is always great too. Make sure when you rent a condo, they include beach service. It really is great.

Carencro, Louisiana
posts: 201
reviews: 2
2. Re: HELP please!! I need convincing!!!!

Thank you so much!! Yes, we go into the national park in Gatlinburg and get lost in nature!! So relaxing!! We also do a dinner show once while we are there and I love the arts and crafts community! Renting bikes sounds wonderful!! And our condo does include beach service!

Saint Louis...
posts: 13
reviews: 1
3. Re: HELP please!! I need convincing!!!!

Come on down. The place will be jumping. Plenty to do and not all involve water. Stay in or around Destin off the main drag. Plenty of places to go. Lay on the beach and work on the tans. We've been coming to the gulf over the past 20 years and not even a jellyfish bite.My kids lived the place. Your daughter will have a blast. People come from all over the country and all over the world to be here. Make sure if you can to get a gulf front unit. If you're lucky you'll see dolfins swim up and down the coast. June is in season. Top dollar for rentals and long lines at a lot of the restraunts. Be prepared. Keep posting on trip advisor for more feed back.

Carencro, Louisiana
posts: 201
reviews: 2
4. Re: HELP please!! I need convincing!!!!

Thank you and our condo is gulf front!! Can't wait to see dolphins!! My daughter will love that, she wants to be a marine biologist and work with dolphins!!

posts: 2,229
reviews: 36
5. Re: HELP please!! I need convincing!!!!

Plenty of boating charters (dolphin watching, sunset cruises, etc) or rent a pontoon for a day.

Walk out on Okaloosa Pier, or around the Harbor area in Destin. Enjoy plenty of fresh seafood!

We LOVE the far west end of Okaloosa, where Santa Rosa Blvd ends but Island continues for miles & miles, undeveloped & military owned...you can walk to beach for miles!

Fort Walton Beach...
posts: 48
reviews: 168
6. Re: HELP please!! I need convincing!!!!

I just ran across your post. There are a ton of things to do in the area, near the beach, without having to go much above your ankles in the water. I assume since this is under the FWB site, that you are staying in FWB. I just ask that because I live in FWB, but I personally think Destin is much better. It has really built up over the past many years and so much of it is new.It also has the better restaurants. Boat charters and boat rentals will come more out of Destin than FWB. There is an area in the water, called Crab Island. (you can look it up on line). It is very popular, and often crowded, but some people just love to visit and play there while here. Destin also has the Big Kahuna's which is a popular water park in the area. Both FWB and Destin have miniature golf course for your evening entertainment. FWB has The Gulfarium (it is very small). There are a lot of water sports available. Trip Advisor does not have as many listings as what are actually available, so just look around on the web and compare for pricing. Also pay attention. Some places actually want you to make reservations in advance, so beware that you may miss out on an activity you wanted to do if they are already booked for while you are down here.

Someone else mentioned 30A. Anyone visiting, this is really a must!! I grew up in this area, and I love to visit here. 30A is about 15 minutes past Destin, going towards Panama City. It is rather long. I would suggest to not start at the first part of 30A, rather keep driving on hwy 98 and turn right on either 283 or 395 and cut into 30A just to save time (traffic is 30mph on 30A and many stop signs). You can look up 30A on line. You will come up to towns like Seaside, Alys Beach, Rosemary Beach. Darling seaside towns. You can drive through to just look, but many people rent bikes. There is the Timpoochee Trail that run the full length of 30A and is a nice wide bike trail. There are umpteen places to rent a bike there. Seaside often as shows or festivities, so if you want to park there, I would suggest getting there by 9am, or it will be hard to find a spot. Weekends are busier in these little towns, than weekdays. It is fun to ride your bikes down there, and see the gulf as you are riding.

If for any reason, you have all had too much sun, and you need something out of the sun, there are some other places to go. Unfortunately, outside of the beaches, I don't find a ton of activities to do. You usually have to drive a bit to get there. You didn't mention what age your girl was, so not sure if these are age appropriate. But if you drive about 30 minutes west of FWB to Gulf Breeze we do have The Zoo. Not a large zoo, but has a good variety of animals. If you guys are in to any sort of history, FWB does have an armament museum, and an hour to the west is Pensacola and they have the best air museum around. If you go on a Wed, you may even get to see the Blue Angels practice (for free).Those are just some of the more popular attractions here (outside the beach and water sports). On the way to P'cola is Fort Pickens.

Sounds like you and your family are nature people. This is not the beach, but one other suggestion if you were looking for a little time in nature. Some of the State Parks off of 30A do have nature trails, but during the summer months, the horse flies can be vicious. So slather up with bug spray if you dare. But I was also going to suggest the Blackwater River State Park in Milton (about an hours drive from FWB). You can rent kayaks and they take you up river and you can float downstream. The area is very pretty and will give you an idea of what old florida looked like. I went on a trip there May or June.The river current was fast enough, you barely had to paddle during part of the trip. It was very hot outside but the river is fed from springs and was ice cold. It was wonderful. Just a thought.

Looks like you stated you will be staying in a condo on the beach. Hopefully you will have a nice area without too many neighbors that you can enjoy a peaceful time. We have beautiful white sand, that feels so soft on your feel. And the water can be the most gorgeous color. I think just enjoying the view will make your trip to the beach this year worth it.

Even though the mountains are gorgeous, everyone has to spend some time at the beach, and we truly have some of the nicest beaches in Fl (believe me, I have seen most of what F has to offer in that department). I think once you see the beauty here, you will truly be glad your daughter pushed you to come here. Even if you never actually venture into the water. I also think you may love the towns off 30A. But whatever you guys decide to do, hope you have fun!!

Fort Walton Beach...
Destination Expert
for Fort Walton Beach
posts: 350
reviews: 61
7. Re: HELP please!! I need convincing!!!!

I love the mountains, but I love the beach too! The good thing about our sharks is that the water is clear so you can see them before they are near. :) If you are ankle deep, drag your feet in the sand to avoid stepping on a ray.

I saw where your daughter is interested in becoming a marine scientist. I hate captive dolphins so I would never go to see them perform, but the Gulfarium has 'animal encounters' that are great 'hands-on' experiences with the dolphins and other marine mammals. The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge also has some interesting 'camps' during the summer working with biologists on the Boardwalk. The E.O. Wilson Biophila Center is well worth the trip and interesting to learn about the local ecosystems and keystone species, involves a guided hike through the local longleaf forests by science interns from local universities (UWF, FSU). Well worth the trip.

Canoe trips & Horseback Riding in Blackwater State Forest are fun too, if you get bored with the beach. It's about an hour drive. The water is clear, cold and the bottom is sand, if you get bored with the beach. Best of all no sharks. ;)

Don't want to drive that far and still want a walk in the woods? Turkey Creek Park in Niceville, Florida is about 20 minutes, and features a walking boardwalk along the creek (with jump off swimming holes). The water is cold, and there is a current. We like to walk up & float down. The Front Porch is the best place for lunch & breakfast in Niceville.

Depending on when you are here in June, Mattie Kelly Arts Center has programs www.mattiekellyartscenter.org/EventsAll.cfm, The Fort Walton Beach Downtown Merchants Association has art walks and programs: https://www.facebook.com/DowntownFWB, and so does Seaside: http://www.seasidefl.com/highlights/. The concerts in the park are free.

There are jetski rentals, golf, pontoon boat rentals, helicopter rides, deep-sea fishing trips, pirate ship trips, within a twenty minute drive. Most people come and walk the beach, and sit and watch the waves, read books, play volleyball, learn to surf (because the waves are kind), and enjoy the sunrises and the sunsets and the moon on the water. If there is June grass (seaweed) washing on your beach, you can usually out walk it. Some hate sand, so they stay by the pool. But there are a lot of things to do besides the beach and shopping, depending on how active you want to be. I always feel bad for those who never venture past the tourism areas to see the unique places and spaces that make living here so amazing.

luella, ga
posts: 1
reviews: 29
8. Re: HELP please!! I need convincing!!!!

OH MY...the fun you've missed! We have vacationed at the beach F-O-R-E-V-E-R and there is soooo much there. We do love the mountains and spend time there also but the beach is my favorite. Sitting on the beach (under the umbrella), watching the ocean....oh the magnificence of that alone! Walking on the beach with my spouse (as the children are grown), talking, remembering.....oh the magnificence of that! Getting up little earlier to watch the sunrise....watching the sunset.....building sandcastles....playing ball on the beach. Now that the kids are grown, just to sit on the beach and read and people watch. Then, according to my adult children, the greatest thing was "night swimming" after dinner (it's a fallacy that you have to wait an hour to go in the water after eating) until the pool is closed! We never do, never have, done the amusement parks or shopping at the beach as the entertainment is there.....for FREE. The wonder of God is all around and it's beautiful! Go and have a wonderful time. Now we are bringing the awesomeness to the grandchildren.

Edited: 2:42 pm, November 25, 2013
frankfort, illinois
posts: 1
reviews: 56
9. Re: HELP please!! I need convincing!!!!

Ok, I have stayed in pigeon forge before and had fun, but I do love the Emerald Coast More. There is so much to do in the summer! Do a dolphin tour (glass bottom boat one),review all the restaurants in the area and go to the best ones (in your budget). The state parks there are beaches, and they are awesome. I love the state park between Navarre and Pensacola...amazing! There is a gocart track that is cool. On rainy days, there are several arcades in the area.

You must experience the emerald coast at least once in your life, I think you will love it! Beaches are amazing!

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 4
reviews: 13
10. Re: HELP please!! I need convincing!!!!

Dear Lesley,

You will NOT be disappointed with your Fort Walton Beach vacation this June, and I say that as someone who literally grew up in the area, spending nearly my entire youth on those very beaches, and most of my adult life on those of Destin. You and your family will enjoy the more spacious beaches of Okaloosa Island versus those of Destin, not to mention the fact that every amenity of Destin is navigable within just a few miles by way of a short drive along a pristine, undeveloped stretch of beautiful white dunes lightly touched with the swaying sea oats you won't find up the road in super-developed Destin, anymore.

As a lifetime resident, and career world traveler, I can tell you that the mesmerizing emerald green waters along this particular stretch of coastline are unrivaled by Destin, and truly make these the best beaches in the world. That, coupled with this area's being much less crowded by the hundreds of thousands of folks crammed into Destin all season long, will leave you feeling very proud of your decision to stay on Okaloosa Island's much wider, family friendly beaches, venturing to Destin only when you want to enjoy the different amenities offered there, as I assure you, there are plenty of amenities with which to impress yourself and your daughter!

Some of the local attractions which are a huge hit with kids are Goofy Golf (a bargain priced movie-themed mini-golf), Cinema Plus (an old-fashioned dine-in movie house), Old Bay Steamer (a fantastic seafood restaurant serving fresh seafood, king crab legs, low-country shrimp boil, etc.), Pandora's (a local landmark Steakhouse) and the various restaurants on the Boardwalk, the famous beachfront rallying point for young people and families alike.

By far the best beach hotel in the area is the Wyndham Garden Hotel, Fort Walton Beach, where you and your family will enjoy a lagoon-style pool, complete with rock slide, live music entertainment, poolside tiki bar, free beach chairs and umbrella set, and a staff whose commitment to your positive experience really is personal. I enjoyed my stay there so much last fall, that I am planning to return later this week, in fact!

Should you choose to venture to the other side, so to speak, Destin is brimming with entertainment options on the western-most side, including Harborwalk, Margaritaville, AJ's Seafood Bar and Grill, and world famous McGuire's Irish Pub, just to name a few. I'm sure you will find your decision to keep book your stay in Fort Walton Beach to be most rewarding, indeed.