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With its sugar-white sand and sparkling emerald waters, the Emerald Coast of Florida is a slice of paradise, not just for humans, but also for their furry friends. From exploring vibrant beach towns to splashing in the gentle waves, this region promises an unforgettable adventure for you and your canine companion.

But before you pack your bags and leash, let’s make sure you’re up to date on all you need and the regulations for bringing pets into the state of Florida. This blog will outline the essential guidelines for bringing your dog to the Emerald Coast of Florida.

You can think of the information below as a checklist. Once you’ve checked all the boxes, it’s time to embark on seaside adventures with your beloved four-legged pals!

The essentials: Health certificate & proof of vaccination

Before anything else, let’s start with the Essentials, the official documents issued by your vet that you need to carry with you when traveling with your pet from another state to Florida.

There are two:

  1. A health certificate from a vet within 30 days, stating your pet is healthy and hasn’t been exposed to rabies.
  2. Proof of current rabies vaccination if your pet is three months or older.


The health certificate

A health certificate for a dog is an official document issued by a licensed veterinarian that verifies your dog’s health and fitness for travel. It’s essentially a clean bill of health that meets specific requirements depending on the situation.

A health certificate includes the following information:

The vaccination certificate

A vaccination certificate is a document that shows which vaccinations your dog has received and when. It serves as proof that your furry friend is protected against certain contagious diseases.

Like the document above, it includes information about your dog and the veterinarian, but also a list of vaccines administered, including the vaccine name, date of vaccination, and the next due date for booster shots.

Applicable exemptions for vaccination: Elderly or sick pets can be exempted if a vet certifies vaccination would harm them.

Requirements for air travel

It’s important to remember that airlines might have additional pet travel regulations beyond the general health certificate and vaccination proof.

Each airline sets its own rules and fees, so be sure to check their website or give them a call before booking your flight. This will ensure your furry friend has all the paperwork and you’re aware of any specific requirements or fees associated with pet travel.


Look for more information on traveling with pets in Florida

For more information, it’s a great idea to contact your trusted veterinarian, and for updated requirements, head to the official link of the State of Florida.

Prepping all the documents is a crucial step in planning your Florida trip with your dog. Having everything in order guarantees a smooth journey and ensures your furry friend can join in the sunshine and fun just like the rest of the family.


More tips for traveling with dogs to the Emerald Coast

Traveling with your furry friend can be an amazing experience, but it requires extra planning for their comfort and happiness. Here are some additional tips to ensure a smooth and pawsitive trip for everyone:


1. Visit the vet before the trip

A visit to your veterinarian before your Florida adventure is essential and will ensure your pet’s vaccinations are current and meet any health certificate requirements for traveling to another state. It also provides an opportunity to discuss any concerns you might have about your pet’s health and suitability for travel.

In case your buddy gets nervous on trips, your vet can recommend medications or supplements to help manage your pet’s stress levels during travel. They can also advise on coping mechanisms to ensure a smoother journey for everyone.

Based on what you tell the vet, they’ll know what’s the best choice for your dog. Sometimes, the most loving choice is for your furry friend to have a relaxing staycation with a trusted friend or pet sitter.

2. Dog packing essentials

Medications, documents, and vaccinations are all important, but your pet needs more than just those for a happy trip. Here’s what to pack to ensure your furry friend feels comfortable and travels smoothly:

3. Book a pet-friendly stay

Knowing your pet is welcome at your accommodation makes everything smoother. Luckily, The Emerald Coast has many options.

At Emerald Coast Vacations, we have a great selection of pet-friendly rentals for you to choose from, spanning The Emerald Coast, including Miramar Beach, Dune Allen, Blue Mountain Beach, Grayton Beach, Seagrove, and Seacrest. Check out our website to find the perfect spot for you and your four-legged pal!  

Look for dog-friendly establishments

Besides securing pet-friendly accommodations, it’s also important to research other pet-friendly establishments before traveling with your dog. This research will help you find restaurants, shops, and attractions that welcome pets, making for a much more enjoyable and stress-free travel experience for you and your canine companion.

5. Practice with your dog in advance

If this is your dog’s first trip, it’s a wonderful idea to practice in advance. You can do this by taking brief trips in the car or on public transport with your pet to help them get used to it. 

If they behave well, reward them with treats, toys, or praise when they stay calm. All this will make them feel more comfortable when on the move. This will also help you notice if your pet tends to get anxious and if they tend to feel motion sickness, in which case you can ask your vet for advice.

More tips for taking your dog on a beach trip

Each travel destination has different requirements, including beach destinations like the Emerald Coast. Want some tips for traveling with your pet to the beach? Read on.


1. Before you leave, check if your pet likes the beach and water.

Not all dogs enjoy the sand and waves. Wondering how to know if yours does? Observe their behavior around similar environments near your home, such as lakes or ponds. If your dog shows excitement or interest in water play, they may enjoy the beach. However, if they seem anxious or avoid water altogether, there’s a chance they may not enjoy the beach experience.

2. Research dog beach parks in advance so you know where to go.

A dog-friendly beach, also known as a dog beach, is a designated area along the coastline where dogs are allowed to roam, play, and swim, sometimes off-leash. These areas typically offer amenities such as waste disposal stations, dog showers, and fenced-in areas to ensure a safe environment for dogs to enjoy the beach.

3. Consider using a long leash, if allowed, and look up dog etiquette.

At the beach and parks, consider using a long leash to keep your dog safe and prevent them from running away or swimming too far out. These leashes provide more freedom for your dog to move around compared to shorter leashes, while still allowing you to maintain control.

Remember to search for dog etiquette and pet policies at specific beaches ahead of time, as some have leash requirements or other rules.

4. Apply dog-safe sunscreen and rinse your dog once you’re back at your rental.

Apply dog-safe sunscreen, especially on sensitive areas like ear tips, nose, and paws. Look for a sunscreen specifically formulated for dogs. Always limit sun exposure and watch for signs of overheating. Once you get back to your pet-friendly accommodation, rinse your dog thoroughly with fresh water to remove sand and salt, which can damage their coat.


Bringing your dog to the Emerald Coast of Florida

Traveling with pets can sure be a blast, an unforgettable adventure for you and your furry pal! 

Just keep those tails wagging by taking care of these vital details to ensure your pets’ joy and well-being throughout the journey.

Want more tips to make your trip to the Emerald Coast extra special? Then head to our blog on things to do in the area.  We’ve covered many topics so far, like some interesting and fun facts about the area, a guide to the best restaurants, and a blog on pet-friendly spots. And guess what? There are more amazing blogs coming soon, so stay tuned!

Where to stay on the Emerald Coast during your visit?

Book your stay with Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals. We offer an unmatched selection of vacation rental properties to suit every traveler’s taste. Whether you’re looking for a beachfront condominium, pet-friendly rentals, or a charming beachside cottage, we’ve got it.

Our properties are strategically located, which means you’ll be steps away from idyllic beaches, great dining options, exquisite golf courses, and an array of outdoor pursuits like deep-sea fishing, dolphin tours, and more. That’s the secret to a perfect Emerald Coast Gateway!

Fort Walton Beach has a vibrant world of craft beer and artisanal spirits. It’s  a place where local flavors and innovative brewing collide. This guide takes you through the top spots for beer lovers and spirit aficionados alike, highlighting unique breweries and distilleries that stand out for their creative offerings and strong community ties. 

From the laid-back atmosphere of Tapworks to the meticulous craftsmanship at Rollins Distillery, each location promises a memorable experience for every palate. Join us as we delve into the distinctive craft beer and distillery scene near the beautiful shores of Fort Walton Beach.


Craft Beer Spots






Tapworks is a beloved destination for craft beer enthusiasts looking to enjoy a wide selection of local and regional brews. With over 30 taps, the venue offers an impressive range of options, from refreshing lagers and flavorful IPAs to rich stouts and experimental ales. The atmosphere at Tapworks is laid-back and inviting, making it a popular spot for both locals and visitors.

One of the standout features of Tapworks is its support for local breweries. By featuring beers from nearby establishments, Tapworks not only enhances its own variety but also helps promote the local craft beer scene. This focus on local products adds a unique regional flavor to their offerings and allows patrons to taste the distinct characteristics of the Gulf Coast brewing culture.

In addition to beer, Tapworks provides a menu of well-crafted pub fare designed to complement the brews. The food menu includes classic bar snacks alongside more substantial dishes, all of which are curated to enhance the beer-tasting experience. The knowledgeable staff is always ready to recommend pairings and share insights about the different beers on tap, enriching the overall customer experience.

Regular events and tap takeovers at Tapworks keep the experience fresh and exciting. These events are a perfect opportunity for beer lovers to discover new favorites, engage with master brewers, and enjoy the communal spirit of the craft beer community. The friendly, inclusive atmosphere and the constantly rotating beer selection make Tapworks a standout spot for anyone seeking to enjoy high-quality craft beer in the Fort Walton Beach area.



Salty Duck


Salty Duck


Salty Duck Brewery is a popular destination for craft beer enthusiasts. Known for its relaxed atmosphere and diverse beer selection, the brewery offers a range of styles from hoppy IPAs to rich stouts. Each beer is brewed on-site, showcasing the creativity and skill of their brewers. The Salty Duck stands out for its unique offerings like the Duck Dive Pale Ale and the robust Red Duck Amber. These brews are favorites among locals and visitors alike, praised for their balanced flavors and expert craftsmanship.

The brewery also hosts events and activities that enhance the community vibe. Live music, trivia nights, and seasonal beer releases create a dynamic environment perfect for social gatherings or a casual evening out. Additionally, the knowledgeable staff enhances the experience, ready to provide recommendations and share insights into the brewing process.

Patrons of Salty Duck can enjoy their drinks in a cozy indoor setting or on the outdoor patio, which adds to the laid-back coastal charm of the area. The brewery also supports local businesses by featuring food trucks, allowing guests to pair their craft beers with a variety of local flavors.

In essence, Salty Duck Brewery is a key player in Fort Walton Beach’s craft beer scene, offering innovative beers that cater to both the casual drinker and the connoisseur. This spot is a must-visit for anyone looking to explore the rich tapestry of Florida’s craft beer culture.



The Craft Bar – FWB


The Craft Bar - FWB



The Craft Bar in Fort Walton Beach is a favorite among locals and visitors alike, renowned for its wide selection of craft beers. This venue stands out for its emphasis on local and regional brews, providing patrons with a taste of the unique flavors from around the Florida Panhandle and beyond. With a rotating menu of beers on tap, there is always something new to try, from crisp IPAs to rich stouts.

In addition to its impressive beer lineup, The Craft Bar also offers a full menu of elevated pub fare that pairs perfectly with any pint. Their knowledgeable staff are always on hand to recommend the perfect beer and food pairing, enhancing the overall dining and drinking experience. The atmosphere is casual yet lively, making it an ideal spot for a relaxed evening out with friends or a fun dinner with the family.

Moreover, The Craft Bar hosts various events throughout the year, including tap takeovers and beer tastings, which are great opportunities for enthusiasts to delve deeper into the craft beer scene. These events also often feature guest brewers and exclusive releases, giving patrons a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process and a chance to try limited-edition beers.

This hotspot truly caters to all palates and preferences, making it a must-visit for anyone looking to explore the vibrant craft beer culture of Fort Walton Beach. Whether you are a seasoned beer aficionado or new to the craft beer world, The Craft Bar delivers an exceptional experience that goes beyond just enjoying a good brew.



The Boardroom Pub And Grub


The Boardroom Pub And Grub


The Boardroom Pub and Grub offers a diverse selection of craft beers, making it a top destination for beer enthusiasts. This venue stands out with its cozy atmosphere and friendly staff, creating a welcoming environment for locals and tourists alike. The pub features a rotating tap list that showcases local microbreweries, providing a taste of the unique flavors of the region. Alongside classic lagers and IPAs, visitors can explore experimental brews like sours and seasonal ales, each offering a distinct experience.

The food menu complements the extensive beer selection with a variety of hearty, pub-style dishes. The Boardroom is also known for its community-focused events, such as trivia nights and live music sessions, which enhance the overall experience by blending great beer with entertainment. Additionally, the pub’s location near the waterfront allows guests to enjoy scenic views while sipping their chosen brews.

Overall, The Boardroom Pub and Grub is celebrated not just for its excellent beer selection but also for its role as a community hub where people can relax, enjoy good food, and meet new friends. Its contribution to the local craft beer scene is significant, as it supports and promotes local breweries, further enriching the craft beer culture in Fort Walton Beach.



Beach Liquors


Beach Liquors


Beach Liquors, located near Fort Walton Beach, offers a diverse selection of craft beers that caters to a wide range of palates. Known for its extensive variety, this spot showcases local breweries and rare finds that beer enthusiasts appreciate. With shelves stocked with everything from robust stouts to refreshing IPAs, Beach Liquors provides an impressive lineup of both seasonal and year-round brews.

Customers praise the knowledgeable staff who are eager to share their expertise and help navigate the expansive offerings. The store often hosts tasting events, giving patrons the opportunity to sample new releases and discover their new favorite beers. These gatherings are not only educational but also foster a community of like-minded craft beer lovers.



Props Craft Brewery & Taproom




Props Craft Brewery & Taproom is a prime destination for craft beer enthusiasts. Established by military veterans, the brewery infuses a sense of camaraderie and adventure into each of its brews. The atmosphere at Props is both inviting and casual, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. 

The brewery offers a diverse range of beers, including staples like the Blonde Bomber Ale and the Flying Coffin IPA. Each beer is crafted with precision, showcasing distinct flavors and styles. Seasonal offerings and experimental batches often appear on the menu, giving visitors the opportunity to sample unique concoctions that are only available for a limited time. 

Props Craft Brewery & Taproom also emphasizes local sourcing, with ingredients procured from nearby suppliers whenever possible. This focus on local resources not only supports the community but also enhances the freshness of their beers. Visitors can enjoy these brews in the taproom, which features a relaxed, friendly environment perfect for socializing with friends or enjoying a solo pint. 

Moreover, the brewery hosts a variety of events, including trivia nights and live music, adding an extra layer of entertainment to the craft beer experience. For food options, the taproom offers a menu that complements its beers, featuring pub favorites and lighter fare that accentuates the flavors of the ales and lagers. 

Props Craft Brewery & Taproom stands out in the Fort Walton Beach area for its flavorful beers, engaging atmosphere, and strong ties to the community, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in the local craft beer scene.


Local Distilleries


Rollins Distillery




Rollins Distillery, located in Gulf Breeze, just a short drive from Fort Walton Beach, is renowned for its artisanal spirits, emphasizing quality and local flavors. Established by Patrick and Paul Rollins, the distillery is a family-operated venture that focuses on producing small-batch rum and vodka. Their signature spirit, Esprit de Krewe vodka, is meticulously crafted from molasses sourced from the southern United States, highlighting the distillery’s focus on regional ingredients.

One of their standout products, the Esprit de Krewe rum, undergoes a careful distillation process that enhances its smoothness and rich flavor profile. This rum is a favorite among locals and visitors alike, appreciated for its versatility in cocktails and sippability. The distillery also takes pride in its environmental approach, using natural resources efficiently and striving for sustainability in every batch produced.

Rollins Distillery offers tours and tasting sessions, providing a firsthand look at the distillation process and the chance to sample their spirits. These experiences are both educational and enjoyable, offering insights into the craft of spirit making. Visitors often praise the welcoming atmosphere and the knowledgeable staff, who are eager to share their passion for distilling.

The distillery’s innovative approach and use of high-quality, local ingredients have helped it carve out a niche in the Florida craft spirits market. As it continues to grow, Rollins Distillery remains a key player in promoting the craft distillery movement in the Fort Walton Beach area and beyond.



Distillery 98


Distillery 98


Distillery 98, located just a short drive from Fort Walton Beach in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, has quickly made a name for itself in the craft beer scene. Established in 2011, this distillery stands out for its innovative approach to brewing and its focus on local ingredients. The distillery offers a diverse range of beers, with styles varying from classic IPAs to unique seasonal brews that showcase local flavors and ingredients.

One of the highlights of Distillery 98 is its Dune Laker Lager, a crisp and refreshing beer perfect for the Florida heat. This particular lager is crafted using locally sourced hops and malts, providing a taste that captures the essence of the region. The distillery also takes pride in its environmental initiatives, utilizing sustainable practices in both brewing and packaging, which resonates well with eco-conscious consumers.

Visitors to Distillery 98 can enjoy a tour of the facility to see firsthand the brewing process and the care that goes into each batch of beer. The taproom offers a welcoming atmosphere where guests can sample various beers, and the knowledgeable staff are always ready to share insights about the brewing process and the distinct qualities of each brew.

The brewery also hosts events throughout the year, including live music, food truck festivals, and beer release parties, making it a vibrant part of the local community. For craft beer enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike, Distillery 98 represents a key player in the Fort Walton Beach area’s brewing landscape, offering a memorable experience and a taste of local craft beer culture.


Vacation in Fort Walton Beach with Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals 


Discover the ultimate getaway with Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals, where the unrivaled beauty of Fort Walton Beach and its neighboring communities await to enrich your vacation experience. At ECVR, we don’t just offer you a place to stay; we offer you an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy the best of what our region has to offer, including a vibrant craft beer and local distillery scene.

Fort Walton Beach and its surrounding areas are renowned for their rich tapestry of craft beer and local distilleries, each reflecting skilled craftsmanship and celebrating community and local flavors. From the laid-back ambiance of Tapworks and the creative brews at Salty Duck Brewery to the unique spirits of Rollins Distillery and the innovative beers at Distillery 98, there’s an abundance to explore. Each location offers not just a drink but a distinct slice of our local culture, making them must-visit spots for both enthusiasts and newcomers eager to delve into the vibrant craft scene of this charming region.

Choosing to vacation with us at Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals means giving yourself the chance to explore these incredible places while enjoying the comfort and luxury of our premium rental properties. Whether you’re familiar with the Destin area or this is your first journey to our shores, we offer a variety of properties that cater to every preference and budget. From pet-friendly homes to beachfront retreats, our rentals provide the perfect base for your adventures in tasting the unique flavors and experiencing the warm, inviting community spirit of the Emerald Coast.

The team at Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals is ready to assist you in finding that perfect vacation rental for all your needs. We’re not just about providing you a place to stay; we’re about enhancing your vacation experience with local attractions, dining, and activities. Let us help you book your Emerald Coast vacation rental today, and get ready to unlock the city, discover its hidden gems, and experience a vacation like no other. Dive into the heart of the Emerald Coast and let its local brews and spirits be the highlight of your unforgettable getaway.

For a perfect beach vacation, there’s almost a set recipe: an ample supply of warm, sunny weather to bask in, a lovely setup for lounging with soft, powdery sand under your feet, and — the one thing that makes all the difference — crystal-clear turquoise waters. And with this last ingredient, the clearer the water, the better!

Where are the clearest waters in Florida?

When we speak about beach holidays, this question usually arises, and the answer usually comes with no hesitation: The Emerald Coast. We wholeheartedly agree — the beaches along Florida’s Emerald Coast are spectacular. From Panama City and Destin to Miramar Beach and Fort Walton, you’ll find crystalline waters that stand out from anywhere else in the country. These beaches rank not only among the best in the state but also in the world, rivaling the beauty of those in the Caribbean.

That’s not all; The Emerald Coast’s pure white sand harmonizes beautifully with the clear, emerald waters that embrace them. Also, the water along the Emerald Coast isn’t just clear; it boasts a captivating luminescence with glowing green and blue tones. These tones change, creating a stunning spectrum of colors ranging from Emerald Green and Turquoise to Aquamarine and Sapphire Blue — as the name suggests, the scenery is a true gem!

In this blog, we’ll delve into the reasons why the Emerald Coast’s waters are so remarkable. Also, we’ll reveal great tips to find them in their optimal state when you visit. Beach lovers, rejoice! Your quest for the clearest water in Florida is over!


Why is the Water on the Emerald Coast so Clear?

While we’ve already established that the Emerald Coast’s beaches and crystal-clear waters are legendary, the real question is: what secret keeps the water so unbelievably clear? Is there any science behind this watery paradise?

Yes, there’s a combination of factors that explains it. Here are the main ones:


1. The Region’s White Quartz Sand Affects Water Clarity for the Better

The beaches along the Emerald Coast boast exceptionally white quartz sand. This type of sand is composed of tiny, rounded grains created through the erosion and weathering of rocks over time. Underwater, this beautiful sand reflects sunlight and gives the water a distinct glow, enhancing its clarity.

2. From Ice Age Rivers to Emerald Shores

An ancient phenomenon: as the last Ice Age concluded, the Apalachicola River transported chunks of white quartz crystal into the Gulf of Mexico, and over thousands of years of tidal action, this quartz formed into a pure, crystalline powder. You can think of it as something between sugar and snow. And that’s the sand on the Emerald Coast — so fine that you can hear the crunch under your flip-flops!


3. Underwater Sandbars Form Natural Sediment Filters

All around the Emerald Coast area, natural sandbars act as barriers, slowing down water flow and creating an environment where sediments can settle out of suspension. It’s like a natural filtration process that helps clear the water near the shore and even in areas farther away from the coast, contributing to its crystal-clear appearance.


4. The Gulf of Mexico Has Currents that Disperse Particles

Besides the sandbars that filter particles out, the currents of the Gulf of Mexico also contribute to the dilution of impurities such as sediments, pollutants, and other substances that usually cloud the water. These currents prevent the water from becoming stagnant and dull. This constant movement keeps the ocean healthy and brings out its natural beauty.


5. The Waters of the Emerald Coast are Mostly Unpolluted

Unlike many other coastal areas, the Emerald Coast shines with consistently low pollution levels. This pristine state is a testament to the careful management of human activities and a deep local commitment to environmental conservation. It’s no wonder the water here is not only breathtakingly clear but also incredibly healthy.


6. The floor Slopes Gracefully into a Generous Depth

The cool thing about the Emerald Coast is the way the ocean floor dips down nice and deep right offshore. This keeps the water less stirred up by the bottom, so it stays super clear all the way up near the beach. Plus, the way the land and sea meet here seems to just work perfectly to keep things sparkling clean.


7. Sunshine Makes Everything Sparkle

With all that sunshine — The Emerald Coast enjoys about 220-240 sunny days a year! — the water gets a double dose of amazing. All that sunlight shines right through the water, making it even clearer and giving it this cool glow. Plus, there’s not a ton of rain, so there’s less chance of stuff washing in from land and making things murky.


Tips for Finding the Best Crystal-Clear Waters Possible


1. Look for Optimal Weather

As we’ve seen above, water clarity is often weather-related. Rain, storms, and the like will affect the beach and what it looks like. As a rule of thumb, the beaches along the Emerald Coast will boast clear waters as long as it isn’t too windy or there are no storms. Strong onshore winds can stir up sediment on the bottom, or recent rain can bring sediment down rivers. With heavy rainfall and wave action, water becomes muddy or turbid. After a storm, how long it takes to clear up depends on how stirred up the water is.

The ideal forecast to look for is zero storms. Besides checking weather channels, you can also rely on local insights. Whether in person by asking around or through online forums, locals with a keen eye can provide invaluable tips on when the waters are typically at their clearest.


2. Stay Longer, if You Can, to Catch the Waters at Their Finest

Because of unpredictable weather, it’s very difficult to plan to ensure you will find clear beaches during your trip. But your chances can increase if you plan to stay along the Emerald Coast for a longer stay, say a week or more, because you are bound to have some clear days — and clear water at some point. It’s always helpful to check major weather channels for local beach conditions.


3. Choosing Accommodations for Clear Waters

If you really want to go the extra step to guarantee clear shores at your doorstep, you can book rentals in places farther away from natural geography that can interfere with water clarity. Look on the map while browsing for accommodation online and select those options far away from rivers, for instance. When rivers flow inland, they carry sediments, and especially during heavy rainfall periods, they can reduce the clarity of the sea waters when they meet.

At Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals, we offer many rental options across the Emerald Coast — including gorgeous beachfront properties so you can gaze at the crystal-clear waters all day long from your living room, fully equipped kitchen, or bedroom.


How does seasonality impact water clarity along the Emerald Coast?


As elsewhere, seasonality plays a significant role in influencing water clarity along the Emerald Coast. If you’re wondering what’s the best season for water clarity, most people would say it’s either fall or spring, because of calmer seas, minimal rain, and lower plankton activity.

Planning a visit during these seasons will surely enhance your chances of finding crystal-clear waters. Still, that doesn’t mean you won’t have it during the other seasons.

Let’s see some variations more specifically:


Spring, from March to May

Spring often boasts some of the clearest waters on the Emerald Coast. Calm seas and minimal rain create ideal conditions for sunlight penetration, maximizing visibility and showcasing the water’s vibrant colors.

Spring follows winter storms that can stir up bottom sediments. By spring, the water has had time to settle, leaving it crystal clear. Also, plankton blooms, which can sometimes affect clarity, haven’t reached their peak yet.


Summer, from June to August

Water clarity remains very good in summer, although it might be slightly less clear than in spring. Warmer temperatures can lead to increased plankton activity, which can reduce visibility compared to the peak spring months.

As summer experiences higher temperatures, this can trigger plankton blooms. These tiny organisms are part of a healthy ecosystem, but in higher concentrations, they can affect transparency. However, the impact is usually minimal, and the water remains stunningly clear.


Fall, from September to November

Fall is another excellent season to visit the Emerald Coast for exceptional water clarity. Similar to spring, calmer seas, and less rain contribute to optimal conditions for sunlight penetration and crystal-clear waters.

Plankton blooms typically subside in fall, allowing for maximum visibility. It’s true that hurricane season typically peaks in late summer/early fall, but effects on the Emerald Coast are usually minimal. As long as there have been no recent storms, fall offers stunning water clarity.


Winter, from December to February

Winter water clarity can vary depending on weather patterns. Calm weather allows for good visibility, but occasional storms can stir up bottom sediments and temporarily reduce clarity.

Winter storms can bring stronger currents and waves, which can stir up the seafloor and temporarily affect clarity. However, during calmer periods, the water can still be quite clear.

Verdict? The truth is that the Emerald Coast lives up to its name year-round, but if you really want to increase your chances of optimal water clarity, fall and spring it is!


The Clearest Waters in Florida: The Emerald Coast


All this science behind clear waters is pretty cool, hey? And it’s precisely this lucky combination of factors that makes the Emerald Coast this paradise-like spot nestled in Florida. Want to know more interesting facts about the region — not just about water transparency but everything else? Read our blog on fun and interesting facts about the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Want more tips to make your trip to the Emerald Coast extra special? Then head to our blog on things to do in the area.  We’ve covered many topics so far, like some interesting and fun facts about the area, a guide to the best restaurants, and a blog on pet-friendly spots. And guess what? There are more amazing blogs coming soon, so stay tuned!



Wondering where to stay on the Emerald Coast during your visit?


Book your stay with Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals. We offer an unmatched selection of vacation rental properties to suit every traveler’s taste. Whether you’re looking for a beachfront condominium, pet-friendly rentals, or a charming beachside cottage, we’ve got it.

Our properties are strategically located, which means you’ll be steps away from idyllic beaches, great dining options, exquisite golf courses, and an array of outdoor pursuits like deep-sea fishing, dolphin tours, and more. That’s the secret to a perfect Emerald Coast Gateway!


Nestled along the Gulf of Mexico, the Emerald Coast of Florida bestows breathtaking natural beauty characterized by pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear emerald waters, and stunning coastal landscapes.

From Panama City and Destin to Miramar Beach and Fort Walton, there’s so much to discover in terms of natural beauty, culture, and city life that if you’re visiting for the first time, it can be a bit overwhelming deciding where to start.

We’ve got you covered. Below, we have curated a list of the top 10 things you can’t miss while traveling along the Emerald Coast.

Are you ready to experience the best Florida has to offer?

1. Grayton Beach State Park, Santa Rosa Beach

Located between Panama City Beach and Destin, Grayton Beach State Park in Santa Rosa Beach is an unmissable place if you’re looking for secluded beaches boasting the best characteristics of an Emerald Coast paradise.

Crystal clear and shallow waters and white powdery sands are the rule here — the perfect stage for relaxation, swimming, and watching a spectacular sunset. Also, you can explore gorgeous dunes, spot turtles since the park is a popular destination for sea turtle nesting, engage in water activities in Western Lake, and walk through four miles of trails cutting through a beautiful coastal forest with scrub oaks and magnolias.


2. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, Santa Rosa Beach

Known for its gorgeous dunes and exuberant wildlife, Topsail Hill is another unbeatable spot to embrace the Emerald Coast’s natural splendor.

The stunning dunes form a unique ecosystem of freshwater lakes and coastal vegetation where you can spot reptiles, mammals, and birds like ospreys, plovers, red-shouldered hawks, Eastern bluebirds, and red cardinals.

The unspoiled shores are paradise on earth: uncrowded white quartz sands, calm and vibrant azure waters, and undisturbed views of the Gulf of Mexico — that’s all you need for a perfect day on the beach. 

While visiting the state park, you can also enjoy a picnic at one of the tables scattered throughout the park, explore 15 miles of marked hiking trails, bike along a paved trail that leads to the beach, and engage in activities such as fishing, geocaching, and glamping. 


3. Henderson Beach State Park, Destin

Any visit to Destin is not complete without some time exploring the pristine miles of beach that call Henderson Beach State Park home.

The park’s unspoiled coastline of powdery white sands and dazzling turquoise waters is the stage for relaxation, sunbathing, and swimming — the gentle waves and the warm, crystalline Gulf waters are nothing short of therapeutic. 

If you’re more of an explorer and want to get more active, Henderson Beach State Park also features natural trails where you can discover the beauty of a dune ecosystem filled with wildlife. Keep your eyes open for pelicans, plovers, and turtles. 

The nice amenities around include a beautiful boardwalk that connects the beach to picnic areas, campsites, well-maintained restrooms, showers, and changing areas. 

Here is a tip: While visiting the park, don’t forget to wait until the sun goes down so that you can experience a spectacular sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.


4. Crab Island, Destin 

Technically, Crab Island is not an island but a submerged sandbar in the middle of Choctawhatchee Bay. However, the beauty of the place truly matches that of Caribbean islands.

The best time to visit is at high tide when the sandbar is covered in vibrant turquoise waters. It’s like a huge waist-deep swimming pool where you can wade, float, snorkel, relax, and soak up the sun.

There’s also a festive atmosphere all around since several people rent pontoon boats to spend the day playing in the crystalline waters. You can bring your beverages, play music, and chill in paradise.

For the more adventurous, you can also rent jet skis, kayaks, and paddleboards to explore the stunning submerged sandbar in different ways.


5. Destin Harbor Boardwalk, Destin

The Destin Harbor Boardwalk is the beating heart of the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” It’s not only home to the largest fishing fleet in Florida but also a go-to place for lots of entertainment, people-watching, and stunning sea views.

As soon as you set foot on the boardwalk, you’ll feel the lively atmosphere. Walk around admiring the gorgeous vistas, watch a live music performance, and then pick one of the amazing restaurants facing the sea to savor fresh seafood dishes. Some excellent places for a memorable dining experience include:

Dining while feeling the fresh Gulf breeze? Count us in!

That’s not all! If you’re into shopping therapy, the Destin Harbor Boardwalk is also home to amazing boutiques and souvenir shops. Got kids in tow? That’s the place to be! You’ll find a mini-golf course, escape rooms, laser mazes, and activities where the entire family can have fun together.

To top it all off, the boardwalk is the starting point for several adventures, such as dolphin cruises, fishing trips, snorkeling, diving, and parasailing adventures — all must-do activities while visiting Destin.


6. John Beasley Park, Fort Walton Beach

For more postcard-worthy beaches, John Beasley Park is a must-visit spot along the Emerald Coast. 

Located on Okaloosa Island and boasting miles of dazzling and uncrowded beaches with calm and transparent waters, this public park is an excellent option for a beach day.

It’s the ideal place if you just want to relax and immerse yourself in nature. The atmosphere is incredibly serene, with no commercial development, and the views of the Gulf of Mexico are simply unparalleled. 

If you’re lucky, you might even spot dolphins jumping on the horizon. John Beasley Park is also home to incredible dunes where you can spot wildlife. You can bring your own snacks and enjoy a picnic with your family at one of the 12 tables onsite while soaking in the beachy vibes and feeling the ocean breeze.


Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, Fort Walton Beach

A visit to the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is not only educational but also fun. There’s nothing like watching fascinating creatures up close and learning about them — indeed, a memorable experience in Destin.

Some of the highlights of the aquarium include fantastic dolphin shows and exhibits featuring incredible marine mammals, fish, and reptiles. 

The animal encounters are an unbeatable experience. From getting in the water and engaging with dolphins to being kissed by a sea lion and feeding penguins, these encounters will certainly be among the most cherished moments of your trip. 

Naturally, all of this happens under the care of the extremely professional and friendly staff, who will also give you insights about these wonderful creatures.


8. The Village of Baytowne Wharf, Miramar Beach

Like the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, The Village of Baytowne Wharf checks all the boxes when it comes to amazing dining and shopping experiences, as well as top-notch entertainment options.

This must-visit complex in Miramar Beach is brimming with fantastic restaurants featuring a wide variety of cuisines. When you need to grab a bite, some of the highlights are:

After a superb meal, don’t forget to stop by Seaside Sweeteries to grab a delicious gelato.

Shopping enthusiasts will love exploring the lovely boutiques for souvenirs, and kids will have a blast with the entertainment options — from a lovely carousel to a state-of-the-art arcade with over 60 redemption and video games where you can collect tickets for great prizes. 

While exploring the village, you’ll also stumble across live music performances that add to the vibrant and festive vibes of this Emerald Coast gem.


9. St. Andrew’s State Park, Panama City

The beach at St. Andrew’s State Park is considered one of the best beaches in the US.

Not convinced? Okay… On one side of the beach, a breakwater forms a turquoise lagoon of calm waters where you can swim, snorkel, or just float. If you’re of a more active type, the rest of the beach offers beautiful rolling waves for surfing.

The park is also a place for nature exploration since it hosts five distinct ecological landscapes in one location. Whether you walk through pines or along stunning sand dunes, you’ll be immersed in natural beauty at all times. An extra-special attraction is that the park is a migratory stopover for several species of birds and butterflies. 

There’s more! Fishing piers, picnic pavilions, and well-equipped campsites amplify the number of activities for you to enjoy at this picture-perfect state park. If you’re traveling with your furry companion, they are more than welcome to enjoy all the beauty of the place with you.


10. Pier Park, Panama City 

Pier Park is the premier destination for shopping enthusiasts, dining, and entertainment in Panama City. The best part is that this outdoor complex boasts a delightful beachy vibe and is just steps away from the beach and Russell-Fields City Pier, a must-visit spot for sunsets in the city.

With over a hundred stores ranging from big brands to local boutiques, Pier Park offers everything you need — from groceries and home decor to clothing, shoes, jewelry, crafts, and unique souvenirs. 

If you’re feeling hungry, you’ll find excellent dining options, as well as lounges and music venues where you can grab a drink and enjoy live performances. 

Bringing kids along? The Grand IMAX Pier Park 16 movie theater showcases all the latest blockbusters, while the Mirror Maze & Laser Craze, Pirate’s Quest Laser Tag, and XD Dark Ride Experience offer tons of entertainment for the whole family.


Top 10 Things You Can’t Miss on the Emerald Coast

When exploring the Emerald Coast, beautiful places and great entertainment will be found around every corner. There’s endless natural beauty and places to visit along the way. If you’re visiting for the first time, our tips below offer a good glimpse into some of the best things this breathtaking part of Florida has to offer.

Want more tips to make your trip to the Emerald Coast extra special? Then head to our blog on things to do in the area.  We’ve covered many topics so far, like some interesting and fun facts about the area, a guide to the best restaurants, and a blog on pet-friendly spots. And guess what? There are more amazing blogs coming soon, so stay tuned!


Wondering where to stay on the Emerald Coast during your visit?

Book your stay with Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals. We offer an unmatched selection of vacation rental properties to suit every traveler’s taste. Whether you’re looking for a beachfront condominium, pet-friendly rentals, or a charming beachside cottage, we’ve got it.

Our properties are strategically located, which means you’ll be steps away from idyllic beaches, great dining options, exquisite golf courses, and an array of outdoor pursuits like deep-sea fishing, dolphin tours, and more. That’s the secret to a perfect Emerald Coast Gateway!

Nestled along the Gulf of Mexico, the Emerald Coast of Florida bestows breathtaking natural beauty characterized by pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear emerald waters, and stunning coastal landscapes.

From Panama City and Destin to Miramar Beach and Fort Walton, there’s so much to discover in terms of natural beauty, culture, and city nightlife. If you only have a short time in the region, it may be daunting to figure out how to enjoy those precious days.

We’ve got you covered on this. Below we put together a great weekend itinerary for you and your family to have a good taste of the best this dazzling part of Florida has to offer.

Let’s jump right in!


Friday evening: take a stroll along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk

There’s nothing better than starting your weekend exploration on the Emerald Coast by visiting the beating heart of the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” Destin Harbor Boardwalk is not only home to the largest fishing fleet in Florida but also a mecca for entertainment. 

The best part? It boasts a lively atmosphere and stunning sea views that will put you in the right mood for a weekend in the region.

Before choosing one of the great restaurants around to savor fresh seafood dishes, make sure to watch the sunset over the dazzling Gulf of Mexico. 

You can also dine while watching the dusk colors since some establishments face the sea. Some excellent places for a memorable dining experience include Boathouse Oyster Bar, Tailfins Waterfront GrillDewey Destin’s Seafood Restaurant, Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House, and The Back Porch

After dinner, you can stroll along the boardwalk and visit some of the amazing boutiques and souvenir shops along the way, watch a live music performance, or simply relax on a bench watching all the activity happening around you while feeling the salty breeze from the ocean. If you have kids with you, there’s a mini-golf course, escape rooms, laser mazes, and activities where the entire family can have fun together.

The Destin Boardwalk is also the starting point for several adventures, such as dolphin cruises, fishing trips, snorkeling, diving, and parasailing adventures. So keep that in mind if you visit earlier in the day.

Saturday morning: start the day with an ‘egg-cellent’ breakfast at Another Broken Egg Cafe

To get through a day of fun on the Emerald Coast, you need to be energized. One of the best places in Destin to have a substantial breakfast is Another Broken Egg Cafe on Legendary Drive. 

Their extensive menu featuring traditional breakfast dishes will please everyone, as will the great atmosphere, reasonable prices, and extremely friendly service. Your day will start in the right direction with the cafe’s mouthwatering chicken & waffles, customizable omelets, eggs benedict, cinnamon roll French toast, and one of the patrons’ favorites: the lemon blueberry goat cheese pancakes.

After an egg-cellent breakfast fix, you’re ready for all the adventures the Emerald Coast has to offer!


Saturday morning: soak up the paradise-like scenery of Okaloosa Island

Just a 9-minute drive from Destin, Okaloosa Island is one of the most beautiful places on the entire Emerald Coast and a must-visit spot if you’re traveling in the area. Thinking about those dream-like sugar-white beaches with turquoise waters? Bingo! Okaloosa Island is home to some of them.

For a crowd-free beach day, head to John Beasley Park. This is a great option to spend the day on the beach since the park offers many convenient amenities such as beachside pavilions, picnic tables, a snack bar, changing rooms, and showers. Needless to say, the park features miles of Caribbean-like shores where you’ll have unlimited access to the calm crystalline waters, soft sands, beautiful dunes, and coastal vegetation.

Saturday afternoon: get personal with beautiful creatures at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

After soaking up the sun and enjoying the breathtaking beauty of John Beasley Park, it’s a good idea to visit the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park in Fort Walton Beach, just a 4-minute drive from John Beasley Park. 

If you’re traveling with kids, the Gulfarium will probably be the highlight of the trip. This is a family-friendly activity where you can get close to some of the most adorable and captivating creatures. From fantastic dolphin shows and exhibits featuring incredible marine mammals, fish, and reptiles, this will be an afternoon of entertainment and learning. 

An extra-special activity is the encounters where you can get up close to the animals, such as getting in the water and engaging with dolphins, being kissed by a sea lion, petting and feeding penguins, and much more. All of this is supervised by the professional and friendly staff who will also give you insights about these wonderful creatures.


Saturday evening: savor superb and fresh seafood dishes at Captain Dave’s On the Gulf

It’s dinnertime, and since you’re on the Emerald Coast, indulging in the freshest seafood is a must. After a full day of activity, a drive to Destin to dine at Captain Dave’s On the Gulf is the best way to end the day.

Captain Dave’s is a typical Florida seafood eatery, a pretty and airy restaurant with more great water views for you to enjoy. In business since 1968 (and that’s a testament to its quality!), they focus on American seafood with a Gulf Coast twist. 

The menu offers classic fried, grilled, and broiled seafood dishes. Here’s a golden tip: Make sure to ask what the daily special is; sometimes they have great surprises! Their floor-to-ceiling windows make you feel like you’re right on the shore, even if you sit inside, and their welcoming hospitality will make a real difference in your dining experience. 

Oh, there’s also a full-service bar with a spacious lounge — in other words, a great place perfect for a drink after a great dinner.

Sunday morning: have breakfast like a champion at
Maple Street Biscuit Company in Miramar Beach

Rise and shine! Another day on the Emerald Coast, and how about spending it in charming Miramar Beach? 

If you’re driving from Destin, the ride takes about 18 minutes, while driving from Fort Walton takes a little over 30 minutes. Or, if you’re based in Panama City Beach, it’s a 1-hour drive, making it possible to do a day trip.

Start the day by getting all the necessary energy at Maple Street Biscuit Company, where they promise to serve a “never boring, always inspired” breakfast. Their specialty is biscuit sandwiches and mouth-watering Southern sides. Portions are generous, flavors are bold, and the ingredients are the freshest available. Whether you choose a Family-Sized Biscuits & Gravy or Chocolate Chip Waffles, breakfast here will brighten your mood for one more day of adventure.


Sunday morning: visit the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park 

After breakfast, head to Topsail Hill Preserve State Park for one more morning/afternoon embracing the best the Emerald Coast has to offer. 

Topsail Hill is known for its gorgeous sand dunes rising over the white sands of the 3 miles of pristine beaches protected by the park. The dunes form a unique ecosystem of freshwater lakes and coastal vegetation — both brimming with wildlife.

The unspoiled shores are simple heaven on earth: uncrowded sands, tranquil and crystal clear waters, and unmatched vistas to the Gulf of Mexico. What else can you wish for? The park also has amenities like restrooms, campsites, and picnic areas if you want to bring some snacks. 

Sunday afternoon: hit some balls on a golf course

Florida is home to top-notch golf courses, so why not try one of them while on vacation? Whether you’re a pro or just want to learn and try something different with the entire family, there are plenty of options along the Emerald Coast.

Some of the most popular choices are The Golf Garden of Destin, which offers a family-friendly experience, while the Burnt Pine Golf Club caters to more experienced golfers looking to challenge themselves. Just a short drive from Miramar Beach, the best options include Indian Bayou Golf & Country Club, Regatta Bay Golf & Yacht Club, and Emerald Bay Golf Club.


Sunday evening: explore all the entertainment options at The Village of Baytowne Wharf

The Village of Baytowne Wharf is the full package. Like the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, in this family-friendly destination in Miramar Beach, you’ll find dining, shopping, and lots of entertainment options for a fun evening.

You can enjoy dinner at one of the fantastic restaurants featuring diverse cuisines. Some of the most popular eateries are Hammerhead’s Bar & Grille, Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster House, and Cannery Lane Cantina. Then, indulge in a delicious gelato at Seaside Sweeteries and explore the village. 

There are plenty of amazing shops for souvenirs, an adventure zone, a lovely carousel, and an amazing arcade with over 60 redemption and video games where you can collect tickets for great prizes. While exploring the area, you might also come across live music performances, adding to the pleasant and festive atmosphere of the place.

Sunday evening (alternative plan): prepare a private dinner at your vacation rental

If you’re staying in a comfy vacation rental and want to wear your chef’s hat, why not prepare dinner at home?

Since you’re close to the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” this is a great opportunity to explore Destin’s fish markets and buy the freshest seafood for a memorable dinner with your family. Some of the most popular markets are Blalock Seafood Market, Sexton Seafood Market, Destin Ice Seafood Market, and Shrimper’s Seafood Market, to name a few.

Nothing beats an intimate dinner with your folks, celebrating the end of an unforgettable weekend on the Emerald Coast!


Your Weekend Itinerary to the Emerald Coast

There you go. If you follow our tips above, your weekend will be so much fun that you’ll be wanting to head back to the Emerald Coast in no time, and not just for a weekend!

Want more tips to make your trip to the Emerald Coast extra special? Then head to our blog on things to do in the area.

We’ve covered many topics so far, like some interesting and fun facts about the area, a guide to the best restaurants, and a blog on pet-friendly spots. And guess what? There are more amazing blogs coming soon, so stay tuned!

Wondering where to stay on the Emerald Coast during your visit?

Book your stay with Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals. We offer an unmatched selection of vacation rental properties to suit every traveler’s taste. Whether you’re looking for a beachfront condominium, pet-friendly rentals, or a charming beachside cottage, we’ve got it.

Our properties are strategically located, which means you’ll be steps away from idyllic beaches, great dining options, exquisite golf courses, and an array of outdoor pursuits like deep-sea fishing, dolphin tours, and more. That’s the secret to a perfect Emerald Coast Gateway!


Nestled along the Gulf of Mexico, the Emerald Coast of Florida bestows breathtaking natural beauty characterized by pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear emerald waters, and stunning coastal landscapes.

From Panama City to Miramar Beach, there’s so much to discover in terms of natural beauty, culture, and city nightlife. The area is also filled with quirky facts, stories, and anecdotes that only locals know. And you know what? It makes a lot of difference if you learn about them before your trip. You will look at everything with different eyes.

Get ready for a fun one! This blog will bring you some fun facts about Florida as a whole, yes, the Emerald Coast, and each of the cities in it: Panama City Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, & Miramar Beach.

Take notes. After this, you’ll ace Florida trivia nights like a pro!

Interesting & Fun Facts About Florida

1. Florida is a prime beach real estate for some serious fun in the sun.

Florida is the southernmost point and has the longest coastline in the continental United States. The state is bathed by both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, with 825 miles of accessible beaches – talk about a beach extravaganza!

2. Water’s always nearby for a quick dip, just watch out for those sneaky gators lurking around.

Florida boasts over 7,700 lakes, more than any other state! And here’s another fun fact: you’re never more than 60 miles from a body of water in Florida. But hey, keep an eye out — those cool alligators might be kicking back in their favorite freshwater spots like swamps, marshes, lakes, and rivers.

3. Gators are more into sunbathing than causing a fuss.

These gators? They are pretty laid-back around us humans, but it’s still smart to give them some space. And when it comes to your furry friends, it’s best to keep them on opposite ends of the leash!

4. Burst of sunshine in a glass.

We hope you like orange! Florida produces more than 70% of the country’s oranges, making it the “orange juice capital” of the United States. The drink is a burst of sunshine in a glass, packed with Vitamin C goodness to brighten your day and boost your health!

Florida is a melting pot of cultures, with influences from Native American, Hispanic, African American, and European backgrounds.

5. Giant cultural gumbo.

Florida is a melting pot of cultures, with influences from Native American, Hispanic, African American, and European backgrounds. Think of it as one big, flavorful cultural gumbo!


Interesting & Fun Facts About the Emerald Coast

1. The coast’s moniker emerged from a high school contest.

The name Emerald Coast does justice to the crystal emerald waters of the Gulf Coast, but how did it come about? You’d be surprised that the coast was actually named as such in 1983 when a teenager won a school competition to come up with a new name for the region. That’s the proof – even high scholars can leave a lasting ripple in history.

2. The white sandy beaches are ancient and extra special.

The white sandy beaches of the Emerald Coast are made up of very fine quartz that came down from the Appalachian Mountains millions of years ago and were refined by the ocean. This gives the sand an incredibly soft, smooth texture that everyone loves.



Interesting & Fun Facts About Panama City Beach

1. The wreck capital of the South.

Panama City Beach is known as the “Wreck Capital of the South” because of the large number of historic shipwrecks off its Gulf Coast. The wrecks include a navy tug, a British tanker, a German U-boat, and a cargo ship called the “Gray Ghost.” No wonder this place is a scuba diver’s dream destination.

2. The seafood capital of the South

Panama City Beach is also known as the “Seafood Capital of the South” due to its abundance of seafood restaurants serving fresh Gulf seafood – think succulent shrimp, buttery crab legs, perfectly grilled fish filets, and much more.

3. Home to the only deep sea diving museum in the US

The only deep-sea diving museum in the United States is located in Panama City, the Man in the Sea Museum. Dedicated to preserving the history of diving, with a focus on military, scientific, and recreational diving, it’s surely worth a visit.


Interesting & Fun Facts About Fort Walton Beach

1. The city is home to a dazzling display of Air Force armaments.

Nestled near Fort Walton Beach at the Eglin Air Force Base, one of the world’s largest, the Air Force Armament Museum proudly exhibits historic military aircraft and armaments. It stands as the sole facility in the U.S. devoted to showcasing Air Force armaments.

2. Once upon a time, this area was a playground for pirates.

Ahoy! You read that right! And come every June, the lively Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival honors an 18th-century pirate who once ruled these very waters. With thrilling pirate reenactments, foot-stomping live music, and a treasure trove of family-friendly activities, it’s a plunderful time for all to enjoy.


Interesting & Fun Facts About Destin

1. The world’s luckiest fishing village.

Destin, aka the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” boasts a rich fishing legacy dating back to Captain Leonard Destin in the late 19th century. Today, it’s still a prime spot for fishing fun and home to many tournaments throughout the year.

You can obviously take part in all the fun. Not just Destin, but the entire Emerald Coast region offers many chances for you to explore fishing in the seas, whether inshore or offshore.

2. Masterpieces molded out of grains.

The Sandestin Beach Sand Sculpting Competition is an annual event that attracts sand sculptors from around the world. During the competition, professional and amateur sand sculptors create intricate, large-scale sand sculptures on the beach, showcasing their skills and artistry. The event draws crowds of spectators who can watch the sculptors at work and admire the finished creations. 

Sand sculpting has become a tradition in the region, and you can even take lessons with your family — a great chance to bond while gaining some invaluable sand engineering skills!

3. A million-dollar ceiling.

There’s a bar in Destin called McGuire’s Irish Pub that boasts a million-dollar ceiling. Besides being known for its lively late-night atmosphere and Irish-inspired menu, the venue has its ceiling covered in signed dollar bills. All customers are encouraged to sign a dollar bill and tack it up to the ceiling. Legend has it that there are over a million of them there. Don’t trust the figures? How about we do a headcount?



Interesting & Fun Facts About Miramar Beach

1. A tale of two Floridian Miramars.

While Miramar Beach graces the stunning shores of the Gulf Coast, its distant cousin, Miramar, Florida, resides in the bustling vicinity of Miami. Despite their shared name, these two places are pretty far apart – over 450 miles! There has been some confusion among travelers, so remember to double-check your GPS coordinates to avoid ending up in the wrong place.

2. A retirement haven.

Miramar Beach isn’t just a prime vacation spot; it’s also a hidden gem for retirees! With a demographic leaning towards the golden years, boasting 34.1% of residents aged 65 or older and a median age of 53.5 years, it’s the perfect place to kick back, relax, and soak up the sun in retirement bliss.

Synchronized seagull squawking.

At sunset, it’s not uncommon to witness a flock of seagulls engaging in what appears to be a perfectly choreographed squawking performance. It’s like the beach’s own version of a flash mob! But be warned, besides showcasing their talents, these seagulls have also perfected the art of dive-bombing unsuspecting beachgoers for their French fries.

Fun Facts About Panama City Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, & Miramar Beach

There you go – all you need to know for your Emerald Coast trivia night!

There are many other fun and interesting facts to discover during your trip to the Emerald Coast, but that’s all from us on that topic! To learn more, we suggest you chat with the friendly locals; they know all the juicy gossip and details about their incredible home.

Want more tips to make your trip to the Emerald Coast extra special? Then head to our blog on things to do in the area. We’ve covered many topics so far, like some interesting and fun facts about the area, a guide to the best restaurants, and a blog on pet-friendly spots.

And guess what? There are more amazing blogs coming soon, so stay tuned!

Wondering where to stay on the Emerald Coast during your visit?

Book your stay with Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals. We offer an unmatched selection of vacation rental properties to suit every traveler’s taste. Whether you’re looking for a beachfront condominium, pet-friendly rentals, or a charming beachside cottage, we have you covered.

Our properties are strategically located, which means you’ll be steps away from idyllic beaches, great dining options, exquisite golf courses, and an array of outdoor pursuits like deep-sea fishing, dolphin tours, and more. That’s the secret to a perfect Emerald Coast Gateway!


Taking a trip to the Emerald Coast with your pets is an adventure filled with unique and welcoming spots perfect for both you and your furry friends. 

This stretch of Florida is a paradise for animal lovers, offering everything from beautiful beaches where dogs can play in the sand, to friendly parks, bustling villages, and even water sports that welcome four-legged adventurers. 

Each place has its own charm, providing amenities like off-leash areas, eateries where pets are more than welcome, and events specifically designed for pets and their owners to have a blast together. 

Whether you want to chill by the ocean, wander through nature, or grab a bite with your pet sitting right next to you, these top picks make sure you and your pet have a memorable time. Dive into our guide to discover the Emerald Coast’s best spots for pet lovers, where every visit becomes a shared joy.


Henderson Beach State Park


Henderson Beach State Park


Henderson Beach State Park, situated in the vibrant heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast, is a top pick for pet lovers wanting to soak up the sun with their four-legged friends. This beautiful park features over 6,000 feet of stunning shoreline, with its sugar-white sands and clear blue waters creating a perfect setting for pets and their owners to have some fun. 

The park welcomes pets, just keep them on a leash no longer than 6 feet to ensure everyone enjoys their visit. Its nature trails wind through the coastal dune ecosystems, providing a great way for you and your pet to discover the area’s natural wonders together. Beyond the beach, there are shaded picnic spots ideal for a family day out with your pet. The park is designed with pets in mind, offering plenty of parking, facilities for pet needs, including waste disposal areas. Just a heads-up, make sure to bring along water for your pets, especially on hot days, to keep them hydrated and happy throughout your adventure.



Destin Dog Park


Destin Dog Park


Right in the middle of the Emerald Coast, Destin Dog Park is a lively spot for pets and their humans. It’s a big, well-kept park with different areas for big and small dogs, making sure everyone has a good time safely. The park is full of green grass where dogs can run around, play catch, and make friends, plus there are shady spots to cool off from the Florida heat.

This park has everything pets and people might need. There are water stations to keep the dogs hydrated, and places to throw away waste, keeping the park clean and green. There are also benches and tables where pet owners can sit back and watch their pets play and meet other dogs.

Destin Dog Park is known for its friendly community feel. People who come often talk about how welcoming it is, turning it into more than just a place for dogs to have fun—it’s where pet owners can meet and feel like part of a community. You’ll see events and gatherings that bring everyone closer, sharing a love for pets.

If you’re in the Emerald Coast with your pet, stopping by Destin Dog Park is a must. It shows how much the area loves and supports pet-friendly places, offering a fun outdoor space for dogs and a peaceful spot for owners to enjoy.



Blue Crab Water Sports


Blue Crab Watersports


Blue Crab Water Sports shines as a top spot for pet lovers looking for fun on the Emerald Coast. This watersports center is a friendly place for pets, giving their owners a special chance to enjoy the clear waters together. 

From paddleboarding in calm waters to kayaking around the bay, pets are welcome to join the excitement, making it a memorable outing for the entire family. 

The place is proud of its love for pets, offering water bowls and special areas where pets can relax and play. The team at Blue Crab Water Sports isn’t just skilled in watersports; they’re huge pet fans too, always ready to share advice on keeping your pets safe and joyful during your water adventures. 

Their dedication to a pet-friendly atmosphere is clear, with amenities and services that meet everyone’s needs, pets included. Embracing pet-friendly values, Blue Crab Water Sports makes your holiday better, securing its place as a favorite for those wanting to make special memories with their pets along the Emerald Coast.



HarborWalk Village


Harborwalk Village


HarborWalk Village, located along the beautiful Emerald Coast, stands out as a top pet-friendly spot, inviting visitors and their furry friends to enjoy its lively atmosphere. This waterfront area isn’t just about the stunning harbor views; it’s also incredibly welcoming to pets, making it a perfect place for pet owners to visit. 

With plenty of outdoor dining options, pets can hang out with their owners, breathing in the fresh sea air while everyone enjoys tasty local dishes. The village’s pathways and open spaces are great for leisurely walks, giving pets lots of opportunities to explore and make new friends. 

Additionally, many shops in the village are happy to welcome pets, so shopping becomes a fun activity you can share with your four-legged companions. The community also puts on pet-focused events, like costume parades and social gatherings, creating a friendly atmosphere for pet owners. 

What’s more, HarborWalk Village is committed to keeping the area clean and provides pet waste stations to ensure a pleasant visit for everyone. This mix of pet-friendly features and entertaining activities makes HarborWalk Village an ideal destination for those wanting to enjoy the Emerald Coast with their pets.


Destin Commons


Destin Commons


Destin Commons, located in the heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast, is not just a shopping center—it’s a welcoming haven for pets and their owners. Covering 95 acres, this open-air complex is a bustling spot where dogs are happily seen walking by their human friends under the warm Florida sunshine. 

Numerous stores within Destin Commons open their doors to pets, making shopping trips a shared adventure. To keep the area clean and enjoyable for everyone, pet waste stations are conveniently placed throughout the premises. 

The Commons doesn’t stop at shopping; it offers a variety of outdoor dining options where pets can relax by their owners’ side, perfect for those who don’t want to leave their furry companions at home. 

Moreover, Destin Commons brings the community together with pet-focused events throughout the year, including opportunities for festive photos and celebrations, cementing its status as a pet-friendly destination. 

This blend of accessibility, warmth, and entertainment makes Destin Commons a memorable spot for pet lovers on the Emerald Coast, providing an engaging experience for both pets and their owners.



The Village of Baytowne Wharf


The Village of Baytowne Wharf


The Village of Baytowne Wharf, located on Florida’s Emerald Coast, is a dream spot for pet lovers who want to enjoy beautiful views while keeping their furry friends by their side. 

This delightful village is not just about its stunning scenery; it’s incredibly welcoming to pets too. Here, you and your four-legged pals can wander along paths surrounded by beautiful landscapes, with the calm bay waters adding to the peaceful atmosphere. 

Many restaurants and cafes offer outdoor seating where pets are warmly welcomed, complete with water bowls and treats to make them feel as valued as their human counterparts. 

The open, airy setting of the village makes it a perfect place for pets to breathe in the fresh coastal breeze and discover a friendly, bustling community. Throughout the year, the village hosts events and markets that are fun for both pets and their owners, giving everyone a taste of the Emerald Coast’s vibrant culture. 

The Village of Baytowne Wharf truly shines as a pet-friendly destination, inviting pet owners to create lasting memories with their pets in one of the most beautiful spots along the Emerald Coast.



Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park

Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park


Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park is a gem along Florida’s Emerald Coast for pet owners looking for a spot where their furry friends are more than welcome. 

This beautiful park is celebrated for its lush landscapes, which range from dense pine forests to vibrant aquatic settings. It’s the perfect place for pets and their humans to explore the outdoors together. 

Dogs on leashes can join their owners on various trails, making it easy to enjoy the park’s natural beauty and biodiversity. The Sand Pine Trail, for instance, offers a straightforward path that’s rich in sights and sounds, ideal for a leisurely walk with your pet.

Close to Rocky Bayou, the park provides a peaceful setting for several activities. Although pets can’t go into the swimming areas, there are plenty of spots nearby where they can have fun in the water under their owners’ supervision. 

The park is dedicated to keeping both its natural beauty and its visitors safe, ensuring a pleasant visit for everyone. With picnic areas that come fully equipped, pet owners can have a comfortable spot to relax and eat while surrounded by nature. 

This makes Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park a top choice for those looking for pet-friendly destinations on the Emerald Coast.



The Doggy Bag

The Doggy Bag


Right in the heart of the Emerald Coast, “The Doggy Bag” is a favorite spot for pet lovers looking for a friendly place to shop with their furry friends. This special boutique is all about dogs and their humans, with a wide selection of top-notch pet products, from delicious treats to trendy accessories. It’s more than a shop; it’s a place where pet owners come together, exchanging stories and finding a supportive community.

The store focuses on the health and happiness of dogs, carefully choosing products that are both safe and good for them. The knowledgeable and passionate staff enhance the shopping experience, helping owners pick just the right things to suit their dogs’ likes and needs.

“The Doggy Bag” also brings the community together through events and activities that deepen the bond between pets and their owners. These include casual meet-ups, training sessions, and even parties for special occasions. These events are not just entertaining; they also encourage dogs to socialize and build a community spirit among dog enthusiasts.

For visitors to the Emerald Coast with pets in tow, stopping by “The Doggy Bag” is a memorable experience, reflecting the area’s love for pets and providing a fun outing for both dogs and their owners.



Tail-Wagging Goodbyes: Concluding Our Tour of Emerald Coast’s Pet-Friendly Havens


Wrapping up our guide to the Emerald Coast’s pet-friendly spots, it’s clear this slice of Florida really rolls out the red carpet for our furry friends. From peaceful beaches and lively parks to welcoming outdoor cafes and community events, the area celebrates pets like beloved family members. 

Each place we’ve highlighted offers its own mix of enjoyment, relaxation, and belonging, showing that the Emerald Coast is a paradise for animal lovers. 

So, pack up, leash up, and get ready for unforgettable adventures with your pets in one of the most welcoming and gorgeous spots around. The Emerald Coast is calling, promising smiles, wags, and memories for you and your pets.



Whether you are a local Floridian or planning a visit, the Emerald Coast of Florida sets the stage for some fantastic spring events between March and May. Its stunning white sandy beaches with some of the most crystal-clear emerald waters you will ever see turn to be the perfect backdrop for an assortment of food, art, music, and cultural festivals. Let’s explore some of these annual events which make springtime the most exciting season to be in the Emerald Coast.


Burning Up the Beaches (March)


Burning up the Beaches


The Burning Up the Beaches event is not just another classic car show. Instead, it’s a vibrant amalgamation of shiny chrome, sun-bathed beaches, and profound displays of kindness. Regardless of whether you are a die-hard auto enthusiast or just an ordinary beach-goer, this event guarantees a memorable and worthwhile encounter.

This thrilling event kick-starts with early packet pick-ups and on-site registrations, marking the commencement of an electrifying weekend. It’s the moment when car enthusiasts start assembling, sparking an air of eager expectation and friendly companionship.

As the event gains momentum, attendees celebrate with a full day of unique cruise stops that they can visit at their own pace. A comprehensive driver’s handbook guides the attendees about the nuances of these stops.

As daylight starts to fade, the event transitions into the Beach Bash – a thematically planned dinner where guests can break bread together, exchange tales, and revel in the dynamic performances by the live band. It’s an evening where the sound of laughter and the harmony of music complements the soothing hum of a perfectly tuned engine.

The heart of this event beats at Destin Commons, fittingly christened ‘Car Show Central.’ Amidst gleaming chrome exteriors and vivid old-school paintwork, the nostalgic charm of bygone eras is rekindled, capturing everyone’s imagination. The event crescendos with a valve cover race and awards ceremony, all set to the beat of music spun by a local DJ.

So, why wait? Rev your engines and prepare yourself for an unforgettable journey.



Emerald Coast Cruzin’ (March)


Emerald Coast Cruizin


Along the stunning coastline of Panama City Beach, Florida, Emerald Coast Cruizin stands out as a premier destination for automotive enthusiasts from all corners. Founded in 2005, this annual automotive festival is a dream come true for those who admire the beauty and engineering of classic cars, hot rods, street rods, exotics, and muscle cars alike. Here’s why Emerald Coast Cruizin is more than just a car show—it’s a vibrant celebration of automotive history and culture that offers something for everyone.

Emerald Coast Cruizin was meticulously designed to cater to the diverse interests of automotive enthusiasts. Whether you’re a proud owner of a sleek, vintage hot rod or someone who appreciates the intricate designs of exotics and muscle cars, this event promises an unforgettable experience. It’s not merely about showcasing these mechanical beauties; it’s about celebrating the passion, craftsmanship, and community that binds car lovers together.

Situated at Aaron Bessant Park, just one block away from pristine beaches and directly adjacent to Pier Park’s shopping paradise, the event finds its home in an idyllic setting. With 17 acres of lush green space, comfortable amenities, and a central stage for live music and awards, the event’s location ensures a day well spent for families, enthusiasts, and casual visitors alike.



Sandestin Wine Festival (April)


Wine Festival


Unleash the allure at the esteemed Sandestin Wine Festival, where golden beaches intertwine with the luxurious aromas of premium wine in an orchestration of pleasure and festivity. Nestled in the picturesque Village of Baytowne Wharf, within the lavish grounds of the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, this epic event represents a time-honored tradition extending over four days of sophisticated gastronomy and delightful wine tasting. Assembling under one sky are wine aficionados, epicureans, and those who cherish the sun, the festival serves as a one-of-a-kind gateway to enjoy the vast array of wines from various corners of the world, right in the heart of coastal opulence.

Picture yourself meandering along the verdant paths of the resort, a wine glass cradled in your hand, as you explore a fascinating line-up of wine purveyors, each brimming with tales of their unique creations. As the celebrations of the festival gain momentum, enthusiasts are invited to relish an array of varietals, partake in exclusive dining events such as Roberto’s Santa Margherita Dinner, and ignite their mornings with a Farewell Brunch.

As preparations commence for the upcoming Sandestin Wine Festival, it’s time to sync your calendars for an unparalleled escapade of luxury and relaxation. Whether your goal is to broaden your wine repertoire or to simply absorb the tranquil vibes of Florida’s Gulf Coast, the festival pledges a blend of elegance, enlightenment, and amusement in an unforgettable weekend-long event.



South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival (April)


South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival


For over ten years, the SoWal Wine Festival has evolved into a beloved event, eagerly awaited by wine connoisseurs and casual enthusiasts alike. Situated in the picturesque setting of South Walton, the festival distinguishes itself not just by its exceptional selection of wines but also through its dedication to fostering a sense of community and philanthropy. Annually, the charming and dynamic neighborhoods of South Walton metamorphose into a nexus for wine aficionados, providing a chance for participants to dive into a realm of unparalleled flavors, scents, and encounters.

Crafted with meticulous attention to detail and executed with care, the festival offers a four-day journey that goes beyond a mere celebration; it’s an immersive exploration of the wine culture, marked by a commitment to community welfare. Each tasting invites attendees on an explorative trip across varied vineyards and exclusive varieties, making every toast a meaningful contribution to a larger good. The SoWal Wine Festival stands as more than just an occasion; it’s a landmark event that unites experts and beginners, weaving narratives, forging memories, and nurturing a collective passion for wine.

As it grows, the festival’s core mission persists – to congregate beneath the sunny skies of Florida, revel in the thrill of discovery, and celebrate a future inspired by charity and togetherness, articulated through the universal dialect of wine.



Seabreeze Jazz Festival (April)


Seabreeze Jazz Festival 2


Basking in the luminous ambiance of Panama City Beach, FL, the Seabreeze Jazz Festival shines as a mecca for aficionados of smooth jazz from all corners of the country. Hosted in the captivating Aaron Beasant Park Amphitheater that marries natural allure with the perks of state-of-the-art amenities, the festival presents an all-encompassing sensory journey that transcends the bounds of ordinary musical events. Annually, 600 S Pier Park Dr. blooms into a lively gathering place for the créme de la créme of jazz talent and their devoted followers, all under the limitless canopy of the Florida heavens.

Celebrated for an artist roster that reads like a roll call of jazz luminaries, the festival consistently delights with a diverse palette of musical geniuses. Though lineup and times may shift, the enduring essence of jazz brilliance and the electric atmosphere of collective anticipation are ever-present. Festivalgoers are invited to monitor the official timeline diligently to ensure they savor the moments with their preferred maestros. Beyond the compelling mainstage acts, the Sea Breeze Jazz Festival enriches its attendees’ experience with a variety of supplemental festivities including after-parties, jazz-themed cruise adventures, and exclusive appearances by festival-specific artists, culminating in an exhaustive homage to the jazz tradition.


ArtsQuest Fine Arts Festival (May)


ArtsQuest Photo by Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County


Hosted by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, ArtsQuest provides the perfect forum for artists, performers, and enthusiasts to come together in a symphony of expression and admiration. This annual Fine Arts & Music Festival blooms in the heart of the South Walton community, taking art appreciation and cultural immersion to new heights.

From painting and ceramics to jewelry and digital design, the spectrum of exhibits reflects the limitless boundaries of creativity. Furthermore, ArtsQuest understands the intrinsic connection between art and culture, where each artist’s individual work tells a unique story that resonates with the community.

The Cultural Arts Alliance’s initiative gives artworks and performances space to be viewed, appreciated, and celebrated by the community. As the curtains rise for the upcoming ArtsQuest Fine Arts & Music Festival, let us embrace the opportunity to relish the beauty of creativity and, simultaneously, share in South Walton’s thriving cultural heartbeat.



Memorial Day Weekend Celebrations (May)




As summer beckons with its promise of sunny days and clear night skies, there’s no place like HarborWalk Village in Destin, Florida, to kick things off. The Memorial Day Weekend Celebration at HarborWalk Village is an eagerly awaited event that marks the unofficial start of summer in spectacular fashion. The celebration transforms the Destin Harbor into a vibrant stage for live music, dazzling air shows, and mesmerizing fireworks, creating an atmosphere of pure joy and excitement for locals and visitors alike.


The festivities commence with an evening of live music where the lineup promises to enthrall attendees with powerful performances. The excitement continues with a respectful remembrance ceremony, accompanied by a vintage air show, inviting everyone to look skyward in awe. As the sun sets, the night sky lights up with fireworks and fire spinning, painting the harbor with vibrant colors and energy. The celebration doesn’t stop there; a Silent Disco on Captain’s Deck and live music ensure the party goes on, capped off with another brilliant fireworks and fire spinning display.


With an on-site parking fee that includes all-day access and same-day return, the Memorial Day Weekend Celebration at HarborWalk Village is both accessible and convenient, making it an unmissable event for those looking to commemorate the holiday in style. Set against the idyllic location of 10 Harbor Blvd, Destin, Florida, this annual event offers a perfect blend of entertainment, remembrance, and summer fun, welcoming the warmer months with open arms and uplifted spirits.


Vacation with Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals

As we spotlight all of these great events we would like to invite you to a relaxing stay with Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals. Offering the finest selection of properties along the stunning sugar-white sands and emerald green waters of the Gulf Coast, ECVR ensures that your cultural getaway is complemented by the comfort of a place that feels like home. Indulge in the array of choices, from pet-friendly accommodations to beachfront rentals, ensuring your stay is tailor-fit to your preferences and needs.

Why vacation with us at Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals? The answer lies in the seamless blend of comfort, convenience, and exclusive experiences that our guests testify to time and again. With our meticulous cleanliness, exceptional service, and added perks like our exclusive Amenities Package. Join us for more than just a vacation, but an extension of your artful journey, where the splendor of nature meets exceptional hospitality. Take the first step towards creating unforgettable memories along the mesmerizing shores of Florida’s Emerald Coast—vacation with us at ECVR, where your ideal getaway awaits.


With extensive bays, beautiful sandy beaches, and diverse deep-sea waters, the Florida Panhandle is considered one of the best fishing spots in the world, and a lot of the action happens along the Emerald Coast. The region boasts a profound connection to fishing traditions that go back generations and there’s enough in there to keep any angler happy for years in a row.

Locations such as Panama City Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, and Miramar Beach form a great base to explore the Emerald Coast and go fishing in the area. However, with so many fishing opportunities, it can be hard to know where to start and figure out the local regulations. Worry never. This blog will act as your basic guide for fishing on the Emerald Coast, FL.

Brace yourself for a “splash-tacular” journey!



Inshore and Offshore Fishing on the Emerald Coast, FL

From a geographical standpoint, the Emerald Coast is an ideal location for both inshore and offshore fishing. Firstly, the many bays and estuaries along the coast create shallow inshore waters that serve as fish nurseries and attract large predatory species, like redfish, snook, and speckled trout.

Secondly, the proximity to the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico makes it an ideal location for offshore fishing. Anglers can easily access deep-sea fishing grounds, where they can target larger pelagic species such as grouper, snapper, tuna, and billfish. 

The Gulf’s floor is dotted with underwater structures like reefs, wrecks, and ledges, and we know that rich marine life is usually attracted to these structures. Moreover, the favorable climate of the region, characterized by mild winters and warm summers, allows for year-round fishing.

Whether you’re a seasoned fishing pro or someone eager to try new activities, the Emerald Coast is the place to be, and the backdrop of calm waters and white sandy beaches will undoubtedly enhance the overall experience.



Inshore and Bay Fishing Along the Emerald Coast, FL

Inshore fishing is pretty big on the Emerald Coast. This essentially involves fishing in waters roughly 30 meters deep or less, typically near the shore, in shallow bays, estuaries, and marshes — much of which you will find when fishing in Panama City Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, and Miramar Beach.

These calmer waters are inhabited by smaller fish, but the variety in species and quantity can be quite substantial. Inshore fishing requires the use of lighter tackle and sometimes smaller boats or kayaks. Common species in inshore fishing include redfish, flounder, and trout.

Along the Emerald Coast, you can enjoy inshore fishing in various locations, including St. Andrew Bay and Grand Lagoon near Panama City Beach, Choctawhatchee Bay and Santa Rosa Sound near Fort Walton Beach, as well as Destin Harbor and Baytowne Marina.

If you’re into beach and pier fishing, you don’t need to charter a boat to catch fish; just grab a rod, reel, and some bait. Depending on the time of year, piers and jetties are a great bet. The bay system around Panama City Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, and Miramar Beach is also easy to navigate in a kayak or pontoon boat.



Offshore Fishing Along the Emerald Coast, FL

Not just the near waters along the Emerald Coast, but the entire Gulf area is also a great location for offshore fishing, a category of fishing that takes place in deeper waters. That’s where the real big fish live, and the Gulf of Mexico is home to some truly impressive species.

In offshore fishing, you’ll travel miles away from the shore on a larger boat in the direction of reefs and wrecks in the deep sea, including man-made structures like oil rigs, all of which provide excellent habitat for baitfish as well as large saltwater game fish.

Heading offshore means you’ll travel about 30 miles or more to find species like cobia, mackerel, Spanish and king mackerel, tarpon, red snapper, grouper, and mahi mahi, among others.

This category requires heavier equipment and various bait and lure options to attract and catch larger species, so keep that in mind.

The Best Seasons for Inshore and Offshore Fishing in Navarre Beach

It’s always a great time for fishing somewhere along the Emerald Coast. But what you get varies throughout the seasons, and that’s a good thing because it provides anglers with unique challenges and catches. Here’s a general overview:


The best way to know what the waters are like in each season and what fish you can catch is by chatting with local fishing charters and guides. They will always provide up-to-date information based on current conditions in the Emerald Coast region.



Wondering How to Explore the Waters of The Emerald Coast?

For those looking to leave the surf and explore the waters of the Emerald Coast, chartering a boat is the optimal choice, and it comes with numerous perks. When you charter a boat, you can typically bring up to six passengers in your fishing party. Moreover, it includes a captain or guide who not only navigates the boat in the right direction, where the fish are, but also provides excellent local knowledge to enhance your experience.

You can also consider party boat fishing, commonly known as headboat fishing. This option involves a larger group of people sharing a boat for a fishing excursion. It’s an accessible choice open to the public, where each individual pays separately. This is particularly convenient if you’re traveling solo or with only a friend of two.

The Emerald Coast boasts a variety of charter companies. Let’s explore some of our favorites below:

When assessing charter companies in the Emerald Coast, be sure to check their experience and expertise and inquire about the necessary licenses for fishing in the waters they operate. 

Also, it’s always a good idea to take the time to read online reviews from other people who have used their services. These steps will help you make an informed decision and ensure a rewarding fishing experience.


Licenses & Permits for Fishing in the Emerald Coast

Whether you prefer inshore or offshore fishing, you have no shortage of options along the Emerald Coast. But heads up! Before heading out for your fishing adventures in Florida, as anywhere else, you should check the licenses, permits, and regulations for fishing.

Most charter companies will double-check that for you when you hire their services. But it’s still worth checking it out yourself to avoid hefty fines. These procedures are in place to guarantee your safety and ensure the conservation of wildlife habitats and fish populations.

Here are some things to have in mind:

To know more about licenses and permits in Florida, check the website of the  Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. This link will provide the latest information and ensure a legal hunting and fishing experience for you. And, as we mentioned above, always ask locals within the fishing business; they will know the requirements better than anyone else. 


Extra Tips for Fishing Along The Emerald Coast of Florida

Apart from familiarizing yourself with and following the guidelines, you should also prioritize your personal safety when fishing. This involves packing essentials such as sunscreen, polarized sunglasses, and a hat.

Besides, it’s always a good idea to bring along some snacks and refreshments, especially for offshore excursions. Many charter choices typically supply a cooler for your convenience.

Once you have the above covered, all that’s left to do is focus on the exciting task at hand — catching that fish! Enjoy your fishing adventure on the Emerald Coast!

Want more tips to make your trip to the Emerald Coast extra special? Then head to our blog on things to do in the area. We’ve covered many topics so far, like some interesting and fun facts about the area, a guide to the best restaurants, and a blog on pet-friendly spots.

And guess what? There are more amazing blogs coming soon, so stay tuned!

Wondering where to stay on the Emerald Coast during your visit?

Book your stay with Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals. We offer an unmatched selection of vacation rental properties to suit every traveler’s taste. Whether you’re looking for a beachfront condominium, pet-friendly rentals, or a charming beachside cottage, we have you covered.

Our properties are strategically located, which means you’ll be steps away from idyllic beaches, great dining options, exquisite golf courses, and an array of outdoor pursuits like deep-sea fishing, dolphin tours, and more. That’s the secret to a perfect Emerald Coast Gateway!

Venturing on a culinary exploration within the Emerald Coast is always a delight. In most places, the restaurant scene is diverse, vibrant, and uniquely influenced by the region’s coastal geography.

Whether you’re looking for a place to have a hearty breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you’ll be spoiled for options, and they vary from an impressive array of laid-back establishments to fine dining spots. Also, as this is the Emerald Coast, there’s plenty of al-fresco and beachfront dining, which means you can have a lovely meal feeling the sea breeze or even soaking in the views — what more could you want for a holiday dining experience on the Gulf Coast?

Wondering what are the top restaurants to hit in the Emerald Coast? This blog will bring Emeyou a curated selection of the best restaurants in Panama City Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, & Miramar Beach.

Get ready to feast!



The Best restaurants in Panama City Beach, FL


Sitting a few steps away from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, this romantic and upscale seafood spot offers a lovely dining experience in a spacious area under a lit-up oak tree.

The ever-evolving menu is an interesting fusion. For instance, starters like the jumbo lump crab cake and Kobe carpaccio are potent to get you prepared for mains that include a rack of elk, grilled Gulf grouper, and smoked bison short rib. Wondering about dessert? The chocolate frangipane tart and the crème brûlée are must-tries.

The place is famous for Chef Derek Langford’s interpretation of “gulf to table” dishes. There’s a sushi bar and an excellent list of wines and cocktails. The food is fresh, native, and flavorful, and the service is impeccable. Not just any beach restaurant!



Bella Roma Tuscan Grill

Craving some authentic Italian cuisine in Panama City Beach? Head to Bella Roma Tuscan Grill. The chef learned his tricks from his mom and Nona on the Amalfi Coast in Italy, so you’re guaranteed a treat.

The intimate diner-style booths in the dining room are lovely, and you can also choose to sit on the patio, both with a chill atmosphere. The menu features premium pastas and pizzas, all with traditional flavors and an exciting twist. An all-time favorite is the Spaghetti Pescatore. We also highly suggest you leave some space for dessert — they have some amazing classics like tiramisu, cannoli, and zesty limoncello cake.

The service is great, and if you have any dietary restrictions, the staff is usually pretty accommodating. In the end, do as the Italians do, order an Espresso Martini!


The Grand Marlin

Coastal cuisine with views over the water, anyone? Located in the picturesque Port Lagoon area, The Grand Marlin in Panama City Beach is the place to go.

Besides some delicious island cocktails, the menu features the highest quality cuisine, from crispy lobster fingers and Oysters Rockefeller to seared swordfish and fried Gulf shrimp. Desserts like key lime pie and red velvet cake are also popular. Everything is fresh, as the menu varies daily to reflect what comes from the sea. There’s an oyster bar, and the cocktail list is great. The vibe is island-like and casual, so you can sport your beach fashion and even flip-flops if you’d like.

Oh, sunset dining is a true hit in this one — you’ll get the first-row seat for nature’s daily spectacle, but be sure to book in advance.



Pineapple Willy’s 

Serving fresh seafood since 1984, this on-the-sand spot is a local favorite, offering po’boys, alligator bites, and frozen drinks while boasting big TVs for sports enthusiasts.

They are very well known for their Caribbean salad, “world-famous” barbecue ribs, and their Chilly Willy Daiquiris. Another good part? The restaurant is housed in a piece of history that was once a pier opened in 1936 for sightseers and fishermen. Now it has become a dining area with some of the best views of the Gulf Coast; you’ll be right above the sand and the water while enjoying a quaint and tranquil Florida setting.


The Best Restaurants in Fort Walton Beach, FL

Stewby’s Seafood Shanty

A long-time local favorite, this casual family eatery spot is all about offering a laid-back experience without compromising the cuisine. The menu offers a diverse selection of seafood classics at reasonable prices.

In the outdoor seating area, you can enjoy the warm breeze at picnic tables, or opt for cozy indoor seating.

Their fish tacos are a must-try. Other great options include grilled shrimp, grilled flounder, grouper and flounder sandwiches, and fish tacos. Most options come with good sides like coleslaw and potato salad.

For most mains, you can choose baskets, or platters, or opt to enjoy them as a sandwich or tacos. Most options go well with good sides like coleslaw and potato salad. Everything is fresh and locally sourced, coming straight from the docks nearby. Not a fancy place, but definitely one that carries the locally approved seal.


The Gulf Okaloosa Island

Perched on the edge of Okaloosa Island, this stylish bayside hangout for seafood and cocktails combines breathtaking views with fresh seaside cuisine – a match made in heaven. They have both indoor and outdoor areas, with open-air seating providing the classic Emerald Coast experience that people look for.

The decor boasts shipping containers and reclaimed recycled building materials, all set against palm trees and beach sand, giving the impression of eating in someone’s quirky backyard.

The menu changes with the seasons and features options like the Lobster Shrimp Roll or the Voodoo Pasta. Like many of its peers, there is a commitment to serving locally sourced and fresh food.

This is another great option for beautiful sunset dining, and the atmosphere is always enhanced by great music and staff friendliness.



The Best Restaurants in Destin, FL

Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House

Located on Destin’s harbor, Boshamps, as this spot is called by locals, offers casual seating with two bars and very nice water views with boats moored. You can sit indoors or outdoors.

Got kids in tow? They usually like this place, especially because they can play on the sand while you have your drink by the bar listening to some live music.

The menu features southern-style seafood and Angus steaks. The pan-roasted Gulf grouper is a favorite option, as are the Oysters Rockefeller. But you should also try their sandwiches, especially the southern-style seafood and Angus steaks. The staff is also happy to suggest kid-friendly options and vegetarian alternatives.

The bar has a variety of drink options. This one is all about kicking back and enjoying the laid-back Florida vibes.

Captain Dave’s On the Gulf

Captain Dave’s is a typical seafood eatery, a pretty airy restaurant with more water views for you. In business since 1968, they focus on American seafood with a Gulf Coast twist, offering classic fried, grilled, and broiled seafood dishes. Make sure to ask what the daily special is.

Their floor-to-ceiling windows make you feel like you’re right on the shore, even if you sit inside, and their welcoming hospitality will make a real difference in your dining experience. Oh, there’s also a full-service bar with a spacious lounge, perfect for a drink after a satisfying dinner.



Harbor Docks

Another fantastic waterfront hangout with deck seating, great seafood, and sushi, this time in Destin, is Harbor Docks. In business for nearly 45 years, this one is a total local gem. The restaurant has its own local market just below the dining area — talking about fresh food, right?

The Fried Seafood Platters are a great order; they serve the catch of the day together with hand-cut fries, coleslaw, and hushpuppies. They also infuse their offering with a well-suited Asian flavor. The Japanese menu includes rolls, pokes, sashimi, and nigiri, and the Thai Pad Thai is very popular.

With its nice atmosphere, longstanding tradition in service, and good views of the Destin Harbor, Harbor Docks is a go-to spot in Destin, especially if you are into sushi!


The Best Restaurants in Miramar Beach, FL

Lillie’s Q

In the mood for some smoked meats, mouth-watering sauces, and rubs? Lillie’s Q is for you then. This rustic Thai spot is a favorite of locals and visitors alike for its BBQ meats, Southern fare, and housemade moonshine cocktails.

Among the must-tries are the excellent BBQ pulled pork sandwich, the potato salad, the baked beans, the brisket, the homemade sauces, and the cole slaw, but really, everything is cooked to perfection, so do try around. If the day is nice, it’s a great idea to sit on the outdoor porch, enjoy your meal, and just soak in the environment around you.


Best Restaurants in Panama City Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, & Miramar Beach

Hungry yet? With these tips for the best restaurants along the Emerald Coast, you will make your visit to the region worthwhile for the culinary experience alone. Whenever you plan to visit this Florida paradise, make sure to look for a guide on the best eateries in Panama City Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, & Miramar Beach.

Every now and then, a new place pops up offering a new take on local cuisine and bridging more experimental flavors from across the world.



Wondering where to stay on the Emerald Coast during your visit?

Book your stay with Emerald Coast Vacation Rentals. We offer an unmatched selection of vacation rental properties to suit every traveler’s taste. Whether you’re looking for a beachfront condominium, pet-friendly rentals, or a charming beachside cottage, we have you covered.

Our properties are strategically located, which means you’ll be steps away from idyllic beaches, great dining options, exquisite golf courses, and an array of outdoor pursuits like deep-sea fishing, dolphin tours, and more. That’s the secret to a perfect Emerald Coast Gateway!