When one wants to lounge seaside and take in the ocean breeze, summertime usually comes to mind. However, Fort Walton Beach is a great escape for fall break as well. For one, the temperatures are milder, yet not too cool that you can’t get your bikini wet in the ocean. The summertime rush is over, so crowds are gone and hotel rates are cheaper. Plus there are tons of activities and festivals still in full swing, so enjoying Fort Walton Beach in the fall is a local’s best-kept secret. So use this guide if you’re looking for all the wonderful things to do during fall break in Fort Walton Beach.
Festival and Events
During the fall, you don’t want to miss the Destin Seafood Festival, a three-day event that is one of the biggest events on the Emerald Coast. It takes place in October, kicking off the Destin Fishing Rodeo. Enjoy multiple seafood vendors, as well as live entertainment and fireworks. And it’s family friendly too – there’s the Annual Mingo Toss, a fish-throwing contest just for kids. Then try your hand at catching the biggest fish all month long at the Destin Fishing Rodeo, with weigh-ins held at AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar. There’s also the Greek Festival, a local tradition where you can enjoy live performances, food, fand unique arts and crafts. Enjoy local burgers and craft beer at the Burgers, Bourbon, and Beer Festival, an annual event benefitting the Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Coast. The Mattie Kelly Festival of the Arts, put on by the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, is a family-friendly event celebrating local art, music, food and crafts all weekend long.
In the fall, there’s also plenty of fun activities going on at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Water Park. From October 15-16, there’s the annual Croctoberfest, where you can enjoy all things reptilian – and get a chance to take a picture with Magnolia, the albino alligator. Two weeks later, you can enjoy the “Gulfscarium’s” Splash or Treat event to enjoy sea lion and dolphin presentations after hours while trick or treating around the park.
The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island is another host to a slew of fall activities, including Halloween time where they celebrate their annual “Tricks and Treasures at the Boardwalk”. It’s a family friendly event that includes carnival games, pirate shows and parades, and over 25 candy stations. The event is followed by Halloween night fireworks. Then in November, don’t miss the Boardwalk Country Music Beach Festival, where you can enjoy live country music acts for free. The boardwalk also hosts movies on the beach, so enjoy a fall flick along with the ocean views.
Where To Stay
There are plenty of locations and home-away-from-homes that are packed with features that make the fall at Fort Walton Beach just as enjoyable as staying in the summertime. The Island Resort at Fort Walton Beach has oceanside views along with luxury amenities, such as a heated outdoor pool and a grotto with a swim up bar. They boast a full calendar of events which include nightly music and weekly activities for the family. The Wyndham Gardan at Fort Walton Beach is another oceanfront location has pool side and in-room dining, offers military discounts and a wedding venue. The Holiday Inn Resort has a heated outdoor lazy pool, heated indoor pool, game room, Dive-Inn movies, and a beachfront tiki bar. The Hitlon Garden Inn has outdoor fire pits, beachfront lazy pool and tiki bar, and is beautifully decorated with a custom design that embraces the nature of the Gulf Coast.
What To Eat
Fort Walton beach surprisingly has a wide variety of dining choices, but we’ll start with the basics – fresh seafood! Get the fish of the day sandwich, fried or chargrilled, or grab some oysters royale at the oyster bar at Hightide Restaurant. The Oldbay Steamer has steamed steafood, quality steaks, and “locally famous” ribs. Floyd’s Shrimp house has all you can eat shrimp from 4-6 PM daily, plus raw and baked oysters, coconut shrimp, and more.
If you’re in the mood for something a little different and unexpected, but in line with the fall season – then celebrate Ocktoberfest at the Bavarian’s Wirtshaus. Listen to live daily music, enjoy a German beer, and chow down on a schnitzel sandwich at the #6 best German restaurant in the USA. If that’s not your style, then enjoy some wood-fired pizza and Italian fare at Clemza’s at Uptown.
Fall is not quite fall without a fresh cup of brewed coffee. Fear not, because Fort Walton has plenty of coffee houses. The Sound Café has signature espressos such as the Cinnamon Toast Crunch and the Coconut, as well as coffee laced with mushroom supplements such as Lion’s Mane. Or grab a matcha latte and a gourmet Raspberry Pistachio donut at Parlour Donuts.
Enjoy The Water
And last but not least, there are many water activities you can enjoy during the fall season. The wet and wild adventures don’t end at summertime! Fall is still a great season for fishing in Fort Walton beach – Xtreme Fishing Charters offers deep sea, bay, and bottom fishing. Tarpon, mahi mahi, redfish, founder, and red snapper are examples of some of the fish you can find in October and November.
Take a tour on the Crab Island Runner to watch the fireworks explode over Destin Harbor. Let the fall breeze and live music from the dock waft over you and your family as you relax, take in the oceanic views, and possibly meet some friendly dolphins. The Island Dolphin cruise is another chance to discover sea life as the captain and crew navigate you through the grass flats and the Choctawhatchee Bay. Check out our pontoon boats, waverunner, and jet ski rentals as well at Xtreme H2O Of Fort Walton Beach
Just remember, fall is a great season to not just enjoy crisp air and beautiful sunsets, but take part in festivals, great seafood, enjoy luxury resorts, and the same water activities and sports you can enjoy in the summertime.