16 Fun Things to Do in Fort Walton Beach with Family
Fort Walton Beach, located on the beautiful Emerald Coast of Florida, is a perfect vacation spot for families seeking sun, sand, and fun. This coastal city offers plenty of activities that cater to visitors of all ages, making it an ideal destination for a family getaway.
From its pristine beaches to its thrilling go-kart rides, museums, and historical sites, Fort Walton Beach has something to offer everyone. In this post, I’ll share some of the top things to do in Fort Walton Beach with family, so you can plan your trip and make lasting memories with your loved ones.
👉 My favorite spot to stay in Fort Walton Beach is the Hilton Garden Inn Ft. Walton Beach – Check it out
Things to do in Fort Walton Beach with family at the beach
If you are visiting Fort Walton Beach Florida with your family, I’m guessing that time at the beach is a big part of your plan, right?
1. Building sandcastles and playing beach games
The sand at Fort Walton Beach is fabulous for building sandcastles. There are plenty of beaches to enjoy too so you’ll easily find a spot for your creations. On my last trip, I enjoyed watching a very creative guy build an enormous castle while I lounged under my beach umbrella – it took him all day!
Beach games are another terrific idea for family time. Let’s face it, not all kids are satisfied with just laying on the sand and reading a book – they want to be entertained! 😂 We actually love playing beach games like CanJam or Washers.
Even if you are flying and don’t have room for lots of games, you can always bring a frisbee or ball to throw!
2. Swimming and sunbathing
The water at Fort Walton Beach Florida is ideal for swimming. Although you do have to be careful (as always when playing in the ocean), the water is pretty warm and the gentle surf is perfect for boogie boards.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida, is renowned for its stunning beaches that offer crystal-clear water, soft white sand, and plenty of sunshine, making it a perfect place for soaking up the sun. With miles of coastline and ample space, you can easily find the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
3. Henderson Beach State Park
If you don’t have a private beach with your accommodations or just want a change of scenery, check out Henderson Beach State Park located in nearby Destin, Florida. It is a must-visit destination for families looking for a pristine and serene beach experience.
The park boasts over 6,000 feet of natural shoreline, offering visitors a secluded and tranquil atmosphere to enjoy the crystal-clear water and soft white sand.
The park also offers a range of activities, including swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and hiking on the nature trail. You can also rent paddleboards, kayaks, and snorkeling gear to explore the underwater world.
Other outdoor things to do at Fort Walton Beach
Most of the year the weather is so lovely at Fort Walton Beach that you probably want to spend as much time outdoors as possible! Luckily in addition to the beach, there are plenty of other outdoor things to do in Fort Walton Beach with family.
4. Pool day
Although I love the beach, I also love a good pool day! So the best of both worlds for me is a resort or hotel with a pool AND beach access.
It’s so relaxing to sit by the pool with a tropical drink and read a good book, and let’s face it, most kids love swimming and playing in a pool. It’s a definite bonus if there is a lazy river or waterslide!
5. Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone
Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, is an exciting and family-friendly destination that offers a range of activities for all ages. The adventure zone features attractions such as a ropes course, laser tag, mini-golf, a 4D movie theater, and a high-tech arcade.
You’ll find an onsite restaurant and snack bar, making it easy to spend the entire day exploring and playing. If your kids are looking for some excitement and simple thrills away from the ocean, Wild Willy’s is the place to go!
6. Fort Walton Beach Landing Park & Farmer’s Market
Fort Walton Beach Landing Park is a beautiful and spacious waterfront park that offers stunning views of Choctawhatchee Bay. The park features walking trails, picnic areas, and a playground for children.
On Saturdays, the park hosts the Fort Walton Beach Farmers Market, where you can shop for fresh produce, artisanal goods, and handmade crafts. The farmers market also offers live music, food trucks, and a fun atmosphere for families to enjoy.
Even during the week, I love grabbing a cup of coffee at nearby Maas Coffee Roasters and enjoying the atmosphere.
7. Miniature Golf
Like many popular vacation destinations, miniature golf is everywhere in the area! When we travel, we almost always play a round or more. It’s a terrific and fun activity for families, especially after dinner. What a fun way to round out the night!
A popular choice in Fort Walton Beach is Goofy Golf. It is definitely old school, but that’s what makes it fun. Goofy Golf has been a favorite attraction for families for over 60 years. The course features 2 courses with 18 holes each, all designed with fun and whimsical themes that include giant animals, windmills, and castles.
You can putt through caves, jump over water hazards, and challenge yourself with tricky obstacles. Goofy Golf is an iconic destination in Fort Walton Beach and a great place for families to bond and create fun memories together.
Museums & Historical Sites at Fort Walton Beach
Do you like to sneak a little learning into your vacations? I do, and I’ve discovered that if I sandwich the “learning opportunities” with the fun, it goes over better.
8. Indian Temple Mound Museum
The Indian Temple Mound Museum in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, is a unique historical and cultural destination that offers a glimpse into the region’s rich Native American heritage.
The museum is located on the site of a prehistoric temple mound that was once a ceremonial and cultural center for the Native American tribes that inhabited the area. It features exhibits of artifacts, including pottery, jewelry, and tools, that date back over 12,000 years.
You can explore the mound and learn about the history of the Native American tribes that once lived there. The museum also offers educational programs and events that promote cultural awareness and understanding.
If you are seeking to learn more about the fascinating history and culture of the Native American people who have called Florida home for thousands of years, then The Indian Temple Mound Museum is a must on your list of the best things to do in Fort Walton Beach with family.
The site isn’t large, so I found it to be a nice way to start the day. I picked up my morning Americano at Maas Coffee Roasters (right across the street), arrived right when the museum opened, and spent an interesting hour or so exploring.
9. Air Force Armament Museum
The Air Force Armament Museum is one of the hidden gems in Fort Walton Beach. It is a fascinating and educational destination for anyone interested in aviation history and technology. And even if aviation isn’t your thing, it’s really cool to see all the aircraft on display.
In addition to an excellent collection of aircraft, the museum showcases a vast collection of missiles, bombs, and other armaments used by the U.S. Air Force throughout history. You can explore exhibits that cover the evolution of military aircraft from the early days of flight to the present day, as well as displays that highlight the role of the U.S. Air Force in various conflicts and missions.
The Air Force Armament Museum is a must-visit for aviation enthusiasts and anyone interested in learning about the military history of the United States. I wouldn’t call myself an aviation enthusiast, but I still really enjoyed this visit!
10. Camp Walton Schoolhouse
The Fort Walton Schoolhouse is a historic one-room schoolhouse located in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The schoolhouse was built in 1911 and served as a community center and a place of education for local children for over 50 years.
Today, the schoolhouse has been restored to its original condition and is open to the public as a museum. You can step back in time and experience what school was like in the early 20th century, with original desks, textbooks, and other artifacts on display.
It’s located right next to the Indian Temple Mound Museum, so be sure to check both out on the same visit!
Nature & Wildlife Things to do in Fort Walton Beach FL
Thanks to the moderate year-round temperatures, there are plenty of interesting wildlife and their natural habitats to explore.
11. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is a premier destination for families visiting Fort Walton Beach, Florida, who are interested in marine life and conservation.
The park features a wide variety of marine animals, including dolphins, sea lions, stingrays, turtles, and sharks, among others. You can watch daily shows and have fun with interactive exhibits, where you can learn about the different species of marine animals, their behaviors, and how they live in the wild.
The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park also offers unique extra experiences, such as being a VIP Trainer for the day and participating in a variety of other interactive programs. The park’s mission is to educate visitors about the importance of conservation and marine life protection, making it an ideal destination for families interested in learning about the environment and the ocean’s ecosystem.
12. Dolphin Watch boat ride
There are plenty of tours all around Fort Walton Beach to ride out to Crab Island and the nearby Spoil Islands where you can look for dolphins. If the weather is nice, this is a really fun adventure for families – even if you don’t see dolphins it’s fun to get out on the water and see the area from a different viewpoint!
👉 Don’t want a group tour? Check out this highly rated private pontoon rental and check out Crab Island on your own.
13. Okaloosa Island Pier
The Okaloosa Island Pier is a popular destination for fishing and sightseeing located in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The pier extends 1,262 feet into the Gulf of Mexico and offers stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding beaches.
You can fish for a variety of species, including redfish, pompano, and mackerel, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll along the pier while taking in the beautiful scenery. The pier also features a covered pavilion and picnic tables, making it a great spot for a family picnic or a romantic sunset dinner.
The Okaloosa Island Pier is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Fort Walton Beach who loves fishing, nature, and breathtaking ocean views.
Indoor things to do in Fort Walton Beach with family
Don’t worry if the weather doesn’t cooperate every day of your Fort Walton Beach vacation, there are plenty of indoor things to do – here are a few favorites!
13. Shopping at HarborWalk Village
HarborWalk Village is a massive entertainment/shopping/browsing beachfront complex. It offers plenty of indoor activities for families and visitors looking to stay out of the sun or avoid inclement weather.
Some of the fun indoor activities include a mirror maze, escape room, axe throwing, a theater, and more. You could easily spend a day indoors having all kinds of fun at HarborWalk Village.
14. Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island
Just down the road from HarborWalk Village is the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island. It’s not nearly as big as HarborWalk, but parking is free, and it’s a nice place to walk around if the weather is iffy.
The Boardwalk is also home to Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, which would be a fantastic indoor activity as much of the attraction is indoors. Even if you choose not to visit Gulfarium, grab an ice cream cone and wander the boardwalk area and shops.
15. Escape room
My kids love an escape room and it’s a fantastic indoor activity in Fort Walton Beach! There are actually quite a few choices for escape rooms, so you’ll easily be able to find one.
These interactive games require players to solve puzzles, find hidden objects, and decipher clues to escape a themed room before time runs out. In Fort Walton Beach, there are several escape rooms to choose from, each with its own theme and level of difficulty.
Some popular themes include pirates, spies, and haunted houses. Escape rooms are a fun way to bond with family and friends, work on problem-solving skills, and experience an exciting challenge. Whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced player, Fort Walton Beach’s escape rooms offer a thrilling and unforgettable adventure.
16. Emerald Coast Science Center
The Emerald Coast Science Center is a fantastic destination for families visiting Fort Walton Beach, Florida, who are interested in science and education. The museum features a range of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities that encourage kids to explore and learn about various scientific principles.
Exhibits cover topics such as space, robotics, physics, and biology, among others. One of the highlights of the museum is its planetarium, which offers immersive shows and simulations of the night sky and other celestial phenomena. The Emerald Coast Science Center is an engaging and educational destination that offers visitors of all ages a fun and enlightening experience.
For more indoor ideas, check out my post on indoor activities in nearby Destin.
Where to stay at Fort Walton Beach Florida
If I’m visiting a beach, I want to stay near the ocean. Actually, not just near the ocean, but ON the ocean. It’s also important to me to have a decent pool for times when the beach gets too crowded.
On my last visit, I found two places to stay that fit the bill perfectly!
If you like a typical hotel stay (and I’ve discovered that I’m more of a hotel girl than a VRBO fan), then the Hilton Garden Inn Ft. Walton Beach is perfect. With plenty of oceanfront rooms, a really nice pool area (with a small lazy river), and direct access to the beach it fits my requirements perfectly.
I also really enjoyed the tiki bar by the pool for yummy (and affordable) drinks and the restaurant in the lobby for a quick and easy takeout dinner.
👉 Check rates and dates at the Hilton Garden Inn Ft. Walton Beach
If you need more space, or just prefer a condo with a full kitchen, there are several terrific options all along the shoreline. I spent a few nights in a cozy one-bedroom on Okaloosa Island similar to this one.
FAQs about Fort Walton Beach
Is Fort Walton Beach Florida family-friendly?
Yes, Fort Walton Beach is an extremely family-friendly destination. There are plenty of activities and attractions that cater to families, including beaches, parks, museums, and amusement parks.
The area is known for its beautiful white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it a perfect spot for families to swim, sunbathe, and build sandcastles. There are also many outdoor activities available, such as fishing, boating, and hiking, that families can enjoy together.
Additionally, there are several museums and indoor attractions that offer educational and engaging experiences for children of all ages.
What is Fort Walton Beach known for?
Fort Walton Beach is known for its stunning white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and warm Gulf Coast weather. The area is also known for its rich history and cultural significance, particularly related to Native American tribes that lived in the area for thousands of years.
With its beautiful beaches, rich history, and a wide variety of activities and attractions, Fort Walton Beach is a popular vacation destination for visitors from all over the world.
Which is nicer? Fort Walton Beach or Destin?
Both beaches are gorgeous, so you really can’t go wrong with either, but if you are looking for a little more low-key vacation, I’d pick Fort Walton Beach.
Is the water clear at Fort Walton Beach?
Most of the year, the water is surprisingly clear at Fort Walton Beach.
Can you walk on Fort Walton Beach at night?
You can walk on Fort Walton Beach at night, but as you should anywhere, use common sense, pay attention to your surroundings and since it’s an ocean, stay out of the water.
What is the best time of year to visit Fort Walton Beach?
Everyone has different thoughts about when is the best time to visit Fort Walton Beach, but really any time is going to be wonderful! The spring into early summer has gorgeous weather as does the fall. November through February offers mild temperatures perfect for escaping the northern cold. Summer is HOT and humid, but that could be terrific for spending time in the water.
Conclusion: things to do in Fort Walton Beach with family
Fort Walton Beach is an ideal destination for families looking for a fun, memorable, and educational vacation experience. With its beautiful white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a wide range of attractions and activities, there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
From swimming and sunbathing to exploring museums and experiencing thrilling adventures, Fort Walton Beach has it all. Whether you’re interested in history, science, or outdoor recreation, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to learn, explore, and have fun in this charming Gulf Coast town.
With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder why Fort Walton Beach is a popular vacation destination for families from all over the world.