Great Adventures Off The Beach Along Northwest Florida's Gulf Coast

Great Adventures Off The Beach On Northwest Florida's Gulf

By Tracy Louthain

It's easy to lose track of time while enjoying long, leisurely days relaxing and enjoying the area's brilliantly white sand beaches. However, it's healthy, exciting and often educational to take a break from the beach and get out and explore the Northwest Florida Gulf's beautifully vibrant and interesting stretch of coastline. Discovering the area's rich history, attractions, acclaimed golf courses, diverse shopping and natural lands offers a welcome addition to your days of fun, sun and sand.

A Historic Perspective
It has been said that history repeats itself, and when it comes to the perseverance and tenacity of those who live along the Emerald Coast this statement holds true. Each generation of local leaders have worked alongside the community to protect and preserve the area's storied past while thoughtfully planning for the future. Over decades of wind, water, sand and salt, some of the region's physical structures have been lost, but there are still a few treasures that provide a insightful peak into the last century as well as life on these beaches hundreds of years ago.

The Fort Walton Temple Indian Mound Museum in downtown Fort Walton Beach was once the home of one of the largest most advanced civilizations on the Gulf Coast. The temple is estimated to have been active from 800 A.D. to 1500 A.C. and the mound stands 17 feet tall and 223 feet long. Rich with stories and relics from the past, the Temple Mound Museum preserves more than 6,000 artifacts.

The City of Destin's history is deeply dependent on fishing. Renown as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village", those that settled in Destin enjoyed quick access to the fertile fishing grounds through the Destin pass. Today, this history is showcased through the Destin History & Fishing Museum. Vintage photographs, antique fishing rods, and a historic fishing boat built in 1925 are on display at the museum, while interactive exhibits inform and entertain. Afterward, take a trip to the Destin Harbor to see the impressive fishing fleet. Then slip back in time, with a visit to Dewey Destin Seafood to view historic photographs and reminisce of days gone by.

In South Walton, the Wesley House at Eden State Gardens stands as a magnificent reminder of the area's thriving turpentine industry. Once the home of a lumber baron, the beautifully renovated, two-story Wesley house with its elegant white columns and wrap-around porch now sits on a 161-acre state park. The house holds the second largest known collection of Louis XVI furniture in the United States. A must see for fans of antiques.

Other options for visiting relics from the past include the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida in Valparaiso and the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base. Both of which visitors of all ages can learn from and enjoy. Who says you can't educate on vacation?

Activities for Adventurers
With a new name and a $4 million renovation, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park reopens in time for Memorial Day weekend. Upgraded exhibits and animal habitats complement the new interactive programming. Dolphins, sea lions, harbor seals, sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles are but a few of the hosts that entertain and bring a smile to the faces of aquatic fans of all ages.

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