The Emerald Coast has long been one of Florida’s most popular places to vacation. The white sand beaches are truly breathtaking, the locals couldn’t be friendlier, and there are tons of things to see and do, no matter what you’re interested in. Not sure where to start when it comes to attractions in the area? Want to know some fantastic local activities that you can’t leave without experiencing? Check out these attractions in Panama City Beach, Destin, Miramar Beach, and 30A!
Henderson Beach State Park
If you’re looking for a unique way to experience the Gulf of Mexico, look no further than Henderson Beach State Park. This attraction is open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. until sundown, so you can come to experience the majesty no matter when you’re vacationing. Here, you’ll find a stunning protected strip of the Emerald Coast, where you can enjoy fishing, hiking, picnicking, swimming, and plenty of other outdoor activities.
Destin has been called the “luckiest fishing village in the world,” so it’s worth it to wet your line and try to catch some fish while you’re here! Purchase your bait and tackle right on site and try to catch grouper, flounder, pompano, and more. You might also enjoy hiking the 0.75-mile trail, where you can bring your kids and pets along to view the beautiful dunes and unique vegetation. Bring your lunch to enjoy a picnic in the shape or dip in the water to cool off on a hot day.
Ride the 30A Bike Trail
Biking is an affordable and eco-friendly way to check out the area while getting some exercise simultaneously! Don’t worry about trying to bring your bike with you from home; There are plenty of bike rental companies in the area from which to choose. Once you’ve got your family set up with your bikes, head to the 30A Bike Trail to experience the area in a whole new way.
This trail, sometimes called the Timpoochee Trail, spans 19 miles and parallels the length of the scenic County Highway 30A. You’ll pass through famous communities like Dune Allen, Seacrest, and Alys Beach. Make sure to stop and admire the rare coastal dune lakes and take pictures of the gorgeous scenery you pass.
Gator Beach Alligator Park
Are you interested in getting up close and personal with wildlife? Then don’t miss a trip to Gator Beach Alligator Park! As the name implies, this destination allows you to interact with gators and learn all about these incredible animals. The best part? This attraction is perfect for those on a budget since it’s free to enter!
At Gator Beach Alligator Park, You can view hundreds of alligators, watch an incredible alligator show, and even hold a live alligator if you’re feeling adventurous! Experience the Crocodilia Discovery Zone to see unique exhibits about the prehistoric crocodiles of the area, get to know baby alligators, and ask questions from the well-trained staff.
St. Andrews State Park
Easily one of the most popular attractions in the area, St. Andrews State Park is a must for any vacation. Open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. to sundown, St. Andrews State Park offers experiences like bicycling, birding, fishing, hiking, scuba diving, swimming, and more. You can honestly spend an entire day exploring the park with your friends and loved ones.
When you visit St. Andrews State Park, you can get up close and personal to nature by biking along the two-mile paved road. Take the shuttle boat tour over to Shell Island during the spring and summer, enjoy deep-sea jetty, pier, and surf fishing opportunities, or hike the two half-mile trails. If you want to get in the water, you’ll find convenient equipment rentals right on site. The best part is, the St. Andrews State Park jetties feature a “Kiddie Pool,” which is protected from the majority of wave and tidal activity, making it a choice spot to set up for the day if you have small children.
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Last but not least, get up close and personal with some of our wonderful marine life at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. Enjoy the daily Dolphin and Sea Lion shows, learn interesting facts about the animals, or even set yourself up for the experience of a lifetime Swimming with Dolphins and Snorkeling with Stingrays! If reptiles are your thing, go on the Turtle Encounter and meet a variety of turtles and tortoises before heading to the Reptile Safari where lizards, snakes, and alligators await. Finally, give yourself the unforgettable opportunity to feed and actually touch an African Penguin or Harbor Seal. Gulfarium and Gulf World are places your whole family can enjoy, with exciting shows to keep everyone entertained, and encounter options for children 3 and up, this could be one of the highlights of your vacation.
(JET Tip: Slots for the animal encounters tend to fill up quickly, so it may be prudent to book yours as soon as you know your dates, doing so online will also save you a substantial amount over box office pricing.)
This list is just the tip of the iceberg for fun things to do while enjoying the Emerald Coast! Want to experience it all for yourself? Contact JET Coastal Vacations to book your vacation rental and plan your trip!