TOP 10 FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES
ON THE EMERALD COAST
Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you gotta do is have a ball! The northern gulf coast is a year-round playground, so even when the summer crowds dissipate and the days grow shorter, there’s still plenty to do. From Panama City Beach to Pensacola, here are some of our favorite family-friendly activities.
Hannah Marie Dolphin Watch and History Tour | DESTIN
Dolphins, sea turtles, and education, oh my! This narrated tour out of Destin Harbor is guaranteed to please the entire family. A double-decker “party style” boat, with an area for glass bottom viewing, the cabin is climate controlled and the view from up top will make you shout, “I’m king of the world!” One of the more popular outings in NW Florida, book early to secure your family’s gulf adventure.
Check Availability: tripshock.com/dolphin-watch-and-destin-history-cruiese/details/22/
Buccaneer Pirate Ship | DESTIN
Rrrrr you ready for some fun the high seas? Then get your booty down to HarborWalk Village in Destin, where the folks at the Buccaneer will make sure you have the pirate time of your pirate life! The young at heart and old at plundering will enjoy being amused by the costumed crew, cannon fire, water gun battles, and general shenanigans. If you’re in more of a chillin’ state of mind, kick back, relax, take in the scenery, and watch your lads and lasses yo-ho-ho until the parrots come home.
Check Availability: destinpirateship.com
Premier Adventure Park | PENSACOLA BEACH
Are you one of those families where some people want to race go karts while others want to go parasailing? Then this is the place for you! Jet ski rentals, ropes course, and stand-up paddleboards, Premier Adventure Park has something for everyone. Feeling a little mellow and just want a boat ride? Then take a dolphin tour right from their dock. With so many activities in one spot, plan on spending a few hours absorbing the balmy breezes in the upstairs hut, where the shade cools you off even in the warmest months.
Check Availability: premieradventurepark.com
Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park | DESTIN
The largest water park on the Emerald Coast, Big Kahuna’s has over 40 different water play areas, tube rides, speed slides and pools. Enjoy the giant wave pool or relax in the easy-goin’ lazy river. Their 5-story Kowabunga Racer is for the thrill seeker in the family, who will also want to scream along their Maui Pipeline. Fly the Skycoaster, too, or take in a more relaxing adventure – miniature golf. Closed during the cooler months, be sure to check their hours before going big.
Check Availability: bigkahunas.com
Gulf World Marine Park | PANAMA CITY BEACH
Probably the most unique theme park in the area, Gulf World is a dolphin lover’s dream come true. Their lineup of Royal Swim, Dolphin Encounter, and Swim Adventure are three incredible ways to experience these amazing creatures up close and personal. Daily shows feature dolphins puttin’ on the fins, sea lions, stingrays, sharks and turtles all vying for your attention. And if that weren’t enough, Gulf World is open rain or shine. Due to extremely high demand for their various dolphin encounters, book plenty of time ahead.
Check Availability: gulfworldmarinepark.com
Scoot Coupe Rentals | PENSACOLA BEACH
These rad three-wheel vehicles turn heads and pump adrenaline. Cruise the main drag of Pensacola Beach while snapping selfies from the passenger seat as the driver maneuvers through traffic like a mouse in a maze. You can park these babies almost anywhere, so hit the hot spots and cool vistas as the wind whips through your hair and the road becomes your guide.
Check Availability: tripshock.com/pensacola-beach-scoot-coupe-rentals/details/2115/?from=2019-08-09&to=2019-08-15
Escape LOL (Escape Room) | PENSACOLA
While being locked in a room for an hour with your family may sound scary enough, escape games are actually a combination of scavenger hunt, mystery dinner (without the food), and the game Clue. After you’re shown into the theme room where the mystery takes place, you have 60 minutes to work together solving puzzles and finding all the codes, clues, and keys to unlock boxes, doors, and secret compartments to “escape.” Best played with 4-8 players, it’s recommended that players be at least 13 years old.
Check Availability: escapelol.com
Biking Along 30A | SOUTH WALTON
One of the most scenic two-lane roads in the U.S., South Walton’s 30A also boasts a 22-mile bike path. Plenty of two and three wheel rental options are available, and you can begin your journey from almost any town along the way. Park in Grayton Beach and head east towards Seaside, stopping for ice cream and other goodies that charming little town. Or head out from Seacrest Beach and trek west through Alys Beach all the way to The Hub, a dynamic entertainment district with food and fun galore. Plenty of snack and water options exist on 30A, but make sure to bring sunscreen and a hat, as the Florida sun pays special attention to the bike path!
Multiple Options: tripshock.com/attractions/south-walton-30a/bike-rentals/
Olin Marler Charters Party Boat Fishing | DESTIN
Use your children as bait as you… just kidding! Party boat fishing is a fun way for all ages to experience the most popular activity the Gulf Coast offers. And the friendly folks at Olin Marler Charters know how to drop a line and show you a good time. Take in the Destin Harbor as you cruise out to fishing waters and be on the lookout for sea turtles, dolphins and other local wildlife, who are never shy about making their presence known. Like most of the activities here, weather plays a role in departure times and cancellations, so check well ahead of time before heading to the harbor.
Check Availability: tripshock.com/deep-sea-fishing-party-boat-in-destin/details/39/?from=2019-08-09&to=2019-08-15
Condor Sailing | PENSACOLA
Pensacola Bay, the fourth largest estuarine system in Florida, occupies a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike. For most of the year its waters provide the perfect template for sailing and other water activities. Join Captain Kirk for a relaxing cruise aboard their world class 40 ft. racing trimaran, Dare II. Condor features two-hour cruises during the day, sunset cruises at dusk, and a seasonal Blue Angels practice cruise. Sit back, relax, and dangle your feet in the water while planning your next trip to the Emerald Coast.
Check Availability: condorsailingadventures.com
ALAN ROBERTS, Writer and Business Grower Extraordinaire | EMAIL