Emerald Coasting is celebrating the red, white and blue

06/26/2015  | 
TRAVEL USA

Red sunsets, sugar-white sand beaches and blue skies, that is. Home to Eglin Air Force Base, the Heart of Emerald Coast has always been popular with military families, both active and retired. Find out for yourself why the Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast was named No. 1 Best Beach in Florida by “U.S. News and World Report Travel” in 2014.

Get a Little Sand in Your Soul

Comprised of Destin, Ft. Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island, the Emerald Coast offers 24 miles of pristine, white-sand beaches stretching along the Gulf of Mexico in Northwest Florida. The sand, made up of pure Appalachian quartz, is sugar-white, and it gives the waters here their trademark emerald-green color.

Emerald Coasting is great snorkeling, tubing, kayaking, paddleboarding, jet-skiing and parasailing. It’s also great golfing. Sunny skies, coastal breezes and lush landscapes make the Emerald Coast a paradise for golfers of all skill levels, all year long. Military families might enjoy playing the Eglin Golf Course, which offers 36 holes of championship golf. Open year-round, it’s ranked first in AFMC, third in U.S. military courses and 61st among the thousands of great Florida courses.

Love to Fish?

You’ll find some of the best angling Florida has to offer here. Sea trout, scamp, flounder, triggerfish, cobia, grouper, red snapper, wahoo, swordfish ... Destin isn’t called the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” for nothing. But perhaps even luckier than the fishermen are those who get to eat the fish!

Anglers, take note: Many of these establishments will actually clean and cook your catch for you.

Entertainment

You can do it all or do nothing at all on the Emerald Coast. Go on a dolphin cruise. Take in a marine show. Visit a water park. Feed live alligators. If you’re into military history, don’t miss the Air Force Armament Museum. Outside, you’ll discover an impressive collection of 25 reconnaissance, fighter and bomber planes, including the fastest plane ever built — the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane. Inside, you’ll find more than 1,500 artifacts from World War I to today, including interactive displays such as a fighter cockpit simulator.

Shopping

If shopping is your passion, you won’t be disappointed. Take your pick from traditional malls, open-air complexes and distinctive boutiques. Are you a collector? The area’s natural beauty and coastal charm have caused the area to become a haven for artists of all kinds.

Where to Stay

The Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast has many options when it comes to accommodations. Some Emerald Coasters like to find a beach house that they can go back to year after year. Others prefer to mix it up. You can choose between posh beach houses, luxury beachfront condos, fabulous hotels, RV parks right on the Gulf’s edge, charming bed and breakfasts, and more.

Find out for yourself why this pristine paradise was named a “Top Place to Visit” by National Geographic and “One of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Places” by Good Morning America. To plan your escape or request a travel guide, visit EmeraldCoasting.com or call 800-322-3319.
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