Whatever your status — new to the area, a seasoned local or somewhere in between — it’s always fun to find a new place to frequent. We paired up with Katy Copeland of Fun 4 Emerald Coast Kids to explore Fort Walton Beach and bring you our top picks of family friendly spots.
Stop No. 1: Bon Appetit French Bakery
Every day needs to start with a good breakfast, and what better to splurge on then a fresh pastry from Bon Appetit French Bakery?
Bon Appetit has been a Fort Walton Beach staple since 1984, serving fresh baguettes, croissants, macarons, tarts and Middle Eastern specialties such as homemade hummus and tabouleh salad.
Kids will love: Picking out their own colorful treat.
Stop No. 2: Fort Sk8 Family Fun Center
Fort Walton Beach’s only skating rink has been entertaining families for 42 years, and Fort Sk8 Family Fun Center's renovations and additions make it a renewed gem of the area.
New additions to the skating rink are the jump zone, featuring inflatable bounce houses and obstacle courses; the toddler zone with toys fit for the little ones; and two black-light party rooms for birthday parties and events.
Kids will love: Tiny Tot Tuesdays 10 a.m.-noon with a character visit, bring your own ride-on toy, a craft and bounce time.
For a full skate schedule and more information, visit https://www.fortsk8.com.
Stop No. 3: Emerald Coast Science Center
Want a place where kids can have fun and learn at the same time? Head to the Emerald Coast Science Center for hours of interactive education.
A giant bubble maker, a typography sensory box, an underwater camera and a robotic grabby arm are just a few of the fun activities, not to mention the live animals that kids can meet, such as sugar gliders, a crested gecko, a bearded dragon, turtles, parrots and more.
Kids will love: Trying out the new SMALLab, which resembles a giant interactive touchscreen on the floor.
For a list of prices, open hours and events, visit www.ecscience.org.
Stop No.4: Ferry Park
After all that indoor play, it’s time to head outside, and we have just the park. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but Ferry Park has it all.
A newly built playground features swings, climbing obstacle courses and even a zip-line (which was down the day we visited.) There is also a nice walking path that meanders through the park's wooded areas and over a small stream. For the sporty-minded folks, there are tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer fields and a disk golf course.
The park is a perfect spot for a picnic or a play date and is close to Uptown Station, a centrally located shopping center.
Kids will love: Looking for and feeding turtles from one of the park's bridges.
Stop No. 5: Santa Rosa Mall
The Santa Rosa Mall — as well as most indoor shopping malls — may not be as busy as it once was, but it’s full of indoor fun for kids.
Stop by the Bounce Party Playzone and let the kids run wild as they can jump on inflatable bounce houses and attractions, play at the free arcade and learn in the sensory rooms.
For some educational fun, check out the classes at the Young Philosophers Society. Visit the schedule online to choose from classes such as Punk Pop Preschool Music, Exploring Art for Kids and Family Friendly Board Game Night.
For some classic mall fun, take a ride on the carousel and let the kids choose what animal to ride. If you have toddlers that need to get some wiggles out, visit the playground by J.C. Penny.
Venture out behind the mall and find Surge Trampoline Park for hours of indoor fun.
Kids will love: Tuesday nights at the mall, when the carousel is free for kids 5-9 p.m.