Why Emerald Coast Florida is Paradise (No Passport Required)

Skip the international flight and experience paradise’s jewel-toned waters and sugar white sands on the Florida Gulf Coast.
Enjoy paradise in Emerald Coast Florida
Photo courtesy of Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau
Let’s be honest … you need a vacation to a tropical paradise now (or preferably, 10 minutes ago). But, as you ponder this, you realize that between that last trip to Target and guilt over needing to replace the AC unit before summer (cringe), you don’t have the funds to hop away to some elusive island surrounded by sand and crystal clear aquamarine-hued ocean waters. With this realization, that frosty cocktail with the little umbrella and rum-soaked pineapple starts to fade from view … but wait … paradise isn’t so far away.

Florida’s Emerald Coast is one of the most beautiful beach settings in the world. Fort Walton Beach’s Miracle Strip Parkway twinkles like a jewel on the northern Florida Gulf Coast. With upscale amenities, some of the most delicious local cuisine in the southeast prepared by expert chefs, and of course, powder-soft, sugar-white sand beaches and glistening emerald waters, that boozy, blended frozen drink is closer than you think.

Nothing but (the best) beach views for you

Enjoy great beach views from a variety of accommodations on the Emerald Coast
Photo courtesy of Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau


One of the nicest things about the Emerald Coast (aside from that whole no passport required business) is that there are plenty of accommodations to choose from to fit your style. Whether your idea of tropical escape involves a hotel or resort where everything’s at your fingertips, a condo where you’ve got the best of both worlds, or a beach house where you can feel like the beach is home, there are plenty of places to stay in Destin that put you right on top of the water. Sugar-white sands and crystal-clear green, blue, and blue-green waters are right outside your door.

Family to-dos for days

See amazing sealife up close on the Emerald Coast of Florida
Photo courtesy of Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau

Even though you could probably spend your entire trip to paradise lounging poolside or under a beach umbrella, chances are, the family (if you didn’t “accidentally” pull a Home Alone on them … wink) will want a little more stimulation.

Thankfully, Highway 98 has so many fun, awesome things to do that you’ll be perfectly happy to put down that well-worn copy of Eat, Pray, Love and join in the fun.

Have fun at the water park on the Emerald Coast
Photo courtesy of Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau


  • Splash down the slides or float down the lazy river at the expansive water park.
  • Amuse yourself (and everyone) at Harborwalk Village, take sandcastle sculpting lessons, hit the bounce house play zone, take a pontoon boat ride, and more.
  • Experience life on the water with a dolphin cruise or fishing trip (really, nothing’s more relaxing than being on the water while someone else is at the helm)
  • Take a stroll at one of the area’s state parks; enjoy a picnic lunch, and then let the children play on the park’s playground.
  • Indulge your curiosity on an eco-tour. A nighttime beach tour is a great way to learn about the area’s protected sea turtles and other aspects of the coast’s ecosystem.

There’s no limit to the number of fun to-dos at Fort Walton Beach whether it’s just you, you plus one or a few, or you and the entire family crew.

Savor the flavor of the Emerald Coast

Enjoy dining on fresh seafood right on the water on Emerald Coast Florida
Photo courtesy of Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau

Needless to say, you’re on vacation, and you’re in paradise, which means whatever you eat should satisfy your every expectation whether you want upscale cuisine with finishing touches applied with tweezers (we’ve got that!) or savory fried comfort food (we’ve got that, too). No matter what your taste, fresh Gulf-to-table seafood is the name of the game on the Emerald Coast.

Everything is fresh. Many local restaurants use only locally-sourced fare to provide an exceptional, paradise-worthy meal (or cocktail) every time you stop to snack or dine.

Make this laid-back tropical destination a tradition

Enjoy great fishing on Emerald Coast Florida
Photo courtesy of Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau

One thing you’ll quickly figure out while you’re here is that the Emerald Coast has a very relaxed vibe. No matter what you’re doing whether you’re shooting down water slides at Big Kahunas or reeling in a swimmer on a chartered fishing boat or kicking back for a Cosmopolitan at sunset, everything is chill … which is everything paradise should be.

This is probably why first-time visitors soon become repeat guests until the Emerald Coast is their paradise a way from home. Next thing they know, their kids and grandkids have grown up along with the area and their memories make it all the more magical.

So, find a great place to stay on our sugar-white coast. Eat, play, explore, visit the local, state, and national parks, take the eco-tours …. Next thing you know, you’ll be bonding with the Emerald Coast and transforming the space into your own personal slice of paradise … no passport required.

Skip the headache (and bank drain) of jetting off to some French-speaking tropical island (do you even know French?) and indulge yourself in the paradise that is the Emerald Coast. Lose your passport, and visit the Emerald Coast website to learn more about the sparkling appeal of Florida’s jewel.