Family Fun Fort Walton Beach

Coolest Place to Summer it Up

Crab Island

Choctawhatchee Bay by Destin Bridge


No address on land for this Coolest on the Coast spot! Crab Island is located a little ways out from Harborwalk Village, north of the Destin bridge in the middle of the water bayside.


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If you’re a visitor to the Emerald Coast, you have probably heard of this unique spot. You might even have already seen it while crossing over the bridge coming into Destin from Okaloosa Island. Thanks to its widespread publicity in all forms of media, Crab Island is a famous landmark, or should we say watermark?  Both tourists and locals alike enjoy taking family and friends out to this summertime destination. 

 An underwater sandbar formed after Hurricane Eloise in the 70s, and locals quickly discovered that this is a great place to go. Crab Island got its name from the shape of the island. The sea averages two to four feet deep throughout, and on an average summer day (especially at high tide), it is sparkling and crystal clear. What started off as a nice little spot to dock your boat to swim with marine life up close has now become a hot spot for everyone to gather.

 Crab Island is only accessible by boat, paddle board, or kayak. You can also take one of the water taxis there. Once there, you can find people galore, food and drinks, inflatable water parks, bands, movies and more. It’s a regular gathering spot for locals but they welcome all.  If you’re going as a family, know that the center tends to be more for a party crowd with its bars and bands, while the outskirts tend to be more for families with activities.

Head on out to this top destination On the Coast, and get ready for a day full of adventure, fun, and a whole lot of water.

Cool Factors:             Great place to meet up with your boating friends, Inflatable water parks for the kiddos, Everything you need to spend the day

Coolest Way to Get Up Close to Dolphins

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Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park


Dolphin Splash EncountEnter the dolphins’ world for an unforgettable experience as you get up close and personal with these sleek and graceful animals. This in water experience allows you to meet, play, touch, interact and learn about our Atlantic bottlenose dolphins alongside a Gulfarium trainer. You'll see firsthand and experience how dolphins have learned to communicate with us!

If you're eight or older, this amazing experience is for you. The Gulfarium also can accommodate those with special needs including mobility, sight or hearing impairments. This encounter happens in shallow water, only three feet deep so no need to worry about swimming with them. 

You'll take home pictures taken by your family and friends, a souvenir towel and one of the most memorable experiences of a lifetime!

Cool Factors: Touching a dolphin up close! Interact and play with the dolphins. Communicate with dolphins. Take home swag.

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

·1010 Miracle Strip Parkway SE • Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548


Coolest Place to Roll & Bounce Around

Fort SK8 Family Fun Center

202 Racetrack Rd NW

Fort Walton Beach

(850) 863-1223


“Eat, Play, Skate, and BOUNCE!” All in one place! That’s the motto of our next coolest on the coast - Fort SK8 Family Fun Center in Fort Walton Beach, Florida! Featuring everything from a Jump Zone to an 11,000 sq ft roller skating floor, Fort SK8 really has something for every age. Blaze a trail roller skating with the family, hang out with friends, get some exercise and skate to some rockin’ music. After skating, head over to the Jump Zone with little ones and older kids alike to bounce off all your energy in over 2000 sq ft of bounce magic, featuring a HUGE inflatable obstacle course, bounce houses, and a special toddler zone. When you need a break from skating and bouncing, score some tickets and prizes in the arcade. If you're exhausted by now, sit back and relax in their brand new massage chairs while enjoying some snacks at the Rollin’ Cafe, a full-service cafe specializing in your favorite skating treats.

Fort SK8 also hosts some of craziest parties On the Coast. You can celebrate with a 3D glow party which includes up to 12 guests, unlimited skating, food, and FREE passes for future visits! Shake it up with the electric neon party and wear some crazy colors. Or you can even request a character party and chose your favorite character from the ever-growing list of characters to make the day extra special. And the best part, no clean up! From show up to clean up, they’ve got you covered, so get ready for the most fun  and stress-free party you’ve ever had!

Check out their website,, to stay posted on specials and fun events such as Teen Night, Heros vs Villains, Nerf Wars, Late Skates, $1 Wednesday, Family Fun Friday, and other discounts and passes. You can even sign your kids up for free skating passes!

Cool Factors:  Something for every age, exciting special nights of fun, 42 years of business so they know what they’re doing!


Coolest Rehab On the Coast

C.A.R.E. Center at the Gulfarium

1010 Miracle Strip Parkway

Fort Walton Beach

(850) 243-9046


With a mission to act as a beacon for coastal conservation through marine animal rescue and rehabilitation, encouraging awareness with public education and opportunities for active participation, it's no wonder we have chosen the C.A.R.E. Center at Gulfarium to be one of our Coolest on the Coast picks this year! The staff who work tirelessly here, are true heroes to our coast. 

Time and time again over the years we have witnessed the C.A.R.E. Centers amazing efforts to rehabilitate and release various species of sea turtles brought to them or rescued from debilitating situations. From the large Leatherbacks coming in at over 600 pounds to the smaller Green Turtles, we are so fortunate to have a facility like the Gulfarium here On the Coast! The hundreds of people who gather for a turtle release back to the Gulf are always eager to learn and understand the balance we humans play with nature. It's just so exciting and such a great opportunity for the public to learn about the C.A.R.E. Center. 

So what do you do if you find a stranded animal? Well, you call 1-888-404-3922 and observe the turtle at a distance until help arrives. If you try and help and push it back into the water, it might restrand and die so it's best to sit tight with your new found friend and observe. Here's a few more tips while visiting our coast and what you can do to help the sea turtles out. First, if you've been enjoying our beach, when leaving, make sure you fill in ALL the holes you've dug up and flatten those sandcastles and sculptures. This gives a clear path for the female sea turtles who are nesting and those cute little hatchlings. Also keep the exterior lights off of your homes and avoid using flashlights, fireworks and bonfires from May through October. Turtles use the moonlight to help navigate and those manmade light can be confusing to them. So be a good neighbor to our sea life and do your part to help them survive.

Cool Factors: Saving wildlife, educating the public on our sea-life


Coolest Place to Get Your Viking On

Ratchet Hatchet

222 Miracle Strip Pkwy

Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548  

(850) 533-4014

While growing up in rural Indiana, handling weapons was a daily occurrence for young David Woodrow. It was normal for his dad to hand him a shotgun and tell him to go play. Fast forward to recently, after having just gotten out of the military, Woodrow’s frustration with small-time gigs, plans that were getting shaky and job options that just weren’t fulfilling, ultimately, led to the creation of Downtown Fort Walton Beach’s newest hangout, Ratchet Hatchet. As a self-proclaimed internet junkie, David said that he’d heard of the concept in passing before really taking it seriously. While perusing one day, he saw competitive ax throwing as a legitimate concept and knew it was right up his alley. He looked up schematics and proceeded to make up a range in his own backyard. It started simple enough. He took board game concepts and repurposed them to create games that involved the ax throwing. Before he knew it, he realized that people were in his backyard every weekend, which he doesn’t attribute to his personality. 

The success of something that he was doing just to have some fun now looked like something with more potential. He reached out to an acquaintance that he knew had more business smarts than he did. Enter Steven Garcia. Admittedly, Garcia didn’t get it at first, but David was determined to get his attention. Woodrow invited a group over for a round of play and instructed Garcia to watch the next patron’s face after his throw. When the ax hit the target dead-on, the young man completely lit up. Woodrow looked at Garcia and sold it by saying, “We wouldn’t be selling ax throwing. We’d be selling THAT.” In that moment, the spark was ignited and both parties began doing their research on to turn this concept into a real life thing. With the help of the Small Business Development Center, the belief of his friends and family, and a loan, they opened The Ratchet Hatchet and were immediately swamped by customers.

Now, you may be thinking that this sounds like a guy’s thing, but guess what? Their biggest repeat business is from women! David recounted an evening where a group of women (who happened to be 50s something divorcees) showed up and paid for FOUR hours straight without ever having experienced ax throwing. When he tried to make sure they were good to go, they admonished him, saying, “Listen, cutie. We’re here to drink and mess things up. We’re all set.” The rest of the ladies arrived – toting a wagon full of alcohol and photos of their ex-husbands! He said they were really bad at the throwing, but anytime one of them stuck a throw, someone would yell out “WARRIOR PRINCESS!” Certainly, a very memorable experience for him, but I bet it was even more so for those women who got some of that pent up rage out of their systems!

While you’re welcome to walk in and play at one of their 8 private ranges, you may want to call ahead or book online to make sure there’s plenty of room for you and your group. If you’re interested in a unique form of competition, there is a 40 bracket league competition beginning in August. It’s only $100 to buy in and the grand prize is a thousand dollars! Go check it out and make sure you tell them On the Coast Magazine sent you!

Cool Factors: Unique way to release energy, relaxed environment that allows for outside food and drink, veteran owned, great fun