Coolest Place to Escape From


9375 US Highway 98 W

Miramar Beach

(850) 842-4885

Have you ever wanted to be part of a mystery? To be able to boast that you’ve survived a deadly plague? Or maybe you just love solving clues like Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, or an FBI agent tracking down a security threat. Well you can be all these things at Escapology in Miramar Beach. Step into the escape room and travel around the world to Cuba, Budapest, or Shanghai, solve a clue hunt during WWII, or fight outlaws in the wild, wild west.

This coolest activity on the coast is open rain or shine and is a great activity for family or friends, allowing up to six people to play at once. Escapology escape rooms set you up as a detective solving the clues present in a room. Head over to their website,, to find the perfect scenario. You can check out a description of the escape room and even view difficulty ratings to ensure that you pick the right room for your crew, each room created with attention to every small detail to make the scenario as life-like as possible. Book online to pick which game and time you want to attend, and then head over for your reservation for an hour of fast-paced, critical thinking fun! You can use code ESCAPE2018 for a discount when booking.

You have 60 minutes. The clues are there. You just have to find them. Succeed, and your legacy will live on in the Hall of Fame. Fail, and you will not survive. Do you have what it takes to escape?

Cool Factors: Boasting privilege that you survived, live out your detective dreams, 

rainy afternoon fun, photo evidence


Coolest Place to See Art

Underwater Museum of Art (First in the Nation)

Gulf of Mexico off Grayton Beach

(850) 622-5970


The Gulf waters off Grayton Beach in South Walton just became home to the first underwater museum of art in the country. The UMA (as the Underwater Museum of Art is called) rests on the seafloor about 55 feet below the surface and currently consists of seven unique sculptures created by local and nationally-

recognized artists who applied and were chosen by the Cultural Arts Alliance (CAA) of Walton County.


The sculptures, which act as both a habitat for fish and a destination for scuba divers, were attached to heavy concrete pedestals and were permitted and shipped into position thanks to the South Walton Artificial Reef association, which has also created many near-shore snorkeling reefs and diving and fishing reefs farther offshore. However, no other reefs in the country have quite the artistic appeal of this underwater sculpture garden, which is about 0.7 miles off the coast of Grayton Beach. 


That’s good news not just for scuba-diving art lovers, though – in addition to providing a unique dive spot, the sculptures are designed and selected for their suitability as marine habitat, so even in the absence of scuba divers, the UMA is certain to have many visitors, including schools of baitfish, grouper, sea turtles and dolphins. This is just the beginning for UMA, since the CAA says they plan to continue to select artists and add to the underwater collection every year!


Cool Factors:  First in the nation, creating a habitat for fish and a destination for divers.


Coolest Beach Music Concert

Hangout Fest

Gulf Shores, AL

May 17-19, 2019



Unicorns, fairy dust, donut floaties, wings, neon lights, flying dinosaurs, sand between your toes… You must be at the Hangout Fest! This three-day festival is right on the beach and it is an unforgettable and unique experience to share with friends, family, and even strangers (sorry, Mom). With past lineups including Portugal. The Man, The Struts, The Chainsmokers, Group Love, Twenty One Pilots, BlackBear, The Killers, Florence and the Machine, and Kendrick Lamar, this yearly May festival is the complete package for a beach vacation getaway.


If you weren’t able to come to the par-tay this year, here are some of the cool festivities you missed out on: The Hangout Ferris wheel, roller disco, pop-up shops, puppy-kissing booth, crazy sculptures and art, Malibu beach house, The Psychedelic Bus, Hammock Beach chillin’, bonfires, delicious eats, Inkbox tattoo parlor, beach volleyball, and yoga.  Yeah, we know… it’s cool, and you better come with us next year! Though tickets always sell out, never fear! Tickets for Hangout Fest 2019 are available starting early February, so get ready to bust out those glitter tubes, chubbies, and fanny packs and mark off May 17-19 with a neon pink highlighter!


Cool Factors: Roller disco for some rad photo ops, chill vibes and way too many puppy kisses, never-ending music from your favorite bands, glitter and sand (is there anything cooler?


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 Java Cafe

2 Birds Coffee + Cafe

1040 US-98  Destin

80 Seascape Drive, Unit 103

Miramar Beach


Delectable, creative, unique, refreshing.  These are a few words that describe 2 Birds Coffee + Cafe.  From their signature blackberry lavender scone to their fried PP&J to their fancy toasts, 2 Birds has everything you are looking for in a clean and chic cafe.  Coffee aficionados are sure to find a happy home for an amazing breakfast or lunch at either one of the locally owned and operated locations in Destin and Miramar Beach.  With impeccable service and a welcoming atmosphere, 2 Birds is the place to go whether you are looking for a place to relax with friends and family over brunch or are in need of a pit-stop for a beautifully brewed cup of joe!  

Cool Factors:  Hub for coffee connoisseurs, 50s aesthetic with a modern chic flair, exquisitely unique twists on dishes


Coolest Way to Learn

Emerald Coast Science Center

31 Memorial Drive

Fort Walton Beach

(850) 664-1261

Ever wondered how much fun it would be to have your entire family play on a room-sized iPad? Join us at the Emerald Coast Science Center to experience just that with our brand new SMALLab exhibit! SMALLab is an embodied learning environment where every person is up, moving, and collaborating. Movement is tracked by motion capture cameras, allowing you to walk around on a 15-foot by 15-foot playing field to complete activities.

Your family can work together to solve puzzles, create stories and character plots, study the world, and paint digital masterpieces with this innovative programming. With SMALLab, our classroom becomes the fraction, letter, molecule, paintbrush, or playing piece in hundreds of educational activities—all so much fun kids don’t even realize they’re learning! This super fun, super interactive method allows children to collaborate and learn as they move. With lessons over science, language, arts, and more, SMALLab lessons give families a unique, innovative way to learn together. SMALLab programming can be tooled to fit a wide variety of age ranges, from age 2 to 102—so everyone in the family will enjoy going beyond the screen and immersing themselves in science with SMALLab.

The Science Center is only the third museum in the entire country with SMALLab, so we’re very excited to feature several SMALLab events each day Monday through Friday this summer. For a list of scheduled times or to sign up for an event, visit our website at Be sure to bring your socks—we throw shoes and most of the rules to the side when SMALLab is involved. Playing in socks allows us to keep our SMALLab mat in good shape, and kids always have fun kicking off their shoes and playing in SMALLab. Words simply can’t describe this cutting-edge exhibit, so experience the magic of SMALLab firsthand!

Our museum is also home to over 45 touchable, workable exhibits and over 30 animals. Be sure to stop by and say hello at one of our Creature Features this summer, where your kids can have an unforgettable, amazing time meeting some of our animals up close in a safe learning environment. We also give guests a chance to be amazed by chemistry feats during our Chem Demos, so there is something for everyone this summer at the Science Center. Bring the whole family and discover the difference a hands-on encounter with science can make.

Cool Factors:  3rd museum in the country to have a SMALLab, so much fun the kids don’t know they are learning, great for all ages


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


Coolest Way to Try Local Beers

30A Brew Tours by Gulf Coast Go

(850) 499-7217

Beer lovers rejoice! 30A Brew Tours powered by Gulf Coast Go is a fun and unique way to experience local beers. Hop on our trolley at the public parking lot on 283 South in Grayton Beach (1505 County Rd 283 S - Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459). The Tour will depart every Tuesday and Thursday at 1:00 pm for adults 21+. Guests will enjoy a guided tour of the Grayton Beer Company brewery as well as a beer flight. Then climb aboard as we head to Shades Bar and Grill in Inlet Beach, where they will receive a flight of local beers and half off appetizers. Next, the trolley will make its way to the Grayton Beer Brewpub to enjoy one last flight of beer. The tour will consist of all "local" beers, brewed from the panhandle, including Grayton Beer Company, Idyll Hounds Brewing Company, and Oyster City Brewing Company. Grab some friends and get ready to make new ones along the way on the 30A Brew Tour! Tickets are available online for $65 at

Gulf Coast Go will also be offering a daily trolley service running from Inlet Beach to San Destin, starting Summer 2018. Guests will be able to purchase an all-day pass so they can Hop on and off at their leisure. Locals will be able to buy a Local Pass at a discounted rate to travel with ease whether for work or play. Gulf Coast Go also has the capability to book local activities for riders, such as dolphin tours, paddle boarding, fishing charters, parasailing, watercraft rentals, water parks and more. Visit their website for trolley stops & pricing, or to book a tour.

Cool Factors: Great way to experience local brewing companies, make new friends, don't have to worry about parking.


Coolest Place to Eat Clean

Formula Fresh

4307 Legendary Drive


Formula Fresh is easily our favorite healthy obsession! Walk into this superfood bar and you will always be greeted by smiling faces, the aroma of essential oils, and fresh vibes.  It has quickly become a top pick for meetings, hangouts, work, and even food on the go! Formula Fresh is on a mission to provide “healthy, delicious, and convenient nutrition” to locals and visitors alike and specifically caters to those seeking healthier food options.  One unique aspect about Formula Fresh is their dedication to...well,  keeping things fresh! In fact, every juice, smoothie, toast, protein bite, and acai bowl is made with whole ingredients daily right in their kitchen. Everything is wildly delicious and will leave you feeling fit and energized! Formula Fresh leaves its visitors with a taste of bliss.

Cool Factors:  Fresh juices made daily, inviting environment, options for juice cleanses and dietary supplements


Coolest Place to Fly

General “Chappie” James Summer Flight Academy

1608 Martin Luther King Blvd


Have you ever wanted to pilot a plane over the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama and Florida borders? Then grab your aviator glasses and sign up for the week-long summer camp at the General “Chappie” James Summer Flight Academy. General Chappie was the first African American Four Star General of the Air Force and was from Pensacola. He was a graduate of Tuskegee Institute. “The power of excellence is overwhelming. It is always in demand and nobody cares about its color."

This no-cost summer program is held in the brand new Chappie James Museum of Pensacola. It includes training in Aviation Basics and Aerodynamics as well as STEM lessons for Academic Excellence. Classes are taught by flight instructors and active/retired military and civilian pilots. Summer students also take field trips to Pensacola Aviation, USCG ATC, Airbus, and NAS Pensacola. Lunch is provided daily.

Their mission is to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math while building student confidence in the classroom by using aviation as the key learning discipline. The program aims to provide a future workforce for the aerospace industry and to inspire good citizenship using the legacy of General Daniel Chappie James Jr.  The week-long summer program started in 1996 and is open to kids ages 13-18. It culminates with each student piloting an aircraft at Ferguson Airport. There is a grand ceremony and presentation where friends and family are invited to view the student flights. They will be offering Fall programs this year so look into this early. 

Cool Factors: Piloting a plane at a young age, the volunteers, the history, it’s free!


Coolest Place to Sip Tea

Crazy Mad Hatter’s Salon de Tea

1114 John Sims Parkway


(850) 499-4432

At Crazy Mad Hatter’s Salon de Tea, you’re greeted by the smell of home-baked goodies and a genuine, friendly welcome from Mark and Tonya, the sweet couple from Luxembourg who opened this unique, to-die-for tea spot just this year in Niceville, FL. Already a favorite among the locals, this adorable shop is filled with colorful and fun seating arrangements, an eccentric array of cheeky pillows and lamps and even bookshelves filled with reading material for the solo visitor. Wonderland’s influence peppers the environment:  you’ll find a stand covered with mind-bending puzzle toys next to a wingback chair, mismatched china tea sets, and French-inspired artwork covering the pink and purple walls. 

Mark & Tonya came to America just a few years ago to visit family and fell in love with the area. Raised in South Africa, in a mainly British community, Mark was raised on hot tea and was surprised to find that it is not very common in our country. He says that in Luxembourg, there is a tea shop on every corner. He went on to explain that in the summer, the best thing you can do for yourself to beat the heat is to drink hot tea. It is normal for sports teams to drink a hot tea during the halftime portion of their matches, and Moroccans are known for keeping hot peppermint tea on them at all times so they can maintain their body temperature in the hot desert. According to science, the hot tea raises your body temperature, which causes you to sweat more and release the heat from your body. Considering how warm it gets here on the coast, this is definitely welcome information! 

Crazy Mad Hatter‘s Salon de Tea is the perfect environment for almost any get-together, whether it’s a birthday party, a ladies’ day out, a parent/child date, or a casual gathering. They’ll even set up after-hours events - just ask! Between the tarts and other sweets (even some gluten free!) – all from traditional family recipes – and their variety of quiches and savory items, every tummy will leave satisfied. 

And what would a tea room be without tea!  Over 25 loose organic teas await your taste buds at this tea shop. From progressive Earl Grey with lavender and jasmine to herbal mint blends with licorice root, peppermint, fennel and basil, each blend is uniquely different and yields a distinct flavor profile.   With such a vast array of options to choose from, whatever ends up in your cup is sure to delight you. Make sure Crazy Mad Hatter’s Salon de Tea is on your list of places to visit this summer!

Cool Factors: Fun and lively environment, sweet and savory treats, an array of teas and the owners Mark & Tonya are always so cool


Coolest Baseball Team

PARA Power 10U All Stars

The coolest ten year olds playing baseball these days come from Pace, Florida and recently won the Gulf Coast Regional USSSA All Star World Series.  This team is comprised of the top ten year olds at Pace Athletic and Recreation Association (PARA) from the spring season and then practice together for several weeks leading up to the All Star World Series. They played four days of non-stop baseball and went into the last day of championship games undefeated.  With two out-of-the-park home runs hit during the championship game, these boys brought home the win for the 3rd year in a row!  

The coaches and players are like none you've seen and have a brotherly bond.  Looking forward to seeing what next year holds!

Cool Factors:  Teamwork, determination, winning spirit!


Coolest Adrenaline Workout For Fitness Junkies

Aerial Workout1.jpg



Destin Pilates & Aerial Center

36150 Emerald Coast Parkway, Set 108

Destin, FL  32541


Always innovative and ahead of the curve, Susan Authement Dunnam of Destin Pilates and Aerial has been a pioneer on the Emerald Coast bringing fresh and exciting ways to keep in shape and have fun while doing it. Susan's entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to search and develop has never stopped since moving to Destin in Spring of 2009. Susan has the longest running  successful Pilates studio in Destin and was also the first to bring many health and wellness ( concepts) such as Ballet Barre , Aerial Hammock /Silks, The Rossiter Stretch System and now Bungee Jump Fitness to the area. 

" I have always been very active and body being raised in a tennis family and my father Vince was a very successfull, courageous and determined business man who taught me that nothing was impossible if you set your mind to it and work hard to achieve it. I live by the adage that we don't stop playing because be get old but we get old because we stop playing! I turn 55 this year and it in now way means I am slowing down because I am just getting started. I discovered the incredible conditioning system know as Pilates in 1995 by accident while living in Aspen, Co and I have never looked back. I am stronger and more flexible in my body now than I was in my 20s and that has allowed me to get creative in my workouts. We have a wide variety of classes I have created at the studio all designed for a variety of reasons. Last year I created The Restorative Pilates Stretch with essential oils to help people relax , slow down and go within themselves all while listening to Praise music.  This year I decided to create something completely different which is all the way on the other end of the spectrum, The Bungee Jump  Class. This class is a high octane and fast paced with 1970s and 1980s music cranked. All the classes that I have created have a common goal in mind. They all help you lose track of time and feel like a kid again." 

The Bungee Jump is an adrenaline rush class that start by warming up on  the Pilates Reformer ,a strengthening and stretching machine that is Pilates main piece of equipment. Then we go on to the Rebounder where we start getting the heart rate up and next to the Bungee Jump Harnesses. 

What to expect

Gravity Defying Workout

Adrenaline Rush Experience 

Rapid Fat Burning

Maximized Core Strengthening

Strength and Endurance Training

Flexibility And Balance Training

After we finish the Bungee part of class we move over to the Pilates Springboards for more strength trying and then we slow it down on the roam rollers for stretching.

These classes and private sessions have become very popular with our long time second home clients and with travelers since the closest Bungee classes are 7 hrs away.  I talk to the clients before hand to get harness sizes and then we discuss any details so I can customize the class for the best experience possible. I am a firm believer in the fact that Movement Heals and at Destin Pilates and Aerial we make sure of it!


Cool Factors: 

Gravity-defying workout, adrenaline rush experience, rapid fat burning, strength, endurance, flexibility and balance training




Coolest Toes in the Sand Concert

Coolest Toes in the Sand Concert

SandJam producers have announced the full lineup for 2018's music festival.

Headliners include Incubus, Sublime with Rome, and Fitz and the Tantrums. Other bands and artist playing at the festival include Kaleo, St. Lucia, Capital Cities, All Time Low, Citizen Cope, Best Coast, Gin Blossoms, Better Than Ezra, The Record Company, The Wild Feathers, Marc Scibilia, Low Cut Connie, Bay Ledges, Walden, Ida Mae, The New Respects, Ruen Brothers, Kirstie Lovelady, Safe to Say, My Fever, The Western Sons, South of Heaven, and Graytones.

The music festival will take place April 26-28 at the M.B. Miller Pier in Panama City Beach.