Planning a family vacation that meets the different interests of everyone in the household can be tough. While one child may love to spend the day simply splashing in the gulf, the other may prefer something more adventurous.

Fortunately for parents trying to plan an epic getaway, Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida is the saving grace that’ll keep all kids pleased. Located in the northwest region of the state, the coastal community offers plenty of activities (both on- and off-shore) that’ll meet your tweens’ passions.

We curated a list of experiences, from paddleboarding and camping to swimming with stingrays and surf fishing, to help you get started.

The Athlete: Surf Fishing

If your kiddo likes a good challenge, surf fishing can be another sport to add to their summer roster. While the fishing experience is more laid back, casting a line and reeling in a big catch is no easy feat.

Before heading to Henderson Beach State Park, which charges a small $6 fee for entry, stop by a local shop for fishing supplies and bait. We recommend Emerald Coast Bait and Tackle, which has all the materials you need for any water-related activity. Now all that's left to do is find a perfect spot by the water where your tween can hook their special catch of the day–and maybe even take it to a local restaurant to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Reel in a day of fun and fishing!

The Animal-Loving Tween: Gulfarium Wildlife Encounters

For your tween who loves all things animals and mammals, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. This outdoor, hands-on attraction in Fort Walton Beach allows your aspiring veterinarian to get up close and personal with alligators, dolphins, penguins, seals, sea lions, and reptiles.

If they’re up for the task, your kids can also become a trainer for the day, helping to care for a variety of animals–and they’ll even have a chance to snorkel with stingrays and sharks. As you walk through the park, stop to see the daily shows, animal exhibits and have a chat with experts for an experience that’s both educational and unforgettable.

Calling all your future zoologists, this one’s for them!

The Art Aficionado: Sandcastle Sculpture Lessons

Your aspiring artist can try their hand at architecture and sculpting in this two-hour sandcastle sculpture lesson hosted by Beach Sand Sculptures. The interactive workshop is led by trained sand sculpture artists who will show your kiddo the ropes to crafting a sound sandcastle, towering over three feet.

They’ll learn tips and tricks from the professionals themselves, like the right amount of water to use when building a sandcastle’s foundation, specific locations on the beach for the best sand and regular household items that help create arches and even stairs. They’ll walk away with a Sandcastle Toolkit in hand, feeling like the next Michelangelo.

Inspire your budding Piccaso by booking a lesson today!

The Explorer: Paddleboard Rocky Bayou

A former WWII training site, Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park in Okaloosa County, Florida is a stunning 357-acre park with towering longleaf pine trees, an array of wildlife (white-tailed deer, bald eagles, turkeys and bobcats) and a peaceful bayou.

Your mini Marco Polo can spend hours exploring the park’s calm waters by paddleboard, which can be rented at the ranger station upon entry, along with a paddle and lifejacket. Tip: Search the shoreline for hermit crabs and keep a watchful eye for wildlife.

It’s time for an adventure at Rocky Bayou!

The Outdoorsy Kiddo: Camping in Henderson Beach State Park

Get back to nature at Henderson Beach State Park, which boasts 60 gravel-paved campsites that are all within walking distance from the beach access. Each campsite features water, electricity, picnic tables and a ground grill–plus, pets are always welcome, too.

During the day, your children can explore the sand dunes’ coastal vegetation along the Gulf Islands National Seashore, bike along the scenic mile-long paved road or try their hand at fishing. Then at night, top off your camping trip with spooky stories around a campfire.

Pack the s'mores and reserve a campground!


At Destin-Fort Walton Beach, your kids will find the perfect activity for them–no matter their interests. Find even more activities at

Your daily dose of joy and connection
Get the Tinybeans app