When you think of Destin and South Walton, chances are high that you picture the white sands and rolling emerald waves. We totally understand! The beautiful beaches along this section of the Gulf Coast are the number one attraction for locals and visitors alike. They provide the perfect atmosphere to relax, unwind, and enjoy life.
But did you know that the Emerald Coast offers more than just a beach paradise? *Gasp* Crazy, but it is true! While the beaches may be the ultimate purpose for visiting the area, there a number of other reasons to stay and opportunities to enhance your vacation.
We present to you - Destin and South Walton educational trips.
That’s right. This area provides a variety of fun ways to not only have fun, but to learn as well. Gaining a greater understanding of your vacation area’s environment, history, and culture is a great way to enjoy a well-rounded trip, and improve the overall vacation experience.
So, what are these education opportunities? Let’s dive right in!
The Destin History and Fishing Museum is a fun and interactive museum that provides a history of Destin, to include its transformation from a minor fishing village to the popular tourist destination it is today. Exhibits incorporate photos, artifacts, mounted fish, and more that give insight into the area’s humble fishing roots. The museum also includes a science section, outdoor park complex, and a Destin Fishing Rodeo Gallery. Whether you are looking for a way to beat the heat or simply want to experience something new, this is a great place to visit. Bonus: the kids will love the scavenger hunt activities that let them explore the museum in a unique and fun way, taking learning into their own hands.
Discover the world beneath the waves at the Sea Life Discovery Center in Grayton Beach. With its hands-on discovery programs, this non-profit organization strives to educate kids about the ocean and Gulf ecosystems, as well as inspire participants to become involved in environmental conservation efforts. Educational opportunities include programs in the interactive lab and marine science excursions on the Gulf. Kids will jump at the chance to participate in the variety of lab studies, snorkel adventures, kayak trips, and seine net pulls that are offered.
Interested in learning more about the unique landscape and wildlife of South Walton? 30A Air Boat Adventures provides fun eco-tours along the Choctawhatchee, Florida’s third largest river that runs from southern Alabama and empties into the Gulf. There are two types of tour options available for eager learners. The daily tours last 1.5 hours and are available to anyone. You may also book a private tour to explore the scenery exclusively with your family and friends. Either way, it is sure to be an experience to remember, especially if you get a glimpse of an alligator!
Opening in 1972, the current Indian Temple Mound Museum has a long history in the area. Its variety of exhibits spans 12,000 years of Native American history in the Southeastern United States. Spend the day exploring over 1,000 artifacts that lend themselves to learning more about the culture and history of Native American occupation. The museum also provides educational programming, including interactive field trips for school and community groups, as well as group tours for both kids and adults.
Located in Freeport, the E.O. Wilson Biophelia Center is strictly an environmental education center, which aims to educate students and other visitors about the importance of the earth’s ecosystems, specifically the surrounding long-leaf pine environment. The purpose is to encourage conservation and promote sustainability through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Education opportunities include school programs, summer programs, public events, and member-only events. Learning at the center is a great way for aspiring environmentalists to fuel their knowledge, as well as a unique opportunity for anyone and everyone to enjoy the natural environment.
The Air Force Armament Museum is slightly (well, actually a lot) different than the other museums in the area. It is the only museum in the world – yes, you read that correctly – that focuses specifically on the collection and preservation of Air Force Armament artifacts. If you are vacationing with a military guru, this is one stop you will not want to miss. Artifacts include over 29 different aircraft, gun collections, bombs, missiles, and more. A short film about the Eglin Air Force Base, which is where the museum is located, offers insight into the history of the base and its role in the development of the air force armament. Take some time off from the beach for some much-needed learning, and impress your friends with your new knowledge when you return home!
If you are looking for an educational opportunity to enhance your vacation, but still want to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, look no further than Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. This state park is characterized by its sandy dunes, dune lakes, pristine beach, and unique flora and fauna. Enjoy the park by participating in interpretive programs, hiking, kayaking, biking, fishing, and more. Guided hikes are also available to explore the more than 1,600 acres, including the rare coastal dune lake habitat, long-leaf pines and scrubland, and animal species that find refuge in this environment. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is the ultimate way to enjoy the outdoors and learn something while you are at it!
Who said learning has to be boring? Destin and South Walton have found great ways to combine vacation fun with exciting educational events. By participating in these opportunities, your vacation experience will be both awesome and unique. Ready to start planning your trip to the Emerald Coast? Book your stay in one of our many vacation rentals. Our reservation specialists can help you schedule your activities, including any of these education trips, to ensure your trip is smooth and memorable. Happy Learning!