Words by Paige Townley
With its 26 miles of sugar-white sand and turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, South Walton is always top of mind during the warmer months. But there are many reasons why this northwest Florida area is actually a year-round destination with countless beyond-the-beach activities for a relaxing getaway any time of year.
Dining in South Walton
Nestled right on the Gulf, there’s no better spot to dine on the freshest seafood straight from the water. But the fare to be found here goes well beyond the sea. From casual fresh Gulf seafood to upscale fine dining and even BBQ joints, South Walton is a beach destination boasting a diverse culinary scene.
With more than 200 restaurants, South Walton is home to award-winning chefs that highlight a fusion of flavors using fresh-from-the-Gulf and other locally-sourced ingredients. The area also offers a variety of dining options. Home to a plethora of quaint neighborhoods and unique town squares, there’s a perfect location for any type of meal, from waterfront eateries to romantic nights out and even local hole-in-the-wall favorites. Private culinary experiences are even on the menu in South Walton. A number of local personal chefs specialize in the preparation of one-of-a-kind meals and gourmet dishes completely custom to you and your palate.
Beyond the Beach
While the off season in South Walton offers mild enough temperatures—January and February average temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees—to still enjoy some time on the beach, there’s so much more just waiting to be explored in the area this time of year.
Each of South Walton’s 16 signature beach neighborhoods are home to a variety of shops and boutiques, from well-known favorites to those newer to the scene. Whether you’re looking for eclectic gift shops, art galleries, jewelry stores or clothing boutiques, there’s literally something for everyone, with award-winning restaurants and coffee shops interspersed to create a distinctively unique yet relaxing atmosphere.
For those still looking for a little adventure, there are vast nature preserves in South Walton, including 200-plus miles of trails, four state parks, a 15,000-acre state forest, and 15 rare coastal dune lakes. A run or cycling trip along the 19 miles of the Timpoochee Trail offers some of the best panoramic views of New Urbanist neighborhoods and scenic beauty.
Seek out even more picturesque views in the area with a day trip north of the Choctawhatchee Bay to DeFuniak Springs. The area features a historic downtown district with unique shops, restaurants, and boutiques, as well as nearly 200 historic homes and buildings.
The winter may technically be the off season, but there are still world-class festivals and events just waiting to be enjoyed, from food and wine to art and film.
Whether you’re planning a long-anticipated family get-together, romantic getaway, or simply a weekend with friends, there’s no better time to plan a trip to South Walton, Florida. And with the ease of accessibility in traveling to the area—it’s less than 25 miles from Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport and Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport—it has never been easier. Ready to find your perfect beach? Learn more or plan your visit now at VisitSouthWalton.com.