The Emerald Coast

Where else can you fulfill your dream of riding a mechanical bull other than in Florida?! Fort Walton Beach to be exact! Apparently I had already rode a mechanical bull (my cousin later reminded me after seeing this photo) about 10 years ago in Panama City Beach, Florida. But go figure, mechanical bulls and Coyote Ugly bars (where this photo was taken) are some of panhandle Florida’s favourite things!

This was my fourth visit to Florida and I would’ve never chose the retirement capital of the Emerald Coast for a mid winter escape, except that my good friend Brady was living there. After a couple of days in this hidden gem however, I was pleasantly surprised at what a beautiful location it was and hoped one day that I would be rich enough to spend my retirement years by the beach as well.

For a small town Fort Walton Beach (located on the Emerald Coast which is dotted with numerous smaller towns) has a lot of variety and outlet malls. Prices aren’t cheap and a car is needed to get around. Public transportation is non-existent and the nightlife is kept to a central location near Margaritaville, so this town is pretty touristic.

The beach however is beautiful! Although for Floridians it was ‘cold’, I was grateful to be sitting on a beach on March 1st in my bikini. The water is crystal blue and there was no body in sight!  The white sands made it seem like I was on another planet, and then I realized that’s why they call it the Emerald Coast. Ookaloosa Island is a must see and is also known for fishing. In the summer this area of the coast is super packed so I was glad I got to see it in the winter, where there were no crowds and I finally got some beach time. Florida has so many hidden gems like this town. You could just drive for hours and the locals are also friendly. We had a wonderful conversation with a cab driver after a night at the bar where she told her entire history of living in Fort Walton Beach!
I will miss the friendliness that comes from being in a small town, and of course, the sunshine and the beautiful ocean!

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