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48 Hours In…Destin/Ft. Walton Beach

Acclaimed for its sporting collection of great golf escapes, the Emerald Coast area tees up numerous holes on eight prestigious golf and country clubs. From challenging links designed by world-renowned architects to panoramic enticements engineered by Mother Nature the courses capitalize on woods and wetlands for scenic—yet sinister–contrasts.

Courses

The creation of Fred Couples and Gene Bates, the 7,099-yard Kelly Plantation Golf Club lies immaculately along the southern shores of majestic Choctawhatchee Bay. Its landscape represents perfect harmony between man and nature, while its artistic fairways cater to both the low and high handicapper.

Surrounded by 120 acres of never-to-be-disturbed nature preserves, Regatta Bay Golf & Country Club is the area's only Audubon registered course. The Robert C. Walker design winds along the shore of Choctawhatchee Bay and wraps tight fairways and narrow greens, as well as an array of crystal-clear lakes that demand precise shot placement.

Accommodations

The Emerald Grande overlooks some of the most marvelous emerald-flecked water and sugar-sand beaches. Situated along 15 acres of the Historic Destin Harbor, this 281-unit luxury resort includes a 2,500-square foot roof-top pool with views of the Gulf of Mexico and the harbor, a premier spa and fitness center with smoothie bar, and private boat trips to a secluded beach.

The Henderson Park Inn is exclusive to adults 25-plus. The intimate New England-style B&B is protected by a mile of private shoreline and offers elegant rooms with plush bedding, verandas overlooking the Gulf, and a complimentary bottle of wine and fruit to celebrate guests' arrivals. Guests can also enjoy the use of bicycles to ride down Scenic Hwy 98 after a day on the beach. Complimentary full breakfast is included daily, as well as light lunches and snacks. 

Dining


The first Emerald Coast restaurant, Staff’s, is a 1913 barrel-shaped warehouse adorned with original pressed-tin ceilings and various collectibles such as a 1914 cash register and an antiquated phonograph lamp. The Seafood Skillet—yellowfish tuna, shrimp, scallops, and crabmeat stuffing broiled in melted butter and drizzled with cheese—is served with baskets of homemade wheat bread fresh-baked from Pop Staff’s 70-year-old secret recipe.

Not for nothing is the The Magnolia Grill known as “the museum that sells food.” Located just off Okaloosa Sound in a true historic home circa 1910, the restaurant is lined with local history, including owners Tom and Peggy Rice’s collection of black and white photographs that tell the story of the '40s era in Ft. Walton Beach. Menu items range from delectable appetizers to tantalizing Italian entrees.

Attractions

Just Chute Me is one of the many parasailing companies along Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast. The new 12-passenger “state of the art” parasail boats are complete with all new equipment, allowing visitors to experience the 24 miles of sugar-white sand and emerald-green water by land, sea—and air.

The Destin History & Fishing Museum is dedicated to preserving, documenting and sharing the stories of the little fishing village that was founded on the sandy shores of East Pass in the 1830s. The museum features the largest collection of native Gulf fish on display in Northwest Florida, Destin’s oldest seine boat—the 1925 Primrose—and other artifacts such as the fishing rod used by Ernest Hemingway for big game fishing.

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