Fair Winds and Following Seas: October Events on the Emerald Coast

Fall is one of the most brilliant times to vacation in the heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast. October is an especially wonderful time to visit the shores of Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island. The temperatures are milder than you find in the summer, but still warm enough to warrant long days on the sugar white sand. And, when you aren’t splashing in the emerald waves, you will find plenty going on around town, too.

October kicks off with two of the most highly anticipated Emerald Coast events of the year; the Destin Seafood Festival and the month-long fishing rodeo. Destin boasts the state’s largest charter fishing fleet and October is their Super Bowl. And, it can be yours, too.

Now in its 69th year, the Destin Fishing Rodeo embodies everything the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” was founded on and starts on October 1. It’s easy to get in on the action, too. No entrance fees, no fancy boat of your own required. To participate in this tournament all you need to do is contact a local captain and charter a boat for a day of fun on the water. Once you’ve got your catch, head in to AJ’s and Bruce Cheves, official weighmaster since 1991, where he will string up your fish and “make you famous”, as he says, if you’ve brought in ‘the big one’.

Speaking of the weigh station, we recommend putting in an afternoon on the docks, even if you have no plans to fish while here. Every afternoon of the month the charter boats make their way in to meet up with Bruce and Miss Destin, who greets the fisherman as they disembark. The air is electric as they hoist up each fish competing for a spot on the board. The atmosphere is one of excitement and fun! The cold beverages and scrumptious seafood from the restaurant doesn’t hurt either.

To enjoy an extra delicious addition to your trip, make sure you plan your October vacation for the first weekend of the month. Not only will you be able to take in the start of the rodeo, but also delight in three days of culinary offerings at the Destin Seafood Festival! The event takes place at HarborWalk Village, just steps from the rodeo weigh station. Sample the Gulf to Table creations of local chefs here as you enjoy live music from three stages, which feature everything from rock to reggae, before heading off to the weigh-ins.

Planning to travel later in the month? Good idea! While the entire month is a budget-friendly time to hit the beach, later in October can be especially easy on the wallet. And, don’t worry; the rodeo will still be in full swing and you can capitalize on even more events.

One such event is the Mattie Kelly Arts Festival, which takes place October 28and 29th. Ideal for those traveling with kids, friends or on a couple’s vacation in Destin, this festival showcases the works of over 100 juried artists. You will also find delicious eats, continuous live music and plenty for kids to do at their designated art station!

While there is no bad time to hit the beach in the fall – or, ever really – we especially recommend visiting the heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast in October. Fantastic weather, great rates on places to stay and hot events will be waiting for you. Book your trip to Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island now!