Absolute Best Time to Visit Fort Walton Beach

Welcome to the sun-drenched Florida panhandle, also known as the Emerald Coast. Known for its sugar white sand beaches, exceptional fishing charters, historical attractions, and family-friendly environment.

There are simply loads of things to do here in FWB. Discover Okaloosa Island, set sail at high tide to Crab Island, drive the scenic coast to Pensacola, swim in the warm turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, or even pay a visit to the Air Force Armament Museum or the Eglin Air Force Base.

Our travel guide is designed to help you decide when to visit Fort Walton Beach and when to book your stay at one of our exceptional vacation rentals. We have vacation rentals with hot tubs, open-air balconies, and panoramic seaside views. The choice is yours all year round!

Busy Season in Fort Walton Beach, Florida

There’s no denying it Fort Walton Beach is a top vacation spot along Florida’s Gulf Coast. But each season brings a little different landscape when it comes to crowds, weather, and the best things to do in the seaside town.

School breaks like Spring Break and Winter Vacation bring crowds to Fort Walton. The summer months also see an uptick in visitors. The same goes for long weekends or holidays like Labor Day, Memorial Day, and 4th of July weekend.

If your vacation lands on one of these special holidays it’s important to book your accommodation ahead of time and to expect larger than normal crowds at beaches and other attractions.

Spring in Fort Walton Beach: What To Know

Photo Credit: Serge Yatunin

The Dry Season. Unlike many other parts of the country where the weather seems to start getting wetter around spring, the Florida panhandle is drying up. This means you can expect temperate sunny days with lower humidity than other months during spring in Fort Walton.

Some even say this spring brings Florida’s most agreeable weather. You can expect temperatures to be in the low 70s Fahrenheit during the day and creeping up to the high 80s by the end of May. The Gulf’s waters sit at about 10 degrees cooler than the air. It’s still swimmable, but bring a warmer outfit for beach strolls after the sun goes down!

Why Visit Fort Walton in the Spring

  • If you don’t mind the potential Spring Break crowd.
  • If you are looking for a getaway that isn’t 100% centered around the beach.
  • If you’re traveling as a family and are hoping for kid-friendly activities like the Gulfarium.
  • If you’re hoping to stop in at a local event like the Tequila and Taco Fest or Burning Up the Beaches.
  • If you prefer mild weather over Florida’s hot tropical summer climate.

Summer in Fort Walton Beach: What To Know

Photo Credit: Andriy Blokhin

The warmest, wettest, busiest summer in Fort Walton Beach is without a doubt the most popular time to plan your visit and the most unpredictable weather-wise. Expect temperatures to sit in the low 90s, but know they have the potential to rise much higher. July and August are the hottest months, and you have the potential to see a hurricane during the June through November months.

Why Visit Fort Walton in the Summer

  • If you love a lively beach atmosphere.
  • If you don’t mind sharing the attractions and beaches with others.
  • If you’re ready to embrace warmer weather.
  • If you’re hoping to travel with kids on summer vacation.

Fall in Fort Walton Beach: What To Know

The Floridian local’s favorite time to plan a getaway. The skies begin to clear, and the temperatures drop to a more reasonable average high of the low 80s.

While most of the out-of-state tourists visit during the spring or summer months, local Floridians know how wonderful the Gulf Coast is during autumn. Water temperatures remain pleasant, and precipitation is low. This is a great time of year to walk the boardwalk or see what other attractions the city of FWB has to offer.

Why Visit Fort Walton in the Fall

  • If you want warm beach weather but fewer crowds.
  • If you’re not looking to take a trip during normal school vacations.

Winter in Fort Walton Beach: What To Know

The least popular time to visit Fort Walton Beach. While much of Florida is considered a haven for travelers from the American North seeking a tropical warm getaway in the dead of winter, FWB is not typically that place. This is because Florida’s panhandle is a little chilly during the winter season and certainly cooler than Key West or Orlando.

Fortunately, aside from the stunning beaches, Fort Walton Beach offers plenty to keep you occupied. Average temperatures range in the mid to low-60s, and many “summer-only” attractions close up shop.

Why Visit Fort Walton in the Winter

  • If you are most interested in having a crowd-free getaway and aren’t concerned with swimming in the Gulf.
  • If you want to explore Okaloosa County.
  • If you are hoping for a cheaper flight into Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport.

Highlights in Fort Walton Beach by Month

Let’s take a look at some local events you can see depending on the month you visit Fort Walton Beach.

January

Winter Guest Fest

Located at the Emerald Coast Convention Center, this community event gathers locals to win gifts and giveaways at this trade show.

February

Photo Credit: VIAVAL TOURS

Mardi Gras Parade

Fort Walton Beach loves a parade! Any excuse to celebrate is taken here. Although we are far from the epicenter of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, FWB does throw its own lively parade and celebration near Fat Tuesday.

March

Photo Credit: YES Market Media

Spring Kite Festival at The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island

Usually lasting two days, you can take the family to the beach to see some of the most beautifully crafted kites take to the skies for some serious stunt-flying. Or grab a kite of your own and get involved.

April

Musical Echoes Flute Festival

See the landing come alive with traditional Native American flute music. This is an excellent cultural festival for the whole family!

May

Photo Credit: Pixel-Shot

Taco & Tequila Fest

Local restaurants compete for the best taco on the Emerald Coast! Stroll the Baytowne Wharf and watch the Chihuahua beauty contest, stuff yourself with unlimited tacos and margaritas, and listen to live music from several DJs and a mariachi band.

June

Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival

Sometimes occurring in May, this pirate-themed festival is fun for the whole family. Here you’ll experience a parade, fireworks, games, and live battle reenactments.

July

4th of July fireworks at Fort Walton Beach Landing

Fort Walton Beach area has no shortage of fireworks celebrations if you’re hoping to visit during Independence Day. There are local BBQs, food trucks, and numerous after-dark displays.

August

The Emerald Coast Poker Run

This is the headlining event for Boat Week in Fort Walton Beach! Every year, dozens of boats, from powered speed boats to pontoon boats, drift through the green waters to 5-7 different checkpoints, with the end goal of having the best poker hand after acquiring a card at each checkpoint. While the marine event happens during the day, an evening afterparty keeps the event going well past sundown. Even better, all proceeds go to youth organizations in Okaloosa County.

September

Northwest Florida Fair

An annual local fair complete with rides and delicious fried foods that has brought joy to the community for more than 50 years now.

The Greek Festival

Vendors gather to showcase Greek culture and food to visitors.

October

Destin Fishing Rodeo

This event runs for the entirety of October. In fact, during this month all the best anglers in the state vy for the best fishing spots and it becomes one of the number-one fishing destinations in the country. There are running events, the biggest shark of the day contests, and so much more!

Destin Seafood Festival

More interested in eating the seafood than catching it? This festival could be more your style. This is one of the most celebrated events in the city. Come enjoy art, music, community, and the best local seafood.

November

Thanksgiving

If you’re looking to visit during the Thanksgiving holiday, there are plenty of local restaurants hosting banquets, so you won’t have to cook at all! Joe’s Crab Shack and Marina Cafe both offer annual Thanksgiving celebrations.

December

Destin Harbor Boat Parade

This is the much-awaited month of the Christmas boat parade! Beginning at Bochamps restaurant and ending near Destin Bridge and Norriego Point, this parade of boats is fully lit and decorated to bring holiday cheer to the harbor.

Downtown Fort Walton Landing Christmas Tree and Lights

Come watch the town’s Christmas tree and lights be strung up for all to see. There is a annual tree lighting event during the first week of December, and lights and various events are hosting downtown during the rest of the month.

Stay With Us in Fort Walton

The choice is yours! There are pros and cons to visiting Fort Walton Beach any time of year. Depending on the type of vacation you are seeking, Fort Walton can offer a pristine, quiet beach getaway filled with white sand beaches in the off-season or a busy, vibrant nightlife scene during the peak travel months.

The one thing that always remains the same, however, is our excellent vacation rentals. Stay with us in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and we can guarantee you’ll have a relaxing, comfortable place to unwind on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Book your stay with Legacy Vacations today!