Summer in Fort Walton Beach: A Traveler’s Guide

Emerald green water, the perfect golden suntan, and loads of activities —this is what Fort Walton Beach has to offer summertime visitors. This small beach town tucked into the corner of Northwest Florida is bursting with marine life, beach access, water sports, and loads of activities for land lovers. Our beachfront vacation rentals in Fort Walton Beach make accessing these activities even easier.

This is your complete guide to getting the most out of your summer getaway to Fort Walton Beach!

Summer Weather in Fort Walton Beach

Summer in Fort Walton Beach brings sunny days and temperatures averaging in the mid-80s to low 90s. It’s the perfect time to enjoy the region’s stunning coastline and emerald-green waters. Gulf breezes keep the atmosphere comfortable, making it ideal for outdoor activities like sunbathing, paddle boarding, and exploring local parks. Occasional overcast periods and light afternoon showers do happen, but they pass quickly, only adding to the tropical ambiance.

  • June Average High: 87 degrees F
  • July Average High: 90 degrees F
  • August Average High: 90 degrees F

Best Things to Do in the Summer

While savvy travelers might think winter is the best time to plan a visit to Florida, Summer is certainly a contender. Summertime brings nesting sea turtles, more manatees drifting into the lagoons, scorching hot beach weather, and lots of activities and events catered to summer vacationing families. Here are some of the best things to do during the summer months of June, July, and August.

1. Hit the Beach

Tourists flock to Florida for the 825 miles of white sand beaches and turquoise bath waters of the Gulf Coast, and the Fort Walton Beach area is no exception. You have no shortage of Gulf Coast beaches to choose from.

  • John Beasley Park, Okaloosa Island
  • Garniers Beach Park, Princess Beach
  • Liza Jackson Park, Miramar Beach
  • Blue Mountain Beach at Santa Rosa Beach

These are just a few of your sugar-sand-strewn options. These stunning shores are all an easy walk or drive from Destin-Fort Walton Beach.

The snorkeling off many of these beaches offers a chance to see the marine life up close and fully experience the crystal clear waters the gulf is known for. If you’re lucky, you might spot a sea turtle!

2. Visit the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island

Photo Credit: Jason Finn

No FWB visit is complete without a visit to the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island. Here, you’ll find many local eateries, panoramic beach views from the fishing pier, and shopping. This is the heart of Fort Walton Beach and can’t be missed. This boardwalk is also one of the city’s best sunrise and sunset spots.

If you’re hoping to stay active during your trip, hit the numerous walking trails and biking paths along the coast in places like Henderson Beach State Park and Topsail Preserve.

3. Enjoy the Family Friendly Attractions

If you’re traveling with children (or children at heart), you’re in luck. Fort Walton Beach has a huge aquarium called the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, where you can spend a day learning about all the local Gulf marine life.

Another kid-friendly activity is Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone. Offering mini-golf courses, a bungee trampoline, ropes courses, a go-kart arena, and a roller coaster. This is the go-to destination for those looking to satisfy their adrenaline-seeking behavior.

These are also all great options to fill a rainy summer day or to simply escape the heat.

4. Brush Up on History at the Air Force Armament Museum

Whether you’re trying to create an educational family visit or you are a history buff yourself, the Air Force Armament Museum is one of the most popular things to see in the FWB area. Here, you can learn about the Eglin Air Force Base, check out some massive aviation equipment, and learn about the importance of the Air Force to this area of Florida.

You can also visit the Emerald Coast Science Center for hands-on learning about the natural world or the Indian Temple Mound Museum to learn about the Native Americans who originally inhabited this region and see some well-preserved prehistoric artifacts.

5. Hire a Private Fishing Charter

Fishing is Florida’s “national” pastime. While many of the deep-sea fishing charters are scoring the fattest fish of the season this time of year, the nearshore fishing during Florida’s summer months is renowned as some of the best in the world. Troll through wrecks and reefs for the best chance at catching some Grouper, Snapper, Redfish, Trout, or even sharks.

There are plenty of local fishing charters to choose from. Not a fisherman or woman? You can also rent a pontoon boat for a day out on the water.

Summer Events in Fort Walton Beach

Here are some local community events that happen annually during the summer months.

Wednesday Night Fireworks at the Boardwalk

The Fourth of July is one of the most proudly celebrated holidays in the state of Florida. Fort Walton Beach goes a step further and blasts fireworks off its pier every Wednesday for the duration of the summer months. Head to Okaloosa Island for the best views of the celebratory show right around dusk every week.

Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival

Arrr Matey! Brush up on your pirate knowledge with some swashbuckling fun at the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival! This pirate-themed festival is family-friendly and kicks off the summer season each year. Expect a torchlight parade, mock battles, and shareable pirate loot. Typically, the festival walks the plank around the end of May, so be sure to time your visit accordingly if you want to participate in all the peg-leg action.

Emerald Coast Poker Run

Time your visit for the middle of August, and you’ll get to experience FWB boat week. The star event is, without a doubt, the Emerald Coast Poker Run, where boaters rocket around the bay, visiting specific destinations and crafting the perfect poker hand as they go. It’s one of the most awaited events in the Fort Walton Beach fishing community.

Even better? All the proceeds go to local charities, so participate with your own watercraft or watch the madness ensue from the shore.

Packing for Your Summer Getaway

Packing for a summer vacation in Florida requires roughly the same packing list as a visit at any other time of year. Keep in mind that the sun is strong, the humidity is high, and you’ll probably have to contend with more than your fair share of rainstorms and mosquito clouds. Here are some things you can’t forget.

  • Sunscreen SPF 50 or higher
  • Sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Bathing Suit and Swim Cover-up
  • Beach Towel and Chairs
  • Flip-flops or other preferred beach shoe
  • Beach Umbrella
  • Lightweight, breathable clothing
  • Mosquito Repellent
  • Rainjacket or windbreaker
  • Beach games 

Where to Stay in Fort Walton Beach this Summer

Come enjoy the heat and humidity of Florida’s summers in Fort Walton Beach on a summer vacation filled with turquoise water & adventure. Spend all your day lounging on the beach, enjoying the little luxuries of your vacation rental, or pack your itinerary with all the sights on this list!

Our Fort Walton Beach vacation rentals will keep you well-rested and right in the thick of all the best local events and summertime activities, whether you’re on a romantic getaway or a family vacation.