Chelsea and I took a short vacation to Ft Walton Beach, Florida. (YAY! A blog post about travel! The crowd goes wild.) This is about 2.5 hours away from where I currently live and it is also where I graduated high school. I absolutely love the Emerald Coast and any chance I get to go, I take.

ft walton beach landing
I mean, just look at this beautiful view!

We started our day early, getting into the car and driving to Ft Walton Beach around 7am. We were in town and enjoying the beautiful sunshine by 930. Our first stop was a park on the water called The Landing.

Starting the day with some play

I absolutely love this park. The Landing is downtown and right on the water. It really is the best place in town. It is within walking distance of lots of shops and restaurants, has an amazing view of the water and Okaloosa Island, and there is big playground for kids.

A view even a toddler can appreciate

As you can see, there is plenty of room at the park. Chelsea had a great time exploring every inch and I was happy I didn’t forget my camera.

chelsea wilcox vacation in ft walton beach florida
Hmmm, I wonder if mom will let me touch all this marshy goodness?

We spent a lot of time down by the water. Chelsea loved watching the squirrels run from tree to tree and listen to the fish splashing by the shore.

As a military spouse with a gypsy soul, Chelsea has been to many places and has already lived in 3 different states in her short two year span here on Earth. I’ve seen her flourish and play in many different environments. That said, it was seriously so awesome to see my child having so much fun in a place I used to enjoy and call home.

There were a ton of artists out painting the landscape the day we took our little vacation to Ft Walton Beach. I guess we weren’t the only ones that thought it was the perfect day to be there!

artists painting landscape of ft walton beach
You can see 4 artists in this picture
Do you think he knows I’m taking a picture of him?

You can’t vacation to Ft Walton Beach without the beach

Next, we headed to Okaloosa Island for some fun in the sand. We stopped at the beach store and bought some toys for Chelsea, sunblock (of course, too white to go without it), and a beach chair for myself. Then we headed on down to the Boardwalk.

Now, when I was a young impressionable mind hitting the beach, there was a “very cool” outdoor beach nightclub at the boardwalk, but on this little vacation to Ft Walton Beach I learned that the nightclub is no more. It has been replaced with this ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE restaurant called Al’s Beach Club Burger Bar.

As Chelsea and I were walking the Boardwalk, trying to figure out where to eat, I found this place. It looked a bit touristy, but I told myself it was new and the menu looked alright so I would give it a try. Okay, that’s a lie. What really sold me was the awesome kids splash deck they had right next to the dining tables! I saw it and thought “now here’s a place that knows what it’s doing!” Chelsea could play in the sand and splash around while I stuffed my face. It sounded perfect!

And it was y’all. Of course, I forgot my nice camera so you’ll have to enjoy these grainy images.

Al's in ft walton beach florida
Perfectly blackened tuna salad and gouda mac n cheese, baby.
beach Vacation in ft walton beach florida
Playing while mommy eats her delicious meal
Chelsea Wilcox on Okaloosa Island
Don’t mind me, just spillin’ all your water, Ma.
Chelsea Wilcox eats on the beach in florida
Ma, take an artsy pic for your blog. They’ll love it.

Last minute hotel booking

So this vacation to Ft Walton Beach was only supposed to be for the day, but after 4 hours of sun and sand, I was exhausted and weary of a 2.5 drive. I called Ed and had him book a hotel nearby.

He found Emerald Coast Inn and Suites, right across the street, sandwiched between the Conference Center and a tattoo shop (only on the beach, baby.) I had never stayed there but it was visible from my car, within walking distance of Waffle House, and under $100. I told him to book it.

By the time I pulled into the hotel about 90 seconds after buckling Chelsea in, she was passed out. She normally naps 2-3 hours during the day but I kept her up so we could hit the beach (like any good parent should when on vacation to Ft Walton Beach, Florida).

And I’m spent.

With her sleeping, I got to examine the hotel room pretty thoroughly.

Overall, it was a decent room; a little old but I could tell someone had tried really hard to “bring it back,” ya know? The tub was stained, but it wasn’t a turn off. Again, just old. There was great water pressure and the room was rather large.

view from emerald coast inn and suites
Palm trees and hotels…typical beach view

The view wasn’t phenomenal, but at night it was cool to see all the activity. We were smack dab in the center of all that is Okaloosa Island. The staff was friendly and the price was incredible for a last minute booking during Spring Break on an island in Florida. With taxes, I paid $93. I would 100% stay here again.

Chelsea really enjoyed the continental breakfast.

vacation to ft walton beach
Cheers to our vacation to Ft Walton Beach!

The part where Mommy decides to take her kid to Helen Back

Now I know I’ve already reviewed a restaurant on this post, but an article about my vacation to Ft Walton Beach would not be complete without mentioning my favorite pizza place on the planet, Helen Back. If you’ve never been to the area, this place is AN ABSOLUTE MUST.

So much in fact, that I disregarded the fact that it was Ladies’ Night during Spring Break, and walked Chelsea’s and my hungry little butt to the “premier sports bar and pizza destination on the Emerald Coast.”

No regrets, y’all.

The wait was over 45 minutes for a pizza, but it was worth every second. Chelsea and I “played” foosball, talked to our waitress, ran around the inside bar barefoot, and fed the fish on the outside docks while we waited for our sweet, delicious, thin, garlic, yummy crust pizza to arrive.

Chelsea had a blast and the pizza was a hit! She seriously had 3 slices (of a small pizza, of course.)

Chelsea Wilcox eats at Helen Back Pizza
Yeah, this is my 3rd slice, what’s it to ya?

And a lady sitting next to us was celebrating her birthday and gave Chelsea a cupcake. Overall, the night was a huge success and I can’t wait to take her back one day. I can’t imagine her forgetting Helen Back Pizza any time soon.

Chelsea Wilcox eats at Helen Back on the Island
I seriously can’t come up with a caption for this. It’s too darling.

She left her hair in Ft Walton Beach

So we walked back to Emerald Coast Inn and Suites, and I put on HBO Family to try to wind Chelsea down.

It was about 2 hours past her bedtime and Chelsea hasn’t slept in bed with me since she was 6 months old and we went on a cross country road trip together. I had no idea how the night was going to go, but I knew I was EXHAUSTED. I mean, the sun doesn’t just tucker out toddlers, amirite?

By the time the movie was over (that Batman movie with Danny DeVito is just weird!), I could barely keep my eyes open and Chelsea looked like she was ready to go dancing. I turned the TV off and told Chelsea it was time to sleep. She started pouncing on me like Simba playing with Mufasa, but I didn’t care. I was going to sleep. Pretend to be a cub all you want, there kiddo.

I passed out and woke up in the morning. I can only assume Chelsea slept, too.

We went to see a friend for a couple hours and then had lunch. After lunch, Chelsea had corn and butter and all sorts of sand in her hair. ENOUGH! I told myself.

We drove to Fantastic Sams (oh, you didn’t know I was fancy like that?) and got it cut immediately.

Chelsea cried. (It was because she was just so upset about all her little red baby hairs being cut off… oh wait, maybe that was me.)

Until she got a sucker. Then all was right in the world.

Chelsea Wilcox haircut Fantastic Sams Ft Walton Beach
Yay! Haircuts and candy!

Then we drove home, eager to see Daddy and daydream about where our next adventure would be.

What was your last family vacation? Tell me about it! I love to hear about travel. (duh)

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4 thoughts on “Vacation to Ft Walton Beach: A Fun-Filled 24 Hour Stay

  1. These are precious memories. I loved reading about your day. Enjoy because they get old way too fast. Reminded me of taking my son to the beach in Santa Barbara when we lived there when he was about Chelsea’s age. I can’t believe we are going on trips to look at colleges now. That picture of Chelsea by the post eating a slice of cantaloupe is beautiful.

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