How to Choose Between Gulf Shores vs. Ft. Walton Beach

Fort Walton Beach vs. Gulf Shores is the ultimate vacation destination debate. It’s unbelievable how two beach towns that are so close together can be so different! Each place has its own unique personality and entices people differently based on your personal preferences. Below, we’ll dive into what makes each beach destination special. 

To help you decide which spot you like better, take a look at our free Vacation Guide to Fort Walton Beach. When you access our guide, you’ll have exclusive access to the best Fort Walton Beach attractions, restaurants, entertainment, and outdoor activities! 

Enjoy Your Free Guide! 

Attractions and Amenities of Fort Walton Beach & Gulf Shores 

We’re a little biased, but we think Fort Walton Beach beats the Gulf Shores area any day of the week. This is especially true if you’re looking for more pristine beaches and a more family-friendly environment. Our white-sand beaches are more vibrant, so you can breathe fresh air, make sandcastles with the kids, and let go of all of your stress as you take in the gorgeous sights on the Gulf of Mexico! With so much to offer there’s no doubt that in the Fort Walton Beach vs. Gulf Shores debate, Fort Walton Beach always wins!  


Unlike other Alabama and Florida beaches, Fort Walton Beach features fun attractions without catering solely to spring breakers. You’ll find plenty of family-friendly attractions here, and you won’t have to sift through many spots to find them. If you’re visiting with little ones, we recommend checking out the following spots: 

Fun Things to do on Fort Walton Beach

There are so many fun things to do around Fort Walton Beach. Some of our favorites include fishing on the Okaloosa Island Pier. Feeling outdoorsy? Try kayaking, paddleboarding, jet skiing, or boating to Crab Island! Or, if you’re a thrill-seeker, you should try parasailing over the Gulf! With so much to offer, there will never be a dull moment in Fort Walton Beach!  

Where to Eat in Fort Walton Beach  

Being on the coast has its perks! Fort Walton Beach has a fantastic selection of local seafood restaurants. Indulge in delicious meals like a traditional seafood boil from Crab Trap. Or, treat your sweet tooth to a sugar rush at Okaloosa Donuts!  

Where to Stay in Fort Walton Beach 

Our all-time favorite part of Fort Walton Beach is the lodging. Instead of staying in a big-name hotel, experience the local side of the Emerald Coast in a vacation rental! El Matador is the best place to stay with family and friends while you’re on vacation. Our private beachside property on Okaloosa Island offers the best rentals on the island! In addition to a comfortable rental surrounded by nothing but beach, you’ll have unlimited access to two swimming pools, pickleball courts, a sauna, and more!  

Ready to see why we love Fort Walton Beach? Browse our properties and start planning your trip!