Fort Walton Beach vs. Destin, FL | Which Emerald Coast Beach Is Best?

Are you planning a family getaway to the Gulf of Mexico? Florida is home to some of the best towns in the world. In fact, we have so many that it can be hard to figure out which is the best. Most often, we see visitors comparing Destin and Fort Walton Beach. One area is a world-famous vacation destination that gets thousands of visitors per year, and the other is one of the best-kept secrets of the Emerald Coast. So, in the debate between Fort Walton Beach vs. Destin, which location wins? We’ll compare each destination and help you pick the perfect destination for your next beach trip! 

If you need help finding tons of exciting things to do in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, browse our Things to Do Page. It offers the best local recommendations on attractions, restaurants, parks, and more along the Emerald Coast.  

More to Enjoy in Fort Walton Beach

Fort Walton Beach vs. Destin: Where to Go on Your Emerald Coast Vacation?  

What You Need to Know About Fort Walton Beach, Florida 

Fort Walton Beach, FL, is known for its picture-perfect beaches, family-friendly atmosphere, and beautiful natural areas. This beach town is a popular destination for snowbirds and summer vacationers. You’ll find exciting activities on and off the water and annual festivals, including the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival and various holiday celebrations!  

Popular Things to Do in Fort Walton Beach:  

  • Take a sunrise or sunset stroll on Okaloosa Island  
  • Get up close and personal with sea life at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park  
  • Shop ‘til you drop at The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island 
  • Go fishing on the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier  
  • Test your putt-putt skills at Goofy Golf  
  • Travel back in time at the Airforce Armament Museum  

The Scoop on Destin, Florida 

Destin is known for its sparkling waters and ultra-popular beaches. It originated as the “luckiest fishing village” and has evolved into a haven for beachgoers from all over the country. 

The Best Things to Do in Destin, Florida:   

  • Embark on a romantic sunset cruise aboard the Queen Jean   
  • Savor a delicious dinner at 
  • Zip down a waterslide at Big Kahuna’s Waterpark 
  • Enjoy the emerald waters Henderson Beach State Park  

Staying with El Matador Is Always the Best Choice 

As Fort Walton Beach locals, we can’t help but think you should stay here. Whether you’re young or old, there’s something fun to do here for everyone. We have fantastic weather throughout the year and would love to host you during your next beach vacation.  

El Matador offers premium Fort Walton Beach condos for your vacation. Located on the shores of the beautiful Okaloosa Island, our vacation rentals come in an array of sizes and feature all the amenities you need to feel right at home. Choose from an excellent selection of studiosone-bedroom, and two-bedroom rentals. Enjoy top-notch amenities that include fully equipped kitchens, private pools, balconies, easy beach access, and more. Plus, when you choose to stay with us, you’ll always be close to miles of serene white-sand beaches and the best activities and attractions. 

The Emerald Coast is awaiting your arrival, browse our properties and book your stay today! We can’t wait to show you the best of Fort Walton Beach. 

When Is the Best Time to Visit Fort Walton Beach?

There are so many things to consider when planning a vacation. Before packing your bags, you have to predict the weather, create an itinerary, and find a home away from home. Beautiful Fort Walton Beach, Florida, is no exception! A question we are often asked is: When is the best time to visit Fort Walton Beach? The answer is always! No matter when you visit, the Emerald Coast offers a fantastic getaway, and each season on Okaloosa Island promises a unique experience. 

To make your beach vacation planning a breeze, we’ve created a free Fort Walton Beach Vacation Guide that contains local insight on the best seasonal events, attractions, and eateries in the area.  

Unlock the Vacation Guide

All Year Long Is the Best Time to Visit Fort Walton Beach!  

Spring: The Ultimate Spring Break Destination  

Weather: Warm, SunnyBreezy  

While it’s difficult to decide on the best time to visit Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island, spring is a popular season for families. The weather here is especially comfortable in April and May, with the average temperature ranging from the low to mid-70s. In addition to perfect weather, the area is filled with all kinds of kid-friendly things to do that will keep the kiddos entertained for hours on end!

Summer: Beachin’ it All Day, Every Day 

Weather: Hot, Summer Rain  

Without a doubt, summer is the most popular time of year to visit the Emerald Coast! Local and visiting beach-goers flock to our beautiful white-sand beaches to sunbathe, relax, and enjoy the Gulf of Mexico’s emerald-green waters. Plan your visit during the first weekend of June, and you’ll have the opportunity to experience one of the United States’ longest-running events, the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival!  

Fall: Perfect for a Quiet Retreat  

Weather: Warm, Sunny, Clear Skies 

Autumn is a great time to visit Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island because there are fewer crowds, and the weather is lovely. During this time of year, the average high is approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is ideal weather for fantastic beach days, Thanksgiving getaways, and events like the Northwest Florida Fair.  

Winter: A Snowbirds’ Paradise 

Weather: Cool, Chilly Water Temperatures 

Although you may want to stay out of the water in the winter months, this is the perfect time to visit if you want to avoid crowds. The island is just as beautiful in the winter, the beaches are perfect for a mid-day stroll, and of course, there’s no snow!  

Find Your Spot in the Sand 

Once you’ve decided the best time for your visit to Fort Walton Beach, FL, book your vacation rental with El Matador! Consider booking a rental in building four to relax in a beautiful two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo that is perfect for family vacations. When you stay here, enjoy the fantastic amenities, such as hot tubs, private pools, and a fitness center! When you stay at El Matador, you’ll enjoy gorgeous views of the Gulf, 24-hour security, easy beach access, and more.  

Browse our properties and book your stay today! We look forward to having you.