Located in the Florida Panhandle just north of Interstate 10, between Tallahassee to the east and Alabama to the west, Crestview is a city of about 21,000 that’s the seat of Okaloosa County.
One of its most notable features is its annual rainfall that’s the second-highest in the state.
Unlike many of Florida’s smaller destinations, Crestview isn’t particularly close to many urban areas or attractions. Although there are things to do in town, most visitors end up spending some time in the car to get an overview of the area.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Crestview.
1. Casbah Coffee Company
No matter where you find yourself, you can rest assured that your coffee addiction won’t be far behind.
Located on West Pine Avenue in Crestview, Casbah Coffee Company is the city’s premier destination for those looking for an up-market cup of Joe without paying an arm and a leg.
They’re the only coffee roaster in town, and since they’re not a chain, most of what you spend will stay in the area.
In addition to their tasty drinks, they offer a variety of fresh baked goods as well as soups, sandwiches, and salads.
They’re particularly known for their bagels and cinnamon buns, so calorie counters beware.
2. Desi’s Downtown Restaurant
Though it’s not likely to win any awards from the American Heart Association anytime soon, according to previous guests, Desi’s is just the place for those looking to fill up on traditional, downhome fare that’s known to clog arteries and increase the size of already noticeable love handles.
That being said, Desi’s is a favorite for its comfortable, family-friendly atmosphere, attentive staff, and no-frills presentation.
Whether its barbecue, meatballs, or crispy deep-fried fish you’re after you’ll probably find it. If you look hard enough, you may just find a fresh fruit or vegetable or two as well.
3. Twin Hills Park
Comprised of more than 20 acres, Twin Hills Park is chockfull of outdoor and sporting amenities that make it a big hit with the active crowd.
Tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts are big hits, as is the indoor gymnasium that’s particularly popular when the weather isn’t conducive to being outside.
There’s a lake in the park’s center that’s surrounded by paths, picnic tables, barbecue grills, and covered seating areas. There’s also a dedicated play area for the little ones that’s full of new equipment.
The facility is operated by the Parks and Recreation Department and offers a variety of sports leagues for all ages.
4. Henderson Beach State Park
Featuring over a mile of shoreline set along the turquoise waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico, Henderson Beach State Park’s entrance is on Emerald Coast Parkway in Destin; close enough to be a convenient day-trip option for those staying in Crestview.
Of course, the sugary white sand beaches and warm waters are the park’s big draws, but there are nature trails, playgrounds, and covered pavilions with built-in grills that are great for picnickers too.
Those heading home after a long day will appreciate the ample showers, and for those who’d like to spend a night or two under the stars, campsites are available.
5. The Air Force Armament Museum
Located on the grounds of Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, the Air Force Armament Museum is a world-class facility dedicated to promoting and preserving the age-old concept that dropping deadly devices from airplanes onto the heads of people thousands of people below is good politics and just downright fun.
The Air Force Museum’s exhibits primarily deal with the Korean and Vietnam War eras, and the modern conflicts in Iran and Afghanistan as well.
The museum’s centerpieces are the restored aircraft, one of the most famous of which is the massive and otherworldly looking SR-71 Blackbird – still the fastest plane ever built decades after it was introduced.
6. The Fort Walton Beach Flea Market
For those staying in Crestview with access to a car, Fort Walton Beach offers a number of recreation and entertainment options, and the Fort Walton Beach Flea Market is one of the most unique.
The market features more than 10,000 feet of floor space and dozens of vendors selling everything from vintage jewelry and accessories to antiques, musical instruments, and books.
You’ll be pleased to learn that it’s an air-conditioned facility. For those with the patience to comb the rows of items carefully, it’s possible you might uncover a rare gem – but if not, just browsing is fun too.
7. The Emerald Coast Science Center
The coastline along the Gulf of Mexico is called the Emerald Coast due to the water’s alluring shades of blue that can vary from jade, turquoise, and emerald to incredible aquamarine.
Located on SW Memorial Parkway in Fort Walton Beach, the Emerald Coast Science Center is a favorite destination for savvy travelers interested in injecting a little learning into their children’s vacation activities.
The center’s interactive activities touch on science and the natural world, history, culture, and even fun and mind-boggling topics like physics and robotics.
In addition to permanent exhibits, the staff offer a variety of guided learning activities, so check out their website for specifics.
8. The Indian Temple Mound Museum
Native Americans lived in Florida for millennia before it was discovered, explored, and settled by those of European descent. The people that lived around the Gulf Coast were known for constructing massive mounds that are still visible today.
The mounds are thought to have been sacred sites that most likely paid homage to the forces they thought provided them with the things they needed to survive – largely through fishing, foraging, and agriculture.
For fit and vivacious visitors, it’s possible to climb the stairs leading to the top of one of the larger mounds, and the museum is full of fascinating and enlightening exhibits as well.
9. Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone
Located on Miracle Strip Parkway in Fort Walton Beach, Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone may not be the best bet for your reserved and elderly aunt who spends most of her time reading about historic quilts. But for those traveling with kids, it’s a must-visit destination.
Comprised of nearly 20,000 square feet of action-packed amenities – like an arcade, 3-D movie theater, and a variety of laser games – it’s one of those places that usually ends up occupying a lot more time than expected.
There are too many amenities to list, but rest assured boredom won’t be an issue, and there are food concessions on-site as well.
10. Destin’s Harbor Boardwalk
Destin is due south of Crestview and lies on a finger of land between Choctawhatchee Bay to the north and the Gulf of Mexico to the south.
Another location full of touristy things to do, it’s an easy drive from Crestview, making it another day-trip option.
Destin’s Harbor Boardwalk provides access to the area’s natural splendor, but it’s also lined with a number of quaint shops, eateries, and bars that make it a great place to spend a few morning or afternoon hours.
It’s also home to the Destin Seafood Festival and other annual events, so check it out.
11. Destin History and Fishing Museum
With more coastline than just about any other state, Florida has a rich fishing tradition that spans centuries. The Destin History and Fishing Museum on Stahlman Avenue is the perfect place to learn all about it.
The items on display include photos, fishing equipment, and a variety of stuffed game fish that are commonly found in the area’s waters.
Though much of what you’ll see is related to fishing, there’s also a fair amount on the region’s settling and founding, so it’s appropriate for history buffs as well as anglers.
Guided tours are available, but most guests choose to take it all in on their own.
12. Buccaneer Pirate Cruise
Buccaneer Pirate Cruises sail out of Destin and generally last about two hours. Though it doesn’t sound like a long time, most guests agree that they’ve gotten their money’s worth when it’s all said and done.
From mock sword fights and water battles to guided treasure hunts, there isn’t much downtime for little ones; they’ll spend their two hours being engaged, entertained, and even educated.
Parents have the option of participating or taking some well-deserved moments for themselves, and a variety of food and drinks are available as well.
They ask that guests arrive at least 30 minutes before their scheduled departure time.
13. Big Lagoon State Park
At more than 700 acres, Pensacola’s Big Lagoon State Park is one of the area’s most visited destinations. It’s a particular favorite for those looking to experience nature and get close to many of the area’s most unique animal residents.
The park’s varied environments support an amazing diversity of life, including land and sea turtles, wading and migratory birds, and even alligators.
The park is known for its clean beaches and ample campsites. There’s a boat ramp as well for those who’d like to do a bit of cruising or offshore fishing.
Discounts may be available for scouts and other youth organizations, so give them a call before scheduling your trip.
14. Fort Barrancas
Located on Taylor Road in Pensacola, Fort Barrancas is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and one of the most preserved coastal fortifications of its kind in the country.
Built during the 1830s and ‘40s, it was in use from before the Civil War until after World War II.
Now, it’s part of the national park system, but since it’s currently part of Pensacola Naval Air Station, visitors will need identification to see it.
Guided tours are available, and the museum is full of fascinating first-hand accounts, weapons, and uniforms. There’s a cool bookstore onsite as well.
15. The Historic Pensacola Museum of Commerce
We tend to forget that business and commerce often play much more significant roles in development than we give them credit for. The Historic Pensacola Museum of Commerce is dedicated to preserving the area’s unique commercial history, and much of what you’ll see dates back more than a century.
The museum’s grounds include renovated toy, hardware, and household goods shops that are much like they were in years past. There’s an old gas station and a traditional schoolhouse too.
Previous guests have noted that it’s a real eye-opener, and in addition to its historical significance, has given them an appreciation for the creature comforts we take for granted these days.