Fort Walton Florida is laid back, low key and very family oriented. It has none of the flashy highrises or gated communities that are found on some of the other Florida panhandle beaches like Destin.
The water is always a turquoise color which is a result of the white sandy beach reflecting the blue of the sky. It is one of the first beach towns after you cross the Florida Alabama border and the beach section is located on the beautiful Santa Rosa Island, across from the mainland and downtown area. US highway 98 passes through Fort Walton beach and extends along Santa Rosa Island down to Destin and then traverses further south through Florida.
Fort Walton consists of a few condo buildings that line the beach and are surrounded by small residential neighborhoods with Florida style bungalows covered in sea salt. The downtown area is located on the mainland and the atmosphere is even more low key with tiny retail stores, yacht marinas, parks and honky tonk beer drinking establishments. The town atmosphere is a typical laid back beach town with canals and boat docks running parallel to the city streets. You do not go to Fort Walton for a sophisticated nightlife nor to dine in fancy restaurants or hob nob with the rich and famous. You go to Fort Walton to take your family to the beach and do nothing but read a book and enjoy watching the sea gulls.
Part of Fort Walton is located on Santa Rosa Island which is a long barrier island that stretches down to Destin. The area surrounding Ft Walton is beautiful and relatively undeveloped because it is located within the Gulf Islands National Seashore. This protected area means that there is plenty of herons, egrets and sea gulls that can be found searching for food along the beach. During high tide the shallow wading pools trap tiny fish where these birds take the opportunity to stuff themselves with an easy catch for dinner.