Fall and Winter on the Emerald Coast

Fall and Winter in Destin

Summer has come and passed, leaving behind quiet roads and lonesome beaches throughout the Emerald Coast of Florida. Oh, but don’t fret! There are many activities and events you can enjoy this fall and winter when the waters and temperatures are too cool to enjoy in a bathing suit.

Destin Fishing Rodeo
The Destin Fishing Rodeo kicks off the fall frenzy. For each of the 31 days in October you can fish the waters of the Emerald Coast for a chance to win big prizes! The Destin Rodeo is a fishing tournament for anglers of all skill levels and ages. In 2005, more than 30,000 anglers competed throughout the month of October for over $100,000 in prizes ranging from trophies and merchandise to bonds.

You can troll inshore for King Mackerel, offshore for Marlin and Sailfish, and drift the deep blue bottoms for Red Snapper and Grouper. There are daily, weekly, and overall prizes in men’s, women’s and junior anglers’ categories. Just about every game fish is recognized with awards during the Rodeo.

All you have to do to enter is register by calling (850) 837-6734. The weather in October is just right for catching tons of tournament-winning fish. Come on out and enjoy the fun!

Destin Seafood Festival
Next up is the Destin Seafood Festival. The 28th annual Festival will be held October 4th thru the 6th this year. This year, thousands of people will enjoy rides, sample some of Destin’s best seafood catches, chow down on other great food, shop at more than 100 arts & crafts vendors, and enjoy free concerts by a variety of musical groups. There will be a Tadpole Town just for the kids, and also a cast net contest open to anyone wishing to show off their 12′ cast net throwing skills.

Admission to the Destin Seafood Festival will be $5 for the entire weekend. The admission can be paid at the gate. Children under 12 are admitted free of charge. People with disabilities who require assistance in this program should notify the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce at (850) 837-6241 before 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct 5, 2006.

The event will be held at the Morgan Sports Center, a park-like setting, which is located behind City Hall at 4200 Two Trees Road. Parking is always limited for the Seafood Festival. Free parking and free shuttle service is available to and from the following Destin locations: Big Kahuna’s, Eglin Federal Credit Union, and Emerald Coast Shopping Center. Parking is also available at the Track Recreation Center, located on Highway 98. (The Track is within walking distance of the festival site.) NO PARKING is permitted at LaRocco’s Italian Restaurant or Joe’s Crab Shack. (Their parking is reserved for their customers only.)

October 27th and 28th, the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island will hold it’s 3rd annual Kid’s Haunted House. Sponsored by Kitty Hawk Kites, this event is for kids 10 and under. Trick or Treating for the kids will follow, so wear your costumes.

On October 28th, kids ages 1 to 12 will compete for prizes, in their age group, for scariest, cutest, and most original costumes. Registration will be at 2pm. The contest begins at 3pm, followed by store-to-store Trick or Treating. This event is held on Main Street in Destin Commons.

Take your scary, frightening costumed children to Destin Commons on Halloween night. They will love Trick or Treating around the stores from 5pm-7pm.

Okaloosa on Ice
November 17 kicks off Okaloosa On Ice. This celebration is something the entire family can enjoy. It basically never snows or ices in the Florida Panhandle, so Fort Walton Beach Landing (on Brooks Street) decided to bring us just that. You can enjoy outdoor ice skating on a 60×80 rink until January 1st, 2007. There is also a 30-foot Christmas tree, thousands of twinkling snowflakes and lights, and a mini train ride! It costs $6.00 for each 90 minute session, plus $2.00 for skate rental, unless you bring your own. Check out www.okaloosaonice.com for a schedule of hours and other policies.

Santa’s Arrival
Also on November 17th, Destin Commons has its tree lighting & Santa’s arrival ceremony. Santa will arrive among a police motorcycle brigade and fire engine at Destin Commons Center Plaza at 6pm sharp. Enjoy the lighting of the 50-foot Holiday Tree, followed by a Christmas song and dance show for children. The show will feature Broadway performers. Meanwhile, kids can visit Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty.

The Nutcracker
Also on this day, take your family to the Arts Center at Okaloosa Walton College to see “The Nutcracker.” The Northwest Florida Ballet along with Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra performs this famous act each year. The show starts at 7:30. Visit www.nfsymphony.org for ticket information.

Every evening of December, snow flakes will fall on Center Plaza in Destin Commons. You may still be wearing shorts, but you can still get a dusting of the Holiday Spirit!

Holiday on the Harbor
Beginning December 1, enjoy a month long celebration of lights along the Destin Harbor. Boat cruises, fireworks, and a boat parade will be part of the activities sponsored by Destin Chamber of Commerce. Grab a spot along the Harbor and watch beautifully and creatively decorated boats cruising along, their lights reflecting in the water. It’s a spectacular, relaxing way to get in the Christmas mood!

Christmas on MainStreet
Join Santa at the Magnolia Grill in Fort Walton Beach from 7:30am to 10:30am on December 2nd for a pancake breakfast. Proceeds will benefit the Empty Stocking Fund. Afterwards, head to Okaloosa On Ice at The Landing at 11am. Santa arrives by fire truck at 1pm, followed by caroling and a tree lighting ceremony at 4pm. Enjoy the lighted boat parade at 6pm and an amazing lights display throughout the park.

Destin Christmas Parade
The Destin Christmas Parade, on December 9th, begins at 10am on Highway 98 by Destin Cinema. Come early to get the perfect spot! You will enjoy the festive floats and high spirits!

2nd Annual Santa Elf Chase
Join Santa December 20 in an exciting race at Morgan Sports Center in Destin. Kids 5 and under will race 1.1 miles, and kids 6 an up will race 2.2 miles. Both groups will have a chance to chase Santa and his elves! The races begin at 9:30am.

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