With a fleet of kayaks and standup paddleboards, Bay Paddlesports gives guests a chance to glide across the coastal waters of Destin under their own steam. The coastal company rents out 12' Bote-brand paddleboards, which offer a sturdy perch on which guests can stand as they propel their vessel through the surf. Those who wish to sit back as they roam the tides can do so in one of Bay Paddlesports' Old Town–brand kayaks.
"It really is a BMXers heaven," boasts Bill Madden, founder of Emerald Coast Dirt and Vert. And he should know—he was a #1 NPSA Pro BMX biker and is an expert at building tracks and jumps. His passion helped shape the center's impressive dirt jumps and USA BMX–sanctioned track, which hosts weekly races. He also oversaw the construction of a 9,000-square-foot skate park, which encompasses a street course, challenging ramps, and extra-challenging loop-de-loops. The facility is constantly maintained for safety, and parents are always welcome to watch the action from provided chairs.
Just off the beach, a man floats over the water, suspended in the air by streams of water jetting from his hands and feet as though he were testing an Iron Man–inspired apparatus. This back-mounted pack—called a Flyboard—works through a propulsive system that continually intakes and rapidly expels water, pushing the rider into the air or wherever he or she directs it to fly. The Flyboard, along with aqua trikes, WaveRunners, pontoon boats, kayaks, and standup paddleboards, comprise the unique rental fleet of Power Up Watersports. With these advanced watercrafts, Power Up’s team hopes to evolve Destin’s watersports scene, which includes plans to train the area’s dolphins to serve drinks.
The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music. On Sunday nights at the Fort Walton Beach location, a comedy show cranks up the revelry at 9 p.m. after the dueling pianos stop for a rest.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. The menu includes military specials and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 32-ounce booze buckets filled with fruit-flavored rum or other fruity libations. Honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Stella Artois and Dos Equis.
Emerald Coast Science Center has 5,000 square feet of gallery space filled with eye-opening, family-friendly exhibits on principles of biology, physics, earth science, and technology. In the Hall of Life, there are microscopes where you can peer at bodily cells, as well as a replica intestine that unfurls to reveal its surprising length of 17 feet. At Color & Light, you can interact with mirrors, colorful lights, and a domesticated rainbow. And in the Critters room, kids get to meet such museum residents as Tickles the Snake and Rosy the Tarantula.