Hotel at a Glance: Ramada Plaza Beach Resort
When you want to go swimming, you have a tough choice: On one side of this sprawling resort, you can wade into the balmy Gulf of Mexico; on the other side, there’s the inviting outdoor pool, whose centerpiece rock grotto has a cascading waterfall. Young ones get a bonus pick—they can play in a whimsical splash garden, adorned with spouting fountains and faux dolphins (open seasonally).
- Traditional southern fare: Savor wood-smoked ribs, shrimp po’ boys, and New Orleans-inspired beignets at the varied onsite restaurants.
- Swim beneath waterfalls and rocks shaded by tropical foliage in the outdoor pool.
- Family-friendly guest rooms featuring free WiFi and pillowtop beds; select rooms look out onto the Gulf of Mexico or the grotto pool.
- Sip cocktails out of coconuts at the swim-up bar, which is open seasonally. Guests can grab drinks at the lobby bar year-round.
- Close to the hotel: local gift shops and restaurants on the Destin Harbor Boardwalk or opt for a more adventurous excursion like charter fishing or a dolphin cruise
Fort Walton Beach: Discover White Sand Beaches Amid Ancient History
A part of Florida’s Emerald Coast, Fort Walton Beach is home to miles of beautiful white-sand beaches. The beach is said to boast the whitest and cleanest sand, as the uniformly oval shape of each grain even causes a slight squeak when walked upon. Visitors can also expect to find championship golf courses and plentiful shopping in the Uptown shopping district.
Though the earliest permanent European settlers to this area didn’t begin arriving until 1821, Native American history here dates back 14,000 years. This lustrous past is documented at The Indian Temple Mound Museum, which features more than 1,000 artifacts of shell, bone, and clay, as well as one of the country’s best collections of prehistoric ceramics. The ever-expanding Heritage Park and Cultural Center, which includes the Temple Mound Museum, also covers the history of pirates, the American Civil War, and early settlers.