From sugar-white sands and the glittering waters of the Gulf of Mexico to Native American burial mounds, Spanish conquistadors, pirates, and a role in the Civil War, Fort Walton Beach is a place that is as fascinating as it is beautiful. Learn more about Fort Walton Beach below!
A Gorgeous Locale with a Rich History
In Fort Walton Beach, visitors can experience the best of a vibrant beach-going culture and the deep, storied past of this unique area along the Emerald Coast of the Florida Panhandle.
Fort Walton Beach was first populated as early as 12,000 to 14,000 years ago, with the first Native Americans leaving behind artifacts like arrowheads from other regions, tools made from shark teeth, intricate pottery, and incredible burial mounds like the Fort Walton Temple Mound, which is a National Historic Landmark.
Spanish explorers and conquistadors came to what is now Fort Walton Beach during the 16th century. During this time, they brought new diseases with them—just one of the many possible factors contributing to the extinction of the Native Americans in the area, with other hypothesized causes including crop failure, drought, war, and mass illness.
There is also debate over whether pirates used Fort Walton Beach as a base of operations, as the Gulf of Mexico was infamous for its pirate presence during the 1700s and 1800s. One famous figure, an 18th century adventurer named William Augustus Bowles (Captain Billy Bowlegs), or Eastajoca in the Creek language, supposedly plundered English, French, and Spanish ships and buried it along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Fort Walton Beach residents reenact “Bowlegs’” invasion each year at the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival, which includes a staged duel with the mayor on the landing of Fort Walton Beach.
Before Fort Walton
Before it was Fort Walton Beach Florida, our area was known as Camp Walton and served as a Confederate outpost during the Civil War, named for being in Walton County which was, in turn, named for Col. George Walton (secretary of West Florida during President Jackson’s time as governor and son of the 56th signer of the Declaration of Independence).
In the years following the Civil War, Fort Walton Beach became known as an excellent vacation destination, profuse with nightclubs, rental homes, a casino, and more that drew in average folks and celebrities alike—including, supposedly, the infamous Al Capone.
From classic amusements like mini-golf and aquariums to museums and science centers, there’s even more to experience in Fort Walton Beach beyond the beach (though you’d be hard-pressed to plan a vacation here without going to the beach during your stay).
Fort Walton Beach Vacation
For more information on Fort Walton Beach and the variety of attractions and activities you can enjoy during your stay, contact our reservation specialists and ask about booking your lodgings through us today.