Believe it or not, Old Man Winter even makes his way down to the Sunshine State.
Most of our winter days are mild and in the 50s, but we do dip down into the 30s and 40s from time to time. It’s also pretty rainy during December, January, and February.
Whether you’re visiting the area this time of year, or you’re a local, it’s nice to have some ideas on hand for entertaining the kids on those cold and rainy days. Bonus: many of these suggestions are FREE!
1. Visit the Gulfarium
The Gulfarium is located on Okaloosa Island and is a great local aquarium. You can get up close and personal with dolphins, sea lions, seals, otters, turtles, penguins and more. My kids LOVE visiting so much that we have an annual pass. Most areas of the Gulfarium are indoors or covered. It’s a great way to let the kids explore marine life from local and far off waters. There are dolphin and sea lion shows through the day so check the schedule. By the way, kids are FREE January 30th and 31st, 2016!
2. Baytowne Playground and BLAST Arcade
You know my kids love the Baytowne Playground– it’s one of the biggest in our area and by far our favorite! It’s not covered, so I wouldn’t go if it’s raining, but it’s still fun on a chilly day. Just a few steps away is BLAST Arcade. We’ve actually never visited BLAST, but I hear great things about it. It would be a great place to escape the cold and let the kids burn off some energy.
3. Kids Day Out at US Gold
Every Friday is open gym at US Gold Gymnastics in Miramar Beach. My daughter has been taking gymnastics here for a couple years and we really enjoy the facility. Kids Day Out is 9:30-11:30 on Fridays but is only for children crawling through age 4. Cost is $5 for members and $10 for non-members.
4. Ice Skating at Baytowne Wharf
Baytowne on Ice is running through the end of January and is a great way to feel the winter spirit here at the beach. You can enjoy an hour and a half of skating for only $11 and skate rentals are just $2. The fun only lasts a couple more weeks so try it out soon!
5. Play at Destin Commons
Destin Commons is an awesome place to play! The playground is located at the center of the outdoor shopping mall and conveniently close to the bathrooms. Starbucks is just a few steps away so parents can enjoy a hot drink while the kiddos play. It is not fenced in, nor is it covered, so keep an eye on your kids. Since there is no cover it’s not ideal for rainy days, but it’s plenty of fun on cold days. There are plenty of great restaurant options at the Commons, so we like to play for an hour or so in the morning and then enjoy lunch at Zoe’s or Panera Bread.
Fat Daddy’s is another great arcade option, right in the heart of Destin next to Fudpucker’s. Enjoy lunch and feed the gators at Fudpucker’s, then walk next door for some arcade fun. The state-of-the-art indoor facility has over 80 games and is the perfect place to escape the elements. Gameday Pizza is located inside for your convenience. What kid doesn’t love arcade games and pizza?!
7. Story Time at Destin Library
We’ve been enjoying Story Time at the Destin Library since Julia was a tiny tot. Mr. Will leads story time every Thursday at 9:30. Babies through Preschoolers enjoy hearing stories, singing songs, and even stuffed animal parades with friends. We like to check out a few books each time we go. Kids love using their library cards.
8. Bounce Party Playzone at Santa Rosa Mall
My kids and I have not visited Bounce Party Playzone in Ft. Walton Beach, but I hear it’s an awesome place for the kids to burn off some energy, especially when the weather is bad. The indoor facility has bouncers, slides, playhouses, gated Toddler Town, and a free arcade. It’s open during normal mall hours and prices range from $6 for a half hour or $15 for all day play (ages 2 and under are half price!).
This beachfront playground is another favorite of ours! As long as it’s not raining, kids will still love this sandy jungle gym. The playground sits behind the Crab Trap restaurant and is directly on the beach! The gulf is often its most beautiful on cold and sunny days, so parents can enjoy the view while the kids play to their heart’s content. There is plenty of public parking and bathrooms are just a few steps from the playground.
While we’re all longing for those gorgeous spring and summer days that will surely come, there are still many activities to enjoy on the Emerald Coast during these winter months.
What’s your favorite way to beat the Florida Winter Blues with the kiddos?