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A Full Service Vacation Management and Interior Design Firm

Top 7 Historic Destinations on the Emerald Coast

4th March 2019

Founded in 1890, Grayton Beach is the oldest modern community in the area, laying the roots for the gorgeous 30A communities that we enjoy today. While a lot has happened in this relatively short period of time, the history of our area does not begin there. Evidence of past inhabitants can be found at number of historical sites and museums that include Native American artifacts, civil war structures, and even legends of pirates! Spend some time during your next vacation exploring these top 7 historical destinations that the Emerald Coast has to offer.

Fort Pickens

  1. Fort Pickens

Named after the revolutionary war hero Andrew Pickens, this pentagonal military fort was completed in 1834 and remained in use until 1947. It was originally constructed as the largest in a group of fortifications to defend Pensacola Harbor after the War of 1812. Seeing its only action during the Civil War, the fort’s original structure has remained relatively unchanged despite several military repurposes through World War II. Today the fort is maintained by the National Park Service and welcomes visitors to see its unique history.

  1. Eden Gardens State Park

Get a taste of what 30A was like before our beautiful beach communities were built at Eden Gardens State Park. Originally part of the Historic Wesley Homestead, the focal point is the Wesley House, which is a beautifully renovated mansion from 1897. The park is located just a few miles north of Seaside and Seagrove, allowing you to walk or ride your bicycle through this truly breathtaking 161-acre park. Besides the gorgeous view of Choctawhatchee Bay and Tucker Bayou, the park features a diverse variety of native wildlife and vegetation.

  1. Arcadia Mill Archaeological Sites

Managed by the West Florida Historic Preservation, this site contains the remains of an early 19th century industrial water-powered mill complex, as well as a beautifully preserved swamp area. Visitors should be sure to check out the small museum, which tells a more detailed history about the site and offers guides for people interested in learning more. The park also boasts a great boardwalk through the swamp where visitors can see what the inland area around St. Andrews Bay was like before development, including some of the best spots to catch a glimpse of local wildlife.

Fort Walton Heritage Park and Museum

  1. City of Fort Walton Heritage Park and Cultural Center

Originally established as a Civil War encampment named Camp Walton, the City of Fort Walton has preserved the remnants of the camp that birthed their city. After checking out these interesting artifacts, head over to the nearby historic Camp Walton schoolhouse for a glimpse into education in the early 1900s. This an essential stop for history buffs who want to learn more about early 20th century life in the area!

Air Force Armament Museum

  1. Air Force Armament Museum

Comprised of a fascinating collection of planes, helicopters, uniforms, and weapons that were utilized in a variety of wars that range from Iraq to Vietnam. This completely free museum offers a unique perspective of our country’s military history that aviation and history enthusiasts will not want to miss.

Destin History and Fishing Museum

  1. Destin History and Fishing Museum

Learn the history of Destin since its beginning with tons of written information as well as fascinating accounts told by an incredibly knowledgeable local staff. Of course, the area wouldn’t be what it is today without its fishing industry and the museum does a great job of educating visitors about its growth and the fish themselves.

Indian Temple Mound Museum

  1. Indian Temple Mound and Museum

The Temple Mound once functioned as a ceremonial center for the Mississippian culture. It reaches 17 feet in height, spans 223 feet, and dates back over a thousand years. Adjacent to the site, visitors are able to view the awe-inspiring artifacts that belonged to some of the very first inhabitants of the area. The addition of a very thorough synopsis about the history of the Indian Temple Mound, the artifacts, and the Native Americans who lived there is sure to give visitors a new perspective of the Emerald Coast.

Bonus Areas

Shell Island

Shell Island

A gorgeous barrier island that separates St. Andrews Bay from the Gulf of Mexico, Shell Island has been a popular place to enjoy beauty, sun, and solace for centuries. Due to the bayous located within the bay, pirates found the spot ideal to hide and wait for Spanish ships sailing to and from Mexico. Legends from the area state that Spanish Shanty Point on the island was a popular place for pirates to bury their treasure, so make sure you bring a shovel! Even if you don’t find any treasure, we guarantee you’ll find some breathtaking views.

Fort Barrancas

Fort Barrancas

Take a short trip to Pensacola and find the fort that has a shared history with the aforementioned Fort Pickens. It was another one of the group of fortifications to defend Pensacola Harbor after the War of 1812, although it is much more well preserved than the former. The site will also help you to tie together the Civil War History knowledge that you gained while visiting Fort Pickens.

No matter your interests, the Emerald Coast has a piece of history that will truly leave you awe-inspired. We represent the most desirable vacation rentals in the area to serve as your home base during your trip through local history. Call (844) STAY-30A or (844) 782-9302, email us at or contact us through our website here: Plus, remember to follow us on Twitter, Instagram or “Like” the Exclusive 30A Facebook page for more information.  We’d love to hear from you!