Miles of white-sand beaches, emerald green Gulf of Mexico waters help propel Fort Walton Beach's economy, which is dominated by tourism. As a result, Fort Walton event venues are expert at hosting all sizes of groups. Encompassing Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island, a bridge connected barrier island, the area is a year-round beach and fishing vacation destination appealing to groups with its convention center, a varied accommodation inventory and accessible airport.
Fort Walton Beach is located 8 miles from Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, which is served by Delta, American, United and Allegiant Airlines.
For larger groups, meeting venues in Fort Walton Beach include the Emerald Coast Convention Center, about a 10-minute drive from the airport, which has 35,000 square feet of column-free meeting and exhibit space. Situated on Okaloosa Island and adjacent to 24 miles of beaches, the center offers a 21,000-square-foot ballroom and an additional 8 meeting rooms ranging from 450 to 1,800 square feet.
Variety is the most appealing aspect of Fort Walton Beach accommodation choices, which includes hotels overlooking the Gulf of Mexico or the Santa Rosa Sound; amenity-rich, high-rise condominiums; and expansive beach homes. Among the larger, meeting-oriented options are the 335-room Ramada Plaza Beach Resort, with 14,000 square feet of meeting space; the 216-room Four Points by Sheraton, with 6,000 square feet ; the 195-room Holiday Inn Resort Fort Walton Beach, with 3,000 square feet and the new Hilton Garden Inn with 5,000 square feet of meeting space.
Relaxing after meetings in Fort Walton Beach revolves around numerous beach and water based activities; shopping at quaint antique shops or local malls, playing golf at courses, such as the Fred Couples-designed Kelly Plantation, the 27-hole Indian Bayou Golf Club and Bluewater Bay Resort (which is home to 36 holes designed by Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate).
The dining scene features everything from rustic oyster bars and large seafood restaurants to choices of a vast majority of cuisines. Fort Walton Beach and Destin are home to the largest fishing fleet with many restaurants specializing in Gulf-to-Table seafood, and most are able to cook your catch. Group dining and special event venues are plentiful.
The neighboring city of Destin, just a few miles away offers more of the same with great seafood restaurants, scenic venues and a thriving day and nightlife on Destin Harbor.