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Overview

Introduction to Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Fort Walton Beach is located along the panhandle of Florida in Okaloosa County. The city is known as an all year long beach and fishing resort and is a very popular destination for Spring Break. Fort Walton Beach is part of the Emerald Coast which is well known for its white-sand beaches and beautiful ocean water. Tourism and two Air Force Bases are the primary economic factors. Local military contractors and a wide variety of service industries benefit from the Air Force bases.

History

From approximately 1100 to 1550 the original natives constructed huge mounds and were active in agriculture and also created pottery. In the year 1528 The Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca party reached the area by boat. The region was colonized by the Spanish and the English. John Anderson was one of the original settlers and acquired land in 1838.

Camp Walton was utilized as a Confederate Military base. The city name was taken from Colonel George Walton who was an aid to Andrew Jackson. The 1st Florida regiment's base was situated near what is now known as Heritage Park and Cultural Center. It was constructed in order to protect the region from Union ships.

Attractions

  • Emerald Coast Science Center features interactive exhibits.
  • Heritage Park and Cultural Center includes three museums.
  • The Gulfarium features dolphins and sea lion shows.
  • Indian Temple Mound Museum and Park showcases the country's largest collection of Southeastern Indian ceramic relics.
  • Air Armament Museum features historic aircraft and armaments.
  • Pleasure Island Waterpark.
  • Okaloosa Island Boardwalk.
  • Gulf Beach Zoo & Botanical Gardens.
  • Camp Walton School House.
  • Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida showcases numerous artifacts regarding the area's history.
  • Northwest Florida Ballet.
  • Stage Crafters Community Theatre.

Activities

Fort Walton Beach provides opportunities for boating, dolphin watching and seeing a wide variety of wildlife. Surfing is popular at the nearby beaches. Grayton State Beach Recreation Area is one of the notable coastline locations. The Big Kahuna's Water & Adventure Park is popular with residents and tourists. Cruising on the Emerald Coast provides scenic views. The Blackwater River is an excellent location for canoeing and kayaking. Point Washington State Forest provides trails for hiking and bicycle riding. The Scenic 30 Bike/Hike trail is paved and can be used for walking and bicycle riding. It offers excellent views of the numerous towns along the coast and the ocean water of the Gulf. Horseback riding is available in the nearby Santa Rosa Beach and Panama City.

Transportation

Fort Walton Beach is served by the Okaloosa Regional Airport. Okaloosa County Transit offers public transportation.

People

Total Population 20,767
Male Share of the Population 53.3%
Female Share of the Population 46.7%
Senior Citizens 17.5%
Employed Population 16+ 10,133
Age of the Population 40

Families

% of people married 41.7%
Average household size 2

Education and Earnings

Population % with Bachelor Degree or Higher 23.9%
Median Earnings25+ $28,348
Median Earnings Without High School Qualification $14,429
Median Earnings With High School Degree $22,249

Wealth

Median Family Income $55,449
% Above Poverty Level 82.5%
% Below Poverty Level 17.5%

Commute & Sprawl

Average Commute Time 19 minutes
% Working from Home 2%
% Walking and Biking to Work 2.3%
% Using Public Transportation 0.2%

Housing

People Living Alone 32.8%
Median Gross Rent $963
Median House Value $159,600

Ancestry

Other(often includes Hispanic and African American) 31.3%
US/American 0.1%
English 9.9%
Irish 10.4%

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Fort Walton Beach Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Medium City 35 miles E of Pensacola, Florida (center to center)
Nearest Large City 209 miles E of New Orleans, Louisiana
County Okaloosa
Metro Area Fort Walton Beach
Standard Zip Codes 32547, 32548
P.O. Box Zip Codes 32549
Phone Area Codes 850
Time Zone Central (-6 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 30.405
Longitude -86.618

Fort Walton Beach Climate

Nearest Weather Stations

Notes:

  • Temp ranges are avg daily min and max for the month
  • Precipitation is rainfall (and rainfall equiv of snowfall)

Station NICEVILLE
Distance 11.3 miles
Jan Temp 37 to 61 F
Apr Temp 51 to 78 F
Jul Temp 71 to 91 F
Oct Temp 54 to 81 F
Annual Precip 69.2 inches
Station CRESTVIEW BOB SIKES AP
Distance 26.8 miles
Jan Temp 39 to 62 F
Apr Temp 53 to 79 F
Jul Temp 71 to 92 F
Oct Temp 55 to 80 F
Annual Precip 63.9 inches
Station BREWTON 3 ENE
Distance 56.5 miles
Jan Temp 34 to 60 F
Apr Temp 49 to 78 F
Jul Temp 69 to 92 F
Oct Temp 50 to 79 F
Annual Precip 68.6 inches

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Population Median Family Income
Crestview 22,524 $59,769
Destin 13,055 $73,068
Mary Esther 4,109 $70,085
Niceville 13,929 $73,823
Shalimar 676 $88,750
Valparaiso 5,069 $75,483

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Fort Walton Beach Hospitals

FORT WALTON BEACH MEDICAL CENTER
(Proprietary)
1000 MAR WALT DR
(850) 862-1111
Emergency Service: Yes

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Fort Walton Beach High Schools

(Sorted by Number of Students)

FORT WALTON BEACH HIGH SCHOOL
400 HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD S
850-833-3300
Serves 1,972 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 20.8

CHOCTAWHATCHEE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL
110 RACETRACK ROAD NW
850-833-3614
Serves 1,806 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 19.8

OKALOOSA APPLIED TECH CENTER
1976 LEWIS TURNER BOULEVA
850-833-3500
A Vocational School
Serves 202 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 5.8

OKALOOSA ACADEMY
81 ROBERTS BOULEVARD
850-864-3133
A Charter School.
Serves 201 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 28.7

SILVER SANDS-EXCEP. CHILDREN
349 HOLMES BOULEVARD NW
850-833-3364
A Special Education School
Serves 150 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 6.5

CHOCTAWATCHEE ACADEMY
110 RACETRACK ROAD NW
850-833-3614
Serves 118 students.

FORT WALTON BEACH SUCCESS ACADEMY
400 HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD
850-833-3300
Serves 55 students.

EMERALD COAST MARINE INSTITUTE
207 4TH STREET
850-244-2711
A Non-traditional School
Serves 50 students.

ADOLESCENT SUBSTANCE ABUSE
1015 MAR WALT DRIVE
850-301-3090
Serves 36 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 12

Fort Walton Beach Colleges

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