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No Kidding: Big Fun For Your Littles

Most people come to the beach expecting to enjoy the water. Being faced with rain, though, isn’t exactly the type of “water” most hope to experience. Rainy days at the beach — or even days when the little ones are bored or everyone is sunburned — mean that you sometimes have to change course and find other ways to spend your time.

We hear it often: “What are the must-dos when I’m there?” “Where can I take my kids to play?” “What opportunities do I absolutely have to take part in while I’m on vacation?” You’re in luck because we’ve curated a list of awesome attractions that are ideal come rain or come shine.

Jump Around

What is it about a trampoline park that kids just love? Tire them out with a visit to Just Jump Trampoline Park in Panama City Beach or Urban Air Adventure Park in the heart of Destin. Both have open play daily, with Urban Air boasting great add-ons like rope courses, climbing walls and laser tag.

Add In Art

What could be better than leaving the beach with your own custom art creation? Rock Paper Scissors in Grayton Beach offers walk-in art projects, classes and even take-home kits. Projects range from $9 to $32. The Shard Shop is another make-your-own-art boutique that focuses on art projects using glass (making it a better option for older kids). Book classes online for either experience.

Bear With Us

Got a little traditionalist on your hands? We have the regular kid-friendly fun here, too, with options like Build-A-Bear at Destin Commons. You know the drill: Pick your furry friend, choose some add-ins and then stuff away! This location is perfectly situated right next door to a colossal candy store, It’Sugar, which of course warrants its own stop.

Try Indoor Entertainment

There are plenty of recognizable outlets for fun around the area, including arcades, movie theaters and bowling alleys. Dave & Buster’s is the largest of the lot at Pier Park in Panama City Beach, where kids and adults can play (or kids can play and adults can chill). There are smaller arcade options as well including Fat Daddy’s in Destin, Thrills Laser Tag and Arcade near Seascape Resort and Rainforest Black Light Tag and Arcade in Miramar Beach. Don’t feel like being active (or really just in the mood for popcorn)? AMC Destin Commons 14 has myriad screening options including IMAX and private theater rentals. Last, school your kids in the fine art of bowling at either Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl at Destin Commons or Hurricane Lanes conveniently located right on Highway 98.

Got Milk?

Your kids will never stop talking about “those milkshakes we got at the beach.” The Yard Milkshake Bar is a good place to start. Bursting with crazy creations topped with waffles, cheesecake, cookies and more, these milkshakes make a meal. (Hey, it’s OK to skip dinner at the beach.) Gulf Coast Burger Co. has similar sweets (as well as eats) and two locations — one in Destin and one in Panama City Beach.

Go For The Gold

US Gold, that is. With two recreational facilities in Miramar Beach and Santa Rosa Beach, your little tumbler-to-be can try their hand at an open gym. US Gold Gymnastics and Cheerleading offers Kids’ Day Out every Friday morning from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. for children up to age four and Kids’ Night Out every Friday evening from 6 to 9 p.m. for children ages four through 10. You’ll have to supervise them in the morning, but you can drop them off post-dinner for a few kid-free hours during the evening block.

Have An Animal Encounter

Both the Gulfarium on Okaloosa Island and Gulf World Marine Park in Panama City Beach offers hands-on animal encounters that are fun for the whole family. Gulfarium is open daily except for Thanksgiving and Christmas with an ever-changing lineup of shows. Gulf World is open daily, rain or shine, and is home to the only collection of rough-toothed dolphins in long-term human care in North America.

Become A Mad Scientist

The Emerald Coast Science Center is a rare gem in our area with a variety of exhibits, from classic science kits to futuristic robots and cutting-edge technology. Located in Fort Walton Beach, plan for a stop for Parlor Doughnuts coming or going.


There’s something about simplicity that brings out the child in all of us. Something as simple as swimming in the rain (not if there’s lightning, though!) can be a memory your kids will treasure forever. Try the pool or lazy river at your hotel or change things up with a visit to Big Kahuna’s. A rainy day makes for the perfect slip-sliding environment.

Have other ideas? Leave them in the comments below!

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Escape. Reward. Investment. Legacy. Whatever having a Northwest Florida beach home means for you, we're dedicated to bringing your best life in view.