Florida : Safety by City
- Amelia Island
- Boca Raton
- Boynton Beach
- Cape Coral
- Cocoa Beach
- Coral Springs
- Daytona Beach
- Deerfield Beach
- Delray Beach
- Everglades City
- Fort Lauderdale
- Fort Myers
- Fort Pierce
- Fort Walton Beach
- Key Largo
- Key West
- Lake Buena Vista
- Lake City
- Lake Worth Beach
- Marco Island
- Miami Beach
- Miami Gardens
- Mount Dora
- New Smyrna Beach
- North Port
- Ormond Beach
- Palm Beach Gardens
- Palm Harbor
- Panama City Beach
- Pembroke Pines
- Pompano Beach
- Port St. Lucie
- Punta Gorda
- St. Augustine
- St. Petersburg
- Vero Beach
- West Palm Beach
- Winter Park
Fort Walton Beach, Florida, is one side of a dual city tourism area known as Destin-Fort Walton Beach.
This is the quieter side of the sister cities with so much natural beauty and a throwback to the history that brought this area to life.
This part of Florida is known as The Emerald Coast.
With pristine white beaches, boating activities, museums, shopping, and dining, you might forget Destin is even an option (but you shouldn’t, since there’s a lot to do there too.
Check out our review of that city as well, including why it’s the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.”)
In Fort Walton Beach, you can learn about the indigenous people and pirates that walked the beaches while strolling the boardwalk looking for your treasures.
It’s worth noting that Fort Walton Beach isn’t actually on the beach by city limits.
The line runs right along the bay.
When you go to the beach you are actually on Okaloosa Island.
We’ll touch on those activities.
Eglin Air Force Base sits just north of Fort Walton Beach and is the world’s largest of its kind.
This AFB is a big boost to the local economy.
Warnings & Dangers in Fort Walton Beach
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk in Fort Walton Beach. Usually, in beach cities, there's a low annual population compared to the crime statistics, which can make the crime seem worse than it is since it doesn't factor in tourist numbers. Fort Walton Beach has low crime numbers even just at face value before you add in tourists.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with taxis and rideshares widely available. You can also "Ride the Wave" with the Emerald Coast Rider bus service that has several stops in Fort Walton Beach. If you are visiting Destin as well on your trip, it's important to know the two cities are not within walking distance (unless you can walk 5-7 miles easily).
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
No pickpocketing was reported in 2020. There's a low risk statistically, but it doesn't mean you should let your guard down.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Hurricanes are the worst part of the weather on the Gulf Coast. The season runs from June through November, with August and September being the biggest risk months. Severe thunderstorms can also spin up tornadoes or waterspouts and lightning is especially dangerous for beachgoers. There's a medium risk when the weather is bad, but most days it's sunny and warm.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were only four robberies reported in Fort Walton Beach in 2020. That's a low risk, but again, it's probably because people are practicing good personal safety measures.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk with Eglin Air Force Base being so close. While it's not something to worry about all the time, just know that it could be a hard target.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
Rental scams are common along the panhandle beaches. We'll call it a medium risk to make sure you are vigilant. Never put a deposit down on a rental via wire. Always use a credit card and ask for proof of a rental license before booking.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
I spent a few days in this area one spring and drove through all the city streets and had a nice seafood meal, and I'm a single woman. I never felt at risk once. There's a low risk you will either, as long as you are safe. I find a nice crossbody bag helps keep my stuff close and less at risk of being snatched.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The tap water in Fort Walton Beach (and Destin for that matter) meets or exceeds all standards. If there is a contamination of the water, you'll get an alert.
Safest Places to Visit in Fort Walton Beach
My favorite part of Fort Walton Beach is the historic downtown area.
I loved locally owned and operated stores and this area is filled with them.
There are plenty of restaurants as well as a farmer’s market that runs all year.
Landing Park is right in the heart of it all with a place for kids to play and adults to rest weary feet.
If you are looking for national shopping brands, check out Uptown Station, where there are dancing fountains for the kids and a huge playground in addition to stores and dining.
Fort Walton Beach is home to one of the top standup paddleboarding (SUP) companies in the world.
If you’ve never SUP’d, you’re missing out.
It might take a few times to get your balance, but once you do you are floating just above the water and can see all the beautiful animals underneath you.
It’s a good leg workout too!
There are several spas in Fort Walton Beach if you just need a day of relaxation and peace.
Fort Walton Beach is separated by several miles of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
It’s a piece of beach untouched from development and with a strictly enforced slow speed limit.
I drove this span and it’s one of the most zen moments you can find.
There is no clutter, no development, just beautiful white beaches with clear water as far as the eye can see.
I highly recommend driving, biking, or running this stretch as it’s a wonderful (and safe) experience.
For history buffs, you can visit the Air Force Armament Museum, Indian Temple Mound and Museum, and the city’s Heritage Park and Cultural Center.
Places to Avoid in Fort Walton Beach
This town is safe and there aren’t any neighborhoods to avoid.
Crime maps show the downtown area has the highest amounts of crime, but in a city that had just four robberies, even a bad neighborhood is still a good part of town.
Most tourists come to Fort Walton Beach for activities along Miracle Strip Parkway.
North of that, it’s mostly rental homes, summer homes, or residents.
The city is split in half.
The larger part is the tourist area.
Then there’s unincorporated land and then the second half of the city.
In the northernmost section, there’s a golf course and fairgrounds.
The rest is either open land or housing.
The beaches of Okaloosa Island are open 24 hours, so use caution if you go for a nighttime beach walk.
There will be very few lights to protect nesting sea turtles.
There’s great stargazing on the beach at night, but also a crime risk if you aren’t paying attention.
It’s best not to go to the beach at night alone.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Fort Walton Beach
- You’ll need a Florida fishing license if you want to catch fish. You can get a saltwater or freshwater license, or both. You can go to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission website to start that process now.
- Don’t bring alcohol to the city parks. It’s not allowed unless there is an event that is licensed for it.
- Keep an eye on the clock. Alcohol can flow in this town until 4:00 a.m. The night can easily get away from you on a beach vacation, so be sure you regulate your time or you’ll end up sleeping through a great beach day!
- Whether it’s a panhandler or someone soliciting tours, you should be safe from there as the law prevents them from being aggressive, touching you, or blocking your path. If this happens, notify the police.
- It’s illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to get a tattoo under Fort Walton Beach laws. The state of Florida bans anyone under 16 from getting a tattoo. 16- and 17-year-olds must have parental permission and an official notarized form found on the state website to get a tattoo.
- Severe thunderstorms in this area can result in flash flooding. Don’t ever drive down or across flooded roads. You could end up trapped in your vehicle, as it’s happened many times before.
- If you hear a noise that sounds like missiles or military plans, that’s normal. Eglin Air Force Base does training and tests throughout the year that can be heard in Forth Walton Beach.
- Every summer, a natural beach cleaning process happens that produces a green substance known as June Grass. It floats on the water and feeds the wildlife above and below the Gulf waters. To tourists, it looks like the water is green and murky, but it’s just nature and work. June Grass can cause a nasty smell, but it doesn’t last long and moves around with the current of the Gulf.
- With Eglin Air Force Base so close, there are pretty strict limitations about where you can and can’t fly a drone. The last thing you want to do is upset the military. Check a drone zone map before you even think about launching one here.
- If you rent a jet ski or wave runner while you’re here, you have to stay at least 700 feet from shore for the safety of swimmers.
So... How Safe Is Fort Walton Beach Really?
Fort Walton Beach is a safe place for a romantic getaway, family trip, or any other reason you have to visit the beach.
Millions of people visit each year.
The crime numbers reflect a low percentage of victims.
Here are some of the top crime categories from 2020:
- Violent crime: 74 reports
- Robbery: 4 reports
- Aggravated Assault: 55 reports
- Theft: 325 reports
- Rape: 13 reports
In the past five years, the city has only had nine homicide investigations.
In a vacation destination area, the potential for crime will always be there.
Thieves always treasure a crime of opportunity.
You can lower any chance you have by following safety protocols and keeping your belongings safe or under lock and key in the hotel room when you don’t need them with you.
How Does Fort Walton Beach Compare?
|Fort Walton Beach||84|
|Phnom Penh (Cambodia)||61|
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
- Visas - All the Visa requirements are handled at the airport or port of entry. No additional verification is needed in Fort Walton Beach.
- Currency - As with the rest of Florida and the United States, you'll use the U.S. Dollar for currency here.
- Weather - The lowest temperatures happen in the winter, with average lows in the 40s and highs in the 60s. There can be a few brief periods of colder weather, so a warm jacket is always a good idea. Summers get into the upper 80s during the day and into the 70s at night. Spring and fall can be a little chilly at night, so bring a wrap or an extra pair of jeans.
- Airports - The Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport is just 12 miles away. It's a smaller airport but also the closest option. The Pensacola Airport is an hour west using the interstate, but if you want to take the scenic route along with the short, it will be about a 90-minute drive.
- Travel Insurance - Get travel insurance for your Fort Walton Beach vacation as even the nicest beach day can change with unpredictable weather and cause flight delays across the South.
Fort Walton Beach Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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