For a nice afternoon excursion away from the crowds, take a trip over the Mid-bay bridge to Turkey Creek Park in Niceville. This beautifully maintained hidden treasure features a covered pavilion with picnic tables, and a 1 mile (each way) walkway and nature path. 

Many locals use the scenic walkway for their morning run, but the biggest draw for our family is a float down the creek. Drop your picnic gear at the pavilion near the entrance, hike the one mile down to the launch point, throw your inner tubes or floats into the water, and dive right in! The creek is spring fed and maintains a cool temperature all year round! Then relax on your float — or if you’re my family, splash and chatter — while the creek’s current takes you back to the “swimming hole” access point right by the pavilion. Have lunch, and do it all over again! Note that you will need to bring your own floats, available from many of the beach stores in Destin.

The Pavilion

This a great place for a family picnic! The pavilion has lights, large suspended fans, picnic tables, grills, and a large stone fireplace. There are soda machines and restrooms near the pavilion. Insider tip: There are no bathrooms or changing areas along the boardwalk, so use this one!

The Boardwalk

The boardwalk winds through natural areas, with trail markers to identify nearby plants and animals. We have seen snakes, raccoons, turtles, many species of birds, and ducks of various kinds. There are resting places and swimming holes along the trail, but we usually race down the walkway to the end before resting or swimming. Insider tip: Wear water shoes because the boards get HOT in the midday sun! The shoes are going to have to float down the creek with you, so water shoes work best.

Thanks to Deb Esling for this write-up.