By Sarah Murphy Robertson
As sticky summertime stretches into the milder season called fall, there are more reasons than ever to spend as much time as possible outdoors.
Our area boasts many wonderful amenities including some hidden gem playgrounds. All these are located in South Walton, and hey, grab a swing yourself and you’ll quickly feel like a kid again!
Just off Highway 98 on Moll Drive in Santa Rosa Beach, this spacious playground has tons of great equipment for toddlers through tweens, as well as the creature comforts like restrooms and shaded benches parents appreciate.
This park is a popular tot hotspot with its own splash pad, so be sure to bring towels and swimsuits.
Fonville Press in Alys Beach is the perfect place for parents to get a delicious latte in the morning or a cold beer once it’s 5:00 somewhere. Meanwhile, their kiddos will love Fonville Press playground with its swings, seesaw, playhouses and even a zip line.
The cutest white fort and charmingly-styled “doghouse” (complete with a red slide for the tongue) inspire creativity and the infamous Fonville Hill gives kids a whole new view and perspective.
PRO PARENT TIP: Grabbing a delicious donut from Charlie’s food truck is a hit with kids of all ages.
Baytowne Wharf is located in Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and features many activities for the kids including their Baytowne Adventure Zone.
The huge playground is full of windy slides, ladders, bridges, and tunnels to traverse and is right next to The Baytowne Melt for cheesy yummy midday lunch breaks. Munchkins of all ages will love it here so we’ll warn you: they may never want to leave.
Located at Hogtown Bayou on 393 North, this sweet little park has picnic areas and a small basketball court and playground, as well as beautiful views. Cessna Park has bay access and a public boat launch, as well as docks for fishing and boating.
Located just north of Highway 98 at 810 JD Miller Road, this park has a recently-renovated playground including a splash pad, and a multi-purpose field for kicking a soccer ball or tossing around the football. Families can enjoy shaded pavilions, picnic tables and grills, so pack a picnic and enjoy an al fresco meal while you’re all there.
Here’s our play of the week: while maybe not your traditional jungle gyms, South Walton is studded with a treasure trove of state parks including Camp Helen, Deer Lake, Grayton Beach State Park, Eden Gardens and Topsail Hill. These family-friendly spots should definitely be on your short list to experience.
They showcase our area in its pristine natural state and afford lots of opportunity for children to explore trails and boardwalks while stretching their imaginations (and their legs!)