There’s plenty of family fun to be enjoyed in the Niceville area, especially if you like the outdoors!
Here are our suggestions:
Experience the aviation warfare armament from the early days of World War I right through to today’s high tech planes and bombs. Inside, you’ll find an extensive collection of weaponry and interactive displays that will amaze and intrigue. Outside displays include vintage military aircraft including the fastest plane ever built – the SR-71 Blackbird.
Admission is FREE.
The museum is popular with both locals and visitors to the area. It features over 1,000 artifacts and memorabilia, a theater, gun vault, outside exhibits, picnic area and gift shop.
The MOAB (Mother Of All Bombs), designed and developed at Eglin AFB, is on display at the museum. Other attractions include such Air Force aircraft as a B-52, B-17 Flying Fortress, B-25, P-51, P-47, F-15, A-10, F-111 and a variety of others.
The museum, which provides an overview of the history of the U.S. Air Force, is the only such facility in the country dedicated to the display of both Air Force aircraft and armaments.
The Air Force Armament Museum is located at 100 Museum Drive, Eglin Air Force Base, FL 32542. Call (850) 651-1808.
Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park is located on the north shore of Choctawhatchee Bay and bordered by the Rocky Bayou Aquatic Preserve. It is 357 acres in size. Visitors to the park can enjoy canoeing and kayaking, viewing aquatic wildflowers and spotting osprey nests, and observing wildlife in its natural environment.
Kayaks are available for rent.
There are several new and improved facilities, such as new picnic pavilions, children’s playground, and a foot-traffic bridge crossing Puddin Head Lake. The Park Visitor Store provides camping and fishing supplies including bait, tackle, ice, firewood, RV supplies, souvenir shirts and caps, snacks and suntan products.
Facilities include campgrounds with electricity and water, swimming area, boat launch, freshwater fishing, picnic area, playground and nature trails.
Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park is open year round. There is a small admission charge.
Park phone: 850-833-9144.
GOLF COURSES IN NICEVILLE
The Emerald Coast has some of the best golf in Florida and two outstanding golf courses open to the public are located in Niceville: Eglin Golf Course and Bluewater Bay Resort.
Bluewater Bay Resort offers three nine-hole courses designed by world renowned golf architects Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate, each with a unique layout to take advantage of the terrain and natural surroundings. Play along the shoreline of Choctawhatchee Bay and then move through southern woodlands followed by a journey through a pristine wetland area.
Eglin Golf Course is one of the U.S. Air Force’s premier golf facilities, rated #3 in the Air Force inventory. Eglin Golf Course has two Championship Golf Courses, the Eagle and the Falcon, in a picturesque environment. The Eagle course has newly renovated greens built to modern specifications, whereas the Falcon course is a more challenging course particularly well suited for the seasoned player.
BLUEWATER BAY RESORT
1950 Bluewater Blvd.
Niceville FL 32578
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE GOLF COURSE
1527 Fairway Dr.
Niceville, FL 32578
HERITAGE MUSEUM OF NORTHWEST FLORIDA
The Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida, located in nearby historic downtown Valparaiso, celebrates the rich and fascinating history of northwest Florida, covering the full span of the region’s history from prehistoric times to the mid-twentieth century. It’s a wonderful place to learn about the heritage of the Boggy area and is fun for children and adults alike.
Permanent and temporary exhibits at the museum focus on economic and social history with emphasis on early Native American inhabitants, the era of pioneer settlement, agricultural development, the lumber and naval stores industries, fishing, Boggy Bayou, the coming of the railroad, the impact of new technologies and changes associated with the establishment of Eglin Air Force Base.
There is a small admission fee.
Annual events sponsored by the museum include “Saturday in the Park” in April and the “Yule of Yesteryear” celebration in December.
The Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida is located at 115 Westview Avenue in Valparaiso.
For further information, call (850) 678-2615.
The Mattie Kelly Fine & Performing Arts Center
The Mattie Kelly Arts Center is located on the campus of Northwest Florida State College in Niceville (use the main entrance at the intersection of College Blvd. and Palm Blvd). The complex encompasses 120,000 square feet of facilities dedicated to the fine and performing arts.
The Mattie Kelly Arts Center Galleries consist of two adjoined galleries which together showcase about 20 different international, national and regional exhibitions each year.
The McIlroy Gallery features an 18-foot ceiling constructed with screened windows, allowing in defused natural light. The other exhibit area is the Holzhauer Gallery which was named after famed artist Emil Holzhauer who donated a multi-million dollar permanent collection of his works to OWC. When not displaying other works, the Holzhauer Gallery displays parts of this collection as well as the college’s Sublette Collection of New Guinea Sculpture and Masks or the L.R. Davis Flint Glass Collection.
Admission is free to the galleries.
The two-tiered, 1,650-seat Mainstage Theater accommodates large-scale Broadway shows. The theater towers over the surrounding area with a 10-story fly tower that stores stage backdrops, lights, riggings and curtains. State-of-the-art lighting and acoustics provide a superb theater experience for patrons.
For more information about the Arts Center, current Gallery exhibits and upcoming stage shows and other live performances, click here: Mattie Kelly Fine & Performing Arts Center Web Site.
NICEVILLE CHILDREN’S PARK
If you are traveling with young children treat them to a visit at Niceville’s popular Children’s Park and Spray Park. The innovative, nationally-recognized park features a large variety of state-of-the-art playground equipment and seating areas, with gazebos and cabanas, available where families and friends can share a meal.
Some of the park attractions are: sandboxes filled with pails and shovels, a bubble machine where with a push of a button the sky fills with bubbles, age-appropriate equipment such as slides, monkey bars, rocking dinosaurs, and diggers.
From about the first of May through the end of October, youngsters can enjoy the Children’s Spray Park at the Children’s Park. The Spray Park has two palm trees, one that sprays water from the leaves, and one that has coconuts that will fill up and drop water frequently, soaking those below. A Blue Heron surprises children by soaking them as they walk by. Magic Mushrooms spray water and make a water tent children love to sit under.
Comfortable tables, chairs, and umbrellas are available for the adults to relax and enjoy watching the children play. Also, there are drink machines and bathroom facilities, including changing tables.
The Children’s Park is accessible to the physically challenged. The hours of operation vary by season.
NICEVILLE YOUTH CENTER – SKATE PARK
Youngsters who like to skate, skateboard and ride bikes are sure to enjoy all of the fun at the Niceville Youth Center, located at the intersection of Palm Blvd. and Campbell Drive.
The Youth Center includes a skateboard arena, bicycle facilities, skating arena and other youth oriented activities.
Featured are street obstacles, ramps, tables, box, stairs and Woodward skate equipment. A bridge encircles the facility for straight line skating and also has two drop-ins towards ramps.
Niceville Youth Center hours are seasonal. There is no admission fee. Helmet required (helmets are available for a small rental fee). The center is located at 200 Campbell Dr., Niceville, FL 32578.
TURKEY CREEK PARK
No visit to Niceville is complete without spending a peaceful morning or afternoon at Niceville’s Turkey Creek Park. Visitors are invited to enjoy the pavilion, picnic areas, fishing platforms, swimming areas and boardwalks that locals have come to love.
Turkey Creek Park, Nature Trail and Pavilion is a conservation area that protects endangered species and highlights local flora and fauna along 4,000 feet of boardwalk. An Eagle Scout project provided markers along the trail to identify vegetation. There are swimming holes and rest areas with benches. There’s no better place to walk for exercise, shaded from the hot sun by the lush vegetation. The boardwalk is three quarters of a mile one way, with markers at quarter-mile points.
The pavilion is equipped with lights, picnic tables, grills, and a beautiful stone fireplace hearth. Many events have been held day and night at the pavilion. Birthday parties, office events, socials, team recognition ceremonies are all welcome. The pavilion works on a first come basis.
There are soda vending machines and restrooms near the pavilion.
Along the creek, swimmers have fun cooling off from the heat. Canoes, kayaks, and tubes are allowed. Gasoline engines are prohibited
Security staff are on site to ensure a safe, fun environment for all to enjoy.
An addition to the Turkey Creek Boardwalk is located on West College Boulevard. The park has a 900 foot boardwalk providing access to Turkey Creek, including a Kayak/canoe launch slip. The park has restrooms and picnic pavilions.
Turkey Creek Park has seasonal hours.
The City of Niceville provides free rides for senior citizens and physically handicapped persons. Please call 850-642-7454 to schedule a visit or for more information about Turkey Creek Park.
Turkey Creek is located at 340 John Sims Parkway.