By Rebecca Alwine, Army Spouse

It was a colder winter than usual in the Florida panhandle, but as the sun slowly gets warmer, the beaches are starting to fill up. There are some great opportunities this spring to explore your new duty station or hit up some old favorites before you PCS this summer. Here are our suggestions as you head Out & About in Destin this spring.

Out & About Destin – Spring Edition

Food & Festivals

Sandestin Wine Festival – April 12-15, 2018

Just like it’s younger cousin, the Sandestin Wine Festival is a highly anticipated event in the area. This festival brings together the best of the best. Four days of events including dinners with celebrity chefs and wine tastings galore. This annual event is celebrating it’s 32nd year and has been named “The Best Annual Event” by Destin Magazine.

South Walton Beach Food and Wine Festival – April 26-29, 2018

Started just five years ago, this festival may be considered young, but the organizer Chan Cox started his first wine festival over 30 years ago. With over 800 wines available for tasting and purchase, this festival also offers amazing food, as well as entertaining and educational classes centered around wine and food pairings.

Seaside Dance Festival – May 3-6, 2018

This three-day festival will feature dances from a variety of genres, including ballet, contemporary, hip hop, modern, and jazz. As part of Seaside’s Dance Month, there are also lessons available for all levels.

Lake Fest – May 19, 2018

So many things happen at Lake Fest, located at Chipley Park, which sounds like Lake DeFuniak. Events for all ages include a 5k Fun Run, a car show, and children’s activities. There is also paddle boarding, kayaking, and canoe races on the lake.

Sports & Outside Activities

Digital Graffiti – May 18-20, 2018

This event is truly one of a kind. The first outdoor projection art festival showcases artists who use technology to project video art onto the white walls of the town of Alys Beach. It’s truly a form of digital graffiti with Its own underground movement. This is the first event that has organized these artists and showcased their talents.

33rd Annual Eglin Memorial Gate-to-Gate Run – May 28, 2018

As one of Eglin’s oldest Memorial Day traditions, the 4.4 mile run starts and ends at Liberty Park and passes by the Veteran’s Memorial. Each runner is given a flower to drop along the route at the memorial. A post-race party at the finish line include live entertainment and free refreshment for participants.

Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic – June 19-24, 2018

Watch out South Walton, the fishermen are coming to town! This premier fishing event brings crowds like you wouldn’t imagine to the area each year. Baytowne Marina hosts the weigh-ins as contestants vie for almost $2 million in prizes. Live cooking demonstrations, evening entertainment, and fireworks show accompany the competition.

Kids & Families

Mattie Kelly Center for the Performing Arts

The Northwest Florida State College performing arts presents a variety of shows and events at the Mattie Kelly Center each year. In April, there will be a production of Cinderella, as well as art galleries and other performances.

Fred Gannon State Park

The Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park was named after an Air Force Colonel, who helped preserve the site that hosts long-leaf pine trees, some of which are over 300 years old. The bayou is a very popular part of the park where visitors can boat and fish. Hiking and camping are also favorites of locals and visitors.

Emerald Coast Science Center

The area’s science center has something to do all the time! For rainy day activities, school breaks, and even full-family fun. Some upcoming events include: Planetarium Nights, held the first and third Thursdays of each month, Kid’s Night Out the second Friday of each month, and Maker Nights, the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.

Goofy Golf

For over 50 years, Goofy Golf has been providing some great family fun for the area. They have two miniature golf courses, each ending at the “Snakes Mouth” hole. A highlight for kids is seeing the 23” tall T-rex named Hammy, who has been there from the very beginning.

Don’t miss out on these great area events. If you are stationed in the Eglin/Hurlburt area or are headed this way on your next PCS, visitPCSgrades.comfor all the latest happenings, base housing info, neighborhood info, school ratings, REALTOR®, and moving company recommendations.