The Strong Shoulder Season of South Walton

February 19, 2015 by Richard Olivarez

Tourism is vibrantly alive and flourishing along our shores as visitors from around the world discover our unique beach towns and communities. In quaint Walton County, tourism is big business. It is ranked in the Top 10 bed-tax generators in the State of Florida and is the number one source of income for families who are fortunate enough to call this piece of paradise their home.

Last year, both June and July were unprecedented for accommodation revenue - registering $92 million and $91 million, respectively. That’s a 5.18% year-over-year increase in June followed by a 15.5% increase in July. Revenue generated by bed-tax in Walton County was significant enough in both months to rank 2nd in the state, just behind the county that Disney calls home.

Experiencing South Walton is so captivating that 85% of visitors return. Well-informed travelers understand that even though the summer season is undeniably the most sought-after - it’s the spring and fall that are truly the most delightful. Not only do these seasonal bookends offer mild weather, they afford visitors an increased opportunity to live like a local. 

Living like a local means vacationing among them and experiencing the heart and soul of the beach. South Walton locals are passionate and are quick to provide recommendations for the most authentic experiences possible. In the height of summer, opportunities abound but are slightly less accessible. The spring and fall offer visitors a chance to move swiftly through diverse communities and enjoy unforgettable experiences. 

Over the last decade, our most significant economic growth has been in the shoulder seasons. This constant increase has created a strain on availability, leading to a full capacity in lodging over peak summer holidays. For some accommodation providers such as ourselves, this has led to 100% occupancy throughout the entire summer. This means guests who have missed their chance for a summer beach escape will consider visiting in the spring or fall. These guests have joined the well-informed and are now experiencing what many declare to be the very best times of the year to treat themselves to South Walton.

In addition to the chance to live like a local, the abundance of wide open beaches, and the ever-expanding high season – South Walton’s evolution as a year-round destination has been propelled by world-class events. These premier shoulder happenings include Destin Seafood Festival, South Walton Fashion Week, WaterColor MountainFilm on Tour, Seeing Red Wine Festival, 30A Songwriters Festival, Seaside Half Marathon, Sandestin Wine Festival and ArtsQuest Fine Arts Festival. Holiday parades and festivities begin during the week of Thanksgiving and last through New Year's Eve.

Now you know where you want to go but how do you know when to go there? Of course, the same way locals do - here on!

Check the SoWal Events Calendar for all the happenings year round.


Richard Olivarez's picture

Richard stays on top of South Walton and Destin as Editor in Chief of Souvenir Magazine and Marketing Director for Ocean Reef Resorts - a premier vacation rental company, offering a wide array of luxury properties from Destin to Panama City Beach.

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