Happy to have this guest post by Sarah on being stationed at Eglin Air Force Base. Please visit my Duty station guest post page for blog posts on other locations or more information about how you can write a guest post about where you have been stationed.
So, you got orders to the beautiful Emerald Coast! The Florida Panhandle beaches are some of the most beautiful in the country. We were lucky to be stationed here for 5 years and had the very best time!
Okaloosa island pier. Look at that crystal-clear water!
The summer months are HOT around 85-95 degrees. Fall and spring are perfect around 60-70, and surprisingly it can get pretty cold in the winter months, so don’t donate your winter clothes just yet when you hear you’re pcsing to Florida! Winter temps can get down to 30-40 and we have even seen snow!
Where to Live
There are many great options in the surrounding area, and something for everyone!
The pin is where on base housing is located
On Base Housing – Newer houses have been built in the past few years. It’s a very convenient location, making for a quick drive to work, the beach on Okaloosa Island and Fort Walton Beach. The commissary and PX are a 10-minute drive. Be prepared, you will see bears in your backyard when living on base! And bugs, be prepared for all the bugs.
Valparaiso – Also called Val-P. It’s a very small town and would be your quickest commute to Eglin.
Shalimar – Another quick 10-15 minute commute. This area has some nicer homes.
Niceville – About 20 minutes from base. Niceville is one of the most sought-after cities when living in this area, although you will be paying more for rent here.
Fort Walton Beach – This is a huge city and I’m sure there are some great areas to live, but definitely do your research if you’re thinking about living here. There is a high crime rate in FWB.
Destin – You will feel like you are on vacation when living here in Destin! It’s about 30-45 minutes to Eglin depending on traffic. In the summer months expect a lot of tourists!
Crestview – 45 minutes away from base but you can get much more house for your money if you choose to live up here away from the beach! *Note – I recommend living south of I-10 to avoid the terrible traffic during rush hour.
Things to Do
Destin is a tourist hot spot, which makes for a ton of fun family options! You have the beaches, boat rentals, dolphin cruises, and an endless list of fabulous waterfront restaurants. (My personal favorite is The Back Porch!) The HarborWalk has fireworks, live music, and parades all throughout the summer.
Besides the touristy area of Destin, the Panhandle has plenty to do for families. There is the Gulf Breeze Zoo and Gulfarium. There are several different natural springs you can swim in, and many hiking trails and U-Pick farms up north in Baker or Jay. FWB is where to go for all of your shopping, and there are a lot of great playgrounds and splash pads for young kids.
This might not be a downside to you but for a Boston girl like me, one downside to the location is that Eglin is not near any major cities. I didn’t mind too much but I definitely felt a little secluded at times. We had to drive to Atlanta to catch a plane home if we didn’t want to spend $700 per round trip ticket out of VPS! Just something to think about if you’re used to the city life!
Splash pad at Destin Commons
Road Trip Destinations
One of my favorite things about new duty stations are all the fun places in driving range you are able to explore! Here are a few of our very favorite from Eglin.
Montgomery, Alabama – Drive through zoo
DISNEY WORLD!! – 6 Hours
Montgomery, AL – 3 Hours (Make sure to do the drive through safari zoo!)
New Orleans, LA – 3.5 Hours
Tampa, FL – 6 Hours (Military families get to go to Busch Gardens for free once a year!)
Atlanta, GA – 5 Hours
Biloxi, MS – 2.5 Hours (Shrimp boat tours!)
Traffic – Heading up to Crestview all year round or down to Destin in the summer months during rush hour, you will hit major traffic.
7th Special Forces Group – If you are being stationed here for 7th Group, you will want to know that they work up near Crestview. Keep that in mind when choosing where to live!
Bippy’s By the Beach FWB – Our family’s secret ice cream spot. It will be your family’s favorite too.
Thank you so much Julie for letting me share my experiences about living at Eglin! If you’re heading this way, I hope you have the BEST time while stationed here. If you’ve already been stationed here, what was your favorite thing about Eglin?
Sarah is a work from home momma of two and one on the way. She is married to a green beret who just deployed 3 times in the past 3 years! Their next adventure is PCSing to 3 new states in 3 years! Head over to www.homeiswherethearmysendsus.com to see if she is currently just surviving or thriving during PCS life and to learn even more about Eglin Air Force Base.