When Dave and I first started dating, he was stationed at Eglin AFB to go through EOD school, and I was down for long visits on a pretty regular basis. It was a magical place to begin our relationship, and we hope to end up living there again someday. We actually had a BNR from a general to go back there in 2016…but Army HRC had different plans. It ended up working out for the best, but it was definitely a blow at the time. Eglin is amazing, and if you’re lucky enough to get orders there, then you are lucky enough.
Where to live off post: Niceville is one of the best areas to live if you have the option. Housing is a bit harder to come by, but if you have the budget and are willing to move quickly, you can get something really nice. Niceville is a very close drive to Eglin which makes those early morning commutes a breeze, and it’s just a short trip to some of the nicest beaches and activities. If you aren’t opposed to a longer commute, Crestview has a lot of really nice communities so you can easily find a house within budget — no hunting required.
Where to eat: Crab Trap Destin is where Dave and I ate a lot when we were out there. They have delicious (albeit overpriced) fresh steamed snow crab legs, and a really solid drink menu. The fact you can walk from the restaurant directly to the beach makes this a great place to eat and drink during hot and sunny beach days. Another favorite is Boathouse Landing. They have an awesome seafood menu, and they have started charging auto gratuity to all checks and encouraging extra tips for outstanding service. I think that’s an awesome step in the right direction to making sure servers are paid for the work they do, and not based on the customers mood.
Local activities: This is probably a no brainer, but if you’re lucky enough to live in Destin, you should be maximizing your time at the beach. Destin has some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet, and they aren’t nearly as crowded as you would expect. The sand is white and powdery, the water is aqua blue, and the sun is (almost) always shining. So beach it up! Partying on Crab Island is also a lot of fun. It’s a large sandbar and folks will anchor their boats and just blast music and swim and play games and make friends. There are also marine adventure parks, water parks, and the Destin Boardwalk. Plus there’s year-round good weather and plenty of happy, vitamin D-soaked people to hang out with any time and any place.
Travel opportunities: I love the Destin area so much, there is so much to see and do. We never had that “gotta get out of here” feeling we got in more austere locations. So we never did as much distant exploring — we kept it pretty local. Panama City Beach isn’t too far away and has some great state parks and zoological parks, beautiful scenic byways perfect for taking the motorcycle for a spin, and a great nightlife scene. Destin is also a short trip from Pensacola which has a lot of historical activities and museums. Plus Pensacola Christian College…have you ever seen gender-segregated elevators? A bit further out you can cross into Alabama, and it’s always worth it for a trip to Lamberts Cafe. Where else can you get your dinner rolls pitched to you like baseballs?