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Valparaiso Basics


Valparaiso, a small city with only 6,500 residents, lies in the shadows of Florida’s resort retreats and doesn’t attract many visitors outside of the airmen going to and from Eglin Air Force base. At the turn of the century, this area was mainly uninhabited forest, until 1918, when John Perrine planned a model community and commissioned the Valparaiso Development Company. Despite its natural beauty and city planning, Valparaiso was not self sufficient until the beginnings of the Eglin Air Force base were put in motion, during the 1930s.

Valparaiso and its “twin city” Niceville share scenic views over Boggy Bayou, which juts inland from Choctawhatchee Bay that leads to the Gulf of Mexico. Both cities have developed as the Air Force base has grown, providing housing and services for its residents. And while their neighbors to the south, Destin, Okaloosa Island and Fort Walton Beach, attract most of the spring breakers and families on vacation, Valparaiso and Niceville are a quiet respite, offering great fishing, natural parks and an increasing number of top-quality, seafood-focused restaurants. Plus, some of the Emerald Coast’s top cultural attractions are right at your doorstep, the U.S. Armament Museum and NW Florida Heritage Museum.

From Valparaiso, the Emerald Coast is only a 30-minute drive south through Fort Walton Beach or over the Mid-Bay Bridge, where locals and visitors flock for sun bathing, shopping and all-night debauchery. If you want to test your angling skills in the fruitful waters, head to the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier for the luckiest fishing spot in the world. Waterfront parks line most of the 24 miles of coastline in the area, home to the Panhandle’s famous white sand beaches, composed of Appalachian quartz and the beautiful emerald green waters.

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