Thursday, July 28, 2016

33 Things to do South of Fort Rucker, Alabama



This is the south part of the 100 Things to do within 100 miles of Fort Rucker: The Ultimate Day Trip List. Make sure you also check out the lists of things to do North, East, and West of Fort Rucker.

A few reminders about this list before we get started. I've listed these places in order of distance from the Fort Rucker Aviation Museum. Also, these places are all within 100 miles driving distance, not as the crow flies. Thanks to Fort Rucker's rural location you have to travel on twisty back roads to reach towns that wouldn't be that far away if there was a straight road leading to them.

1. Alpin Farms 
2729 North County Rd. 49
Dothan, Alabama
18 miles from Fort Rucker 
Cost: Prices for produce and activities varies. Contact the company for details. 
Hours: Hours vary by the season. Contact the company for current hours.
Phone Number: (334) 726-5104 or (334) 792-6362
Website: www.aplinfarms.com

During most of the year you can buy fresh produce from Alpin Farms. They have various foods that you can pick yourself. In the fall, the farm really comes to life and provides pumpkins, wagon rides, farm train rides, corn mazes, and other harvest themed fun.

2. Falling Waters State Park

1130 State Park Road
Chipley, Florida
55 miles south of Fort Rucker
Cost: $5 per car. Camping is $18 per night
Hours: 8:00 am to sundown every day
Phone Number: (850) 638-6130
Website: www.floridastateparks.org/park/Falling-Waters

This state park is home to a 73 foot waterfall that cascades over a cliff and down into a sink hole. Viewing platforms help you get a good look at the water as it disappears. There are boardwalks that lead to other sink holes. The park also has a pretty lake with a small beach of pure white sand. This lake is a fun place to go swimming on hot summer days. Camping is also available at this park.
Click here to read about my family's visit.

3. Vortex Springs

1517 Vortex Springs Lane,
Ponce de Leon, Florida
47 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: Swim pass - $8 per person all day until dark.  Dive pass - $20 per person all day pass until 11:00 pm.
Hours: Monday - Friday: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Saturday - Sunday: 7:00 am to 5:00 pm
Phone Number: (850) 836-4979
Website: www.vortexspring.com

This privately owned recreation area is home to natural springs where you can swim.  But this isn't your typical swimming hole. There is a 9 foot high dive and a zip line that will take you right into the water.  The springs aren't just for surface swimming either - this is the largest diving facility in the state of Florida. Away from the water there are plenty of nature trails to explore. There are even cabins available to rent at the resort so you can enjoy the springs on multiple days.

4. Ponce de Leon Springs
 
State Park 2860 State Park Road
Ponce de Leon, Florida
51 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: $4 per vehicle
Hours: 8:00 a.m. until sunset, every day
Phone Number: (850) 836-4281
Website: www.floridastateparks.org/park/Ponce-de-Leon-Springs

This is a day use only state park with a clear spring.  The park is a great place for a picnic and provides an opportunity to cool off on a hot day.

Click here to read about my family's visit to this state park.

5. Cypress Springs on Holmes Creek
Launch from Culpepper boat ramp
3081 Culpepper Lane
Vernon, Florida
www.waltonoutdoors.com/explore-cypress-spring-on-holmes-creek

Cypress Springs is a beautiful natural spring on Holmes Creek. The spring itself is located on private property so you have to reach it by paddling on the river.  A popular place to launch canoes and kayaks is the Culpepper Boat Ramp.  From there you paddle upstream to reach the spring.  You can also rent canoes from outfitters on the river.  

Snaggy Bend Outfitters
3324 Highway 277 
Vernon, FL. 32462 
55 miles from Fort Rucker 
Cost: Canoes and Tandem Kayaks $40 
Hours: Open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to dusk during May through August. Last rental out at 3 p.m. Phone Number: (850) 535-2004 
Snaggy Bend is located a little upstream from Cypress Springs so you can rent a boat from them and then paddle down to the spring.

Holmes Creek Canoe Livery
52 miles from Fort Rucker 
Cost: Canoes and Tandem Kayaks $40
Hours: Open from 8:00 to 3:00 seven days a week.  Equipment needs to be back to the park by 7:00 pm unless overnight camping.. 
Phone Number: (850) 210-7001 
Website: holmescreekcanoelivery.com/wp

This outfitter is downstream from Cypress Springs, but the current is slow enough that it shouldn't be hard to reach the spring.  You can also venture out and explore more of Holmes Creek.  As an added bonus, there is a zipline located adjacent to the canoe rental.

6. Three Oaks Winery
3348 Highway 79
Vernon, Florida
55 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: Tours and wine tasting are free
Hours: Usually open Wednesday – Saturday, 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.  Only open Friday and Saturday in January.
Phone Number: (850) 535-9463
Website: www.threeoakswinery.com

This locally owned vineyard provides free tours and wine tasting.  This would be a great place to stop on your way down to Panama City Beach.

7. DeFuniak Lake (Chipley Park)
1183 Circle Dr
DeFuniak Springs, Florida
55 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: Free
Hours: daylight hours
Website: www.defuniaksprings.net

This 40 acre spring fed lake is adjacent to historic Defuniak Springs, Florida. The almost perfectly circular lake has many beautiful points of interest including an amphitheater and two fishing piers.  Swimming is not allowed in the lake, but boats are as long as they have a motor of less than 1 horse power. The town often holds free outdoor events on the lake shore.  Picturesque southern homes line the street that surrounds the lake. 

8. Walton County Museum

1140 Circle Drive
DeFuniak Springs, Florida
55 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: Free
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 1:00 to 4:00 pm.
Phone Number: (850) 951-2127
Website: www.waltoncountyheritage.org

This museum is housed inside a historic train depot, and is adjacent to operational train tracks.  A train caboose sits outside the museum.

9. Chautauqua Winery
364 Hugh Adams Road
DeFuniak Springs, Florida
55 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: Tours and wine tasting are free
Hours: 9:00 to 5:00 ever day
Phone Number: (850) 892-5887
Website: www.chautauquawinery.com

This vineyard is located to the north of  Interstate 10 which makes it a convenient stop on the way to the beach.

10. Florida Caverns State Park
3345 Caverns Road
Marianna, Florida
60 miles southeast of Fort Rucker
Cost: Admission to park is $5 per car and then cave tours are $8 for adults and $5 for children. (This an amazing deal as most cave tours cost about $18 for an adult.)  Camping starts at $20 per night.
Hours: 8:00 am to sundown every day. The cave isn't open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Phone Number: (850) 482-1228
Website: www.floridastateparks.org/park/Florida-Caverns

Florida has many caves, but most of them are underwater. The cave at Florida Caverns State Park is the only one that provides tours where you don't need underwater equipment. Tours of the cave last 45 minutes and take you near many interesting features. But they aren't the only interesting things in the park. There are also hiking trails, fishing holes, a campground, and a swimming hole fed by springs.

Read about my family's visit by clicking here.

11. Bear Paw Adventures
2100 Bear Paw Lane
Marianna, Florida
61 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: Kayaks start at $35, Canoes start at $40, Tubes start at $15.  There are a variaty of price packages available.
Hours: 9:00 am to dusk every day
Phone Number: 850-482-4948
Website: bearpawescape.com

Bear Paw Adventures is the place to go to get equipment and shuttle service for a day on the Chipola River and Spring Creek.  They provide kayaks, canoes, and even water tubes for a variety of different trip packages.

12. Blue Springs Recreational Area
5461 Blue Springs Road
Marianna, Florida
62 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: $4.00 per person
Hours: Open during the summer. Check website for exact dates. Park Gates Open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. Water is open from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm.
Phone Number: (850) 482-2114
Website: www.jacksoncountyfl.net/parks-and-recycling/blue-springs

This spring fed recreation area is maintained by Jackson County which has recently revitalized the area. The water is great for swimming or boating. There are even volleyball courts and a children's playground if you get tired of the water.

13. Econfina Creek Canoe Livery
5641 Porter Pond Rd
Youngstown, Florida
78 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: $50.00 canoe or double kayak
Hours: Daylight hours May 1st - Sept 30th
Phone Number: (850) 722-9032
Website: canoeeconfinacreek.net

Econofina Creek bills itself as "Florida's Most Beautiful Canoe Trail."  As you paddle on this creek you will pass 6 springs where you can get out to swim.

14. Panhandle Pioneer Settlement
Sam Atkins Park
17869 NW Pioneer Settlement Rd
Blountstown, Florida
83 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: $6 for Adults, $3.00 for Children ages 5-12, Children under 4 are free
Hours: Open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. (Central Time),
Phone Number: (850) 674-2777
Website: www.panhandlepioneer.org

Historic buildings from all over Calhoun County were relocated to this living history museum. Different classes teaching skills ranging from blacksmithing to jelly making are offered for an additional cost. Though out the year the settlement holds many community events.

15. Pine Log State Forest
5583-A Longleaf Road
Ebro, Florida
73 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: $2 per person over the age of 6. Children under 6 are free.  Camping starts at $10 for the primitive sites and $20 for the regular sites.
Hours: Daylight hours
Phone Number: (850) 535-2888
Website: www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Florida-Forest-Service/Our-Forests/State-Forests/Pine-Log-State-Forest

This state forest is located to the north of Panama City Beach.  It's primarily used for hiking though swimming is available at the lake.  There is also a campsite with showers.

16. Camp Helen State Park
23937 Panama City Beach Parkway
Panama City Beach, FL 32413
94 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: $4 per vehicle
Hours: 8:00 am to sunset
Phone Number: (850) 233-5059
Website: www.floridastateparks.org/park/Camp-Helen

This state park is located to the west of Panama City Beach. The park has recreation areas on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and on the shores of Lake Powell.  This park is just for day use only so there isn't any camping available.

17. Piers of Panama City Beach
There are two piers in Panama City Beach.
Russell-Fields City Pier
16201 Front Beach Road
Panama City Beach, Florida
89 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: $3 to walk on the pier,  $6 to fish from the pier.  Children under 6 are free.  Parking and use of the beach is also free.
Hours: 7 days a week 24 hours a day
Phone Number: (850) 233-5080
Website: www.pcbgov.com/departments-services/parks-recreation-department/city-pier-beach

This pier is the longest pier on the Gulf of Mexico.  You can fish from the pier or just walk along it and look for dolphins and other wild life. There isn't much parking near this pier, but it is located near the Pier Park shopping area so it's easy to park there and then walk to the City Pier. The beach next to the pier is one of the only dog friendly beaches in Panama City Beach.

M.B. Miller County Pier
12213 Front Beach Road
Panama City Beach, Florida
92 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: $3 to walk on the pier,  $6 to fish from the pier.  Children under 6 are free.  Parking and use of the beach is also free.
Hours: 7 days a week 24 hours a day
Phone Number: (850) 236-3035
Website: www.baycountyfl.gov/pier

As with the city pier you can fish from the pier or just walk along it and look for dolphins and other wild life. There is a large parking lot adjacent to this pier, as well as a building with bathroom facilities.

18. Wonderworks
9910 Front Beach Rd
Panama City Beach, Florida
94 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: General Admission is $24.99 for adults and $18.99 for children.  The Combo Ticket for everything is $33.99 for adults and $27.99 for children.
Hours: Open daily 10:00 am to 11:00 pm
Phone Number: (850) 249-7000
Website: www.wonderworksonline.com/panama-city-beach

If you've driven through Panama City Beach you've probably noticed the building built like an upside down house.  That is the Wonderworks building.  This is sort of like an indoor amusement park, but with more than the standard attractions. It's aim is to entertain and educate.  There are more than 100 hands on exhibits.  In addition to the fun, educational stuff there is also a laser tag arena, and a glow in the dark ropes course.

19. Ripley's Believe It or Not
9907 Front Beach Road
Panama City Beach, Florida
94 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: Odditorium starting at $17.99 for adults and $12.99 for children.  The combo ticket is $28.99 for adults and $23.99 for children
Hours: 9:00 am to 10:00 pm every day
Phone Number: (850) 230-6113
Website: www.ripleys.com/panamacitybeach

This is the other memorable building in Panama City Beach.  This building is shaped like a giant sinking ship on the outside.  Inside you'll find one of the Famous Odditoriums full of odd things like shrunken heads.  There are other attractions available such as a mirror maze, a 7D theater, and a laser race.

20. Zoo World
9008 Front Beach Road
Panama City Beach, Florida
94 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: $16.95 for adults and $12.95 for children ages 2-12, Children under 2 are free. (Military  receives 20% Off Admission  price)
Hours: 9:30 am to 5:00 pm every day
Phone Number: (850) 230-1243
Website: http://zooworldpcb.com/

This zoo is located in Panama City Beach and is home to many different animals - some of which are endangered.  For an additional price, the zoo provides many additional experiences such as feeding alligators.

21. Amusement Parks/Mini Golf 
There are many different places for family fun in Panama City Beach. Highlighting them all separately could be it's very own blog post. Instead here is a somewhat complete list.  From what I can see prices for each place are all very similar.

Cobra Adventure Park
Coconut Creek Family Fun Park
Goofy Golf PC
Hidden Lagoon Golf and Racetrack
Pier Park Amusements
Pirate's Island Adventure Golf
Shipwreck Mini-Golf and Snack bar

22. Rick Seltzer Park
7419 Thomas Drive
Panama City Beach, Florida
96 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: Free
Hours: Daylight
Website: www.co.bay.fl.us/parks/beach.php

This city park is located on the Eastern side of the city.  Its provides beach access and has a large parking lot as well as bathrooms.  There is nothing spectacular about it, but it's always nice to know that you can have somewhere to park and to change before heading to the beach.

23. Deep Sea Fishing 
There are many different companies that provide deep sea fishing trips out of Panama City Beach. As with miniature golf, highlighting them all separately could be it's very own blog post.  The following is probably and incomplete list, but it will help you get started.

Capt. Anderson's Marina
Capt Ellis Charters
First Light Charters
Gotta Believe Charters
Hall Queen Fleet
Killen Time Fishing Charters
Kelley Girl Charters
Legendary New Beginning
Private Charters Sport Fishing
Reel Commocean Charters
Tomcat Fishing Charters
Top Deck Fishing Charters
Treasure Island Party Boat

24. St Andrews State Park
4607 State Park Lane
Panama City Beach, Florida
100 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: $8 per car for day use.  Camping starts at $28.00 per night.
Hours: 8 am to sundown
Phone Number: (850) 233-5140
Website: www.floridastateparks.org/park/St-Andrews

St. Andrews State Park has the most beautiful beach in all of Panama City Beach.  The park is on a peninsula east of the city.  You can choose from swimming on the beach or you can swim in a sheltered lagoon. Fishing piers and a jetty are also part of the park.  There are even places to scuba dive. If you choose to stay the night you can camp in the campground located on the bay side of the park. 

An additional feature of St. Andrews State Park is Shell Island which isn't far from the Lagoon. You can take your own boat over there or you can book a shuttle from one of the many companies that sail to Shell Island.

Read about my family's visit to St. Andrews State Park by clicking here. 

25. Panama City Publishing Company
1134 Beck Avenue
Panama City, Florida
90 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: free
Hours: Tuesday through Friday 1:00 pm to 5:30 pm. And every Saturday of the month from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Phone Number: (850) 872-7208
Website: www.historicstandrews.com/publishing-museum-visitor-center

Across the bay from the city of Panama City Beach is plain old Panama City.  This city doesn't have exciting beaches, but it does have this publishing museum housed in a historic building.

26. Oaks by the Bay Park
The park’s main entrance at the end of Beck Avenue
Panama City, Florida
90 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: Free
Hours: Open: Daylight hours
Website: floridahikes.com/oaks-by-the-bay-park

This small park along the water in Panama City is home to The Sentry, a live oak that is estimated to be over 250 years old.

27. Grayton Beach
357 Main Park Road
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
84 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: $5.00 per vehicle. camping starts at $24
Hours: 8:00 a.m. until sundown every day
Phone Number: (850) 267-8300
Website: www.floridastateparks.org/park/Grayton-Beach

Situated between Panama City Beach and Destin is the town of Santa Rosa.  This town is home to Grayton Beach on the Gulf of Mexico.  This state park is often referred to as one of the prettiest beaches in America. In addition to swimming in the gulf you can also paddle on Western Lake  You can camp or stay in a cabin.

28. Eden Gardens 
181 Eden Gardens Road
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
84 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: Admission to the park costs $4 per vehicle.  Tours of the historic Wesley House cost $4 for adults and $2 for children.
Hours: The park is open from 8:00 am to sunset every day.  Tour of the house are offered from Thursday thru Monday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. hourly.
Phone Number: (850) 267-8320
Website: www.floridastateparks.org/park/Eden-Gardens

The main attraction at this state park is the historic Wesley House.  This two story home dates back to 1897.  It has been painstakingly restored and is available for tours.

29. Village of Baytown Wharf
9300 Emerald Coast Parkway
West Miramar Beach, Florida
90 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: Free to visit. shops charge of course
Hours: always open
Phone Number: 850-267-8000
Website: www.baytownewharf.com

This charming waterside community is part of the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, but it is open to the public.  The shops, restaurants, and galleries are all welcoming of visitors. Throughout the year the community holds free events.  They even provide free parking and free parking shuttles during the summer so more people can make it.

30. Henderson Beach State Park
17000 Emerald Coast Parkway
Destin, Florida
96 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: $6.00 per vehicle.  Camping starts at $30 per night
Hours: 8:00 a.m. until sundown every day
Phone Number: (850) 837-7550
Website: www.floridastateparks.org/park/Henderson-Beach

This is another beautiful state park on the Gulf of Mexico.  As with all the other beaches on this list, you'll find sugar white sand and emerald water waiting for you.  Camping is also available at this state park.

31. Air Force Armament Museum
100 Museum Drive,
Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
92 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: Free
Hours: Monday through Saturday from 9:30 am to 4:30 p.m. Closed on federal holidays. Outdoor air park with 25 aircraft is open during daylight hours.
Phone Number: (850) 882-4062
Website: www.afarmamentmuseum.com

Eglin Airforce Base is north of Destin, Florida. The museum is part of the base, but it is open to the public and you don't even need to obtain a visitor's pass to reach the museum.  There are 25 aircraft outside the museum, and interesting displays inside.  Any aviation lover will enjoy this museum.

32. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
1010 Miracle Strip Parkway
SE Fort Walton Beach, Florida
99 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: $21.95 for an adult and $13.95 for a child,  (military rates available - they take about $2 off)
Hours: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm every day
Phone Number: 850-243-9046
Website: www.gulfarium.com

This is the place to visit for any marine life lover.  You'll see fish, dolphins, turtles, and more.  The park offers a variety of additional animal encounters for an additional price.

33. Eglin Beach
Okaloosa Island just west of the Destin Bridge
Destin, Florida
101 miles from Fort Rucker
Cost: $3 per vehicle Monday through Friday, and $5 on weekends or holidays.
Hours: Open from April through October but dates and hours vary.  Check the website for exact hours.
Phone Number: 850-883-1243
Website: www.eglinforcesupport.com/activity/index.html

This place is just outside the 100 mile zone, but I'm including it because its such a great deal for military members and DoD personel.  This beach is similar to all the other beaches on this list, but it is basically a private beach just for people affiliated with the military. Just bring your military ID and show it to the parking lot attendant.  In addition to beautiful sand and water this beach has a large pavilion, restroom facilities, and showers.  Those showers make this place worth the drive.  It's so nice to have a place to shower before starting to drive back to Fort Rucker.

More things outside the 100 mile zone:

Half of Destin lies beyond the 100 mile mark.  Fort Walton is only a little bit further.  Both cities offer plenty to do.

I also recommend going a little bit more southeast past Panama City Beach.  Mexico Beach and St Joseph Island both have great reputations. St Joseph State Park has the BEST beach I've visited on the Gulf of Mexico.


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