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A First-Timer’s Guide to Exploring Freeport

For those looking to explore beyond the beach, there’s a whole world of culture and history waiting just north of the Choctawhatchee Bay. The first community you’ll come across is Freeport, which serves as a lively crossroads between the north and south ends of Walton County.

Freeport began about 1830 when settlers were attracted to the natural harbor of LaGrange Bayou located near the eastern end of the Bay and the mouth of the Choctawhatchee River. The settlement was originally known as Genoa, and later Four Mile Landing. However, during the Civil War, it took on its present-day name literally because there was no charge to dock at the local port area.

Freeport’s location is still part of the allure. Stretching about 30 miles from end-to-end and between 4 to 6 miles across at any given point, Choctawhatchee Bay is ideal for boating, fishing, paddleboarding and swimming. The shores are lined with parks and green spaces for enjoying a picnic or just enjoying the view.

Paddleboarding at Sunset in the Choctawhatchee Bay

But there’s plenty to do inland, as well. Start your adventure with a little treat whenever you arrive. Di’lishi Yogurt, Coffee & Smoothies serves up fresh goodies from morning until late at night. They have a full-service bar for coffee, tea and espresso, making sure you have just the right amount of perk at any given time. And if you want to keep things cool, look over their menu of self-serve frozen yogurts and customizable smoothies.

Next, you might consider checking out some of the great local opportunities for shopping. The Little Yellow Bench Company carries a wide variety of handmade skin products, spa products and candles. And, true to their name, they also design and produce incredible wood furniture. Just seeing their world-class woodworker in his workshop is well worth the visit.

When you’re ready to commune with nature, head over to the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center. Covering about 28,000 square-feet, they aim to turn visitors into conservationists through fascinating classes, interpretive exhibits and opportunities for involvement. The center educates more than 5,200 students each year from a five-county area of the surrounding Panhandle, and is open to the public Thursdays and Fridays in June and July. It’s located on the equally impressive Nokuse Plantation – which, at close to 54,000 acres, is the largest block of privately-owned conservation land in the southeastern United States. Extensive trail systems meander throughout the plantation to further enhance the exploratory experience.

Exterior of E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center

Next, stop by Casey Park for a visit to the Freeport Veterans Memorial – a moving tribute to active, retired and fallen service members. The memorial has been evolving for more than a decade and now consists of multiple venues, including an eternal Freedom Flame and the Grace Project, which honors women in service. This beautiful park is a perfect place to relax and reflect at the end of a day of exploration.

Statue and Flags at Freeport Veterans Memorial at Casey Park

When you’re ready to wind down in the evening, Nick’s Seafood Restaurant is a well-established destination that’s popular with locals. Their tasty menu options range from blue crabs and oysters to shrimp. They offer a laid-back ambiance, including an outdoor patio space with views of the Bay. And if you time it right, you just might behold the spectacle of their annual winter bonfire ¬– most likely one of the largest you’ve ever encountered.

Amazing food, preserved natural beauty, eclectic shopping and fascinating history – Freeport has it all. So, treat yourself to a day (or more) of exploration here. You’ll soon discover why this small city is on the verge of great things to come!

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