Florida has many hidden gems, one of which is the city of Niceville.
The city is renowned for its outstanding public schools with some of the best academic and sports programs.
People also praise it for the light traffic, alternative routes, and easy access to interstates and water activities.
The city has a small-town Friday night atmosphere; football, fun activities, karaoke, and games abound on lazy nights.
The city was called Boggy when the mail service started in 1868.
By 1910, the city officially changed its name to Niceville.
It makes up one of the biggest population centers in a rural panhandle.
It is close to natural attractions such as the Boggy Bayou, Choctawhatchee Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Visitors find themselves drawn to Niceville for its tranquility and serene ambiance, making it a perfect getaway.
Here are the best things to do in Niceville, FL:
Spend a Day at Turkey Creek Nature Trail and Park
Turkey Creek Nature Trail and Park is a 2.3-mile route near Niceville and a leisure park with trails, lush fields, a boardwalk, and wildlife.
The trail includes a boardwalk and ground-level sections that loop their way through rich natural environments, with lots of seating and informative markers.
You can stroll along the boardwalk and glimpse the turtles, birds, and ducks inhabiting the region.
It has a slip for launching canoes and kayaks, unique and thrilling ways to explore the park’s waterways.
Visitors are welcome to tube, hike, or walk in the park.
On hot days, they can jump into the water from designated platforms.
Turkey Creek is a perfect place for family outings with a flowing creek, stunning wildlife, and a showcase of nature’s beauty.
Go Fishing with Flat Attack Charters
Flat Attack Charters is not your ordinary fishing company.
Captain Jeremiah Mayville is a former marine biologist who teaches the youth about environmental and marine science daily.
He has 13 years of boating experience and relishes being out on the water.
Captain Jeremiah loves having his two kids on board and takes young folks battling cancer on Sunday fishing trips.
Flat Attack Charters gives family-oriented and beginner flat fishing the perfect educational flavor.
You will gain a whole new perspective and handy, eco-friendly fishing habits with Flat Attack.
The boat is a 22’ Pathfinder vessel that can reach 45 knots, with plenty of space for anglers to fish in style and comfort.
Your prime targets are speckled trout, flounder, redfish, tarpon, snapper, ladyfish, and bluefish.
Grab a Drink at 3rd Planet Brewing
Established in April 2016, 3rd Planet Brewing is Niceville’s first craft brewery, offering craft beer in a vibrant setting.
Military veterans and engineers Tim McCool and Jason Doster founded this brewery, crafting high-quality beer in a cool environment.
The goal was to serve great-tasting beer in a cool taproom.
In 2016, they opened the “Launchpad,” brewing eight quality taproom craft beers.
The brewery now features 14 tap handles pouring out signature drinks and craft brews.
You can drink a beer, enjoy splendid company, and play outdoor yard games like Jenga and corn hole.
Taste quality beers such as Dark Side of the Moon with its juicy hop flavor and aroma or Bear Fruit Bramber with nutty toffee and dark fruit notes.
Try their food trucks, such as Curry in a Hurry, Real Taste of Philly, Kansas City Wings, and Tonies Gumbo House.
Stay on the Water with Midbay Sailing
Midbay Sailing is a sailing academy and charter in Niceville, located at Bluewater Bay Marina.
They offer classes to greenhorns and experienced sailors looking to improve their skills.
Their Experience Sailing class is a 2.5-hour technical sailing session in a fast and responsive boat.
Their Experience Cruising class is a 2.5-hour private sailing experience in a comfortable, stable cruising boat with a low-impact introduction to sailing skills.
At their Basic Keelboat Course, learn to skipper a sloop-rigged keelboat, with pointers on basic sailing terminology, helm commands, functions and parts, points of sail, seamanship, and safety.
With Basic Coastal Cruising, learn cruising sailboat terminology, auxiliary engine operation, basic boat systems, intermediate sail trim, docking procedures, navigational rules, and seamanship.
With Bareboat Cruising, learn about boat systems, provisioning, auxiliary engines, coastal navigation, anchoring, docking, weather, etc.
Hit the Courts at Bluewater Bay Tennis Center
It touts an active membership with over 60 junior players, 15 USTA, men’s and women’s teams, and 12 annual tournaments.
The newly renovated tennis center has perfectly maintained and beautifully landscaped clay courts, a new deck overlooking their stadium court, and a fully equipped clubhouse.
At the club, you can find any game that will suit your style of play, whether you’re a beginner or a longtime player.
They offer lessons, clinics, and programs for all skill levels and team play in an exciting and friendly atmosphere, including singles and doubles.
Memberships include single, couple, family, and junior designations.
At their Summer Adult Tennis program, enjoy playing tennis and get a total cardio workout at HIIT To Be Fit.
Join drills and matchlike scenarios at their Intermediate and Advanced Adult Clinic.
Enjoy the Outdoors at Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park
The Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park is a Florida State Park established in 1966 along the shores of Rocky Bayou.
U.S. Air Force Colonel Fred Gannon helped transform this site from a bombing practice range and gunnery to a picturesque state park.
Today, it is a gorgeous landscape sitting on over 350 acres and shaded by beautiful longleaf trees, some of which are over 300 years old.
Its beautiful crown jewel is Rocky Bayou, the arm of Choctawhatchee Bay, which is famous for fishing and boating.
The site is a hotspot for saltwater fishing, canoeing, hiking, biking, and viewing the park’s lush wildlife community.
Take a stroll on the Sand Pine Trail, a delicate system with aquatic plants, and the Rocky Bayou Trail showcasing habitats from the shoreline.
Follow the Red Cedar Trail, an upland forest of cedar trees.
Sharpen Your Angling Skills at L4K Charters
L4K Charters provides amazing inshore and nearshore fishing experiences in Niceville and Destin.
Captain Rob Hansill is a retired U.S. Marine and Florida native passionate about the therapeutic benefits of fishing, helping people manage their grief and find joy.
Cancer survivors, Purple Heart recipients, Wounded Warriors, combat veterans, and families affected by the tragedy can fish for free at his charter.
At the Two Hour Inshore Fishing Trips or Memory Maker, first-time anglers and young ones can spend a full day out on the water.
At the Three Hour Inshore Fishing Trips or Triple-Tails and the Four Hour Inshore Fishing Trips or Grand Slam, you'll fish for trout, sheepshead, redfish, pompano, flounder, black drum, mangrove snapper, and crevalle jack.
At the Six Hour Nearshore Fishing or Gulf Waters, you'll go to the Gulf of Mexico to fish for cobia, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, amberjack, red snapper, grouper, mahi-mahi, and more.
See a Show at Mattie Kelly Arts Center
Mattie Kelly Arts Center is on the campus of Northwest Florida State College and has provided world-class programs for over 25 years.
It is the home base of the Northwest Florida State College Department of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts and hosts Broadway shows and student-run shows.
The center upholds a variety of galleries, theaters, and an outdoor amphitheater, making it the perfect venue for many performances.
At the Center, the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra performs an annual concert series, including family pops, classics, and educational concerts with acclaimed local talent and guest soloists.
The Mattie Kelly Arts Center galleries are well-known for holding regional, national, and international exhibitions and hosting workshops and regular gallery talks.
The Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts program presents unique opportunities for experiences in voice, music, dance, theater, and visual arts.
Bring Your Kids to Niceville Children’s Park
If you're looking for a great place to take your kids, help them unwind at the Niceville Children’sPark.
Located in Niceville’s Civic Center Complex, the Children’s Park is a clean, scenic and amenity-full spot.
It's perfect for families who want to enjoy the outdoors without breaking the bank.
The park has many courteous attendants who are open to concerns and questions, offering any help possible to visitors.
There are many walkways available and seating areas with cabanas and gazebos where you can share a meal.
Some attractions your kids can enjoy are slides, sandboxes with pails and shovels, a rock climbing structure, monkey bars, dinosaurs, and a bubble machine.
The Spray Park is a popular place to cool off during the hot season and features palm trees, a Blue Heron, and a Magic Mushroom that spray refreshing water around.
Have a Tee Time at Rocky Bayou Country Club
The course spreads over 100 acres of championship play and is ideal for its gorgeous surroundings, water and sand hazards, and well-manicured fairways and greens.
It offers an array of single-day, long-and-short-term membership options and special discount rates.
If you plan a social gathering or fundraising, the course has outing and tournament packages, including cart and range balls and green fees.
Their Men’s Golf Association enriches the golf experience, uniting to fund putting green flags, American flag pin flags, a new chipping green, club cleaners, replacement rakes, and a lake fountain.
Their Ladies’ Golf Association offers five major tournaments: Memorial Tournament Rally for the Cure, Member-Member, Match Play, LGA Club Membership, and the Queens of Bayou Invitational.
Shop for Vintage Pieces at Lily Pads Interior Market
Lily Pads Interior Market offers plenty of quality vintage and antique finds you’ll love.
Drop by from Monday to Saturday at Highway 20 East and get ready to shop.
Owned by Teresa Farrar, the market features several vendors which are the best in the area.
Browse through the stalls and take your pick of fine original art, and antiques, along with a variety of jewelry and kitchenware items.
Choose from a line of eclectic furniture and fancy decorative pieces.
Take a look at items by Bluewater Glass Art, Estelle Grengs, and Art of Donna Tucker, and unique products by Tyler Candles and Meghan Browne Jewelry.
Visit Lily Pads Interior Market and you definitely won’t leave the store empty-handed.
Skate or Ride a Bike at Youth Center Park
Let your kids have active fun and leisure at the Youth Center Park.
This park is located on Campbell Drive and features areas for straight-line skating and two drop-ins near the ramps.
You can visit from Thursday to Sunday from the early afternoon until the evening.
It’s important to know that the park only allows kids aged six and above, and helmets should always be worn while skating; in case you forgot to bring a helmet, you can rent one at the park.
You can also check the park rules on the local city website.
The park is also a popular place to go biking, with street obstacles to level up the challenge.
Likewise, kids can also enjoy skateboarding or going around the park on a scooter.
While your kids are enjoying, you can watch and stay in the seating areas, then grab snacks and drinks, too.
Your kids will surely enjoy themselves at the Youth Center Park.
Get Fresh and Quality Goods at Niceville Florida Community Farmers' Market
Check out rows of fresh local produce and more at Niceville Florida Community Farmers’ Market.
You’ll catch the market all year round every Saturday at John Sims Parkway.
This busy market features high-quality products offered by professional local vendors.
From grass-fed beef, whole chicken, and eggs, to fresh greens, vegetables, fruits, and more, you’ll be delighted to shop and find an array of locally-grown produce.
And how about getting some homebaked bread like Focaccia, Ciabatta, Rosemary Pound, and delicious pies and pastries?
You can also buy preserves like jellies and jams, pickled veggies, or tasty dips like salsa, pesto, tuna and shrimp dips, and yummy Maryland Crab Cakes.
Browse through the arts and crafts section and find unique handmade soaps, candles, jewelry, artwork, and much more.
Be sure to drop by the Niceville Florida Community Farmers' Market.
Enjoy Delicious Food at Pounders Hawaiian Grill
Looking for something more than the usual for lunch or dinner? Then, head out to Pounders Hawaiian Grill.
This restaurant serves a casual Hawaiian lunch and dinner menu and welcomes guests from Tuesday to Saturday.
Aside from their location in Palm Boulevard North in Niceville, they also have another one on Old Bethel Road in Crestview.
Choose from three different plates – the Small Kine, the Regular Plate, and the Pounders for big eaters, all of which are served with rice, salads, and sides.
Your Meat Choices include Teriyaki Chicken, servings of boneless thighs marinated and grilled with housemade teriyaki flavors, and the thin-sliced Teriyaki Steak, also marinated and grilled to perfection.
Try the tender and juicy Kalua Pig, slowly roasted with the Mesquita smokey flavor, or you can have the Garlic Chicken, grilled and bursting with the right amount of garlic flavor.
Add to Pounders Hawaiian Grill’s side choices of White or Brown Rice, Mac Salad, Leafy Greens, and Cabbage.
Buy Stylish Decors at Cottonwood Company
For elegant and stylish decors to accent your home, you can drop by the Cottonwood Company shop at John Sims Parkway East.
Visit the shop from Monday to Saturday and check out their quality selections and products.
Whether you’re aiming for a minimalist style or country home design, you can find lots of accents, vases and pots, florals, baskets and trays, pillows, coffee table nooks, rugs, and doormats at the shop.
They also have one-of-a-kind kitchen and dining items from mugs and cups, cutting and serving boards, to table linens, placemats, napkin rings, and coasters.
Want to try some new recipes? They have Cookbooks you can add to your collection.
If you’re also looking for bright gift ideas, they have items like puzzles, jewelry, candles, bath and body essentials, accessories, books, cards, and stationery.
Likewise, you’ll find something for your baby and kids like cute stuffed animals, cool puzzles and toys, and children’s books.
Find your home decor at Cottonwood Company.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Explore Military Displays at the Air Force Armament Museum
The Air Force Armament Museum, located on Eglin Force Air Base, is the only facility dedicated to showcasing the U.S. Air Force armament.
This place is 13 minutes away from Niceville.
It devotes itself to the preservation, collection, and exhibition of memorabilia and artifacts associated with the U.S. Air Force armament and its platforms.
Here you can find 29 different aircraft, including a P-51, AC-130, and F-101, and many other aircraft from World War II.
You can also see several hundred pieces of armament like bombs, bomblets, missiles, and a gun collection, including cluster bombs, the Bunker Buster, the Sparrow Sidewinder, and the MOAB.
On the grounds of the Museum, you will notice many aircraft on display, including the fastest ever built, the SR-71 Blackbird.
Flanking it are numerous planes from eras such as the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and both World Wars.
Appreciate Creativity with the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation
The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation or MKAF is in the Destin area, four minutes from Niceville.
It has vision and community outreach programs serving people who might not have access to the arts.
It follows the educational, cultural, and spiritual beliefs of Destin doyenne Mattie Kelly.
Mattie Kelly was a lifelong arts patron who supported art organizations through her financial gifts and participation.
Today, the MKAF remains true to its vision of making cultural arts accessible to the whole of Northwest Florida.
Their ArtsReach array provides dynamic learning opportunities such as Arts Empower with hands-on workshops and lives touring performances.
Their Arts for All Abilities inspires people of all cognitive and physical abilities with fully inclusive and adaptive arts experiences such as magic, music, and painting.
Their Warrior Arts honor those serving with therapeutic arts opportunities, featuring mindfulness Zentangle drawings and more.
Their Paint the Music explores classics, inspiring students to paint to musical selections and inviting them to a live concert performance.
Commune with Nature at Henderson Beach State Park
Henderson Beach State Park is in Destin, just 19 minutes from Niceville, and is one of the most diverse parks in the region.
It features a majestic 6000 feet of shoreline bordering the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, anchored by 30-foot snowy dunes.
It is Destin’s final remaining coastal scrub region, established to protect and preserve natural features and public enjoyment.
Find tranquility on this pristine shoreline, walking the nature trail early in the morning and then spending the day on the beach as you wait for an unforgettable sunset.
Enjoy the sight of sugar-white sand reflecting emerald green waters, and watch out for marine life, including dolphins, sea turtles, and tropical fish.
You can also see some of the last endangered coastal scrub communities.
The park is home to six listed and protected shorebird species and four endangered plant species.
Pitch a tent, connect your RV to one of 60 campsites, enjoy an idyllic bike ride on the mile-long paved road, or try your luck fishing on the beach.
Find Fresh Goods at Fort Walton Beach Market
The downtown Fort Walton Beach farmers' market is in Fort Walton Beach Landing Park, 21 minutes from Niceville.
It's open on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month.
Visiting the market is a great way to support local producers and growers while discovering unique goods.
Meet local vendors and learn about the businesses and local history of the area.
Find locally grown products such as local honey, fresh dairy products, farm-fresh eggs, grass-fed beef, and fresh pork.
You can also find treats like roasted coffee, baked goods, homegrown herbs, salsas, jams, jellies, handmade pasta, infused vinegar, and pickled vegetables.
Buy a rainbow of vegetables, such as blueberries, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, and squash.
Pick up one-of-a-kind souvenirs like handmade soap, local jewelry, artwork, and homemade scented candles.
Watch out for tasty artisanal goods such as cinnamon rolls, bread, and pound cakes.
Gain Knowledge at Emerald Coast Science Center
Emerald Coast Science Center is in Fort Walton Beach, 22 minutes from Niceville, and is a hands-on science discovery center for all ages.
It was established in 1989 as a nonprofit center with the mission of growing and inspiring a scientifically engaged community.
Their interactive exhibits touch on the natural world, animals, aviation, robotics, and even physics.
Have a legendary high seas adventure at the Marine Exhibit, where you can learn how vessels stay afloat, how radio communication happens, and how people build boats.
At their Robotics exhibits, find every kind of interactive robotic unit, including underwater exploration units, a health robot, and more.
At their Engineering, Physics, and Electricity exhibit, learn how an airflow creates a vortex, how airplanes stay aloft, the speed of winds during a hurricane, and more.
At their Color, Light, and Sound exhibit, use the light spectrum to make music, create a colorful masterwork at their giant Litezilla, and explore bubbles’ light and color properties.
At their Creation Station, see where research, design, art, engineering, mathematics, and science all come to life.
At their Animals exhibits, meet extraordinary creatures such as Ruben, the African pygmy hedgehog, Sam and Dean, the diurnal degus, and Templeton, the fancy rat.
You will indeed have your curious minds engaged and entertained as you explore the Emerald Coast Science Center.
Niceville may seem like an unassuming place, but it has much to offer in terms of cultural experiences, recreational thrill rides, outdoor adventures, and sporty pursuits.
Spend your vacation exploring Niceville and seeing why more families flock to this idyllic city.