Crestview, Florida is Okaloosa County's largest city, commonly referred to as the "Icebox of Florida" for its cooler-than-average temperatures for the state. The popular Panhandle hub city is located at the junction of the Shoal and Yellow Rivers and is home to the Eglin Air Force Base, the hub of the Army's 7th Special Forces Group. Visitors can explore the Emerald Coast Zoo, operated by reality television star Rick the Reptile Guy, or catch performances at the Panhandle Opry, which showcases family-friendly country and bluegrass music. The city is also a hub for craft distilleries producing high-quality spirits from locally-sourced Florida grains and fruits.
1.Emerald Coast Zoo
Emerald Coast Zoo is an independent zoo in Crestview, owned and operated by reality star Rick the Reptile Guy, known for his appearances on the A&E television show Wild Transport. The zoo, which opened in 2017, focuses on interactive animal experiences, including opportunities to ride camels, pet sloths, and feed birds at the zoo's aviary. Adventurous visitors can help with lion training sessions under the supervision of experienced animal trainers, hop with kangaroos and wallabys, or enjoy up-close experiences with the park's family of black bears. Unique goat yoga courses are also offered, letting participants interact with animals while stretching in natural environments. The park is open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays throughout the afternoon hours or with special appointment for small groups and field trips.
5262 Deer Springs Dr, Crestview, FL 32539, Phone: 850-682-3949
2.Peaden Brothers Distillery
© Peaden Brothers Distillery
Peaden Brothers Distillery is a family-operated distillery housed within Crestview's historic Fox Theater building, which was originally opened in 1945 and has been completely renovated in recent years. The distillery, which is owned by business partners Robert Ellis and Tyler Peaden, was originally opened in 2014, crafting liquors based on historic family moonshine and liquor recipes. Five varieties of liquor are sold throughout the year, including the company's Strawberry Angel Whiskey, dedicated to Peaden's late daughter. Shock The Monkey Whiskey boasts a unique banana flavor, while Cherry Da Bomb and Blue Berry Curve highlight strawberry and blueberry flavors respectively. The company also produces a standard corn-based moonshine evoking traditional bootleg moonshine flavors. Visitors can taste liquors at the company's tasting room Wednesdays through Saturdays during the afternoon hours.
382 Main St, Crestview, FL 32536, Phone: 850-306-1344
© Panhandle Opry
Panhandle Opry is Crestview's best musical variety show, originally established in 1979 by a troupe of area country and bluegrass music performers, including Gordon Porter, Woody Collins, Ed Strickland, and Betty Jones. The show began as a regular radio performance on stations such as Defuniak Springs' WGTX and Crestview's WAAZ. In 1982, it moved to a permanent location in Mossy Head, where it has been offering continuous bi-weekly performances since 1992. Guests can enjoy family-friendly bluegrass and country music performances on the first and third Saturday of each month, modeled after Nashville's Grand Ole Opry performances and other classic variety shows. A full concession stand sells American favorites such as hot dogs, hamburgers, and popcorn.
657 DeShazo Rd, Crestview, FL 32539, Phone: 850-892-4050
4.Ride Hard NWFL
© Dmitry Naumov/stock.adobe.com
Ride Hard NWFL is Crestview's premiere family fun center, owned and operated by members of the Crestview Kiwanis Club. The full-service family entertainment center offers attractions for visitors of all ages, including a mechanical bull ride that offers optional laser light show experiences for riders. Bull riding competitions are presented throughout the week, along with bull riding karaoke experiences. A wide variety of indoor games are offered, including air hockey, basketball, shuffleboard, billiards, and zombie-themed bowling. A full arcade game room features redemption and video game favorites, while a toddler ball pit and bubble play experience are offered for young visitors. Unlimited and hourly play rates are offered, along with snack bar specials to combine dining and play experiences.
763 N Ferdon Blvd, Crestview, FL 32536, Phone: 850-398-5053
5.Timber Creek Distillery
© Timber Creek Distillery
Timber Creek Distillery is a family-owned and operated distillery in Crestview, opened in 2014 by master distiller Aaron Barnes and business partner Camden Ford. The distillery overlooks the banks of beautiful Juniper Creek, housed within a 26,000-square-foot distilling facility and tap room that recently reopened following major renovations. Excellent liquors are produced with local Florida crops, including a full line of single-malt, reserve, and rye whiskeys produced with red soft winter wheat and locally-sourced corn and black rye. Rums are crafted from Gulf Coast cane molasses sourced from Louisiana, while specialty liquors incorporate locally-grown fruit flavors such as strawberry, peach, and muscadine. Visitors can enjoy tastings and tours at the company's seasonal tasting room, which is open during the summer months.
6451 Lake Ella Rd, Crestview, FL 32539, Phone: 850-585-8843
6.Emerald Isle Seafood Restaurant and Market
© Emerald Isle Seafood Restaurant and Market
Emerald Isle Seafood Restaurant and Market is a family-owned and operated market and restaurant in Crestview, serving up delicious freshly-caught Gulf Coast seafood daily. The market's full-service restaurant is open Mondays through Saturdays for lunch and dinner service, known for its excellent chef's specials, including fish taco platters, surf and turf combination entrees, and fresh catch dinners showcasing diners' choice of blackened, grilled, fried, or broiled seafood options. Fried catch platters highlight Bay scallops, Mississippi catfish, Gulf shrimp, or homestyle crab cakes, served with hush puppies and comforting sides such as fried okra and cheese grits. Visitors can also carry out their own fish selections at the facility's fresh seafood market, which sources its catches from the Gulf daily.
1260 S Ferdon Blvd, Crestview, FL 32536, Phone: 850-683-1418
7.The Wild Olive
© The Wild Olive
The Wild Olive is a delicious Italian-influenced eatery in Crestview, originally opened in 2007 as a casual dining experience for the entire family. The unique, diverse restaurant strives to cultivate a relaxed atmosphere akin to dining at a friend's house, highlighting comfortable, homestyle decor elements throughout its dining room. Traditional entree options include Italian favorites such as chicken parmesan and fettuccine alfredo, paired with Southern-style land and sea options like buttermilk fried chicken and blackened shrimp and grits. At lunch, diners can choose from a selection of clever burgers and sandwiches or share small plates such as bacon-wrapped jalapenos or fried pickles. Hearty breakfast options include delicacies such as bread pudding French toast or housemade buttermilk pancakes.
797 N Pearl St, Crestview, FL 32536, Phone: 850-682-4455
8.Pounders Hawaiian Grill
© Pounders Hawaiian Grill
Pounders Hawaiian Grill was opened as a traveling food truck in 2014 by married duo Skylar and Kakela Peters, serving up delectable Hawaiian-style fare prepared with the "Aloha Spirit." The restaurant, which opened its permanent location in Crestview the following year, still serves all of its food in take-out containers, staying true to its food truck roots. Hawaiian-style meat platters come in three sizes, including small kine platters, named for a Hawaiian term for "just enough." Regular and pounder sizes are also available, offering meat options such as teriyaki steak, kalua pig, and garlic chicken. Diners can pair all meals with side dishes such as macaroni salad or with a selection of refreshing Hawaiian-style canned juices.
1338 N Ferdon Blvd, Crestview, FL 32536, Phone: 850-306-2451
9.Hub City Smokehouse and Grill
© Hub City Smokehouse and Grill
Hub City Smokehouse and Grill is a traditional barbecue joint in Crestview, originally opened in 2011 by married duo Lori and Mike Carroll. The restaurant, which moved to its current location in 2015, serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the week, opening at 6:00am Mondays through Saturdays for early-morning service. Barbecue plates highlight favorites such as smoked pork, beef brisket, and St. Louis-style baby-back ribs, paired with sides such as baked beans, cole slaw, and potato salad. Barbecue sandwiches are also served throughout the day, along with appetizers such as loaded nachos, onion ring towers, and cheese fries. At breakfast, diners can enjoy barbecue breakfast sandwiches, fresh egg omelettes, and buttermilk pancake stacks.
168 S Main St, Crestview, FL 32536, Phone: 850-423-7770
9 Best Things to Do in Crestview, Florida
- Emerald Coast Zoo, Photo: rudiernst/stock.adobe.com
- Peaden Brothers Distillery, Photo: Peaden Brothers Distillery
- Panhandle Opry, Photo: Panhandle Opry
- Ride Hard NWFL, Photo: Dmitry Naumov/stock.adobe.com
- Timber Creek Distillery, Photo: Timber Creek Distillery
- Emerald Isle Seafood Restaurant and Market, Photo: Emerald Isle Seafood Restaurant and Market
- The Wild Olive, Photo: The Wild Olive
- Pounders Hawaiian Grill, Photo: Pounders Hawaiian Grill
- Hub City Smokehouse and Grill, Photo: Hub City Smokehouse and Grill
- Cover Photo: City of Crestview, City Hall