Okaloosa County (pop 180,822) is east of Santa Rosa County. “Okaloosa” comes from a Choctaw word meaning “black water.”
Much of the southern part of the county is in Eglin Air Force Base, home of the 96th Test Wing, a test and evaluation center for weapons, navigation, and guidance systems.
Eglin extends into Santa Rosa County to the west and Walton County to the east.
The county seat of Okaloosa County is the city of Crestview (pop. 20,978). Crestview was historically known as “The Icebox of Florida,” with the coolest temperatures in the state.
North of Crestview, near the Alabama border, is the city of Laurel Hill (pop. 549), where the high school’s athletic teams are known as the “Hoboes.”
In the southern part of the county, Fort Walton Beach (pop. 19,507) is an important beach resort on the Gulf of Mexico.
Fort Walton Beach averages 69 inches of rain a year – the highest total in Florida.
Goofy Golf, a miniature golf course in Fort Walton Beach, has been operating since 1958.
The city of Destin (pop. 12,305) is east of Fort Walton Beach.
Outside of McGuire’s Irish Pub in Destin is a double-decker bus full of mannequins.
The nearby city of Niceville (pop. 12,749) was originally known as Boggy. It is unclear why the named was changed to Niceville, in 1910.
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