These Florida Beach Towns Have Locals on Call to Give You Live Travel Tips

The Destin-Fort Walton Beach tourism board has launched a “Mom Chat” to provide visitors with expert local advice.

Aerial view of Destin and Miramar Beaches in Florida

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While the tech world is focused on chatting with AI and robots, the Destin-Fort Walton Beach, FL, tourism board has launched a “Mom Chat” to provide visitors with expert local advice. 

Travelers looking to visit the coastal towns, which have a combined 20+ miles of sandy beaches, can log onto the local tourism website to have a live chat with a local mom — officially called an "Online Scout" — who will provide insights such as where to find the most family-friendly beaches and where to find a safe place to eat for children with peanut allergies.

As technology has changed the travel industry, tourism boards and destinations have adopted new ways to reach potential visitors beyond printed guide books or brochures. The local moms who participate in the program say they are thrilled to share their first-hand knowledge with visitors, and explain why they feel it is the perfect destination for families.

"As a lifelong local, who is now a mom, I love getting to experience the adventures that I did growing up through the eyes of my boys and now I get to share that with visiting families," online scout Chelsea Wimberly said.

Wimberly also said it is a privilege to share first-hand experiences and safety tips and tricks. (Her favorite tip is that baby powder easily removes beach sand.)

The “Mom Chat” is a part of a new “Little Adventures” section of the Destin-Ft. Walton Beach, FL, tourism website, which also has curated vacation guides for families. Parents can select the age of their children and find corresponding activities that are perfect for their age group. Additional filters to sort through activities include length of time and budget. Some of the suggested activities include snorkeling with stingrays, a dolphin sail, and paddle boarding. The tourism board also offers videos of reviews from local kids to provide additional planning tips for families visiting the area. 

When T+L tried out the chat, we quickly got a response from a local mom, Deborah, who gave recommendations for family-friendly beaches: 

“You will be happy to know that ALL of our local beaches are VERY family friendly! One of the best ones is the beach behind the Okaloosa Island Boardwalk.  It has playground equipment and some great restaurants and snack shops to enjoy and get out of the sun!”

Destin-Fort Walton Beach was previously recognized by T+L as one of the best family beaches in Florida.

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