Painting landscapes in Walton and Okaloosa Counties in Northwest Florida


About Us

Please visit us at for our Wednesday morning painting locations. We meet around 8:00 AM, paint until 11:00 AM, gather on site for show-and-tell, and then usually have lunch at a restaurant nearby. Email us at pleinairemeraldcoast at gmail dot com, writing our address in proper email format of course, to be added to our location-notification list.

You can also join our email newsletter using the link below.

Contact Us

Get in Touch!

Some of Our Favorite Places to Paint

We paint on Wednesday mornings at a location announced the previous weekend and messaged via email and on our Facebook page.  Following are some of the locations we like, here with directions for easy reference the next time we go there. We meet around 8:00  AM, paint until 11:00 AM, gather on site for show-and-tell, and then usually have lunch at a restaurant nearby. Email us at pleinairemeraldcoast at gmail dot com, writing our address in proper email format of course,  to be added to our notification list.

  • Alaqua Animal Refuge, 914 Whitfield Road, Freeport, FL 32439, dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, goats, emu, hogs, turkeys, you-name-it, whatever critters they have at the time! Or paint the amazing light filtering through the beautiful trees, stables and barns. From US 331 and FL 20, go NW on 20 through Freeport, continuing west 1 more mile. Turn left (south) onto Whitfield Road and look for the sign for Alaqua on the right, #914. Or from the west, from Nick's Restaurant on the Bay, go 3 miles further east, towards Freeport. Before you get to Freeport, turn right onto Alaqua Dr. Go 0.2 mi to Miley Rd on the left, and on Miley, go 0.3 mi to Whitfield Rd on your right, to #914 Whitfield Rd. (By the way, they appreciate donations of old towels, sheets, blankets $ or food. Not necessary, but appreciated.) Restrooms on site. Ample parking. 
  • Bay Cafe, 233 Alconese Avenue SE, Ft. Walton Beach, FL 32548, which is located at the base of Brooks Bridge on the Ft. Walton Beach side. From Destin, go across Okaloosa Island, across Brooks Bridge, to the first right in Ft. Walton Beach, which is Perry Ave SE. Go 1 block on Perry SE, then turn right onto First Street SE and go 2 blocks, then right onto Alconese Ave SE and go approx 2 blocks to Bay Cafe. Waterfront under Brooks Bridge, view of Destin across the Bay, restaurant patio, etc.
  • Bayside Stables, 2425 North County Hwy 393,Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459. Hwy 393 is the traffic light on US 98 about 5.5 miles east of Sandestin. Go north on 393 for 2.4 miles to #2425, Bayside Stables, on the west side of the road. If coming from the west, Hwy 393 is 3 miles west of US 331. We must close the gate behind us as we come and go, so the horses will not escape.
  • Baytown Village in Sandestin - With just a few days before Christmas the Baytown Village sounds like a great place to paint the lights and decorations. Maybe sell your work. 
  • Baytowne Marina in Sandestin - Go to the Main Gate at Sandestin (north side of US 98), and tell the guard you are going to the Baytowne Marina and the guard will give you a pass for your dashboard. Take the first right and follow it until it ends at Baytowne Ave. Turn left and follow the signs to Baytowne Marina.
  • Beasley Beach Park - John Beaseley Park, 1550 Miracle Strip Parkway, Ft. Walton Beach, FL 32548. This city park is on the Gulf of Mexico, with parking, pavilions, and restrooms. Look for the large pavillion with the green roof. 
  • Biophilia Center, 4956 FL-20, Freeport, FL 32439 (private location -- call for permission). From US 331 and US 98, go 9.7 mi North to FL Hwy 20; turn East 4.2 miles. The Center is on south side of the road. Or, if you are coming from Hwy 77, it is 11.2 miles from Ebro. We will arrange for them to open an hour early for us, at 8:00 AM, so we can paint until 11:00, and then have a soft critique near the visitors center. Longleaf pines, water reflections, rescued wildlife, turtle and tortoise sanctuary, and trails leading to who knows what delights, maybe even pitcher plants, will make it difficult to pick just one scene to paint. Awe will arrange for reduced admission, $4.00, which is a discounted 50% from the $8.00 rate. (Judy Dewar makes arrangements.)
  • Bluewater Bay Marina - Take Bay Drive off of Hwy 20 to the end . Directions from Valparaiso: come down thru Niceville on Hwy 20 and turn right just past Rocky Bayou SP, on Bay Drive. Continue on Bay drive to the end. Park among the oak tree lined parking area. From Destin: come across mid bay bridge and exit the Niceville exit and turn left on Hwy 20 and ago west towards Niceville. Go past the Merchants Way shopping area and turn left on Bay Drive. Large water tower will be on your right just before the turn. Procede to the end of Bay Drive and park among the oak tree lined parking lot. The marina has a great restaurant at reasonable prices.
  • Bluewater Bay Shopping area - Park in the Winn Dixie parking lot close to the street , next to the "WINN DIXIE" sign.
  • Boathouse Landing - Located in Valparaiso at 124 N John Simms Pkwy.  Besides being a great location to paint , the food is good!
  • Bruce Cafe is located at Hwy 20 and Hwy 81. 10417 State Highway 20. Should be a nice change of pace.
  • Camp Helen State Park, on US 98 at the eastern edge of Walton County and the western edge of Bay County. From US 331 and US 98 in Santa Rosa Beach, go 13 miles east and look for the State Park entrance sign on the south side of the road. The entrance is on US 98. Ignore your map app if it takes you somewhere else off US 98. Heading east, it's the last driveway on the right before you get to the Lake Powell bridge, so if you cross the bridge, turn around and come back! From Panama City Beach, go west on US 98, past the west junction with Front Beach Road, continuing west across the Lake Powell bridge, to the first driveway on the left.
  • Cessna Landing - Located on Hwy 393 in Santa Rosa, 1.5 miles north of Hwy 98. The boat launch and park are on the left side of the road, before the Hogtown Bayou bridge. Restrooms on site.
  • Choctaw Beach roadside park, which fronts the north side of the Choctawhatchee Bay. From US 331 and US 98, go almost 10 miles N to FL-20. Take FL-20 15 miles W to the Choctaw Beach roadside park. If coming from Destin, take the Mid-Bay Bridge North to FL-20 and go east on FL-20 about 4 miles to the roadside park.
  • Clement Taylor Park, 131 Calhoun Ave, Destin, FL 32541 The park fronts the Choctawhatchee Bay on the west side of Destin. From US 98, turn NE onto Calhoun Ave and go approximately 0.3 miles. The park will be on your left. It has a playground with kids playing, trees shadowing the grass, a view of FWB across the Bay, docks, always someone fishing, pelicans and herons.
  • Coffeen Nature Preserve, (Office)146 Coffeen Hill Rd, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459. Directions: From US 331 and US 98, go 9 miles W to Village Road on left, just west of Baytowne Blvd (Courtyard Mariott). The sign at Village Road says Four Mile Village. Or from Destin Commons (the road to Mid-Bay Bridge), go 6 miles east on US 98, past Sandestin and Tops'l Resort, to Village Road on right. Check your email for the street gate code, or call Susan Paladini, Caretaker, (850) 267-2312. After you turn onto Village Road, go about 1/2 mile south to the first road to the right, Coffeen Hill Road. Go up to the end, to CHECK IN at the Coffeen Nature Preserve Office on right, at (time of day Susan has office open.
  • Eden Gardens State Park - One of our favorite locations. Beautiful historical mansion surrounded by beautiful large oaks and floral gardens. North of Hwy 98 on Hwy395 (scenic Hwy 30 A) . Turn off why 98 and he'd north about 2 1/2 miles - the entrance is on the left. The gates open at 8am. that is a $4 fee.
  • Fisherman's Wharf in Destin - 210 Harbor Blvd, Destin. About 5 miles west of Commons Shopping Center on Hwy 98. on the left about a 1/4 mile before the Emerald Grand Hotel. Meet down on the docks.
  • Florida Park in Valparaiso.  restaurant - Located close to the East entrance of Eglin AFB . From Niceville , take John Sims Pkwy through Valparaiso. Continue towards the East entrance to the AFB. (John Sims becomes hwy 397) Go past the business area. After crossing the Tom's bayou bridge at Compass Pass restaurant (blue building on  right) continue to Grandview Ave , 3rd street on left after bridge, and turn left onto Grandview. . Go to 4 way stop  which will be at Florida Ave. Turn left and the park is on the right. Nice community park with restrooms,  boat ramp, dock, childrens play area and some beautiful trees with a nice view of the bay entrance. Input welcome for eating locations.
  • Fort Walton Landing (park), 139 SE Brooks Street, Fort Walton Beach - 700 feet of water front, boardwalk, boat ramps, fishing pier, gazebo, stage, playground equipment and Emerald Coast Science Center. Coming from Destin, after crossing Brooks Bridge into Ft Walton, go to your third traffic light. There is a turn lane; turn left onto Brooks St. It will then curve to the left, so that it is going eastward, parallel to US 98. On the right side parking, look for the children’s play area and park in that general area. Restrooms available. 
  • Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park - Located in Niceville at 4281 John Sims Pkwy. After entering , go past the guard station and take the first left and follow it to the picnic area on the right. Park opens at 8 or 8:30 (?) . There is a $4 fee. 
  • Freeport - Marse Landing, the covered bridge and the industrial silos , all are located on or near co Hwy 83A east about  1 mile south off Hwy 20 in Freeport , in the same area as the Freeport Boatyard. 
  • Freeport Boatyard - Directions from Santa Rosa area : take Hwy 98 to Hwy 331 and go north across the bay bridge to Hwy 20 in Freeport. At the hwy 331 and hwy 20 intersection , turn left and head west . Go about 1 mile to highway 83 A east. Turn left and go about 1 mile to Robinwood DR. which will be on the left just after crossing a small bridge .Turn left on Robinwood Dr and go a short distance to Yacht DR. on your left. Turn left on Yacht drive and go a bout 100 yards and park under the oak trees. our will be able to see the boatyard from there. Directions from Destin: take the Mid Bay Bridge across the bay and exit at Hwy 20 ( Niceville - Freeport). Turn right on Hwy 20 and go 17miles to Hwy 83A east and turn right. Go about 1 mile to Robinwood DR. which will be on the left just after crossing a small bridge .Turn left on Robinwood Dr and go a short distance to Yacht DR. on your left. Turn left on Yacht drive and go a bout 100 yards and park under the oak trees. our will be able to see the boatyard from there.
  • Grand Boulevard Shopping Area - Meet in the Publix parking lot across from PF Chang's China Bistro , 640 Grand Blvd, Miramar Beach. I  will be there about 8am . Look for my red Dodge pickup. We can spread out and paint among the shops and meet back at our parking area for critique.
  • Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet - 100 E. County Highway 30A . Heading east on Hwy 98 from Destin , go past 98 and 331 intersection to the next major intersection  and  turn right on Senic Hwy 30. proceed to the 4 way stop at E County Highway 30A. Turn and go about 100 ft.. Monet Monet is the third building on the right .  (SOLD, MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE)
  • Grayton Beach State Park - Admission $4 / one person in vehicle; $5 for 2-8 people in vehicle. (2015) Halfway between Panama City and Destin. From the intersection of US 331 and US 98, go east on US 98 approximately 1 mile to County Road 283. Take 283 south to Hwy 30A. Go east on 30A 1/2 miles to the entrance to Grayton Beach State Park (south side of 30A). Most of us paint near the beachfront pavilions or on the nature trail east of the beachfront parking lot. Show-and-tell at the easternmost lakeside pavilion at east beach parking lot.
  • Grayton Beach State Park - always a favorite. Open 8am. Fee $4.
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore - Across the hwy from Beasley Beach SP on Okaloosa Island. Lunch - up for grabs. Hint - Dan R. likes Fuddruckers. (just saying)
  • Henderson Beach State Park, 17000 Emerald Coast Parkway, Destin, FL 32541.  Beautiful Henderson Bch SP is located in Destin on Hwy98 heading west just past the Home Depot. At the next intersection turn left into the park entrance. After the guard station proceed to the road headed right, towards the beach. Go past the first parking area on the left, then follow the curve to the right and go to the next parking area. Park opens at 8:00. There is a $4 entrance fee. Coming from Destin, it is 3 miles east of Benning Drive, on US 98.
  • Hick's Nursery - Located on HWY 98 in Santa Rosa Beach.  5061 Hwy 98 West. ph 850-622-9144
  • Indian Temple Mound Museum and FWB Heritage Park: Park in the parking lot on the north side of the Indian Temple Mound Museum, 107 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, Ft. Walton Beach, FL 32548. Also home of Camp Walton Schoolhouse Museum, Garnier Post Office Museum, and Civil War Exhibits. Meet at 11:00 for show and tell back at that same parking lot. Not open til noon, so no restroom on location. Restaurants and coffee shop nearby. Want to see where we will be? Put in your search bar Images and the name of the place, i.e., Images Indian Temple Mound Museum, or Images Garnier Post Office Museum.
  • Lincoln Park - Located in Valparaiso, FL. at 1217 N. Bayshore Drive.  Directly across the bay from Niceville. Lincoln Park, N Bayshore Dr, Valparaiso, FL 32580. There are scenes ranging from bay to marsh cattails to groomed lawn to wild woods, with houses across the street and a marina down the way. From Hwy 20 heading W into Niceville, stay on Hwy 20 which becomes Main Street and then John Sims Parkway. Turn L onto Edge Avenue (across the street from a Post Office). Go 4/10 mi on Edge Avenue to Washington Ave.; turn L on Washington to N Bayshore Dr.  Lincoln Park will be on your left. From Ft. Walton Beach, on N. Eglin Parkway, take Valparaiso Parkway about 1.3 mi to John Sims Parkway. Turn L on Edge Avenue (across the street from a Post Office). Go 4/10 mi on Edge Avenue to Washington Ave.; turn L on Washington to N Bayshore Dr. Lincoln Park will be on your left.
  • ​Lulu's Restaurant, 4607 Legendary Marina Drive , Destin, FL 3254. Behind Legendary Marine: Coming from Destin heading for mid bay bridge, turn right. Go about 200 to 300 ft and turn left into parking lot. Restaurant to straight ahead. Their website is (Email mgr ahead of time)
  • Marse Landing at Four Mile Creek - On 4 mile creek across from the Freeport boat yard. Take Madison St South off Hwy 20 at old hwy 331. Go about 2 miles until it dead ends at the Murphy Oil Co. on 2nd ave. Turn left on 2nd ave and go to the end.. Lunch at TJ's on Hwy 20 across from Freeport City Hall.
  • Monet Monet: The gardens of MonetMonet - 100 E. County Highway 30A, near Grayton Beach. Heading east on Hwy 98 from Destin , go past 98 and 331 intersection to the next light and turn right on County Road 283. Proceed to the 4-way stop at E County Highway 30A. Turn left (east) and go 1/10 mile. Monet Monet is the third building on the right. Please enter the gardens by way of the side gates behind the building.
  • Morrison Springs: From US 98 and US 331, go 9.7 mi N on 331 to Freeport, and then turn right (E) on FL State Road 20 to Bruce, where you turn N on SR 81 and go 15 miles. Watch your odometer, so you know when to look for County Road 181 to the right (E). Stay on 181 for 1.6 mi and then turn right onto Morrison Springs Road. Go almost 1 mile to the parking lot at the springs. OR if coming by way of I-10, turn south onto SR 81 (Exit 96) at Ponce de Leon, and go 3.7 mi S and turn East onto County Road 181. Stay on 181 for 1.6 mi and then turn right onto Morrison Springs Road. Go almost 1 mile to the parking lot at the springs.
  • Nick's restaurant - located on hwy 20 at Basen bayou. About halfway between Blue Water Bay and Freeport. 
  • North Light Yacht Club - Located in Niceville where I-85 dead ends at John Sims Pkwy. New docks were added within the last 6 months. Lunch and critique at restaurant there.
  • Oak Marina in Niceville at 807 Bayshore Dr., Niceville, FL ( Docked boats, distant shoreline, huge shady tree, a palm with thatched trunk, the occasional heron, reflections.
  • Point Washington (historic village) Historic homes, beautiful light, and a quaint church with a cute garden beside it. Meet beside the Point Washington United Methodist Church (the more northern church) for critique at noon and then eat your sack lunch that you made the night before!! From US 331 and US 98, go 3 mi E to Hwy 395 North. Driving 1¾ mi N on 395 will bring you past the two churches to the end of the road. 
  • Redbay Grocery - Located in "beautiful" S. Red Bay, Fl.  :)   At 8704 hwy 81 just 10 miles north of Hwy 20 . Head North on hwy 81 from Bruce, FL.  Bruce is located about 10 miles east of Freeport ( about half way between Freeport and Ebro on Hwy 20 ). The grocery store is on the left. great place to paint and eat.
  • Shops at Grayton Center - On hwy 283 on way to Grayton Beach. On left about 1/2 mile before the 4 way stop. Large pond with lots of lilies. Hopefully in bloom. Lunch at Hurricane Grill or Chanticleer Eatery.
  • The Gulf Restaurant, 1284 Marler Ave., Ft. Walton Beach, FL 32548. On Okaloosa Island, on the north side of 98, on the bay waterfront. From the east, take US 98 west of Destin to the last intersection before Brooks Bridge. Take Santa Rosa Blvd NE one block, then left on Siebert Dr and continue to Marler Ave. Beautiful view of the bridge, the city, and the bay shoreline by Ross Marler Park. From the west, cross Brooks Bridge, turn left on Santa Rosa Blvd and follow above directions.
  • Turkey Creek Park - 340 John Sims Pkwy West, Niceville, FL 32578. From Destin, go north over the mid-bay toll bridge (FL-293 N). Go W on 20 about 7 miles, to Turkey Creek Park on the right. If coming from FWB, go north on 85 (Eglin Pkwy). When it dead-ends in Niceville, turn L on John Sims Pkwy, 0.4 miles around the curve 0.4 to Evans St on Left.
  • ​Twin Oaks Farm, Bonifay, FL - see directions in email folder on 9/27/16.
  • Veteran's Park - Veterans Park on Okaloosa Island. Follow directions to Emerald Coast Convention Center, 1250 Miracle Strip Parkway, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548. Drive into the parking lot (Pier Road North), and park at the northeast corner of the convention center parking lot. No restroom here. The park is undeveloped except for the walkways to the ponds and bird-nesting areas. A bird-lovers paradise, with nesting blue herons, and owls. Bring your shade umbrella and water to drink. Show-and-tell at the first bench just east of the pedestrian gate.
  • Watercolor, FL - Meet at the Tennis Center at 8am. Mari Healey will be there at 8am to show us the available locations in Watercolor to paint. We will critique at the Tennis Center at 11am. and lunch at Chan's Restaurant next to the Watercolor clock tower on 30A. DIRECTIONS for Tennis Center: If you are driving east along 30A from Destin, turn left at downtown Watercolor, identified by the green and white clocktower at Chan's Restaurant. If you're driving west along 30A from Panama City, the clocktower will be on your right. Once in Watercolor, take a quick right at the T junction and immediately jog left on to Watercolor Blvd, with Cerulean Park on your left. A Watercolor Blvd ends at the second T junction, take a right onto Western Lake Drive. Drive a short distance to stop sign, then up the small hill to the second stop sign. The Tennis Center will be on your right. Ample parking at the Tennis Center. Many small pocket parks to paint, also Marina Park , 3 bridges and 2 piers across Western Lake.
  • West side of Destin Bridge: The west end of the Destin Bridge, parking in the parking area on the south side of the road. Views of the Destin Harbor from across the Bay inlet, views of Crab Island from underneath the bridge, and the grassy scrub ecosystem by the pond. NO RESTROOMS ON SITE. You'll have to go back into Destin to find a restroom.
    Directions: From US 331 and US 98, go 25 miles through Destin and across the bridge onto Okaloosa Island. As soon as you cross the bridge, look left for the parking lot entrance on the south side of the road. From Fort Walton Beach, as soon as you see the bridge to Destin, look for the parking lot entrance on the right, right before you cross the bridge. 
  • Willingham Seafood is located at 195 N. John Sims Pkwy in Valparaiso. From Niceville , go down John Sims pkwy past Turkey Creek heading towards the Eglin's East entrance. Look for GOODWILL store on right . go past it to the second "U" turn opening and make a "U" turn. Be careful of traffic. After the U turn look for a gravel driveway on the right. There is also a Willingham Seafood sign at the entrance. Turn onto the gravel driving way and head  back about 50 to 100 yards. You will see their store in front of you. Please park on the right off the road to allow for their customers. I will open the gate about 8 to 8:15am . They have 3 shrimps boats docked there. Great prices on shrimp and other sea food. If you have problems locating it please call me at 850-420-9609 (Ed).​​​

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I don't know how to paint? On any given day, it is 50:50 whether any of us will produce a decent painting. We consider plein air painting to be a "practice" and most of our efforts are "studies". So come on out!

How do I get started? A good website for covering most of the basics and perhaps giving you a head start, is

How much are the dues? No dues or fees unless we need to rent a tent at a local festival.

What if I just want to draw, and not paint? All media are welcome -- there are no rules.

What if I don't want to show my work in the "show-and-tell"? We learn from each other. If you will tell us what challenged you, and how you solved it, you can share that with everyone. If you choose not to share, you don't have to -- you are welcome to just listen to the other painters, and see what they did.

What if I can't come at 8:00? Come when you can. Or just come for "show-and-tell. Or just come for lunch!

What if I have to leave early? That's fine, nobody will chase you back.

What do I do if this is my first time? Just find something that interests you and draw or paint it. Everyone is fairly solitary until we get together at 11:00 for "show-and-tell". Most painters don't talk much while they are painting.

Can I sell my painting on-the-spot? Yes. Unless someone tells you that you can't. And you may give out your business card.

What if I make a mess? Clean it up. We try to leave no trace.

Will someone ring a bell or blow a whistle at 11:00? No. You are in charge of your own time.

What if I am doing the best painting of my life and can't stop? Keep painting!