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North of its pristine white-sand beaches, Walton County is home to several picturesque natural springs and other natural wonders. Explore Morrison Springs and more when you take a trip through Authentic Walton.

Discover Authentic Walton on Your Next Florida Vacation

Story and photography courtesy of Walton County Tourism

Walton County Tourism is excited to unveil the new brand chosen to represent the welcoming communities in Walton County located north of the Choctawhatchee Bay—Authentic Walton. The branding project followed a multi-step process involving stakeholder research, ideation, trademark search, and adoption. Local business owners and community stakeholders participated in a brand positioning study, with the findings informing the strategic direction for brand development. “Authentic Walton” encompasses what was uncovered in the surveys as to what makes this area so unique—traditional values, a welcoming sense of community, genuineness, and steadfastness.

Walton County is so much more than the beach. It is home to springs, rivers, lakes, and some of the most beautiful landscapes in Northwest Florida. Just above the Choctawhatchee Bay, a wide variety of shopping, dining, and activities await. Encompassing Freeport, Paxton, and DeFuniak Springs, these communities are filled with incredible historic treasures and pastoral landscapes. Every experience here feels genuine, with a friendly vibe that makes all visitors feel welcome.

Head up Highway 331 for a day trip to discover Authentic Walton by exploring some great sights, tastes, and traditions!

DeFuniak Springs

DeFuniak Springs is home to excellent restaurants, shops, activities, and a Historic Downtown District. If you’ve never been, you’re in for a treat!

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Discover unique boutiques, eateries, and historical spots when you venture up Highway 331 to Freeport and DeFuniak Springs, Florida.

While you peruse the local shops downtown, offering everything from gifts to fashion, books, antiques, and more, grab some legendary lunch at H&M Hot Dogs. It’s the oldest hot dog stand in Florida and specializes in incredibly creative dogs and tasty burgers. For a snack, breakfast, or afternoon pick-me-up, swing by Perla Baking Co. to peruse their fresh-baked goodies such as pastries and croissants—and yes, desserts (judgment-free). They also have organic coffees and teas to perk you up. Their name is a hybrid abbreviation of “perfect lake,” which sets up your next stop quite nicely.

A walking tour of Lake DeFuniak lets you stroll back in time with a fantastic display of architectural artistry. Nearly two hundred historic buildings surround the lake, about forty of which are noted on the National Register of Historic Places. Classic Victorian homes are prevalent, and even newer homes offer an Old World elegance—constructed in styles such as Queen Anne and Colonial Revival.

Some of these incredible buildings were part of the Chautauqua Assembly that once thrived here. The Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood once filled up for presentations by luminaries such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Jennings Bryan, and Red Cross founder Clara Barton. While the assembly closed nearly a century ago, you can still take an informative walking tour around Circle Drive. Eighteen detailed signs carry you through its history, complemented by a map of the 1884 campus that offers a great then-and-now perspective.

Head up Highway 331 for a day trip to discover Authentic Walton by exploring some great sights, tastes, and traditions!

The Chautauqua Vineyards & Winery in DeFuniak Springs is a beautiful spot to unwind after you tour Circle Drive. Most of the working vineyard is located off-site, but about ten “preview rows” offer a showcase on the front lawn as you pull in. During harvest season, you can even pick fresh grapes to get a taste of the origin of their distinct wines. Muscadine varieties are the specialty here—Carlos for white and Noble for red. They offer complimentary tastings and a very popular Old Vine Wine Club.

When it’s time for dinner, Café Nola offers great Gulf seafood in a New Orleans-style ambience. Before or after your meal, plan on visiting their Bourbon Street Lounge for a craft cocktail.

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Serving as a lively crossroads between the north and south ends of Walton County, Freeport began around 1830 when settlers were attracted to the natural harbor of LaGrange Bayou near the eastern end of the Bay and the mouth of the Choctawhatchee River. The settlement was originally known as Genoa and later Four Mile Landing. However, during the Civil War, it took on its present-day name because there was no charge to dock at the local port area.

Freeport’s bayside location is still part of its allure. Stretching about thirty miles from end to end and between four and six miles across at any given point, Choctawhatchee Bay is ideal for boating, fishing, paddleboarding, and swimming. The shores are lined with parks and green spaces for picnics or just enjoying the view.

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The E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center offers visitors a chance to learn about Walton County’s wildlife and much more.

Head to the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center, where they aim to turn visitors into conservationists through fascinating classes, interpretive exhibits, and opportunities for involvement. The center educates more than 5,200 students each year from a five-county area in the Panhandle and is open to the public on Thursdays and Fridays in June and July.

From amazing local food and preserved natural beauty to eclectic shopping and fascinating history, Freeport has it all. So, treat yourself to a day (or more) of exploration here. You’ll soon discover why this small city is on the verge of great things to come!


At the northernmost edge of the county, amid the pastoral beauty of rolling pastures and woodland areas, you’ll find the quiet little town of Paxton, Florida. With a small population, the town is very family-oriented and welcoming. A history of farming had already been well-established when Paxton became home to the area’s first sawmill in 1903. As commerce around the mill gradually expanded, the surrounding community flourished.

From those early roots in farming, Paxton continues to grow. The Paxton Agricultural Center is a fun place to learn more about how the farming industry works, including up-close introductions to cute animals and heavy machinery. Throw in the nearby baseball field, and it’s always a hit with the kids! The Ag Center also hosts events during the year, including the Bobby Kemp Sr. Heritage Day festival each September.

The great outdoors also plays a vital role in the area’s recreational culture. Paxton is nestled against Lake Jackson, which straddles the Florida-Alabama line, providing an ideal outlet for leisure time and nature appreciation. Perhaps the best way to fully enjoy the lake is by getting out on the water!

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Lakewood Park, just northeast of Paxton, features wooded trails through peaceful landscapes. You can even climb to the highest point of geographical elevation in all of Florida. At a modest 345 feet above sea level, it’s the lowest high point of any state in the U.S. (contrast that with the highest—Alaska’s Denali at more than 20,320 feet). However, this plateau, known as Britton Hill, still offers plenty of photo-worthy views for adventurers who want to change their altitude.

Most importantly, as you wander between attractions in Authentic Walton, you’ll encounter plenty of genuinely friendly locals who are happy to share their love of the area. It’s a day trip that will reveal a whole new slice of life to lift your spirits.

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A new website dedicated to the Authentic Walton brand and the unique offerings north of the Choctawhatchee Bay will launch later this year. In the meantime, follow along on social media channels for the latest happenings at and Instagram @authenticwalton.

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