Fudpuckers and Gator Beach
Fudpuckers, a restaurant in Destin, FL includes Gator Beach, which is a free attraction where kids can get up close and personal with alligators. My kids love it! While Gator Beach is free, to have a photo made holding an alligator is $15.00. The proceeds from these photographs are how they support the Alligator exhibit. You do not have to have your picture made, but it is not allowed to take personal pictures while holding live gators.
Fudpuckers is colorful and fun!
Most interesting was a white alligator, which has yellow eyes that glow zombie red when the sunlight hits them. "Pearl" is fascinating to watch. There is a 10 foot alligator that has been preserved so kids can take photos riding him. There are educational exhibits showing alligator snapping turtles and native snakes. The guides are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. They were extremely patient and answered question after question from the smaller children who were visiting.
Gator Beach has over a hundred small gators with feeding times several times during the day. The day we were there, "Pearl" cheated and ate a goldfish as a snack between meals. Remarkably, they share their exhibit with snapping turtles. We even watched them sunning together on one of the floating islands. After enjoying the alligators, we like to head upstairs to Fudpuckers and for drinks and food.
Fudpuckers is an Emerald Coast classic, open since 1982. Gator Beach is located at the Destin, FL location. We certainly enjoy going there with our kids. There are playgrounds, relaxed atmosphere and a menu geared towards families with kids. The server even brought us a Sharpie so we could write on the walls while we waited for our food! We enjoyed listening to 70's/80's era music including Kansas, Devo, Madness Boston, with a little Jimmie Buffett & Bob Marley thrown in. My kids really got a kick out of the original videos from MTV inception days on FudTV. "Did you ever look like that mom?" asked my son, "Nope, but your dad did!" It was great to see my kids laugh at the thought of their dad with Hair Band hair wearing parachute pants. The name aside, Fudpuckers is geared towards families.
On our most recent visit, we had the Ultimate Chicken Pucker, the Grilled Mushroom Swiss Fudburger, Stuffed Shrimp Parmesan. We had salads and loaded potato balls for appetizers. All of our food came quickly and was delicious. The stuffed Shrimp was around $22, but was a generous portion (we brought some home). We did not save room for dessert! In the past, we have had the fresh catch, and grilled chicken and fish sandwiches. We have never been disappointed in either the food or the service.
We tend to visit restaurants on off-peak times, because we prefer to have fresh food and unrushed staff, so we usually split the difference between lunch rush and dinnertime. It is not as crowded, the service is better, and we usually make it about time for happy hour. It is worth going earlier in the afternoon, and being back on the beach for the sunsets.