Destination: Heritage Park & Cultural Center

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Andrea Posey
  • 1st Special Operation Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This article is the first in a biweekly series on destinations near Hurlburt Field, Fla. These articles are geared to introduce Airmen to potential attractions they can visit near the base. This week's destination is the Heritage Park & Cultural Center.

The Heritage Park & Cultural Center allows visitors to experience the rich heritage and culture of Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Located at 139 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, the Heritage Park & Cultural Center includes the Indian Temple Mound Museum, a Civil War exhibit, the Garnier Post Office Museum and the Schoolhouse Museum.

The first Indian Temple Mound Museum opened in 1962 after an archeologist and the local community verified the authenticity of the Indian Temple Mound. The current museum was built in 1971 and tells the story of the Creek Indians ancestors from prehistoric times to today.

Ancient artifacts from the areas prehistoric Native American cultures, European explorers, local pirates, Civil War soldiers and the local community are housed within the various park buildings.

The Fort Walton Temple Mound is a National Historic landmark located outside the museum. The mound was built between 800 and 1400 A.D. The building on the mound served as a residence for the tribe leader, temple for religious ceremonies, place to direct games and public activities, and area for burials.

The Civil War exhibit, which opened in June 2011, tells the story of local and regional Civil War history. The exhibit is a restoration of a Civil War camp, with pictures and facts about local battles, secession, slavery, prisoners of war, Western theater, and the First Florida Brigade.

The Garnier Post Office Museum has been a part of Fort Walton Beach since 1918 and holds artifacts from Camp Walton, the post office and Voting Precinct #9.

The Schoolhouse Museum is a restored Fort Walton Beach school, which was operated from 1912 through 1936. It houses original tools used during that period of time.

Buildings found within the Heritage Park & Cultural Center are interactive and provide a hands-on learning experience.

The museum hosts lectures on different topics such as archeology, history and the Civil War.

A new series of lectures is scheduled to begin in 2014 on the anniversary of World War I.

A Haunted History Tour of downtown Fort Walton Beach is slated for October.

The Indian Temple Mound Museum will waive admission fees Nov. 16 in celebration of Native American Day and Dec. 7 for the Camp Walton Schoolhouse Christmas Open House.

Native American-made and -inspired products from local artist, like jewelry and pottery, can be purchased in the gift shop.

Hurlburt Airmen don't have to travel far to entertain themselves since the local community offers plenty of attractions, said Gail Lynn Meyer, museum manager.

"You live in a town and then you go away and you realize you never visited the things that were in that town because you're always going elsewhere," she said.

The park is currently open noon to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

For more information about visiting or volunteering with the Heritage Park & Cultural Center, call (850) 833-9595 or visit