Northwest Florida—or Florida’s Panhandle—which includes the Emerald Coast, Pensacola, South Walton, Panama City Beach and Tallahassee, among other beach towns—features a host of teambuilding activities for groups, from outdoor pursuits like stand-up paddleboarding to painting in an art gallery.
All over the Panhandle, and in fact all over the country, Adventure Associates sets up a variety of teambuilding adventures for groups. One of the company’s most popular, the survivor-like Land and Sea Challenge (for teams of eight) can be executed anywhere there’s a beach, inlet, lake or bay, according to Rebecca Tilley, owner of Adventure Associates.
“One popular teambuilding event is doing a blindfolded race in kayaks or canoes where there are two people in the vessel and one is blindfolded and the other has to guide the blindfolded paddler,” she said. “It’s a great exercise in communication.”
Electric Bike Eventure
And, if the only water is at the resort in the swimming pool, no problem, Tilley said.
“We have a Build a Boat program we do at the resort’s swimming pool,” she explained. “The first part is planning with the team; part two is building the boat from materials we provide. The winning team has to be able to float or sail at least the width of the pool. Boats are also judged based on how they decorate the boats; the wow factor.
“This is a great opportunity to make decisions together, adapt plans and work with the different dynamics of the team,” she continued. “You never know which team will be successful.”
Adventure Associates also puts together a Trail Venture, a teambuilding event for those groups that want to be outside.
“While they’re hiking, they can talk about problems they’re having in the office and the best way to solve them, for example, and in the end can talk about solutions, team behaviors and successes. It’s the best way to get them out of the boardroom,” Tilley said.
Northwest Florida's Emerald Coast Gets Groups Cooking
On the Emerald Coast, The Emerald Grande at Harberwalk Village in Destin offers Cooking with the Chef sessions featuring an intimate dining room setting for a detailed and entertaining event with chef Jim McManus. The experience can cater for up to 60 in the HarborView room overlooking the water.
Chef McManus can customize his creative culinary demonstrations for the event. He will craft the menu—from Lowcountry boils to elegant several course meals--paired with wine.
“We like to use indigenous foods of the Emerald Coast, from seafood from local waters including oysters and Bay scallops, all found within 50 miles of us,” McManus said. “We also use produce grown in the Panhandle, including bananas, papayas, strawberries, cabbage, mushrooms and sweet corn.”
The highlight is the kitchen tour or a Q&A with the chef.
“What’s interesting today is that guests can take the opportunity to ask me questions during the meal. It’s a great experience and a lot of fun for groups,” he said.
Clemenza’s at Uptown Station in Fort Walton Beach also offers group dining in The Cellar, an Old-World Tuscan wine cellar coupled with a demonstration kitchen perfect for receptions, private parties of up to 50, an intimate dinner or a unique teambuilding cooking class with wine pairings.
Paddleboarding to Adventure in Pensacola
Guided sunset paddles in kayaks or on paddleboards can be put together by Outdoor Gulf Coast, a company that offers guided tours in Big Lagoon State Park, Bruce Beach in downtown Pensacola and the Santa Rosa Sound on Pensacola Beach. Another company, Adventures Unlimited Outdoor Center, takes groups on thrilling zipline rides at their Coldwater Creek Headquarters in Milton, Fla., about 28 miles north of Pensacola.
Sunset Paddle, Pensacola
The company’s Challenge Courses (using ropes and other obstacles) is a great way for groups not only to get in some physical activity but also to use problem solving and leadership skills.
"Our activities offer participants an opportunity to explore individual and group challenges,” said Jo Dee Cattrell, group and events manager, Adventures Unlimited Outdoor Center. “This is done through elements and initiatives, designed to utilize mental and physical abilities, in an effort to achieve growth in a safe and fun setting. This growth may include awareness, responsibility, trust, communication skills, decision making and problem-solving skills--all on a personal and/or group level. Ultimately, mastering the activities is not as important as the attempt itself, and we strive to make sure nobody walks away saying.... ‘I wish I would have.’”
For indoor pursuits in Pensacola, Painting with a Twist is a fun way to take art and make it a teambuilding event. Groups can bring in their own food and snacks and make it an after the meeting wind-down networking event, as well.
Escape rooms are all the rage, and Escape on Palafox in the downtown area takes small groups, locks them in, and gives them 60 minutes to get out. Groups use teamwork and problem solving to unscramble puzzles, find clues and crack the code to find the missing priceless piece of art in The Museum Robber room or detonate a doomsday device in It’s all Wired, among other themed rooms.
South Walton's Beaches Are Full of Teambuilding Adventures
The beaches of South Walton and the area’s 16 unique beach communities are the backdrops of many group-friendly activities, according to Dawn Truemper, director of group sales and events for Visit South Walton.
“Along South Walton’s 26 miles of beach, you can find a tremendous variety of experiences in a relatively small and easy to navigate area,” she said. “Art tours that explore our architecturally unique beach neighborhoods, or even biking tours that give you a glimpse of the area’s natural beauty, can be terrific teambuilding activities.”
Teambuilding, Build a Tent
South Walton is known for its diverse and eclectic art community, where talented artists guide groups through the creation of unique paintings. Kathleen Broaderick Studio & Gallery can accommodate groups of up to 12 and Bayou Arts Center in Santa Rosa Beach can accommodate up to 15 for painting events.
For foodies, Eventure Tour offers an electric bike tour that takes groups through beach neighborhoods, revealing off-the-beaten-track spots. Depending on restaurant availability, tastings have included tapas, wood-fired pizza, seafood and flights of wine and beer.
For something truly beachy, the aptly named Beach Sand Sculptures will take groups of up to 200 and demonstrate the fine art of sand sculpting—or shaping the company logo--in the sand. Groups can then sit around a beach bonfire for up to 50 and make s’mores while watching the sunset, all set up by The Bonfire Guy.
Panama City Beach On the Road to Recovery
Parts of Panama City Beach were hit hard with Hurricane Florence in September 2018, and a few hotels are still on the mend. But there is still plenty to do in the area untouched by the storm.
“Panama City Beach is a dynamic destination with a wide variety of group-building activities to fit any group’s needs,” said Renee Lalanne-Wuerdeman, director of sales, Visit Panama City Beach. “Teambuilding has greatly evolved within the last few years. Meeting planners are looking for a more challenging, modern approach to group activities that will engage the attendees and provide a meaningful experience.”
One of the newer venues to the area is SkyWheel Panama City Beach, a 200-foot-tall observation wheel open year-round that offers views for miles of the Gulf of Mexico and West Bay. Groups can also enjoy a ropes course, zipline and miniature golf at SkyWheel, as well.
Tallahassee Scavenger Hunt
Travis Janko, director of sales for Let's Roam, said one of the 300 scavenger hunts they do throughout the country is the Tallahassee Scavenger Hunt: The Best of Florida’s Capital.
“With some of the state’s most iconic landmarks, like Florida State University, First Presbyterian Church and the Capitol Complex, guests get to see some of the wonderful architecture here while networking with their peers,” Janko said.
The hunt can start at the host hotel and end up with a happy hour.
“We tailor the hunt with questions groups have to answer on the city or their company and we’ll add some photo challenges as well,” Janko said. “These trips push people to come out of their comfort zone. It’s all about teambuilding, and as a bonus the company will have photos as a record of this fun event.”
Northwest Florida CVB Contact Information
Emerald Coast CVB
Visit Panama City Beach
Visit South Walton
Click over to page 2 for the Latest & Greatest Hotels in NW Florida