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Downtown Fort Walton Beach gets healthy
FORT WALTON BEACH -- At least half a dozen new businesses have opened in downtown Fort Walton Beach this year.
Almost all of them are connected to health and fitness.
Those businesses are finding success and helping downtown build a new image.
Laura Hussey "The stereotype of downtown Fort Walton Beach used to be tattoo parlors and tourist traps. Over the last several years, dozens of new businesses have laid that to rest. Now you're as likely to find a wheatgrass shot as a tacky t-shirt"
Synergy Organic Juice Bar and Cafe has been whipping up smoothies and healthy meals for several months.
Down the street, Core Nutrition has supplements and their own smoothie bar.
Bob's Bicycles moved downtown, from a location in Mary Esther.
Run With It expanded into a larger downtown space this year.
Customer Claire Savage has noticed the trend.
Claire Savage/Destin "Yes, I definitely have. I think that's great. It's a good improvement, we need places like this"
Living and working downtown, Erica Wright was quick to join Core Nutrition's Fit Camp.
Erica "We actually on Tuesday nights we run the Brooks Bridge and then we do the stairs going up and down that"
There are also weekly runs, sponsored by run with it.
Erica "So you have tons of new people coming down all the time, and it's really correlated into a fitness community"
The Healing Clinic is the newest addition, offering massage and holistic care.
Owner Felicia McQuaid says she always wanted a downtown location, and the time is right.
Felicia McQuaid "People are starting to understand that they want something different, they want to feel good again"
It may not have been planned, but that desire is helping to shape downtown's identity.
Felicia "I think that's what makes it so special is you're seeing it develop into being....to have so many different types of business that go so cohesively together, and so easily"
Laura Hussey "In addition to these new businesses, downtown already has two surf shops, a skate shop, a yoga studio and a gym.