Valparaiso, Florida

Valparaiso is a city in Okaloosa County, Florida, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 5,036. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2018 estimates, the city had a population of 5,195. It is part of the Fort Walton BeachCrestviewDestin Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Valparaiso, Florida
Valparaiso City Hall, September 2014.
Valparaiso City Hall, September 2014.
"Vale Of Paradise"[1]
Location in Okaloosa County and the state of Florida
Location in Okaloosa County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 30°30′N 86°30′W / 30.500°N 86.500°W / 30.500; -86.500Coordinates: 30°30′N 86°30′W / 30.500°N 86.500°W / 30.500; -86.500
Country United States
State Florida
County Okaloosa
 • Total12.71 sq mi (32.93 km2)
 • Land11.84 sq mi (30.65 km2)
 • Water0.88 sq mi (2.28 km2)
46 ft (14 m)
 • Total5,036
 • Estimate 
 • Density456.36/sq mi (176.20/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)850
FIPS code12-73675[4]
GNIS feature ID0305048[5]
WebsiteCity of Valparaiso Florida Website


Valparaiso was named after Valparaiso, Indiana (not Valparaiso, Chile)[6] and is a twin city also with its neighboring city, Niceville.

Chicago businessman James E. Plew, who relocated to the Panhandle of Northwest Florida in 1922, became "one of Northwest Florida's pioneer developers,"[7] and settled on Valparaiso "as the most likely spot for development. He founded the Bank of Valparaiso, constructed the Valparaiso Inn [in 1924], organized the Chicago Country Club which constructed the Valparaiso Country Club golf course and was instrumental in many other development activities in the community."[7]

"Other interests of Mr. Plew included the founding of the Shalimar Winery, which was established to use the surplus grape crop of the county. He also founded the Valparaiso Novelty Company, helped to establish a knitting mill in the community and was interested in a number of other enterprises to which he made investments to help their development."[7]

Plew thought that a military payroll would boost the depression-stricken economy of the region. He leased from the City of Valparaiso the Valparaiso Airport, an arrowhead-shaped parcel of 137 acres (0.55 km2) cleared in 1933 as an airdrome.[8] In 1934, Plew offered the U.S. government 1,460 acres (6 km2) contiguous land for a bombing and gunnery base. This leasehold became the headquarters for the Valparaiso Bombing and Gunnery Base activated on June 14, 1935, under the command of Captain Arnold H. Rich. This was the founding of Eglin Air Force Base. The field was assigned the ICAO airport code VPS for Valparaiso, which Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport retains to this day. In Niceville, there is an elementary school named in his honor.[9]


Valparaiso is located at 30°30′N 86°30′W / 30.500°N 86.500°W / 30.500; -86.500 (30.5070, -86.4970).[10]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.8 square miles (33 km2), of which 11.9 square miles (31 km2) is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) (6.35%) is water.


The climate is characterized by relatively high temperatures and evenly distributed precipitation throughout the year. Temperatures are high and can lead to warm, humid nights. Summers are usually somewhat wetter than winters, with much of the rainfall coming from convectional thunderstorm activity. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Cfa" (Humid Subtropical Climate).[11]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20195,401[3]7.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 6,408 people, 1,928 households, and 1,284 families residing in the city. The population density was 536.8 inhabitants per square mile (207.2/km2). There were 2,023 housing units at an average density of 169.5 per square mile (65.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 80.77% White, 9.91% African American, 0.64% Native American, 2.67% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 3.00% from other races, and 2.90% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.18% of the population.

There were 1,928 households out of which 30.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.1% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.4% were non-families. 28.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city the population was spread out with 16.8% under the age of 18, 20.1% from 18 to 24, 31.9% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 164.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 181.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $39,521, and the median income for a family was $46,411. Males had a median income of $22,267 versus $18,781 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,934. About 3.1% of families and 6.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.7% of those under age 18 and 5.4% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and cultureEdit

Museums and other points of interestEdit

The Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida is located in Valparaiso.[13]



Commercial aircraft fly into nearby Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport/Eglin Air Force Base, which also serves Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The airport code VPS is taken from the City of Valparaiso, northeast of the base.


  1. ^ "City of Valparaiso Florida Website". City of Valparaiso Florida Website. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. ^ "Profile for Valparaiso, Florida, FL". ePodunk. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  7. ^ a b c Okaloosa News-Journal, Crestview, Florida, "Jas. Plew, Business Man, Dies", Friday, April 22, 1938, Volume 24, Number 17, page 1.
  8. ^ Angell, Joseph W., "History of the Army Air Forces Proving Ground Command – Part One – Historical Outline 1933–1944", The Historical Branch, Army Air Forces Proving Ground Command, Eglin Field, Florida, 1944, reprint by Office of History, Munitions Systems Division, Eglin AFB, Florida, 1989, page 46D.
  9. ^ "Home | Plew Elementary School". Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  10. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  11. ^ Climate Summary for Valparaiso, FL
  12. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  13. ^ "Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida". Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida. Retrieved September 19, 2012.

External linksEdit