Destin is a charming, family-friendly vacation spot located between the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay in Florida’s panhandle area. This beach locale is an oasis for families looking to travel to the unofficially named “Emerald Coast,” which runs from rowdy Panama City Beach to populous Pensacola. Destin is a wonderful place to relax and take in the sun for couples, friends and families alike, and comfortable, inviting Destin vacation rentals are abundant. Don’t miss out on these top Destin sites:
Beaches and State Parks
Destin is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, like these three:
Navarre Beach is less populated and free. Go fishing, take a stroll on the newly built pier - the longest on the Gulf Coast - or relax on the white sand with swaying beach grasses and scenic vistas. For a little adventure, go kayaking, canoeing, sailing or water skiing on the beautiful turquoise waters.
Henderson Beach State Park is another hidden gem. This site offers nature trails, bike trails, picnic areas, pristine beaches and plenty of glimpses at wildlife like migratory birds, turtles and small reptile species.
Grayton Beach State Park offers similar nature opportunities and stunningly clear waters. This state park also has massive sand dunes and 26 miles of beaches. It’s definitely a treasure.
Destin and the surrounding Panhandle areas have several important and interesting historical sites. Families will enjoy Fort Pickens, which was built in 1834 and named after a general who fought in the Revolutionary War as part of the South Carolina militia. This historic fort is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and is less than an hour drive from Destin. You can take a directed or self-guided tour and see Civil War artifacts here.
Another great spot is the Fort Walton Temple Mound, a present-day archaeological site that was host to the Mississippian mound-building Native Americans. It was probably a ceremonial site, and could have been built any time between 800 and 1600 A.D. Come here to check out the reconstructed temple and see beautiful excavated artifacts.
Step back in time to Destin’s fishing village history at the Destin History & Fishing Museum, where exhibits preserve photos, antiques and town history along with the array of types of fish caught in this “Luckiest Fishing Village.”
Things to Do
Play - Big Kahuna’s Water Park, located right in Destin, is fun for everyone with a long and winding lazy river, giant wave pool, several great slides and a kiddie pool featuring a pirate ship. You can also come here to play mini golf and race go karts around a figure-eight track. The Track packs go-carts, mini golf, arcade games and thrill rides into one fun family center for a day out of the water. Just 15 minutes away in Fort Walton Beach, the Gulfarium hosts marine animal exhibits and encounters. Spend a day playing with otters, sea turtles, seals, and sea lions.
Fish – From throwing a line in off the pier to chartering a sea fishing excursion, Destin is one great place to fish. Destin Fishing Forum is a good place to start for info on conditions, charters, fishing licensing and what to expect.
Golf – Destin is a year-round golf destination with options for everyone from world-class courses to public links perfect for a family outing.
• Emerald Bay Golf Club is a highly-rated semi-private club open to the public, with garden and bay views and twilight rate deals starting at 2:00 p.m.
• Baytowne Golf Club has been awarded Golf Digest’s Best Places to Play award multiple times and is a beautiful course with sweeping water views. Baytowne is open to the public and, with junior tees, is a great place for beginners.
Shop and Dine – Right on the Destin Harbor, you’ll have your pick of places to eat, stroll, and shop at HarborWalk Village. Eat fresh seafood with an amazing sunset view. Harry T’s is located at the iconic lighthouse and hosts live music every weekend. Shop for souvenirs or check out a local outfitter to book a dolphin cruise, watercraft rental or fishing charter. HarborWalk Village also hosts shows, events and seasonal celebrations.
The Destin Seafood Festival (early October) – A tasty celebration that’s been running for more than 30 consecutive years. About 60,000 people attend this 3-day festival every year to appreciate local seafood, music, fireworks, and arts and crafts from local artisans.
The Sandestin Wine Festival (mid-April) - This four-day festival hosts winemakers from all over the U.S. Enjoy regional wines, tastings and learn how to appropriately pair wine with your meal.
Destin is an awesome spot for big-time fun and a small-town feel on vacation. Come here to experience the laidback Gulf Coast lifestyle and have a truly wonderful trip.