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Exciting Things to Do in Destin, Florida

A popular vacation destination in Northwest Florida, the city of Destin beckons holiday seekers in search of a memorable beach vacation. Destin is situated in an area known as the “Emerald Coast,” owing to its dazzling green-hued waters and white sandy beaches. In fact, the area of Destin is so revered for its beauty that more than 4.5 million visitors head to its shores annually. You won’t be disappointed with all that Destin has to offer.

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01Beaches

The beaches of Destin are famous for their beauty. Crystal Beach is easily one of the most popular thanks to its sugar-white sands, but other beaches of Destin like James Lee Park and Wayside Park are popular with beachgoers. When visiting the beaches of Destin, you might want to snorkel, scuba, take a parasailing excursion, swim, or simply catch some rays. Some of the beaches feature hiking trails that offer postcard-worthy views of the Gulf of Mexico and its tranquil coastline. Beaches in Destin Floridaghornephoto / Getty Images

02Henderson State Park

With more than 6,000 feet of shoreline, Henderson State Park is a popular Destin attraction. Visit the park to witness a majestic sunset or to experience an exhilarating morning hike. While swimming, beachcombing, and even fishing are popular pastimes at Henderson State Park, there is also a playground and picnic area on the grounds. Sand dunes and sea grass at the oceanstevecoleimages / Getty Images

03Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is a thrilling venue that’s a big hit with families. Of course, kids aren’t the only ones excited to come face to face with marine creatures like turtles and dolphins. The park is also home to rays, alligators, sea lions, penguins, and more. The park famously features exciting animal encounters that allow you to interact with its animal residents.

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04Destin Harbor Boardwalk

The Destin Harbor Boardwalk is a must-visit attraction. The boardwalk stretches for a quarter of a mile along the city’s lovely harbor. It’s lined with boutiques, restaurants, and popular local businesses. A vibrant part of town, the boardwalk is a fun place to explore while enjoying views of the water. If you’re in town during the annual Destin Seafood Festival, you’ll definitely want to make your way to the Boardwalk where it’s held. Scenes at Destin Harbor Boardwalk, Floridaalex grichenko / Getty Images

05Village of Baytowne Wharf

The Village of Baytowne Wharf is located on Choctawhatchee Bay. A picturesque setting, the Village is home to popular restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and nightclubs. When visiting Destin, be sure to check out what’s happening in Baytowne as it’s the site of many year-round festivals and annual events. If you’re ready to take a break from the beach, this venue is a fun place to explore. Baytowne Wharf at Destin Florida Resortghornephoto / Getty Images

06Jolee Island Nature Park

Featuring roughly five acres of land, the Jolee Island Nature Park is a popular tourist destination that’s known for its beautiful views of Choctawhatchee Bay and Horseshoe Bayou. The park features a kids’ playground and a nature trail that boasts a scenic atmosphere that celebrates the region’s flora and fauna. Located on the Emerald Coast Parkway West, the nature park is a great attraction to visit if you’re in search of a nature-inspired outdoor experience. Scenes at Jolee Island Nature Parkfallbrook / Getty Images

07Sailing excursions

When visiting Destin, the Gulf itself is a major attraction. To experience its beauty, get out on the water to take a sunset dinner cruise or a fun fishing excursion. You can charter a boat or take a boat tour of the coast. Sailing is a major regional pastime. Many of the tours can be customized to suit your interests. Sailing boat on the GulfJames_Cross_Photography / Getty Images

08Golf

With its dazzling weather and gorgeous sunlit landscapes, Destin is popular with golfers. The city features a wide array of golf courses for all skill levels. Some of the city’s best-known golf courses and clubs include the Regatta Bay Golf Club and Yacht Club, Indian Bayou Golf Club, Kelly Plantation, Rocky Bayou Country Club, and Emerald Bay Golf Club to name a few. Many of these venues feature on-site pro shops, dining facilities, and other amenities that golfers look for.

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09Destin Commons

If you’re up for some shopping when you’re in town, head to Destin Commons. This outdoor shopping center features a myriad of popular stores, a bass pro shop, boutiques, and a theatre. Whether you’re shopping for high-end sunglasses or a new outfit for a night on the town, you’ll find many venues here that can supply you with your needs.

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10Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park

If you’re ready to take a break from the beach, head to Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park, another one of Destin’s most family-friendly attractions. The park features water rides, water slides, and a lazy river that’s popular with visitors of all ages. While you can bring along your own cooler with food, the park also features eateries and snack options.

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11Snorkeling Excursions

While known for the beautiful white-sand beaches, some of Destin's most captivating scenery is found underwater. The warm and clear waters along the Destin coastline are perfect for snorkeling adventures and easy to access, thanks to numerous providers of snorkeling excursions and sea tours. Visibility varies between 20 to 80 feet, and you will find a wide variety of marine wildlife and fascinating scenery. Most tours depart from the Harbor Walk Village in town. During high season they book up quickly, so it's wise to make reservations in advance. A couple snorkeling in Florida

12Buccaneer Pirate Cruise

Whether you have kids or are simply young at heart, embarking on a pirate adventure aboard the 100-foot pirate ship Buccaneer will be a fun and memorable experience. The pirate captain Cannonball and his crew are all in character and will entertain your family as you cruise along the emerald coast. If you’re brave enough to join this fairytale journey, you will get to enjoy sword fights, water gun battles, evocative stories, and even live cannon fire before you return to the safety of Destin Harbor. Snacks and gifts can be purchased on board the ship. This is a popular attraction, so it’s a good idea to make reservations in advance.

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13James Lee Park

If you’re in the mood for a day at the beach, James Lee Park is a great choice. The park is located near the beach on the Walton/Okaloosa County line and features pavilions, picnic tables, a playground, and restrooms with changing rooms. Well-maintained facilities and the proximity to the famous restaurant, the Crab Trap, makes this a great place to visit with kids. Dune walkovers make it easy to access the beach, and after a full day of fun, you can wash off the sand in the outdoor showers. Given the park’s popularity, it’s wise to show up early to make sure you get a parking spot.

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14Henderson Beach State Park

Featuring more than 6000 feet of stunning shoreline scenery, this protected strip of the Florida coast is well worth a visit. Here you can enjoy fishing, explore the nature trail, and relax on one of the more than 60 campsites by the beach. The Henderson Beach State Park was established to preserve and protect the unique natural features of the area. It’s the last coastal scrub area that remains in Destin, with a beautiful flora including scrub oaks, sand pines, southern magnolias, dune rosemary, and a wide variety of wildflowers. The scenic views make the park a popular venue for weddings and family reunions.

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15Air Force Armament Museum

If you're interested in military history, The Air Force Armament Museum in Destin is a must-visit. This is the only museum in the U.S. dedicated to Air Force armament. On display, you will find everything from early days aviation warfare to the world's most advanced systems. More than 29 different aircraft have found a home here, along with hundreds of pieces of armament, including a gun collection, bomblets, and missiles like the Sparrow, Sidewinder, and the MOAB. The museum is open every day of the week, and enrty is free.

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