The Getaway
Exciting Things to Do in Destin, Florida

Destin, a popular vacation destination in northwest Florida, is a city that beckons holiday seekers searching for a memorable beach vacation. It's situated on the Emerald Coast, a nickname earned from its dazzling green-hued waters and white sandy beaches. This locale is so revered for its beauty that more than 4.5 million visitors head to its shores every year. You won't be disappointed with all that Destin has to offer.

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01 Beaches

Beaches in Destin Florida

Destin is well known for its gorgeous beaches. Crystal Beach is easily one of the most popular thanks to its sugar-white sands. You can snorkel, go scuba diving, take a parasailing excursion, swim, or simply catch some rays. Some beaches, including Henderson Beach State Park, feature hiking trails that offer postcard-worthy views of the Gulf of Mexico and its tranquil coastline. James Lee Park and other Destin beaches are also beloved by beachgoers and are spectacular places to have a picnic.

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02 Henderson State Park

Sand dunes and sea grass at the ocean

With more than 6,000 feet of shoreline, Henderson Beach 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 fishing are favored pastimes at Henderson Beach State Park, there's also a playground and picnic area on the grounds.

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03 Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

The Destin History & Fishing Museum is an exciting spot where families can discover more about the history of this beautiful city. Learn about the Rodeo fishing tournament, marvel at the dozens of fish mounts, and find out how this area was settled. The museum is open from Tuesday through Saturday.

04 Destin Harbor Boardwalk

Scenes at Destin Harbor Boardwalk, Florida

The Destin Harbor Boardwalk is a must-visit attraction that borders Destin Harbor for almost a quarter of a mile. It features fantastic boutiques, restaurants, and other local businesses. The boardwalk is a fun place to explore while enjoying views of the ships in the water. It's also the site of the Destin Seafood Festival, an annual event that would appeal to any seafood fan.

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05 Village of Baytowne Wharf

Baytowne Wharf at Destin Florida Resort

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.

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06 Jolee Island Nature Park

Scenes at Jolee 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.

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07 Sailing excursions

Sailing boat on the Gulf

When visiting Destin, the Gulf of Mexico itself is a major attraction. To experience its beauty, get out on the water for a sunset dinner cruise via AJ's Water Adventures or take a fun fishing outing with Destin Fishing Charters. Some area tours can be customized to suit your interests.

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08 Golf

Destin is popular with golfers as it includes 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 Golf Club, and Emerald Bay Golf Club. Many of these venues feature on-site pro shops, dining facilities, and other amenities that golfers enjoy.

09 Destin Commons

Head to Destin Commons if you're up for some shopping while you're in town. This open-air shopping center features several popular stores, local boutiques, fabulous restaurants, and a theater. Whether you're shopping for high-end sunglasses or a new outfit for a night on the town, you'll find many retailers here that can meet your needs.

10 Big 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 of Destin's family-friendly attractions. The park features water rides, water slides, and a lazy river that's popular with visitors of all ages. You can't bring food or beverages into the park, but there are places to stop when you get hungry.

11 Snorkeling Excursions

A couple snorkeling in Florida

While known for its beautiful white-sand beaches, some of Destin's most captivating scenery is underwater. The warm, clear waters along the Destin coastline are ideal for snorkeling adventures. There are numerous providers of snorkeling excursions and sea tours, including Destin Snorkeling & Shelling. Underwater visibility is typically up to 80 feet, so there's a great chance you'll see a wide variety of marine wildlife. Tours book up quickly, so it's recommended to make a reservation.

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12 Buccaneer Pirate Cruise

Whether you have kids or are simply young at heart, embarking on a pirate adventure aboard the 100-foot pirate ship will be a fun and memorable experience. The captain 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'll 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. It's a good idea to make reservations in advance for this busy attraction.

13 James Lee Park

James Lee Park is a wonderful choice when you desire a serene day outdoors. It's close to the beach on the Walton/Okaloosa County line and features pavilions, a playground, picnic tables, and restrooms with changing rooms. Well-maintained facilities and the proximity to the famous restaurant, The Crab Trap, make this a great place for all ages. Multiple dune walkovers provide easy access to the beach, and after a full day of fun, you can wash off the sand in the outdoor showers. Show up early to get a good parking spot.

Emerald waters in Destin, Florida, USA Ruth Peterkin / Getty Images

14 Henderson 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.

Peaceful View At The Gulf Islands National Seashore Florida The best photo is earned / Getty Images

15 Air 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.

16 Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Immerse yourself in the vibrant world of marine life at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. This family-friendly destination offers a chance to get up close and personal with a variety of marine creatures, including dolphins, sea turtles, and penguins. Participate in interactive exhibits, watch live shows, and even have the opportunity to feed some of the animals. It's an educational and entertaining experience that's perfect for all ages.

Little Girl Watching Belugas At Aquarium RonTech2000 / Getty Images

17 Destin-Fort Walton Beach

Experience the best of Florida's Emerald Coast at Destin-Fort Walton Beach. This stunning beach offers pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters that are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, or simply relaxing. Enjoy a range of water sports, including paddleboarding, snorkeling, and boating, or explore the nearby HarborWalk Village for refreshments and shopping.

Aerial View of Fort Walton Beach rgaydos / Getty Images

18 Miramar Beach

Just a short drive from Destin, the coastal town of Miramar Beach offers a refreshing escape. Enjoy the tropical vibes with beachside resorts, surf shops, and palm-lined streets. Engage in water sports, sunbathe on the white sands, or shop at the Silver Sands Premium Outlets. Don't miss the bustling town center, home to a variety of restaurants, live entertainment, and unique shops.

Miramar beach in Florida panhandle gulf of mexico ocean water with young happy woman girl in white dress leaning on wooden fence ablokhin / Getty Images

19 Banana Boat Ride

Add a dash of thrill to your Destin vacation with a banana boat ride. These inflatable boats, typically pulled by a jet ski, can fit multiple people, making it a fun-filled activity for the whole family. Several businesses offer banana boat rides, including Captain Jambo's Destin and Mobile Sports LLC. Feel the adrenaline rush as you bounce and glide over the water, and don't forget to hold on tight!

People ride on banana boat igoriss / Getty Images

20 Themed Mini Golf Courses

Destin is home to a variety of themed mini golf courses, including Destin Laser Tag and Blacklight Mini-Golf, that promise a fun-filled outing for the whole family. The different vibrant environments offer a unique twist to the classic game. It's a perfect way to add some friendly competition to your vacation.

family playing mini golf kali9 / Getty Images

21 Sunset Dolphin Cruise

Experience the magic of Destin's marine life with a sunset dolphin cruise, such as those from Southern Star Dolphin Cruise. As the sun sets and paints the sky with hues of orange and pink, watch as playful dolphins leap and dive in the emerald waters. It's a truly unforgettable experience that combines the beauty of nature with the tranquility of a sunset cruise.

two dolphins Lisa J. Goodman / Getty Images

22 Santa Rosa Beach

Known as one of the best beaches on Earth, Santa Rosa Beach is a must-visit. Its pristine white sands, crystal-clear waters, and natural beauty make it an ideal spot for relaxation. Whether you're sunbathing, swimming, or simply enjoying the scenic views, Santa Rosa Beach offers a slice of paradise.

Dreamy pink peach orange sunset in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida with Pensacola coastline coast cityscape skyline in panhandle with ocean krblokhin / Getty Images

23 Buccaneer Pirate Cruise

Embrace your inner pirate with the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise. This family-friendly adventure takes you on a journey through the Emerald Coast, complete with sword fights, treasure hunts, and lively pirate banter. It's a fun and interactive way to explore Destin's waters and create unforgettable memories.

bucaneer pirate cruise Julio Aguilar / Getty Images

24 Grayton Beach State Park

Explore the natural beauty of Destin at Grayton Beach State Park. Known for its stunning beaches, this park offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, kayaking, and fishing. Traverse the nature trail, paddle through the saltwater ecosystem, or simply relax and enjoy the scenic views.

grayton beach halbergman / Getty Images

25 Deep Sea Fishing Charter

Known as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village," Destin is the perfect place for deep-sea fishing. Many local businesses, including Pelican Adventures, offer fishing charters. Hire a boat and venture into the deep waters of the Gulf, where you can reel in a variety of fish, including red snapper and marlin. Whether you're a skilled angler or a first-timer, this adventure promises a thrilling experience and maybe even a big catch!

Deep Sea Fishing gatorinsc / Getty Images

26 Gator Beach

Gator Beach is an alligator park at Fudpucker's Beachside Bar & Grill. It's a thrilling chance to learn all about these reptiles and even attend an alligator show. Visitors don't pay an admission cost but can walk away with exciting memories ranging from holding a live alligator to feeding them alligator food.

27 The Track

You won't want to miss this amusement park in Destin. Spend time playing mini golf, going on rides, enjoying the arcade, and riding in the bumper cars and go-karts. It's a great opportunity to engage in some friendly competition with family and friends.

28 Restaurants

Its coastal location makes Destin an ideal spot to get seafood, but there are numerous other cuisines you can enjoy throughout the city. Some of the many eateries you'll want to check out include Louisiana Lagniappe, Pazzo Italiano, Harry T's Lighthouse, and East Pass Seafood & Oyster House.

29 Princess Beach

This stunning mile-long beach offers pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters that are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. Enjoy a range of water sports, including paddleboarding, snorkeling, and boating.

30 June White Decker Park

June White Decker Park in Destin is a park that also offers beach access. Free parking is available, or you can cycle to this lovely locale and use the bike rack. Public restrooms are accessible.

31 Norriego Point Beach Access and Park

Calm waters and beautiful views set the scene for a tranquil vacation when you visit Norriego Point Beach Access and Park on Gulf Shore Drive. Admission is free, making it a budget-friendly way to spend a gorgeous day. Showers and restrooms are accessible, and parking is available.

32 O'Steen Public Beach Access

Explore the natural beauty of this public beach in Destin. Exquisite blue waters and white sands make it a breathtaking spot to read a good book, sunbathe, go for a swim, and reconnect with your loved ones.

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