Exciting Things to Do in Destin, Florida
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Exciting Things to Do in Destin, Florida

Getaway Staff

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.


01 Beaches

Beaches in Destin Florida

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.

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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 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.

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03 Gulfarium 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.


04 Destin Harbor Boardwalk

Scenes at Destin Harbor Boardwalk, Florida

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.

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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.

ghornephoto / Getty Images


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 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.

James_Cross_Photography / Getty Images


08 Golf

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.


09 Destin 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.


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 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.


11 Snorkeling Excursions

A couple snorkeling in Florida

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.


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 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.


13 James Lee Park

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

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.


14 Henderson Beach State Park

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

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.


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

Little Girl Watching Belugas At Aquarium RonTech2000 / Getty Images

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.


17 Destin-Fort Walton Beach

Aerial View of Fort Walton Beach rgaydos / Getty Images

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.


18 Miramar Beach

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

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.


19 Banana Boat Ride

People ride on banana boat igoriss / Getty Images

Add a dash of thrill to your Destin vacation with a banana boat ride. These inflatable boats, pulled by a jet ski, can fit up to six people, making it a fun-filled activity for the whole family. Feel the adrenaline rush as you bounce and glide over the emerald waters, and don't forget to hold on tight!


20 Themed Mini Golf Courses

family playing mini golf kali9 / Getty Images

Destin is home to a variety of themed mini golf courses that promise a fun-filled outing for the whole family. Whether you're navigating through a tropical jungle or dodging prehistoric dinosaurs, these courses offer a unique twist to the classic game. It's a perfect way to add some friendly competition to your vacation.


21 Sunset Dolphin Cruise

two dolphins Lisa J. Goodman / Getty Images

Experience the magic of Destin's marine life with a sunset dolphin cruise. As the sun sets and paints the sky in 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.


22 Santa Rosa Beach

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

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.


23 Buccaneer Pirate Cruise

bucaneer pirate cruise Julio Aguilar / Getty Images

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.


24 Grayton Beach State Park

grayton beach halbergman / Getty Images

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.


25 Deep Sea Fishing Charter

Deep Sea Fishing gatorinsc / Getty Images

Known as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village," Destin is the perfect place for deep-sea fishing. Charter a boat and venture into the deep waters of the Gulf, where you can reel in a variety of fish, including tuna, grouper, and billfish. Whether you're an experienced angler or a first-timer, this experience promises a thrilling adventure and maybe even a big catch!


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