The Best Things To Do In Destin, Florida (2024)

Destin, Florida, is rich in history and Native American heritage dating as early as the seventh century. This vacationer’s haven on the Florida panhandle got its name from Leonard Destin, a New London, Connecticut, fisherman who settled in the area in the mid-1850s. Finding the bounty from the sea plentiful, Captain Destin called Destin the world’s luckiest fishing village.

That claim later became the city’s slogan. Destin is indeed home to some of the largest and most elaborate fishing vessels in the state of Florida.

Here are the best things to do in Destin, plus tips for making the most of your visit.

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Destin Beach Activities

Located in the heart of the Emerald Coast along Florida’s panhandle, Destin’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in the nation. Created from pristine ultra-fine quartz that originated in the Appalachian Mountains and washed down along the Apalachicola River for thousands of years,the super soft, snow-white sand has made Destin famous. When you walk across the beach, your feet gently ease into the sand. The deep emerald-green water in stark contrast against the snow white sand is why this area is known as the Emerald Coast.

Destin is a hotspot for beach and water-centric activities. If you want to check out what is happening at the beach before you get there, you can visit one of Destin’s many beach cams.

Test Your Balance On A Sup

Stand up paddleboards, or SUPs, are very popular along Destin’s coast and can be rented by the hour or day. SUPs allow for low-impact activity that requires a certain level of balance as you stand on the wide surfboard-like float, which really works your core muscles. Once you get the hang of it, paddleboarding is quite fun and relaxing. There are several SUP rental locations in Destin that also offer beginner classes and even SUP yoga classes.

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Crab Island

South of Marler Bridge is Crab Island, a shallow sandbar that has been popular with local boaters for years and has recently gained popularity with visitors. The sandbar lays a few feet below the water and is home to a multitude of sea life. Because the water is so shallow, it is also an easy location for boats to moor together, creating floating islands. Swimmers can hop in to wade and look for sea life. Crab Island is only accessible by boat, which you can rent or charter. The channel between land and the island looks short, but the current is quite swift, so swimming to Crab Island is very dangerous and not recommended. Most boaters pack lunches or snacks even though floating food boat vendors have increased and offer a variety of options.

One special note: There are no public restrooms out here. Although awkward to talk about, many will relieve themselves of “number 1” in the water, but you’ll need a boat with an onboard restroom, or the courage to ask another boater with an onboard restroom, when it comes to “number 2.”

Snuba Or Scuba

One of the most rewarding activities in Destin is to get in the water and interact with life under the sea. There are many exciting places to scuba dive or snorkel. If you want to go beyond the edge of the beach but don’t want to go through the certification process to dive, then try a snuba tour. You breathe via an air tube and regulator that is connected to air tanks that are floating on the surface of the water. There are no certifications, heavy air tanks strapped to your back, or sinus pressure complications, and you can explore to depths of up to 20 feet. It is the perfect way to get the feel of diving without the commitment.

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HarborWalk Village

HarborWalk Village is a favored spot to visit, with its abundance of boutique shops, restaurants, and locations to rent paddle boards, kayaks, and jet skis. HarborWalk also has live music accentuated with fireworks every week.

I had a delicious meal at Harry T’s Lighthouse in the Village. The menu was fun to read, with little tidbits about Harry and his life in the circus along with a varied selection of food choices. The inside of the restaurant is a sight to behold and most definitely worth a stop, even if it is only for a co*cktail or dessert.

There are a number of diverse food trucks in Destin, too. One to keep your eye open for while strolling the brick walkway in the Village is Wine Not; they offer wine-infused ice cream and slushies. The perfect way to cool down on a hot day.

Sunset Dinner Cruise

Experience luxury on the high seas with a romantic sunset dinner cruise. SunQuest Cruises offers year-round majestic dinner cruises aboard spacious 125-foot Solaris yachts with chef-prepared meals in elegant indoor dining rooms. Live music, dancing, and coastal breezes are added perks that will make this dinner cruise a night to remember.

Spas And Wellness Experiences In Destin

Not only is Destin a place that abounds in activity; it is also a place to relax, destress, and boost your well-being with positive energy. Unplug for some much-needed rest and pampering at one of Destin’s luxury spas, yoga studios, or holistic health clinics.

Salamander Spa at The Henderson offers a holistic approach that will help you find your zen. Services include facials, massages, and mani-pedis in addition to yoga and meditation classes. For a day of pampering, The Spa at Emerald Grande offers body treatments, massages, and facials with tranquil views of the Destin Harbor and Gulf of Mexico.

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Seaplane Lessons

Spread your wings like a bird in the sky and soar over Choctawhatchee Bay in a seaplane with private personalized lessons offered by Rose and Ryan at LuLu’s. Flight lessons start at $99 and are available daily from 11 a.m. to sundown, weather permitting. Don’t be left floundering; you must call in advance for an appointment.

Destin And Fort Walton’s Craft Brew Trail

Destin is seeing a boom in the craft brewing scene, with several connoisseur-approved locations popping up in the Destin and Fort Walton Beach areas. You can book a pub crawl tour or check out the brews on your own. Some of my favorites are Destin Brewery, which creates small batch brews, and Props Brewery and Grill, which is veteran owned and operated, located in nearby Fort Walton Beach, and made unique by its propeller aircraft flair. There are many others opening their doors, and I encourage you to check them out!

Destin’s Dueling Pianos

If you enjoy battles between ivory keys, then you will want to check out Captain Jack’s dueling piano bar. This fun-filled interactive show for those 21 and over is sure to please with singing and laughing into the wee hours. Musical performers start the show at 8:30 on Friday and Saturday nights. There is a $5 cover charge; casual food and co*cktails are available.

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Surf The Waves With Destin Experts

There is no better place to learn to surf than in Destin’s emerald green waters and no better team to teach you than the expert staff at All-A-Board Surf. With experience ranging from lifeguarding to international surfing, the crew at All-A-Board Surf must be merpeople because they claim to have been in the ocean since birth. Call ahead to schedule your classes with these incredible instructors.

Savor Your Way Along A Seafood Foodie Trail

It would be a shame to enjoy the glorious beaches of Destin but not partake in the area’s phenomenal fresh seafood. When they say Fresh catch of the day, they mean it. Like, Caught this morning from the very waters you were admiring. I did not encounter a dining establishment I was disappointed with, but the following were some of my favorites.

The Crab Trap Destin is a casual eatery that the locals frequent, so you know it is good. For a chic and casual ambiance in Fort Walton, consider The Gulf, which is designed from shipping containers and recycled building materials. Claiming their name from the cusk-eel, which is also known as the bearded brotula, Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer is located on the Destin Harbor and specializes in steamed and broiled shellfish platters.

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Okaloosa Island Fishing

Located just 15 minutes from Destin is Okaloosa Island. A narrow three-mile barrier between Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Okaloosa Island “connects” Fort Walton Beach and Destin by way of a series of bridges. The Okaloosa Island fishing pier is a must-visit for fishing enthusiasts.

After Hurricane Erin in 1995, the original pier, built in 1972, was rebuilt with concrete and increased from 962 feet to 1,262 feet in length. From the pier, you can fish for tarpon, black fin tuna, king mackerel, and cobia. Daily rates are under $10 per person. Fishing tackle, bait, and other supplies are also readily available.

There are several restaurants on Okaloosa Island as well as in Destin and Fort Walton Beach that will cook your catch for you. Called the “Gulf to table” option, you can drop off your freshly caught fish at a participating restaurant (be sure to call ahead) and they will prepare and cook your catch for dinner that night. Some of the Destin area restaurants use Fish Trax technology to track both your fish and other fish ordered off the menu. What this means is that each fish dish served will have an accompanying QR code that you can scan with your phone to see the story of the fish, including when and where it was caught.

Destin Condos And Hotels

With so much to do in and around Destin, it is sure to be a place where you will want to stay and explore for a bit. There are quite a few places to stay while in Destin and Fort Walton Beach, ranging from renting a private room through Airbnb to renting whole houses or condos for a week or more. To get in a bit of dolphin gazing while enjoying your morning coffee, I recommend the Henderson Park Inn, the Jetty East Condos, and the Newman-Dailey Resort, which have some of the best balconies in the area for taking in the show.

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Destin Pro Tips

One of the wonderful characteristics of Destin is that you can visit any time of the year. Destin has over 250 sunny days a year with summer temperatures ranging from 90-degree highs in July to winter temperatures that dip to lows of around 45 degrees in January.

If you plan on partaking in beach activities, consider planning your visit between May and September. If you want to escape some of the crowds and cooler weather is not an issue, then consider going between mid-August and mid-February.

If deep-water fishing is on your list, then Destin is definitely the place. There is something biting year-round, but the most active months are July, August, and September.

The Destin Dare

Destin beckons you to come and explore its emerald green water, snow-white sandy beaches, and a plethora of activities. We dare you to not fall in love with its savory seafood, romantic sunsets, rich history, and welcoming hospitality. Come, see for yourself what Destin offers.

If you’re ready to book (or simply browse!) check out some the top Destin vacation homes below:

ReGrouper Home With Pool And Tiki Bar$155/nightly avg

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Dreaming of Miramar Beach – your dream vacation awaits you

10 reviews

Private vacation home

16 Guests

6 Bedrooms

7 Bathrooms

Top guest reviews

This house was exactly as described and then some. From the fully stocked kitchen, to the amazing outdoor space with pool and tiki bar, to the short walk to the beach, this house was perfect for our family of 7 adults and 3 children. We loved everything about this house and the week spent making memories with our adult children and their kids. This will definitely be on our list to rent again when we make our next trip to the beach.

Everything about this stay was fantastic! It is a trip to be remembered. It’s a lovely, quiet neighborhood just steps from the beach. The check-in and check-out process was so easy. I hope to book this property again in the future!

Great communication

Newman-Daily was very easy to work with and any time we contacted them, they were very kind and helpful. The house was very clean and well stocked with items we needed, especially for cooking!!

There was excellent communication between the property manager and we enjoyed the pool and tiki bar so much.It was nice to be able to make multiple runs on the golf cart to the beach. It would’ve been nice to be able to drive the golf cart to other locations but you are landlocked to the road.The only things we really missed were yard games, maybe a nice sand volleyball court and a fire pit. There’s plenty of room to enjoy.

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Beachfront Penthouse Suite$299/nightly avg

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Dreaming of Destin – your dream vacation awaits you

82 reviews


5 Guests

1 Bedroom

2 Bathrooms

Top guest reviews

We were excited about our first trip to Destin, and this condo was the icing on the cake! When we first stepped into the condo, we were blown away!! It was spotless, so cozy and inviting…the decor, so spacious and those views! INCREDIBLE!!! The property manager went above and beyond to make us feel so welcome and at home. My husband and I are very particular, and this place definitely impressed both of us. We especially loved the balcony area, with the nice patio chairs…coffee in the morning overlooking that beautiful Destin beach…what’s not to love?! The property manager was super easy to work with… would definitely recommend!! If we could give more that 5 stars, we certainly would. Can’t wait to go back!

We celebrated our 20th anniversary by the shore. Our condo was beautiful, well kept, & very clean. The balcony was so cozy for the early sunrise and late sunsets. We can’t wait to go back. Exceptional!

Chris we excellent! Highly recommend!!

I enjoyed my stay. The 18th floor provided the most beautiful views of the ocean from living room sofa to bedroom to balcony! I really enjoyed this vacation.

The condo was so nice and clean. There was a bottle of wine waiting for us! All the linens and the beds weee comfortable. We really enjoyed our stay!

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The Best Things To Do In Destin, Florida (2024)


What is Destin Florida best known for? ›

Destin is known as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village." The city houses the largest and most elaborately equipped fishing fleet in the State of Florida. In addition to fishing, recreational opportunities include golf, tennis and water sports, including diving and snorkeling.

Why is Destin so popular? ›

Known as the “World's Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin boasts the widest variety of fish species in the area, direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, and the nation's largest commercial fishing fleet.

What is the number one beach in Destin Florida? ›

These places are best for beaches in Destin: Henderson Beach State Park. Crystal Sands Beach. Jetty East Beach.

How many days should you stay in Destin Florida? ›

Destin, Florida is a popular vacation destination for families looking to enjoy the sunshine and white sandy beaches. Located on the Emerald Coast, Destin offers a wide range of activities and attractions that can easily be enjoyed over a 4-day period.

What famous person lives in Destin Florida? ›

A number of celebrities and VIPs including Britney Spears, Vince Gill and Amy Grant, Keith Urban, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and bestselling novelist John Grisham own property in Destin, according to published reports.

What is the best month to visit Destin Florida? ›

The best time to visit Destin is in April and May when the water is warm, the sun is shining and the temperatures are comfortable (expect highs in the mid-70s and 80s). If you visit any earlier, you risk cooler weather and chilly water. A summer trip will put you among the crowds and the peak prices.

Is Panama city better than Destin? ›

Destin, renowned for its pristine white sands and emerald-green waters, presents a more refined and upscale coastal city. The beaches are a family-friendly atmosphere with an array of water sports and bustling activities. In contrast, Panama City Beach offers both quiet coastline and lively.

What part of Destin beach is best? ›

10 Best Beaches in Destin
  • Henderson Beach State Park.
  • O'Steen Public Beach.
  • Norriego Point.
  • Crab Island.
  • John Beasley Park.
  • Crystal Beach.
  • Princess Beach.
  • Eglin Matterhorn Beach.

Why is the water so green in Destin? ›

Emerald Green Waters

The Mississippi River flows into the Gulf, filtering the water with a constant clear stream. Microscopic plankton living in our waters produce chlorophyll, giving off a beautiful green hue when the sun's light hits the water.

What is the prettiest beach in Destin FL? ›

1. Henderson Beach State Park. Located in the heart of Destin, Florida, Henderson Beach State Park is a pristine oasis that epitomizes the beauty of the Gulf Coast.

Can you swim in the ocean in Destin? ›

The lifeguards actively patrol the 7 miles of Destin beaches from March to October of each year. We encourage everyone to swim near a lifeguard and heed their advice on water safety conditions. Rip Current Information provided by the National Weather Service. View the National Weather Service Rip Current Risk Map.

Is it safe to swim at Destin beach? ›

Make sure you know the flag color before stepping into the beautiful Gulf of Mexico water: Green indicates low hazard and means calm conditions, but swimmers should exercise caution. Yellow indicates medium hazard and means moderate surf and/or currents. Knee deep is too deep.

Can you walk on Destin beach at night? ›

After the sun sets, the beach is a whole new playground!

Bring a bucket and some red flashlights (the red light protects local sea turtles) and search for ghost crabs scurrying across the sand.

What's the cheapest month to go to Destin Florida? ›

November-February (Winter Months)

If you're looking for the cheapest time to visit Destin, Florida, consider visiting between November and February. These months are during the off-season, which means lower prices for hotels, airfare, attractions, and more.

Is Destin a walkable city? ›

Travel tips. Downtown Destin is easily walkable, not least because it's mostly clustered around the Harbor Boardwalk. Here, you'll find a lively scene with dining, shopping, and nightlife entertainment spots.

What is unique about Destin Florida? ›

Destin Florida's Sand is Actually Crystal.

During the last Ice Age, the quartz crystal was pushed down from the tops of the Appalachian Mountains. The crystal has been ground down into white powdery sand by waves and tidal action over many, many years. This action is what causes the sand to be so soft and white.

Why do people love Destin Florida? ›

There is so much to love about the Emerald Coast during spring. Resting along the Gulf of Mexico with sugar-white sand beaches and emerald waters, Destin is a perfect spot to recharge and escape. From beautiful scenery, wine tasting, to outdoor adventures, this city has a plethora of activities to explore.

Is Destin a party town? ›

Destin is lucky to have a bunch of great bars and nightlife located within walking distance of each other, right along the Destin Harbor.

Is Destin worth going to? ›

Visit Destin Florida, aptly referred to as both the 'Crown Jewel of the Emerald Coast' and the 'World's Luckiest Fishing Village', for spectacular beaches that are continually voted among the top in the country, and some of the best fishing in the world.


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