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15 Best Things to Do in Destin, FL

Did you know Destin, Florida, is known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village”? Not only does Destin offer you direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, but it is also known as the Emerald Coast due to the stunning gem-colored waters.

Whether it is a kid-friendly vacation, fishing, relaxing at the white sand beaches, or updating your wardrobe with shopping at the Destin Commons, this city will have something special to offer to you, your family, and your friends.

Why not enhance your visit by staying at one of our luxurious Legacy Beach Homes? Our homes are custom-built, conveniently located with ocean views, and large enough to fit large groups and the whole family!

We’ve compiled a list of Destin’s absolute best things to do to make the most of your time here.

Relax on the Beach Shores at Crystal Beach Park

Start your stay in Destin by relaxing on the shores of Crystal Beach Park. From dawn to dusk and located on the Gulf of Mexico, Crystal Beach Park provides you with an escape from daily hustle and bustle. You can picnic at one of its pavilions, stroll along the water, build sandcastles, and swim.

Thanks to its tranquil setting, it is a great place to lay back and relax in its natural beauty. It also offers a family-friendly atmosphere that everyone will enjoy.

Charter a Fishing Trip

Photo Credit: Kristi Blokhin

Why not charter a fishing trip in the place known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village?” The ocean waters in Destin offer a variety of sea life, and many fishing charters offer boat tours in the calm water and deep-sea fishing expeditions.

All you need to decide is the type of fishing experience you’re looking for – inshore, nearshore, or offshore fishing. No matter your level of expertise, guide tours will help you catch various species, from tarpon, snappers, grouper, barracudas, mahi-mahi, and marlins.

Check out these Intracoastal Experience, Gulf Angler, or Swoop Deep Sea Fishing, as they offer various services and fishing trips. Check out the Destin Fishing Report to see what’s biting during your visit.

Pay a Visit to the Destin Harbor Boardwalk

Photo Credit: Andriy Blokhin

The Destin Harbor Boardwalk stretches about a quarter mile along the oceanfront with views of the harbor’s ships. The Boardwalk has a range of shops, bars, and restaurants. You can stroll, browse the shops with unique treasures and trinkets, and indulge in delicious seafood.

From the boardwalk, you’ll also have access to different rentals to participate in water activities, including kayaking, paddleboarding, and jet skiing excursions.

Check out the Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park

Photo Credit: Paul Hakimata Photography

If you’re searching for thrilling water slides, you’ll find them at the Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park. Big Kahuna’s is the largest water park and one of the best things to do in Destin, especially if you’re seeking a full day of fun for the whole family.

You can enjoy the tranquility of the lazy river, speed down the speed slides, and even play a round of mini-golf. The water park is seasonal, so it’s open from mid-May through August.

Explore the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is located in Fort Walton Beach near Destin, and it is a marine facility with a mix of entertainment, education, and marine life conservation.

There are exhibits and interactive shows; our favorites include dolphin and sea lion performances and watching the wobbling penguins. They also have the reptile safari housing turtles, lizards, snakes, and alligators. Visit their website to learn more about admission prices, hours, and family-friendly events scheduled throughout the year.

Go on a Scenic Drive on Highway 30A

Photo Credit: Ken Schulze

Drive the Scenic Highway 30A; it is one of our top things to do in Destin as it offers breathtaking views of the Emerald Coast. This beautiful route stretches about 24 miles, where you’ll get to see stunning coastal landscapes and dune lakes. You can also stop at Rosemary Beach, which has award-winning architecture and pedestrian-friendly areas, to see the boutique shops and restaurants.

Go on a Water Adventure

Photo Credit: lunamarina

With an amazing shoreline along Destin and Fort Walton Beach, you’ll have your pick of water adventures you can try. From jet-skiing to kiteboarding, parasailing, snorkeling, and paddleboarding, there are plenty of options to have fun in the water. You can even train to become a mermaid!

For those who love snorkeling, visit Norriego Point, which has calm waters. You can try other snorkel reefs at Henderson Beach State Park and John C. Beasley Park.

Go on a Romantic Sunset Cruise

Photo Credit: Maridav

Nothing beats a view of the sun as it sets, and what better way than to admire it with a romantic sunset cruise? You can enjoy a relaxing evening cruise and take in the sights of Destin Harbor, Crab Island, and Choctawhatchee Bay. Several Destin boat tours are available, offering sunset and fireworks cruises on the bay. It’s one of those best things to do in Destin  with the family or your significant other. Destin Boat Rentals offers a range of cruises, and they’ll do their best to accommodate you depending on your needs.

Take a Dolphin Tour

Photo Credit: Gimas

One of the residents around the Destin area is the bottlenose dolphins, who like to frequent the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay. Due to their abundance, taking a dolphin tour is a great activity.

Bottlenose dolphins love to perform, so you’ll see them take leaps and flips and ride the bow waves of boats. Destin Boat Rentals offers waverunner dolphin tours in the spring, summer, and fall. You can ride a jet ski to sightsee these dolphins and enjoy how they play.

Tee Time Calls for a Round of Golf

Photo Credit: FloridaStock

If you fancy a round of golf, you’ll be happy to know that Destin hosts four championship golf courses, and there are 8 in total on the Emerald Coast region. Schedule some tee time at some of the best courses; we recommend the following:

  • Kelly Plantation Golf Club (18-hole course): 307 Kelly Plantation Drive, Destin, FL
  • Emerald Bay Golf Club (18-hole course): 4781 Clubhouse Dr, Destin, FL
  • Regatta Bay: 465 Regatta Bay Blvd, Destin, FL

Shop at the Destin Commons

If you’re looking for some retail therapy, you’ll be happy to know Destin offers a range of places to shop to your heart’s content. Besides the shops on the Harborwalk and the Boardwalk on Okaloosa, you can visit the open-air shops at Destin Commons.

The Commons have a great mix of well-known retailers as well as specialty stores. You’ll also find diverse restaurants and cafes to enjoy, from casual dining to not-so-casual, and mural art as you make your way along the shops.

Indulge in Delicious Seafood

One of the best things to do in Destin is eat seafood, and you’ll find some of the best restaurants offering your favorites. From oysters, seafood gumbo, and tacos with blackened shrimp, you won’t get enough. Here are our place and menu recommendations:

  • Boshamps Seafood & Oyster House: We recommend the Devil’s Crab as a starter.
  • Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer: The Seafood Gumbo is a must-try. There’s also brunch available on Sundays. From the brunch menu, we recommend the Crab Cake Benny.
  • Dewey Destin Harborside: Try the day’s catch for a freshly made dish; you’ll have the option to eat fried, grilled, blackened, or bronzed.
  • The Edge Seafood Restaurant: Try the Gulf Coast Snapper. This restaurant has an amazing ocean view, and the Skybar, its rooftop bar, is the perfect location for date night as it offers live music. It’s also a great place to watch sunsets. The Edge Restaurant is also built directly on top of the water, with fish feeders in its perimeter. These even light up at night so you can see the fish devour the offerings.

Visit an Underwater Sandbar

Photo Credit: Rotorhead 30A Productions

Crab Island is a popular underwater sandbar in Choctawhatchee Bay, north of the Marler Bridge. The water is typically waist-deep or shallow, depending on the tide and weather conditions. It is also lively, but Crab Island can be family-friendly despite its festive atmosphere. We recommend you bring your own floats and coolers with food and drinks.

During peak season, you’ll find mobile food boat vendors and the floating Reef Burger Restaurant. Note that access is primarily via boat, pontoons, and jet skis.  If you don’t have access to these, various Destin boat rentals or the Crab Island Shuttle Boat can take you there.

Learn All About Alligators at Gator Beach

Gator Beach, as its name suggests, is an alligator park in Destin, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn all about these reptiles and even hold a baby alligator if you dare.

The park is free to visit, and you can enjoy one of their Alligators Shows, such as the “Fact or Fiction” game show or the Discovery Zone. For a fee, you’ll get the opportunity to book the Gator Experience VIP or the Gator Beach Discovery Tour, perfect to do during your family vacation.

Have a Day Out at the Track Family Fun Park

Photo Credit: Mikhail Leonov

The Track Family Fun Park is great for a free and loose day for the whole family. It features go-karts, two mini golf courses, Blaster Boats, Bumper Cars, a spinning coaster, kids’ country rides, and an arcade. They even offer double karts for the little ones to ride with a parent.

Stay and Discover Destin, Florida

We have a variety of multi-generational vacation rental beach homes so you can enjoy your beach vacation in a relaxed atmosphere. Our homes come with ocean views, private beach access, and covered pools. Many of our properties are also conveniently located near these and many other excellent things to do in Destin.

Pack your bags and book your stay with Legacy Beach Homes.

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