Destin-Fort Walton Beach is a fun-filled beach vacation destination in the Florida panhandle. In the heart of the Emerald Coast, the area’s beaches are known for their soft sugar-white sand and the sparkling emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
If you enjoy being in or around the water, you’ll thoroughly enjoy a Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida, vacation. Along with its gorgeous beaches, it’s known for great fishing, water sports, fresh seafood, and family-friendly vacation options.
Below are a handful of the thrilling adventures that await you on a Destin-Fort Walton Beach vacation.
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HarbourWalk Village / Destin Harbor Boardwalk
HarbourWalk Village is a go-to spot on the Destin Harbor, consisting of a boardwalk, shopping, waterfront dining, water sports rentals, and live entertainment.
Water-Related Fun at HarborWalk Village
There are lots of things for you to enjoy with your friends or family at HarborWalk Village. If you’re a cruiser, take the family on a dolphin sunset cruise, a luxurious yacht cruise, a buccaneer pirate cruise, or view marine life while cruising on a glass-bottom boat! But if you’re looking to let loose, take a cruise on a floating tiki bar!
You can also go scuba diving, snorkeling, snuba diving, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, jet-skiing, or parasailing.
Other Entertainment at HarborWalk Village
If you want to stay dry, take a stroll down the Destin Harbor Boardwalk and check out your options. You can throw axes, go ziplining, play mini-golf, buy souvenirs, enjoy live entertainment, eat delicious seafood, or just grab a drink and relax.
Crab Island Sandbar
Crab Island is a popular sandbar where many locals and vacationers go to enjoy time out on the water. You can find hundreds of boats out on Crab Island during the summertime, many with their passengers wading in the shallow waters next to them.
Air Force Armament Museum
Head to the Air Force Armament Museum if you’d like to learn about military aircraft and armaments such as bombs, guns, and missiles. This is the largest Air Force armament museum in the world. The museum is open Monday through Saturday, and admission is free.
Destin History and Fishing Museum
The Destin History and Fishing Museum offers visitors a glimpse into the area’s rich fishing heritage. The museum features exhibits showcasing the evolution of fishing in the Destin area, including artifacts and photographs from the earliest days of the fishing industry.
“World’s Luckiest Fishing Village”
Destin is self-proclaimed as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” because of the area’s wide variety of fish species. The typical fresh catch includes gulf shrimp, oysters, red snapper, grouper, mahi-mahi, cobia, and mackerel. There are numerous opportunities for charter fishing, pier fishing, inshore fishing, and even kayak fishing.
A Seafood Lover’s Paradise
Are you looking for seafood restaurants in Destin-Fort Walton Beach? Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer is a great option with water views. Enjoy the day’s catch with friends and family while watching boats and yachts pass by.
Boshamps Seafood & Oyster House is another good seafood restaurant with water views and an outdoor deck. Be sure to get there early, as the wait is usually long. However, they offer indoor and outdoor waiting areas for their guests.
Other popular spots include Rockin’ Tacos, Lulu’s, Dewey Destin’s Seafood, and Camille’s at Crystal Beach.
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in marine life and conservation. Located in Fort Walton Beach, the park has a variety of educational and entertaining exhibits featuring dolphins, sea lions, sharks, and many other marine life.
The highlight of the park is undoubtedly the daily dolphin and sea lion shows, which showcase the intelligence and agility of these amazing animals. Additionally, you can get up close and personal with a variety of marine species through the park’s touch tanks and interactive animal encounters.
Exciting Cruises and Water Sports
Destin-Fort Walton Beach is known as a premier destination for water sports enthusiasts, whether you prefer to surf, snorkel, or scuba dive. While popular activities such as kayaking and standup paddleboarding are available, the region also offers thrilling adventures such as parasailing, jet skiing, and kiteboarding.
Henderson Beach State Park
Destin-Fort Walton Beach has some of the best beaches in the south. Henderson Beach State Park is an excellent option if you’re looking for beach time or other outdoor activities. The park offers swimming, hiking, biking, fishing, camping, and bird watching. Park amenities include picnic pavilions and benches, restrooms, grills, campsites, and a launch point for kayaks.
Soft White-Sand Beaches
Like many of the beaches in the area, the sand is as white as snow. Why is the sand in Destin-Fort Walton Beach so white? Made up of tiny quartz particles, the sand was created by a process involving the Appalachian Mountains and the Apalachicola River ages ago.
Beautiful Emerald Green Water
Why is the water so green in Destin-Fort Walton Beach? The Emerald Coast offers beautiful green waters that result from the sun reflecting off of the algae. And on cloudy or rainy days, the water may not look as green. Is it safe to swim in the green water? Yes!
Are you looking to take the kids to a theme park? Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park is a great way to spend a day with the family! Enjoy waterslides, rides, wave pools, a lazy river, mini-golf, and more! The park closes for the winter and reopens around spring break each year.
The Track is an amusement park in Destin featuring go-kart fun for all ages. But if you’re not interested in racing, The Track has other things to do! You can play mini-golf, enjoy rides, blast your friends with a water cannon, and more!
Shopping at Destin Commons
Destin Commons is an enjoyable outdoor shopping center that features a variety of shopping, dining, live entertainment, and a movie theater. The walls of the buildings are adorned with vibrant murals created by both local and world-renowned artists, providing an excellent backdrop for photos. Additionally, on the last Sunday of each month, there is an Artisans Market where you can buy locally-made products.
Vacationing in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, FL
From its stunning white sand beaches and emerald green waters to its vibrant local culture, delicious cuisine, and endless opportunities for outdoor activities, there is no shortage of things to do in Destin-Fort Walton Beach. Whether planning a family trip, a romantic getaway, or a solo adventure, Destin-Fort Walton Beach is the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
This article Sun, Sand, and Smiles: Fun Things to Do in Your Destin, Florida Beach Vacation originally appeared on Wander With Alex. [This page may contain affiliate links to trusted partners.] Featured Image Credit: Destin-Fort Walton Beach
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog, where she provides vacationers and travel enthusiasts with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, and explore-- and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help people travel a little easier.