If you’re wondering what to do in Destin, Florida, while on vacation, you’re in the right place! Before we jump in, here are a few quick facts.
Destin is on the Florida panhandle and is approximately one hour from the Pensacola International Airport. Destin is part of the Emerald Coast, named for its beautiful clear green water.
Most people visit Destin between April and October when the water is warm enough for swimming and other water-related activities. While much of Florida is in the eastern time zone, Destin is in the central time zone.
Below we’ve listed our favorite places to visit and things to do in Destin, FL while on vacation! Don’t forget to check out our 3-Day Destin, FL Weekend Itinerary!
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#1 – HarbourWalk Village
HarbourWalk Village is a resort on the Destin harbor boardwalk, filled with shopping, waterfront dining, and live entertainment. A visit to HarborWalk Village is one of the top things to do in Destin.
Of course, being right on the water, there are many different water-related activities for you to enjoy. 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! And if you’re looking to let loose, take a booze cruise on a floating tiki bar!
Do you want to get in the water? Go scuba diving, snorkeling, snuba diving, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, jet-skiing, or parasailing. There is also a shuttle that will take Emerald Grande customers to/from the beach every hour, where you can enjoy swimming and sunbathing.
If you want to stay dry, take a walk down the Destin harbor boardwalk and check out your options. You can throw axes, go ziplining, play mini-golf, go on a helicopter ride, buy souvenirs, enjoy live entertainment, eat delicious seafood, or relax.
#2 – Crab Island Sandbar
Visiting Crab Island is one of the top things to do in Destin! Crab Island is a popular sandbar in Destin, where many locals and vacationers enjoy the beautiful waters of the Emerald Coast. 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.
And if you get hungry while you’re out on the water, not to worry! You’re bound to find a floating restaurant or food truck to satisfy your needs.
If you’re looking for a little adventure while out on the water, you’ll want to visit Crab Island Adventure Tours. They offer snorkeling, paddleboarding, kayaking, inflatable waterslides, tours and more!
Check out these tips for visiting Crab Island!
#3 – Museums in Destin-Fort Walton Beach
Visit one of Destin’s museums and learn more about the history of the area. The Destin History and Fishing Museum takes you back in time to the 1830s when East Pass, the first fishing village, was created.
Interested in Native American history? Then visit the Indian Temple Mound Museum in Fort Walton Beach. This museum showcases Native American artifacts, a schoolhouse, a post office museum, and many other exhibits.
Head over to the Air Force Armament Museum if you’d like to learn about military aircraft and armament 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.
#4 – Fishing in Destin, FL
When it comes to world-class fishing, there may be no better place than Destin, Florida. Situated along the Gulf of Mexico, this vibrant coastal city is known for its clear waters, abundant marine life, and relaxed atmosphere. Whether you are an experienced angler or a first-time fisherman eager to cast your line for the first time, there is something for everyone here.
Destin is self-proclaimed as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” because of the wide variety of fish species found in the area. 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 kayaking fishing.
Whether you choose to chase deep-sea fish like marlin, sailfish, and tuna in offshore waters or prefer to target smaller game along the shore, every day brings new opportunities for a successful catch in Destin.
#5 – Fresh Seafood
Are you looking for the best seafood restaurants in Destin? We’ve got you covered! Dewey Destin’s Seafood is a local’s favorite and has three locations, one being right on the water. Enjoy the day’s catch while watching all of the beautiful 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.
And lastly, Tailfins Waterfront Grill Destin Harbor has great customer service, waterfront dining, and amazing oysters Rockefeller!
#6 – Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is fun, educational, and a great activity for the entire family! The park is a 10-minute drive from HarbourWalk Village and can be found on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach.
The Gulfarium offers animal shows, animal interaction, educational programs, etc. The best part of visiting the park would easily be the animal shows! Watch bottlenose dolphins and sea lions do amazing tricks, snorkel with stingrays, explore the reptile safari, and learn about marine habitats.
Be sure to get to the shows early as seating is first come first serve and limited! The good thing is that the shows are repeated throughout the day. Visiting the Gulfarium is easily one of the top things to do in Destin.
#7 – Water Sports
Destin, Florida is known as a premier destination for water sports enthusiasts. With its many beaches and sparkling, emerald water, this city provides endless opportunities for fun in the sun.
Whether you’re looking to surf, snorkel, or simply spend some time relaxing with your toes in the sand, Destin is a great place to be. In addition to popular activities like kayaking and paddle boarding, there are also more exciting adventures to explore here, such as parasailing or jet skiing.
Whatever your preferences may be, one thing is certain: there is no shortage of ways to get out on the water in Destin! So if you’re looking for a thrilling and invigorating vacation that will leave you feeling refreshed and recharged, be sure to book your next vacation to Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida!
#8 – Henderson Beach State Park
Destin 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.
Stunning White Beaches
Like many of the beaches in Destin, the sand is as white as snow. Why is the sand in Destin, Florida so white? Made up of tiny quartz particles, the sand was created by a process involving Appalachian Mountains and the Apalachicola River ages ago.
Emerald Green Water
Why is the water so green in Destin, Florida? 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 waters?– Yes!
Looking for a place to stay? Check out Henderson Park Inn!
#9 – Amusement Parks in Destin
Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park
Are you looking to take the kids to an amusement/theme park? Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park in Destin, Florida, is a great way to spend a day with the family! Enjoy waterslides, rides, wave pools, a lazy river, mini-golf, and more! Please note that the park closes for the winter and reopens around spring break each year.
The Track Family Fun Park
The Track is an amusement park in Destin featuring go-karts for people of all ages. But if you’re not interested in racing, The Track has other things to do! You can play mini-golf, enjoy the rides, blast your friends with a water cannon, etc.
#10 – Golf Courses in Destin
If you enjoy the game of golf, you’re in luck because there are eight or more golf courses, private and public, throughout Destin for you to enjoy. Destin is a popular spot for playing golf with beautiful weather nearly year-round and waterfront views. Click here to learn more about Destin golf courses.
#11 – Shopping at Destin Commons
Destin Commons is a fun open-air mall offering shopping, dining, live entertainment, and a movie theatre. Enjoy vibrant murals painted on the walls of buildings by local and world-renowned artists. And on the last Sunday of every month, there is an Artisans Market where you can buy locally made products.
When it comes to planning a vacation, few places rival the beauty and diversity of Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida. This stunning beach town is known for its clear emerald waters and stunning white sand. Whether you’re looking for an action-packed adventure or just want to relax and unwind, there is something for everyone in this beautiful coastal city.
From parasailing and paddleboarding to wandering around charming downtown shops and restaurants, there are endless options for activities and experiences in Destin. So if you’re looking for an unforgettable vacation destination, look no further than the enchanting city of Destin!
Alexandrea Sumuel is the founder of Wander With Alex, 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 better.