Things to Do in Destin, FL on Your Summer Beach Vacation

If you’re looking for sandy white beaches and delicious seafood, then Destin, Florida is your vacation destination! Check out all the things there are to see and do in Destin!

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 in Destin, Florida

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. 

Water-Related Activities

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. 

Other Entertainment

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

crab island destin florida
Courtesy of Custom Vacation Boat Rentals

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. 

Adventure Tours

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

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 – Fresh Seafood

World's Luckiest Fishing Village Destin, Florida

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, snapper, grouper, mahi-mahi, cobia, and mackerel. You’ll find plenty of restaurants with fresh seafood on their menu in Destin.

Destin Seafood Restaurants

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.

destin florida seafood

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!

#5 – 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.

Animal Shows

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. 

Arrive Early

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. 

#6 – Henderson Beach State Park

Things to Do in Destin, FL on Your Summer Beach Vacation

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!

#7 – Amusement Parks in Destin

Destin Adventure Park

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. 

#8 – Golf Courses in Destin

destin golf course

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.

#9 – Shopping at Destin Commons

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. 

Vacationing in Destin, FL

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexandrea Sumuel

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.

12 thoughts on “Things to Do in Destin, FL on Your Summer Beach Vacation”

  1. Thanks for this article…I live a couple hours from Destin and it is a good reminder of things to do. You are sure right about the white sand and emerald water. (Can I pick your brain when I decide to visit Virginia?) Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  2. This is a great list! Thanks Alex. My family loves the Destin/Fort Walton area. We have vacationed there several times through the years. The emerald waters and white sand beaches are beautiful as you described.

    One of my fondest memories is a day at Big Kahuna Water & Adventure Park. We had so much fun there as a family.

    I know folks often enjoy seafood when at the beach. If you want a night off from seafood, there is a fun restaurant called McGuire’s Irish Pub. They have good food and a casual atmosphere. Many people put a dollar bill on the wall to note their presence at the establishment.

    Fort Walton is not far from Destin. They have a great fishing pier. Even if you don’t like to fish, there is plenty to see. My kids loved walking the pier. We always saw dolphins, sea turtles, rays, fish and birds when on the pier. It is called Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier.

    There is a restaurant next to the pier and just off the beach. It is called Angler’s Beachside Grill. It is family friendly. They have decent seafood and sandwiches along with a nice view of the beach. My kids loved having s’mores for dessert at Angler’s. Hopefully they still have this on the menu. It has been a few years. S’mores on the beach as the sun sets in the background…

    Your post makes me want to go back to Destin. It is wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  3. Water park and beautiful beaches? Count me in! Destin is a part of Florida I will have to add to my next vacation there.

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  4. I have yet to visit Destin so it was great to see how much there is to do here! I’d love to check out Crab Island!

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  5. Never heard of this part of Florida before so will definitely add it to our list when we get back to the state.

    Reply
  6. Thank you for the great info…. My Husband, my 7 year old Son, and I are going in 2 weeks. I am so excited to finally visit. We are from Baltimore, MD, and I used to live in Clearwater. It will be a different experience to be in Destin. I was blown away at how beautiful it looked, and instantly booked an Airbnb there for 10 days! Looking forward to using your tips!!!!!

    Reply

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