Visitors Guide | Destin Florida (2024)

Destin Visitors Guide

Good Morning America called us one of the “Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in America.” In 2013, the Travel Channel said we’re the “Best Family Beach.” But anyone who frequents the area knows that Destin and its surrounding destinations are much, much more than words can express.

Visiting the Emerald Coast isn’t a vacation; it’s an experience. While some arrive in hopes of seeing the famous beaches, others are in search of a family getaway. Many are here to relax and explore, while others are here to party. Whatever the case may be for your visit, we welcome you to explore what the area has to offer. Chances are, whatever the reason for your visit, there’s something here that fits your needs.

Family Fun

Packing up the kids and driving to the beach has been a long-lived summer past time for many families along the coast. There’s the thrill of playing in the ocean, building a sandcastle, and enjoying quality time together that coastal towns such as Destin thrive on. If you’re seeking a family adventure, look no further- the Emerald Coast has plenty to offer families visiting the area. Aside from the beaches and great family-friendly restaurants, many area attractions are perfect for the entire family

Gulfarium’s Marine Adventure Park in Fort Walton Beach is home to the world’s oldest, continuously operating live marine show.

The Track Recreation Center offers everything from Go-karts to bumper boats. Hours are from 9am to midnight during the summer.

Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park isn’t just a water park; there’s also go-karts, rides and much, much more.

Sandestin itself offers many activities for kids and their adult counterparts. There’s Adventure Landing in the Village of Baytowne Wharf and Jolee Island Nature Park.

Fat Daddy’s Pizza is perfect for a rainy day. There’s great food plus an arcade. Next door, there’s a Laser Tag center that offers even more fun.

Gator Beach is both educational and fun. It features live gators and gator shows- plus it’s built inside of Fudpucker’s Restaurant.

Visitors Guide | Destin Florida (1)


If you’re looking for supply and demand, shopping in Destin is an adventure all its own. Destin Commons, the area’s exquisite outdoor mall, houses dozens of stores. From apparel, to home goods, to a movie theater, it’s at least a day’s entertainment. For the bargain hunter, Silver Sands Outlet Mall is only a hop, skip and a jump away, offering 110 different stores including Coach, Nike, Brooks Brothers, Michael Kors and more. For those searching for a boutique experience, shops off of Santa Rosa Beach’s famed 30-A, as well as shops on Destin’s HarborWalk, offer everything from handmade jewelry to local artists. And if you’re searching for a Spring Break shirt to add to your wardrobe, or a Destin picture frame to add to Aunt Mae’s collection, look no further than the dozens of beach stores located along beach road and off of Highway 98.

Visitors Guide | Destin Florida (2)

Water Adventures

Just going to the beach is only part of enjoying the Emerald Coast’s pristine waters and white, sandy beaches. There’s diving and snorkeling adventures offered through places such as Destin Snorkel, varied water sports ranging from pontoon boats to parasailing, excursion cruises such as Destin’s Original Sea Blaster and Olin Marler’s Dolphin Cruise, sailing charters, and even the simplest idea of fishing, whether on land or by sea. Surrounded by both the bay and the Gulf of Mexico is what makes the Emerald Coast special- and Destin a top destination for all water lovers and thrill seekers.

Visitors Guide | Destin Florida (3)

Arts and Culture

Did you know that dozens of films and television shows have been created in the area? Movies such as The Truman Show and Jaws 2 were filmed here, while active television productions on HGTV and The Discovery Channel are actively filming in and around Destin. But that’s not all- the area is highly cultured in theater and entertainment, offering the best in performance arts. The Mattie Kelly Fine & Performing Arts Center is a world-class leader in entertainment, and one of the area’s best venues. Sinfonia Gulf Coast, the area’s only professional orchestra, also performs regularly. This is in addition to concerts and theater in the parks and, of course, the annual Mullet Festival. With the area’s ever changing culture, it’s best to look up the calendar of events for the time in which you are visiting.

Visitors Guide | Destin Florida (4)

Going to the Chapel

While any coastal town can offer the simplicity of a beach wedding, Destin and the surrounding areas do it right. Offering not only the look and feel of an Emerald Coast wedding, the area also boasts some of the top wedding planners and venues in the state of Florida. Couples can offer their wedding guests not only a destination wedding, but a variety of possibilities- from a wedding cruise with SunQuest Cruises, to something elegant and refined with Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. Whatever a bride and her groom can imagine, the wedding professionals of the Emerald Coast can create.

Visitors Guide | Destin Florida (5)

Good Eats

The restaurant culture of the Emerald Coast is diverse enough to offer the best menu selections for even the pickiest of eaters. Coastal choices such as Pompano Joe’s, Harbor Docks, Dewey Destin’s and Louisiana Lagniappe bring seafood home. Local favorites such as The Marigny, Stinky’s Fish Camp, Rick’s Crab Trap and Miss Lucille’s Gossip Parlor are off the beaten path, but have varied menus from lunch to dinner. There’s also Fat Daddy’s Pizza, Fudpuckers, and Mellow Mushroom for the kid in all of us, offering the best family friendly cuisine in the area. If your taste buds allow, there’s a bit of every culture hiding in our seaside haven.

Visitors Guide | Destin Florida (6)

Night On the Town

Sometimes all a person needs is some great music, good drinks, and a few appetizers to make a trip worth while. We pride ourselves on offering nightlife appealing to all generations- from those who like to drink a beer and watch the waves, to those who like to dance the night away. The Village of Baytowne Wharf, located inside the Sandestin Resort, has a lot to offer- everything from the famed Rum Runners dueling pianos, to local favorite The Village Door. AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar offers great live music or talented local DJs alongside their famed drink menu, while The Boardwalk at Okaloosa Island is thriving with Howl at the Moon and The Swamp. If you’re looking for a younger crowd, Nighttown offers an 18+ admission.

Visitors Guide | Destin Florida (7)

Surrounding Area

Destin, Sandestin, Miramar Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Okaloosa Island, Holiday Isle, Seaside, Alys Beach and the surrounding towns leave a lasting impression on those who visit. It’s not just about the experience; it’s about the memories. With so many options, and places that will forever impress upon its visitors, the Emerald Coast strives to see families, friends and visitors return again and again. By opening up to new ideas and new experiences, the possibilities are endless. We truly hope this Destin Florida Vacation Guide will help you enjoy all we have to offer. Visit Destin today!

Visitors Guide | Destin Florida (2024)


Why is Destin Florida so popular? ›

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.

What is Destin Florida most 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.

What side of Florida is Destin on? ›

Destin sits on the Florida Panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico and is home to stunning white sandy beaches, emerald green water, and often referred to as the “World's Luckiest Fishing Village”.

What ocean is Destin FL on? ›

The city is located on a peninsula separating the Gulf of Mexico from Choctawhatchee Bay. The peninsula was originally an island; hurricanes and sea level changes gradually connected the island to the mainland. Destin is near several other cities in the region.

What is the best month to go to 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.

What is the busiest month in Destin? ›

Summer (June to August)

This is peak tourist season in Destin, attracting families on summer break and beach lovers alike. Visitors should be prepared for more crowded beaches and may want to book in advance for reservations and attractions during this time of year.

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.

Is Destin worth going to? ›

Destin Florida has some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire world with crisp white sandy shores, surrounded by emerald green waters! These one of a kind sugar white beaches stretch from Pensacola to Port St. Joe, and are truly unique.

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 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 the best beach to stay on in Destin Florida? ›

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

Can you drink alcohol on the beach in Destin Florida? ›

According to, alcohol is allowed on the beach, but not in state parks. Similar to Gulf Shores and Pensacola, glass is not allowed. Public beaches in the Destin area that are operated by Okaloosa County have separate rules and regulations. NO GLASS on the 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 major city is Destin Florida close to? ›

Destin, FL is located in Northwest Florida (Florida Panhandle), east of Pensacola but west of Panama City. You can get to Destin from the west end of I-10 if you're coming from southern Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama.

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.

When did Destin become popular? ›

From 1930 to 1940, the city's population nearly doubled, from 166 people to 318 people. By 2017, Destin was home to nearly 14,000 people — augmented by the tens of thousands of tourists that Highway 98 brings into the city each year. Local businesses began capitalizing on tourism soon after the bridge was completed.

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 it worth it to go to Destin Florida? ›

There are actually hundreds of reason to come visit this amazing place! Destin Florida has some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire world with crisp white sandy shores, surrounded by emerald green waters! These one of a kind sugar white beaches stretch from Pensacola to Port St. Joe, and are truly unique.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Madonna Wisozk

Last Updated:

Views: 6001

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (68 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Madonna Wisozk

Birthday: 2001-02-23

Address: 656 Gerhold Summit, Sidneyberg, FL 78179-2512

Phone: +6742282696652

Job: Customer Banking Liaison

Hobby: Flower arranging, Yo-yoing, Tai chi, Rowing, Macrame, Urban exploration, Knife making

Introduction: My name is Madonna Wisozk, I am a attractive, healthy, thoughtful, faithful, open, vivacious, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.