Things To Do in Destin, Florida

Are you looking for a fun-filled vacation spot that offers something for everyone? Look no further than Destin, Florida! This gorgeous coastal town has exciting activities and attractions that will entertain you for days. Destin has something to offer whether you’re an adventure seeker, a nature lover, or a foodie.

Are you ready to explore the Emerald Coast? Start your journey with our 17 things to do in Destin, Florida. From stunning beaches to thrilling water parks, there’s no shortage of excitement here. So, let’s dive in and discover the magic of Destin!

1. Take a Self Guided Beach Tour

Take a Self Guided Beach Tour

Want a delightful and wallet-friendly adventure exploring the magnificent beaches of Destin, Florida? Opt for a self-guided beach exploration. As someone who lives in the area, an array of spectacular beaches surrounds you, and taking a self-guided journey is a fantastic approach to visit each one.

To start your tour, grab a map of the area and head out to some of the most popular beaches around Destin. Miramar Beach is a great place to start, with its white sand and crystal-clear waters. This is a popular choice amongst locals and tourists alike. You can also head to Henderson Beach State Park, which offers a more secluded and peaceful atmosphere.

As you make your way along the coast, keep an eye out for some of the unique features of each beach. For example, Grayton Beach State Park is home to a rare coastal dune lake, while Crystal Beach is known for its colorful beach houses.

One of my favorite things about taking a self-guided beach tour is its flexibility. You can spend as much or as little time as you like at each beach and customize your route based on your interests and preferences.

2. Destin Harbor Boardwalk

Destin Harbor Boardwalk

Destin Harbor Boardwalk is a vibrant promenade along Florida’s Emerald Coast and one of the area’s most popular tourist destinations

There are so many things to see and do at Destin Harbor Boardwalk that it can be overwhelming. From exceptional waterfront dining to dolphin tours, there is something for everyone. Here are some of my favorite things to do:

  • Visit Crab Island: Crab Island is one of the best beaches in Destin and is only accessible by water. You can take a boat to access Crab Island or use a guided jet ski rental with a smaller group to enhance the experience. Play water volleyball, swim, float, sunbathe, or do whatever floats your boat!
  • Enjoy fantastic waterfront dining: Where there is excellent fishing, there are great seafood restaurants, and Destin Harbor Boardwalk is no exception. AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar offers spectacular harbor views and delicious seafood dishes.
  • Embark on a dolphin tour: The crystal clear waters surrounding Destin are home to many dolphins, and a dolphin tour is a great way to experience them up close. You can choose from various tours that offer different experiences, including sunset dolphin cruises.
  • Stroll along the harbor: Take a leisurely walk and enjoy the boats and water’s sights and sounds. There are many shops and boutiques where you can pick up souvenirs and gifts.
  • Snorkel at Norriego Point: Norriego Point is a beautiful spot for snorkeling in the crystal clear waters. You can see various marine life, including colorful fish and sea turtles.

3. Grab a Jet Ski Rental

Grab a Jet Ski Rental

Explore Destin, Florida’s stunning waters with a jet ski rental. Destin Water Fun and Wet-N-Wild Watersports offer Yamaha 3-seater jet skis suitable for solo adventurers or groups. 

Before you embark, remember that Destin requires riders born on or after January 1st, 1988, to complete a boater safety course and carry an ID and a boating safety education identification card from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Renters must be at least 18 years old. 

Prepare by bringing sunscreen, sunglasses, and water. Always adhere to safety guidelines and instructions from the rental company. Experience the excitement of gliding over the waves in Destin with a jet ski rental.

4. Take a Paddleboard Yoga Class

Paddleboard yoga in Destin, Florida, merges yoga’s wellness with the thrill of paddleboarding against a picturesque backdrop, providing a distinct and unforgettable experience.

One of the best places to take a paddleboard yoga class in Destin is YOLO Boards and Bikes. They offer courses for both beginners and experienced yogis. The classes are held on calm coastal dune lakes and bays, creating a serene and meditative experience. The added balance challenge of performing yoga poses on a paddleboard adds a unique twist to your practice.

Another excellent spot for paddleboard yoga is Norriego Point, a sandy peninsula on Holiday Isle across Destin Harbor. It’s a public access point and well-loved among paddleboarders as a good spot for beginners and enthusiasts. Rent a paddleboard from one of the many rental shops in HarborWalk Village and paddle out across the calm waters.

During the winter months, it’s an excellent time for birdwatching and wildlife tours in the Destin and 30A area. You’ll find instructors who offer classes on calm coastal dune lakes and bays, creating a serene and meditative experience. The added balance challenge of performing yoga poses on a paddleboard adds a unique twist to your practice.

5. Visit the Crab Island Sandbar

Visit the Crab Island Sandbar

Make your Destin, Florida, experience unforgettable with a visit to the Crab Island Sandbar. The sandbar is positioned north of the Destin Bridge and provides a prime spot for swimming, sunbathing, and discovering new sights.

To get to Crab Island, rent a boat or take a guided tour from Destin Harbor. Once you arrive, you’ll be surrounded by crystal-clear water and stunning views of the surrounding coastline. The sandbar is an excellent spot for families, couples, and solo travelers, with plenty to see and do.

One of the most popular activities at Crab Island is snorkeling. The water is so clear that you can see all sorts of marine life, including fish, crabs, and even dolphins! If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try paddleboarding, kayaking, or parasailing.

Of course, a trip to Crab Island would only be complete with some delicious food and drinks. There are plenty of food boats and floating restaurants to choose from, serving everything from fresh seafood to ice-cold beverages.

6. Sandcastle Lessons On The Beach

For a memorable activity with family or friends, try Sandcastle Lessons on the Beach. Mobile lessons teach you to craft impressive sandcastles directly on the sand.

During the two-hour lesson, you’ll learn professional sand sculpting tips and techniques to help you build 3 ½ feet tall sandcastles. The lessons are a “whole family experience,” and you’ll need at least one participating adult per five children. You’ll create memories in the sand that will last a lifetime, and sometimes, the adults have more fun than the children!

Several Sandcastle Lesson providers exist in Destin, Florida, including Castle Rockstars, Beach Sand Sculptures, and Mobile Castle Lessons. Each provider offers a unique experience, and you’re sure to have a great time no matter which one you choose.

Sandcastle Lessons are not just for kids. Adults can enjoy the experience and learn a new skill while having fun. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, Sandcastle Lessons on the Beach is a fun and memorable way to spend a day at the beach. So pack your sunscreen and get ready to unleash your inner sandcastle architect!

7. Go Snorkeling or Diving at Norriego Point

Go Snorkeling or Diving at Norriego Point

Norriego Point is known for its calm waters, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. The inlets of water protected by the Destin Jetties create a unique environment home to various marine life. You can take an up-close and personal look at the coral reef, merchants, sea turtles, and historical wreckages while swimming with a group or taking a class or two while on vacation.

If you’re new to snorkeling or diving, don’t worry. There are plenty of local companies that offer guided tours and lessons. You can rent snorkeling or diving equipment from these companies as well. The visibility can range from 20 to 80 feet, depending on the tides and where you snorkel.

Here are some tips to make your snorkeling or diving experience at Norriego Point as enjoyable as possible:

  • Always wear a life jacket or buoyancy aid, even if you’re a strong swimmer.
  • Don’t touch or disturb marine life; never remove anything from the water.
  • Stay within your limits, and don’t push yourself too hard.
  • Always dive with a buddy and keep an eye on each other.
  • Respect the environment and leave no trace behind.

So, if you’re ready for an unforgettable underwater adventure, head to Norriego Point and explore the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico.

8. Spend the Day at Harborwalk Village

When visiting Destin, Florida, a day at Harborwalk Village is necessary. The village offers a variety of activities, such as dolphin cruises, glass-bottom boat tours, and thrilling rides like the Forbidden Mine and Gigamon. The picturesque 0.8-mile-long boardwalk provides an ideal setting for a stroll, showcasing stunning harbor views and plenty of entertainment options.

Visitors can also explore the various attractions and activities in the village, including a mirror maze, shooting gallery, caricature drawings, and the Vault: Lazer Maze. 

Additionally, the Southern Star Dolphin Cruises at Harborwalk Village Marina offers an opportunity to witness dolphins and marine life through a climate-controlled glass-bottom boat.

9. Go on a Dolphin Sunset Cruise

Go on a Dolphin Sunset Cruise

For an unforgettable experience in Destin, Florida, a Dolphin Sunset Cruise is essential. Having enjoyed one myself, I assure you it’s a memorable adventure.

During the cruise, you can witness the breathtaking beauty of a Destin sunset while searching for dolphins in their natural habitat. The cruise timing allows you to enjoy the experience without feeling full. Most cruises depart from the harbor around 5:30 p.m. and return around 7:30 p.m., giving you plenty of time to soak in the stunning surroundings as the sun paints the sky with vibrant hues.

Several companies offer Dolphin Sunset Cruises in Destin, including AJ’s Water Adventures, SunVenture Cruises, and Southern Star. These companies provide various options, from group cruises to private charters, so you can choose the option that best fits your needs.

10. Explore the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Explore the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park in Destin, Florida, offers an entertaining and informative outing. I recommend it as a top choice for all visitors based on personal visits.

At Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, you’ll have the opportunity to see various marine animals up close and personal. The park features exhibits with dolphins, sea lions, stingrays, sharks, and more. You can even participate in interactive experiences like swimming with dolphins or feeding penguins.

One of my favorite parts of the park is the daily animal shows. The trainers do an excellent job of educating the audience about the animals while entertaining them with fun tricks and stunts. Check the schedule when you arrive so you don’t miss any shows.

In addition to the animal exhibits and shows, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park has several play areas for kids, a gift shop, and a café. You could easily spend several hours at the park, so plan accordingly.

11. Visit Gator Beach

Gator Beach, located inside Fudpucker’s Beachside Bar & Grill, is a destination in Destin, Florida. As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by dozens of alligators sunbathing on the shore. Watching these magnificent creatures up close was a unique and thrilling experience.

At Gator Beach, visitors can learn about the history and biology of alligators from the knowledgeable staff. The alligator show is a must-see, where you can watch the handlers interact with the alligators and even hold a baby alligator yourself.

Gator Beach offers alligator feeding for those looking for a more hands-on experience. Visitors can purchase a food bucket and watch the alligators jump out of the water to grab their meal. It’s an unforgettable experience to see these mighty creatures in action.

12. Take a Day Trip to The Village of Baytowne Wharf

Take a Day Trip to The Village of Baytowne Wharf

Located within the gates of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, this charming village offers a variety of activities for all ages.

One of the highlights of Baytowne Wharf is the variety of dining options available. From casual eateries to fine-dining restaurants, there’s something for everyone. Some of my personal favorites include Marlin Grill and Acme Oyster House.

In addition to dining, Baytowne Wharf offers a range of shopping options. You’ll find it here whether you’re looking for souvenirs, beach gear, or high-end fashion. I always make sure to stop by Island Clothiers for their stylish beachwear.

If you’re traveling with kids, check out the Adventure Zone. This family-friendly area features a zipline, a ropes course, and arcade games. There’s also a carousel and a playground for younger children.

Finally, Baytowne Wharf hosts various events throughout the year, from concerts and festivals to holiday celebrations. Check their website for a schedule of upcoming events during your visit.

13. Destin Commons & Crystal Beach

Destin Commons is a popular entertainment complex in Destin, Florida, where visitors can find a variety of activities to enjoy. The complex is home to a wide range of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, making it a great place to spend an afternoon or evening. 

One of the standout features of Destin Commons is its movie theater, which features the latest blockbusters and independent films.

Crystal Beach is a charming beach community located near Destin Commons. The area is known for its colorful beach cottages and stunning white sand beaches. Visitors can enjoy various outdoor activities in Crystal Beach, including swimming, sunbathing, and beach volleyball. 

In addition to its natural beauty, the area is home to several restaurants and shops, making it a great place to spend a day or evening.

14. Go on a Buccaneer Pirate Cruise

The Buccaneer Pirate Cruise is a family-friendly adventure that takes you searching for undiscovered treasure. You’ll board the iconic Destin pirate ship and set sail on the pristine waters of the Emerald Coast. Along the way, you’ll be entertained by Captain Cannonball and his motley crew, who will interactively entertain your whole family with their pirate antics.

One of the things I loved about the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise is that it’s not just a boat ride – it’s a fully immersive experience. You’ll get to dress up in pirate gear, learn to talk like a pirate, and even participate in a water gun battle with the other passengers. There are also plenty of opportunities to photograph and explore the ship with the crew.

The Buccaneer Pirate Cruise has received rave reviews on TripAdvisor, with many people describing it as the highlight of their trip to Destin. It’s a great way to experience the beauty of the Emerald Coast in a fun and unique way, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area. So grab your eye patch, hoist the Jolly Roger, and sail on the adventure of a lifetime with the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise!

15. Fish in Choctawhatchee Bay

Fish in Choctawhatchee Bay

For a thrilling and enjoyable outdoor adventure in Destin, Florida, consider fishing in Choctawhatchee Bay. Renowned for its diverse fish population, including redfish, speckled trout, and flounder, this bay attracts locals and tourists for its popular fishing experiences.

One of the best things about fishing in Choctawhatchee Bay is that it’s accessible to anglers of all skill levels. Whether a seasoned pro or a beginner, you’ll have a great time casting your line and reeling in your catch. Plus, with the help of a local guide or charter, you can get insider tips on the best spots to fish and the most effective techniques to use.

To make the most of your fishing trip, bring all the necessary gear, including a rod and reel, bait, and any other equipment you may need. You may also consider bringing a cooler to keep your catch fresh and a camera to capture all the excitement.

16. Learn at the Destin History & Fishing Museum

Learn at the Destin History & Fishing Museum

If you’re interested in learning about the history of Destin, Florida, then a visit to the Destin History & Fishing Museum is a must. This museum is a great place to delve into the early pioneers’ history from the 1830s and the history of the fishing industry, from seine boats to the boats you see in Destin Harbor today.

A Board of Directors runs the museum and is a 501 C3 Non-Profit. It is located in the heart of Destin, Florida, and has been preserving and teaching the city’s history since its founding in 2005. The museum features thousands of historic photographs, artifacts, fishing equipment, murals, fish mounts, and even some historic boats from the early days.

One of the most exciting things about the museum is that it offers an educational experience for both adults and children. They offer a “Kids Summer Series” with different activities and learning opportunities in the summer. The museum also sponsors the big annual boat parade on Destin Harbor, which has been going on for over 35 years. 

The museum is set up like a timeline through the area’s fishing history, starting with the seine nets used when there was no such thing as modern rods and reels. You can witness the birth and evolution of a fishing industry that has become the heritage of the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” You can also view over 60 mounts of fish caught by anglers in Destin waters and learn about local fish and fishing.

What is the Best Month to Visit Destin?

I believe the best month to visit Destin is December. The weather during this time is usually warm, with a mix of sunny days and occasional chilly nights. The average low temperature is around 40 degrees, and the Gulf water temperature hovers around 68 degrees. Additionally, the average rainfall is relatively low at 5.4 inches. This makes December an ideal time to enjoy a warmer holiday climate.

Another great time to visit Destin is March. The weather is similar to December, combining warm, sunny days and some cooler nights. This period allows for pleasant outdoor activities and beach relaxation without the intense summer heat and humidity.

Both December and March are excellent months to experience the beauty of Destin without the large crowds typically seen during the peak summer months.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are some romantic activities for couples in Destin?

Couples visiting Destin can enjoy a sunset sail on the emerald green waters, a romantic beach picnic, or a couples massage at one of the many spas in the area. Destin Travel Guide recommends a sunset stroll on the beach or a dinner cruise for a memorable evening.

What are the top attractions for families visiting Destin?

Families visiting Destin can enjoy various activities, including visiting the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, exploring the Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park, or taking a dolphin-watching tour. 

How can college students enjoy their time in Destin on a budget?

College students visiting Destin on a budget can enjoy free activities such as visiting the Henderson Beach State Park, exploring the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, or walking on the beach. 

What are some hidden gems to explore in Destin?

Destin has many hidden gems that visitors can explore, such as the Destin History & Fishing Museum, the Indian Temple Mound Museum, and the Emerald Coast Science Center. 

Which activities are available for visitors at Crab Island?

Crab Island is a popular destination for visitors, offering activities such as snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking. Visitors can also enjoy live music, food vendors, and floating restaurants. 

What are the peak travel seasons for Destin, and when can you find the best deals?

The peak travel seasons for Destin are from May to August when the weather is warm and sunny. However, visitors can find the best deals during the off-season from November to February.

What are some things that tourists don’t know about Florida beaches?

Tourists may not know that some Florida beaches have strict rules against alcohol consumption, bonfires, and pets. 

What is off-season in Destin, FL?

Off-season in Destin, FL, is from November to February when the weather is cooler and less crowded. 

What months is hurricane season in Destin, Florida?

Hurricane season in Destin, Florida, is from June to November. Visitors should know the weather conditions and follow any evacuation orders from local authorities. 

What time of year is the water clearest in Destin?

The water in Destin is clearest during the fall and winter months when the crowds are fewer, and the weather is cooler.

What is the red flag warning for Destin, Florida?

The red flag warning for Destin, Florida, indicates hazardous water conditions, such as high surf, strong currents, or dangerous marine life. Visitors should follow any warning signs and avoid swimming during red flag warnings.

How clean is Destin beach?

Destin Beach is known for its clean and pristine white sand beaches. The city of Destin also has a beach cleaning program that ensures the beaches are kept clean and free of debris.