19 Fun Things to Do in Destin, Florida (2024)

Planning a vacation to the Florida Panhandle and Emerald Coast? Start by exploring all the best things to do in Destin, FL. Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Destin is known for its white-sand beaches, emerald-green waters, and laid-back atmosphere.

The top tourist attractions in Destin number among the most popular in Northwest Florida. On your vacation, you’ll stroll along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, sail down giant slides at the Big Kahuna’s Water Park, and explore the wilderness at Henderson Beach State Park. Or you can enjoy world-class fishing on the Gulf of Mexico in the city that’s been dubbed the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.

Not sure what to do on your journey? Start planning your ultimate Emerald Coast vacation with this guide to the best places to visit in Destin, Florida.

Got more travel plans on the horizon?Check out all ourother attractions guides and our Florida Travel Guide for more ideas and tips on where to go, when to visit & what to do!

Best places to visit in Destin, FL

Crab Island

Just north of the Marler Bridge at the Choctawhatchee Bay’s south entrance lies Crab Island. The sandbar is a trendy hangout covered with one to four feet of water, depending on the tide. The “island” is surrounded by water. You’ll need to have your own boat or take a cruise to enjoy the festivities.

19 Fun Things to Do in Destin, Florida (1)

Throughout the summer, Crab Island is one of Destin’s most popular spots for water sports for locals and tourists alike, with hundreds of boats, kayaks, jet skis, and paddleboards surrounding the sandbar with a skim of emerald green water over it. Various floating restaurants and food boats frequent Crab Island, with ice cream, drinks, and fresh coconut throughout the day.

Looking to partake in your own kayaking or boating adventures on the water? Kayaks, paddleboards, jet skis, and the extremely popular pontoon boats are all available for rent in Destin Harbor, only a five-minute boat ride to Crab Island.

HarborWalk Village

HarborWalk Village is the central meeting spot for almost anything you want to do in Destin, Florida. You’ll find an overabundance of restaurants within the village, including favorites like Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville, Harry T’s Lighthouse, East Pass Seafood & Oyster House, and Crab Island Cantina. A wide variety of fast-food and snack places also lie nearby for a quick bite.

19 Fun Things to Do in Destin, Florida (2)

If you’re searching for entertainment and water activities, head to the Destin Fishing Fleet, hosting the country’s largest charter fishing fleet. Or rent a kayak, paddleboard, or pontoon boat for a trip to Crab Island.

From HarborWalk Village, you can also enjoy glass-bottom boat tours, dolphin cruises, or parasailing over the Gulf of Mexico coastline. The kids will flock to the buccaneer pirate cruise or a bottlenose dolphin tour and the weekly fireworks.

Besides the top-notch seafood restaurants, The HarborWalk Village has tons of unique shops to browse through for your shopping enjoyment. Check out Aloha Surf Company for a new coverup or suit for hitting the waves at the beach. Or head to Bleu Tropics to find a stylish new piece of jewelry that’ll go with a new outfit from Sunset Lifestyles or Life is Good.

Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park

Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park is the largest water park on Florida’s Emerald Coast. The popular adventure park was voted by Emerald Coast Magazine readers as the “Best Place to Take the Kids.” It’s the perfect spot for the entire family.

Kids will want to spend the day exploring the 40+ water attractions and rides. Options include the meandering lazy river, Honolulu Half Pipe, white water tube rides, water slides, wave pools, and four children’s water play areas. The water portion of the park is open during the summer from mid-May through August.

19 Fun Things to Do in Destin, Florida (3)

The year-round adventure park offers thrill-seekers a chance to soar 100 feet above the ground on the Sky Coaster. Or test your stomach on the Cyclone Twister, spinning at over 50 miles an hour.

To stay on the ground, check out Tropical Mini Golf’s challenging 54 holes. This fun activity will lead you through waterfalls, over wooden bridges, around sculptured trees, and through caves.

Destin Commons

Across the street from the Crystal Beach section of Destin, you’ll find a fantastic open-air shopping area known as Destin Commons. Here you’ll find award-winning shopping destinations and dining locations along with colorful murals that’ll make the perfect Instagram selfie background.

Begin your shopping adventure at either Bass Pro Shops or Belk and work your way through stores like Loft, It’s Sugar, H&M, and Lizard Thicket, a women’s boutique shop.

Need a break from the heat? Grab a movie at the AMC theater or take the kids to the gigantic splash pad and playground. The playground includes a climbing area and a play area with a pirate theme. For an unusual treat, head to nearby Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill for some underwater bowling.

When you’re done shopping, take the route south of Destin Commons to soak up the rays on Crystal Beach. With its pastel-colored beach cottages and sugar-white sands, it’s one of Destin’s finest beaches and a prime vacation destination.

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Need some excitement for the kids? The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is a family-friendly destination just a 10-minute drive away from Destin in Fort Walton Beach.

At the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, the family will delight in seeing sea lions show off their tricks and watching the dolphins and trainers complete their demonstrations. Your entire travel crew will learn plenty about these marvelous creatures here through its exhibits, touch tank, and shows.

19 Fun Things to Do in Destin, Florida (4)

Along the Expedition Trail route, you’ll spot an array of other marine animals, as well as turtles, alligators, and birds. Visit to learn more about the habitats and habits of these animals and more.

RELATED: Top Points of Interest in Fort Walton Beach

Kids will love how close they can get to all the animals in the aquarium’s Animal Encounters tours and activities. Highlights include up-close encounters with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, stingrays, African penguins, and alligators. You can book your tickets for the experience in advance on the official website.

Henderson Beach State Park

Located along Florida’s Emerald Coast just a short distance away, the 200-acre Henderson Beach State Park is one of Destin’s top excursions. The park offers plenty of fun activities, whether you visit for an hour or an entire week.

19 Fun Things to Do in Destin, Florida (5)

Head to its 6,000 feet of Gulf of Mexico shoreline to sunbathe, play in the surf, fish, or soak in a beautiful sunset. If you want to extend your adventure, book yourself into one of its 60 campsites to park your RV or pitch a tent.

RELATED: Most Beautiful Florida Panhandle Beaches

Take a walk along the Henderson Beach State Park’s nature trail to explore the coastal dunes and spot wildlife and various endangered plants. The trail is even pet-friendly. Or jump on your bike and take a mile-long ride down the park’s paved road to marvel at its wild nature.

Okaloosa Island

Between Destin and Fort Walton Beach liesa three-mile strip of land known as Okaloosa Island or Santa Rosa Island. Home to one of the most beautiful beaches in Destin, Okaloosa Island is one of the city’s top points of interest.

On Okaloosa Island, you’ll dazzle at beautiful white sand beaches and emerald green water. Be sure to bring along your beach chair, cooler, and beach toys for some prime relaxation on the sands.

19 Fun Things to Do in Destin, Florida (6)

Spend the day trudging up the massive sand dunes, paddleboarding, jet skiing, or relaxing in the shallow waters and on the sandy beach. If you’ve got the time, extend your stay into the evening to watch the sunset over the water.

When not enjoying the shoreline, head to the Okaloosa Island Boardwalk. Here, you’ll find various restaurants and favorite local shops like Coastal Currents, Kitty Hawk Kites, and Surfside Outfitters.

Or gear up for a fishing adventure by casting a line off of Okaloosa Island Pier. The fishing pier is also a wonderful spot for sunset views, birdwatching experiences, and trying to spot marine life like sharks and bottlenose dolphins splashing around the waves. Admission to the pier for adults is just $2 for sightseeing and $8 for fishing. Children under six can visit for free.

RELATED: Top-Rated Places to See in Pensacola, FL

Throughout the year, Okaloosa Island hosts several special events. During the summer, catch the fireworks over the boardwalk. In February, you can enjoy the Mardi Gras on the Island Parade and Ball. Each April, Fort Walton Beach also hosts Kitty Hawk Kites Beach Kite Festival.

Gator Beach

At Fudpucker’s Beachside Bar and Grill in Destin, FL, you can get more than dinner and a drink. Fudpucker’s Gator Beach Alligator Park offers visitors a chance to have the unique opportunity to see hundreds of alligators up close for free.

During your visit to Gator Beach, you can experience feeding the alligators by using a cane pole or snap an Instagram-worthy picture holding an alligator. You’ll also be able to learn more about the American Alligator through its daily entertaining and educational shows.

Be sure to visit the exhibits in its Crocodile Discover Zone. Here you can see the alligator babies and even a rare albino alligator!

James Lee Park

Searching for a beautiful beach to spend the day on? Look no further than James Lee Park. Also known as Crab Trap Beach, James Lee Park marvels visitors with its emerald water and white sand. The beach is accessible to everyone. A handful of its nine dune walkovers are ADA-accessible. Once in the water, you’ll have no problems swimming and exploring; the water stays shallow for a long way out.

James Lee Park includes 41 picnic tables and three pavilions to enjoy a picnic lunch. Alternatively, you can grab lunch or dinner at Crab Trap Destin, a popular local seafood restaurant.

When the kids get tired of the water, head to the playground where they can swing, slide, and climb or take a walk along the beach.

The beach has lifeguards, along with chair and umbrella rentals from mid-March through October.

Destin Harbor Boardwalk

Located along Destin Harbor, the unique ¼-mile Destin Harbor Boardwalk is one of the most popular Destin tourist attractions. The boardwalk stretches from the Destin Yacht Club to Harborwalk Village. It provides visitors with plenty of places to access the beautiful waterfront. From here, you can also catch fishing charters, dolphin encounter tours, banana boat rides, or snorkeling trips. For an extra exhilarating water activity, you can even try your hand at parasailing!

There are plenty of quality restaurants to enjoy delicious foods along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk. Some of the top choices include Margaritaville Destin, AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar, and Harry T’s Lighthouse.

19 Fun Things to Do in Destin, Florida (7)

At the western side of the boardwalk near Harborwalk Village, you’ll find a wide range of shopping boutiques. The stores here offer everything from jewelry, designer shoes, and resort wear to specialty foods. If you time your visit right, you may even be able to catch a comedy show or performance at the HarborWalk Theater.

Kids will have a blast at the HarborWalk Mining Company. Visit the attraction to mine for sharks’ teeth and to challenge friends in inflatable water balls.

The family fun continues throughout the year during firework displays, parades, and the annual Destin Seafood Festival.

Destin History & Fishing Museum

Turn back the hands of time and visit the Destin History & Fishing Museum. At this popular maritime museum, you’ll discover why Destin is known as the “Luckiest Fishing Village in the World” and get a glimpse of life in Destin in the 1930s. Learn about the town’s 175 years of history, lore, and how the fishing industry began in Destin through its historical exhibits.

The Destin History & Fishing Museum focuses on sharing stores and preserving the area’s history. You’ll find fishing equipment displays and artifacts that include antique tackle, seine nets, and the oldest surviving seine fishing boat. Keep on the lookout for the old split-bamboo Penn Reel once owned by Ernest Hemingway. You’ll also be able to gawk at over 75 mounted fish, including cobia, shark, and snapper.

Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl and Grill

Looking for something to do on a rainy or hot afternoon in Destin? Head to the family-friendly Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl. Located in Destin Commons, this popular attraction is one of the top places to see in Destin on a family vacation.

At Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl, you can enjoy a dinner of Cajun fried catfish, brisket mac and cheese, or Uncle Buck’s fish and chips. After dinner, sweat off the Southern comfort food at the 16-lane bowling alley. The bowling alley has an underwater theme that features stingrays, turtles, mermaids, and hand-painted murals. Watch your fingers as you grip the alligator and shark bowling balls.

A billiards room is also available for those looking for a game of pool.

Grayton Beach State Park

Prepare for a tranquil, unspoiled beach vacation when you come to Grayton Beach State Park. Grayton Beach is often named one of the United States’ most beautiful beaches. Spend the day on the pristine beach, enjoying everything from magnificent sunrises to elegant sunset sunbathing, surf fishing, canoeing, or swimming.

Launch your kayak at the boat ramp and paddle around Western Lake through the salt marsh ecosystem getting close to nature.

19 Fun Things to Do in Destin, Florida (8)

For land lovers, stroll through the beautiful magnolia and scrub oak trees along the nature trail. Or you can pedal your bike four miles for a biking adventure through the pines on the trails.

RELATED: Top-Rated Panama City Beach Tourist Attractions

Want to spend more than a few hours in this idyllic environment? Rent one of the 30 two-bedroom, one-bath cabins or go camping on one of the 61 campsites with full hookups and spend the week.

Kelly Plantation Golf Club

Tucked between the Gulf of Mexico and the Choctawhatchee Bay on a former turpentine plantation, the Kelly Plantation Golf Club offers an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Fred Couples. Golf Advisor name the golf club #21 for U.S. Golf Course amenities in 2020. Golf Magazine and Digest have also given the course similar praise.

The Kelly Plantation Golf Club showcases a waterfront landscape along Choctawhatchee Bay that’s both challenging and enjoyable for all golfers. Prepare yourself to play on one of Florida’s most environmentally sensitive courses. Enjoy the swampy bayous, expansive contoured greens, and tricky manicured fairways.

On those hot Northwest Florida days, be sure to grab a cold towel or chilled apple to keep you refreshed while golfing. After your round, head to the Kelly Plantation’s Clubhouse. Enjoy a drink and complimentary popcorn and chips with salsa.

Air Force Armament Museum

Located at Fort Walton Beach, FL, Air Force Armament Museum is the world’s only dedicated exhibit of Air Force Armament and one of the must-visit Destin attractions for any aviation lover.

The Air Force Armament Museum is free to visit. Here, you’ll see various armaments from World War I pieces up to today’s bombs and planes.

Within the museum building, explore the astounding and interesting weaponry, simulators, photographs, and films. Outside, you can explore vintage aircraft like the SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest plane ever built. You’ll also spot 28 other restored planes, missiles, and rockets.

On your visit to one of the most popular museums on the Florida Panhandle, be sure to watch the 32-minute film explaining Eglin Air Force Base’s role in U.S. armament development.

The Market Shops

Located on Emerald Coast Pkwy in Miramar Beach, The Market Shops is the perfect place to spend the day browsing local boutiques or to enjoy a delicious meal and local entertainment.

The Market Shops offer a wide variety of unique stores and specialty boutiques featuring women’s clothing, jewelry, and artwork. When hunger strikes, choose between casual or fine dining at the various restaurants. Choices include award-winning seafood restaurants, breakfast at Maple Biscuit Company, pizza at Pizza by the Sea, or ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s.

Entertainment options at The Market Shops include a beautiful gazebo courtyard, fountains, and a children’s play area for the little ones.

Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone

Looking for some family-friendly fun on your Destin beach vacation? Pop into Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone with the kids in tow. Located in Fort Walton Beach on Okaloosa Island, this exhilarating family destination delivers indoor & outdoor fun that everyone in your travel group will get on board with.

If the sun is shining, test your resolve on the 60-foot outdoor ropes course or challenge your kids to a game on the two dinosaur-inspired mini-golf courses. For a more action-packed outing, take a whirl on the spinning roller coaster or a leap on the reverse bungy trampoline.

Visiting on a rainy day? Head inside to explore 17,000 square feet of family entertainment, including an arcade, movie theater, and laser maze.

The Village of Baytowne Wharf

Located on Choctawhatchee Bay within the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, The Village of Baytowne Wharf delivers a dash of modern Northwest Florida culture. The eclectic Baytowne Wharf area is home to an array of boutique shops, art galleries, restaurants, and bars—and is perfect for exploring day and night.

Spend the day browsing shops, filling your luggage with everything from the latest fashions to outdoor gear. Or opt for a more adventurous visit by taking to the zipline, ropes course, or tower climb at the Baytowne Adventure Zone.

By night, the Village of Baytowne Wharf transforms into a popular Destin nightlife hot spot. Choose between more than 20 top-notch restaurants & bars, covering everything from inspired Mexican cuisine to craft beers & co*cktails on a rooftop bar.

Fat Daddy’s Arcade

Hit by some unexpected bad weather? One of the best things to do in Destin is to spend the day hiding out at Fat Daddy’s Arcade. Located on the Emerald Coast Pkwy, the large arcade features over 120 arcade games, covering everything from the newest arcade hits to the classics.

Get nostalgic and relive moments of your childhood by playing a round of Pac-Man, Space Invaders, or Big Buck Hunter. The whole family will also find plenty of opportunities to win an array of carnival-like prizes, including stuffed animals and sweets.

Best places to stay in Destin for sightseeing

For travelers, many of the best places to stay in Destin fall within the city center, Fort Walton Beach, Crystal Beach, and Miramar Beach. All these areas lie within easy reach of the top Destin points of interest, including its famed sandy white beaches. Be sure to book your accommodations well ahead in the high tourism season—and expect higher prices.

19 Fun Things to Do in Destin, Florida (9)

Hampton Inn & Suites Destin

Located on Highway 98, this family-friendly hotel offers some of the best value accommodations in the Destin area. The whole family will love the amenities here, including a large outdoor pool area and fitness center. Public beach access is within steps of the property.

19 Fun Things to Do in Destin, Florida (10)

Embassy Suites Destin Miramar Beach

Sitting across the street from Miramar Beach, these suites are the perfect mid-range accommodation option for beach bums and families alike. The rooms are spacious and well-equipped for a full self-catering vacation. Upgrade to a water view room to enjoy fantastic Gulf vistas.

19 Fun Things to Do in Destin, Florida (11)

Henderson Beach Resort

Steps from Henderson Beach State Park, this fantastic resort is one of Destin’s top luxury hotels. Guests will enjoy luxurious amenities, including private beach access, two outdoor pools, and a full-service spa. For its succulent seafood, the on-site Primrose Restaurant is touted among the best places to eat around Destin.

DISCLAIMER: Treksplorer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and its affiliated international sites.

DISCLAIMER: You'll notice that from time to time I link out to recommended hotels/tours/products/services. If you purchase anything through these links, I'll receive a commission. It won't cost you anything extra, but it will help keep me trekkin' on and delivering more free (and unsponsored!) travel information to you. Thanks :)

19 Fun Things to Do in Destin, Florida (2024)


Is Destin fun for couples? ›

Destin Florida is Perfect for Couples!

As you can see, there are lots of fun things to do in Destin Florida for couples! Whether you stay at the Emerald Grande in the HarborWalk Village, choose an Airbnb, or stay at one of the nearby resorts, the city, its many restaurants, beaches, and adventures await!

What is Destin Florida 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.

Does Destin have nightlife? ›

The sounds and sights of Destin Florida at night are hard to beat. Places like the Destin Harbor come alive with clubs, restaurants, concerts, plays, and more! Concerts, plays, cultural events, and art events are also very common to see on a daily basis.

What is the best month to visit Destin? ›

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)

Destin's summer weather is hot and humid, with temperatures ranging from 75°F to 95°F and certainly the warmest water temperatures of the year. This is peak tourist season in Destin, attracting families on summer break and beach lovers alike.

Is Orange Beach or Destin better? ›

Destin vs Orange Beach FAQs

Destin has also earned the coveted Blue Wave Beach status for its exceptional beauty and cleanliness. However, Orange Beach also has its own charm with a murkier greenish-blue waters and a relaxed vibe, especially if you're looking for a more laid-back vacation.

What beach is better than Destin? ›

Santa Rosa Beach boasts a more laid-back and serene atmosphere, with fewer bustling crowds than Destin.

What's the cheapest month to go to Destin Florida? ›

November-February (Winter Months)

If you're looking for the cheapest time to visit Destin, Florida, consider visiting between November and February. These months are during the off-season, which means lower prices for hotels, airfare, attractions, and more.

What famous person lives in Destin Florida? ›

Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood fly down there from Nashville on a regular basis for vacations. Other celebrities and sometime residents who have homes here include Britney Spears, Sheryl Crow (who frequents the Red Bar in Grayton Beach), Jessica Simpson, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Keith Urban.

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.

What is the number one beach in Destin Florida? ›

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

Can you drink on the beach in Destin? ›

According to www.destinbeachvacationrentalsinc.com, 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.

What are people looking for at night on the beach in Destin? ›

After the sun sets, the beach is a whole new playground!

Bring a bucket and some red flashlights (the red light protects local sea turtles) and search for ghost crabs scurrying across the sand.

Is Destin worth going to? ›

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.

Is Destin or Clearwater more fun? ›

Is there more to do in Clearwater or Destin? Tourists will generally find more to do in Clearwater. Although Clearwater and Destin are both popular with visitors, Clearwater has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers.

Why do people love Destin Florida? ›

There is so much to love about the Emerald Coast during spring. Resting along the Gulf of Mexico with sugar-white sand beaches and emerald waters, Destin is a perfect spot to recharge and escape. From beautiful scenery, wine tasting, to outdoor adventures, this city has a plethora of activities to explore.

Why is Destin beach so popular? ›

Destin, located in the northernmost part of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico, is well recognized as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village" due to its abundance of beautiful beaches, crystal clear water, and verdant golf courses. Most tourists that visit the Emerald Coast find many things to do in Destin, Florida.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Horacio Brakus JD

Last Updated:

Views: 5661

Rating: 4 / 5 (51 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Horacio Brakus JD

Birthday: 1999-08-21

Address: Apt. 524 43384 Minnie Prairie, South Edda, MA 62804

Phone: +5931039998219

Job: Sales Strategist

Hobby: Sculling, Kitesurfing, Orienteering, Painting, Computer programming, Creative writing, Scuba diving

Introduction: My name is Horacio Brakus JD, I am a lively, splendid, jolly, vivacious, vast, cheerful, agreeable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.