Located on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Destin is famous for gorgeous beaches, beautiful water, and lots of family fun activities. In fact, Destin has been named one of the top family travel destinations in the US. There is an endless number of things to do in Destin, Florida and is a perfect start to a Florida road trip. Thus, here are our top 10 Destin Florida attractions to hit up this summer.
Destin Florida Attractions – 10 SPECTACULAR things to do in Destin Florida
White Sand Beaches
While Destin has countless things to do, it’s the beaches that are the regions main draw. With beautiful white sand and emerald waters, you could easily spend a whole vacation just relaxing at the beach. There are a total of 12 beach access points along Destin’s coastline with a number of standout options you won’t want to miss.
Henderson Beach State Park runs for over 6,000 feet, with some of the best beach sand you will ever feel. The park also has great grilling spots, campsites, a nice nature trail, and a playground for the kids. Crystal Beach is another favorite with equally beautiful sand and cute rental cottages available all along the beach. James Lee Park Public Beach is also a great family option with beachside pavilions, a playground, and a convenient option to rent beach chairs and umbrellas. Make sure not to forget sunscreen as the Florida sun as you can burn very fast – (Check out my Beach Vacation Packing List Here)
This historic aquarium has been a family favorite for generations of children. Originally opened in 1955, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park has a number of face-to-face animals encounters the kids are sure to love.
Check out the touch tank, filled with starfish, hermit crabs, and more. The “Reptile Safari” lets kids have a hands-on experience with lizards, snakes, turtles, and even an alligator. There are penguin feedings, playful sea lions, and a dolphin show you won’t want to miss.
Dolphin, Sunset or a Pirate Tour
Located on the Gulf of Mexico, no trip to Destin is really complete until you get out on the water. I feel like one of the must do things to do in Destin Florida is take a boat tour. There are a number of boat tour companies that offer a variety of different trips.
The dolphin cruises are a top favorite with most tour companies guaranteeing you’ll see dolphins. You can often bring your own snacks and drinks onboard these cruises as well which makes them perfect for the picky eaters in the family. The classic sunset cruises make for a romantic date night if you happen to find a babysitter and almost always feature a few dolphins as well.
By far the most fun of all the boat tours are the pirate-themed cruises! From the moment you step onboard, the fun begins with water gun battles, treasure hunting, pirate stories, and sword fights. Be sure to dress up if you have the pirate gear or if not they will be happy to give you some pirate face paint.
Filled with over 40 waterpark attractions, Big Kahuna is sure to keep kids of any age entertained for hours. There are slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, and water rides like the Honolulu Half Pipe and the Kowabunga Racer.
Open from mid-May through the end of August, the waterpark is a favorite summertime activity and on peak weekends can get a bit busy. If you are visiting in the offseason, there is still some fun to be had at the park with a few small rides, mini-golf, and a racetrack.
Do Some Shopping at the Destin Commons
Of course, shopping is on my list for top Destin Florida Attractions. For a bit of shopping, check out the Destin Commons. This outdoor mall has a mix of national and local retail stores, a movie theater, and plenty of great restaurants.
In addition to the typical mall features, the Destin Commons also has some great outdoor play spaces for the kids. There is a playground, a summertime splash pad, and a miniature train for the kids to ride.
Running for almost a quarter mile along the harbor, the boardwalk is a great place to just stroll and take in Destin’s unique charm. All along the boardwalk, you will find nice restaurants, ice cream parlors, boat tour charters, and lots of benches to just sit and people watch the afternoon away.
The boardwalk is also the center of the action for a number of Destin’s yearly festivals and events. If you are visiting in October, be sure you don’t miss the Destin Seafood Festival or the Destin Fishing Rodeo both held on the Destin Harbor Boardwalk.
The Village of Baytowne is a Destin area favorite with wonderful boutique shopping, nightlife, and festivals all year round.
Located on the Choctawhatchee Bay, the village offers charming outdoor movies, free summer concerts, and free flyboarding shows. The village is very family and pet-friendly during the day. At night, it’s also a great place to check out for some nightlife with the number of bars and nightclubs.
For history or art lovers, Destin also offers a number of museums. One of the top rated is the Destin History and Fishing Museum. Covering the history of Destin, the museum explores Destin’s development from a small, sleepy fishing town to top vacation destination.
There are a number of exhibits with everything from early photographs of the area to a 100-foot long display of all the different types of fish found in the area. The museum also has an extensive collection of antique fishing equipment, including a fishing reel once owned by Ernest Hemingway and the oldest seine fishing boat still in existence.
After visiting the museum you might want to go on your own fishing adventure. Thankfully, there are a number of companies in the area that offer fishing charters for fisherman of any skill level.
Rent a Boat For Your Family
If you’d like to explore a bit further than the beach, why not consider renting a boat? There are a number of boat rental companies in Destin, renting out everything from sailboats to pontoons. The waters here are calm and it is easy to have a nice sail around the bay before heading for a Destin landmark – Crab Island.
Located on a sandbar out in the ocean, Crab Island is a great place to drop the anchor and spend the day. With floating food boat restaurants and crystal clear water, it is worth renting a boat just for the chance to join in on the fun.
Hand out with some Gators at Gator Beach at Fudpuckers
If you want to get up close and personal with an alligator, you have to visit Gator Beach at Fudpuckers. While a restaurant at its core, Fudpuckers is a place packed with family fun activities. A Destin icon, the restaurant is home to over 100 alligators, which you can feed and hold for a photograph.
The gator fun is all free but it is worth checking out the restaurant for some good food and even the chance to taste a bit of alligator!
The truth is we have only just scratched the surface when it comes to things to do in Destin, Florida. Whether you visit in summer or winter, you are sure to have a great time!
Bonus – Where to Stay in Destin Florida!
So, where do you stay when heading to Destin. My personal choice is The Henderson – A Salamander Beach & Spa Resort. The resort is located right on the water and has two delightful pools. The rooms were so beautiful and clean. The staff provided such great customer service. The location couldn’t be better. I seriously cannot wait to come back to visit soon Check Current Prices Here!
Why You Should Go
There is plenty to do for everyone in the family, whether it’s boating, visiting the museum, walking along the boardwalk or laying out by the beach. We know there are an array of gorgeous beaches to choose from in Destin and the great news is you don’t just have to choose just one! There is plenty to do to customize your visit to your family’s wants and needs on your next vacation to Destin!
Map of Things to Do In Destin
Do you have any tips for visiting Destin? Let us know in the comments!
What is there to do in Destin besides the beach?
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Henderson Beach State Park
Shopping at Destin Commons
Village of Baytowne Wharf
Big Kahuna’s Water Park
Dolphin Sunset Cruise
Destin Harbor Boardwalk
Maximum Magic Show
What is there to do in Destin for families?
Destin History and Fishing Museum
Destin Harbor Boardwalk
Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier
Sea Blaster Dolphin
Gator Beach at Fudpucker’s
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
The Track Family Recreation Center
When is the best time to visit Destin?
Usually around April and May when it is not peak summer season, so you are able to get better pricing, but still enjoy the warmer weather and water without the crowds! It’s a win-win!
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