The Top 20 Things To Do In Destin, Florida

Things To Do In Destin, Florida

The Top 20 Things To Do In Destin, Florida

Known for its emerald green waters and sugar-white sand beaches, Destin is a popular vacation destination along Florida’s Panhandle. With beach access, exciting attractions, delicious seafood restaurants, and beautiful scenery, this charming beach town has so much to offer. Here are the top 20 things to do in Destin on your next vacation.

1. Relax On The Beach

Destin is world-famous for its pristine beaches. The sand is so fine and white that it squeaks under your feet. The emerald green waters are calm, clear, and perfect for swimming. Spend a day lounging under an umbrella, building sandcastles, searching for seashells, or taking a refreshing dip in the ocean. Popular beach access points include Henderson Beach State Park, Norriego Point, and the Crab Trap.

2. Charter A Fishing Trip

The waters off Destin’s coast are teeming with fish. Book a private charter and try your luck at reeling in prized catches like snapper, tuna, mackerel, and grouper. If deep-sea fishing isn’t your thing, you can also charter inshore fishing trips in Destin Harbor and East Pass. Most charters provide all the bait, gear, and equipment you’ll need for a successful fishing adventure.

3. Rent A Boat

See Destin from the water by renting your own boat for the day or week. Ski boats, pontoons, personal watercraft, kayaks, paddleboards, and more are available from local marinas and rental companies. Cruise along the coast, stop at secluded coves or boat out to Crab Island for a floating beach party. Having your own boat allows you to explore Destin’s blue waters at your own pace.

4. Tour Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

One of Destin’s top attractions is Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. Get up close with dolphins, sea lions, penguins, otters, and more during live shows and animal encounters. Feed or pet stingrays at Stingray Bay. See sharks, sea turtles, fish, and even alligators in expansive habitats. Learn about marine research and conservation efforts. It’s fun and educational for all ages.

5. Skydive Over The Emerald Coast

Skydive Over The Emerald Coast

For thrill-seekers, skydiving over the emerald green waters and powdery beaches things to do of Destin is an incredible experience. Feel the rush as you jump from 12,000 feet with an experienced instructor and admire breathtaking aerial views of the coastline below. Several skydiving companies operate out of the Destin Executive Airport.

6. Tee Off On Championship Golf Courses

With year-round warm weather and picturesque courses, Destin is a golfer’s paradise. Book a tee time at acclaimed courses like Kelly Plantation, Regatta Bay, Linkside at Sandestin, Raven, and Indian Bayou. Most area courses offer incredible scenery and challenging holes right along the coast. Rent clubs, take lessons, or play a few rounds on your vacation.

7. Go On A Dolphin Cruise

You can often spot dolphins swimming alongside boats or playing in the surf off Destin’s shoreline. For almost guaranteed dolphin sightings, take a specialized dolphin cruise. Local companies like Southern Star offer evening dolphin cruises aboard glass-bottom boats. Watch the friendly marine mammals frolic as the sun sets over the bay. An experienced captain and crew will tell you all about the dolphins and their behaviors.

8. Visit Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park

From steep waterslides to a lazy river, zip line, and obstacle courses, Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park offers fun for all ages. Get an adrenaline rush on waterslides like the Honolulu Halfpipe. Race down slides on inner tubes designed for 1 to 4 people. Float along in the tropical lagoon. For dry-land thrills, tackle ropes courses and zip lines. This massive water park is open seasonally in Destin.

9. Go Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding is a popular activity in Destin. Rent a board and experience the emerald-green waters from a unique vantage point. It’s great exercise as you paddle through the calm coastal waters. Many companies offer lessons and tours if you’re new to paddleboarding. Paddle through East Pass out to the Gulf of Mexico or glide along the harbors and bayous surrounding Destin.

10. Charter A Boat For Snorkeling

Charter A Boat For Snorkeling

The clear waters off Destin provide excellent visibility for snorkeling excursions. Charter a boat and snorkeling gear and head out to explore artificial reefs, shipwrecks, and marine life up close. Common sightings while snorkeling include tropical fish, stingrays, sea turtles, eels, and more. Guided snorkeling trips make sure you find the best spots and identify all the incredible sea creatures.

11. Tour Henderson Beach State Park

Just east of Destin, Henderson Beach State Park spans more than 6,000 acres of beaches, dunes, wetlands, and pine forests. Drive through the park for gorgeous scenery. Stop at scenic vistas overlooking the beach. Hike nature trails and boardwalks spotting wildlife. Bring a picnic and relax on the beach. Visitor amenities include campsites, restrooms, beach access points, and concessions. Entry fees apply to the park.

12. Go Parasailing

Drift along high above emerald waters strapped to a parachute and sail for incredible aerial views of Destin from 300 to 800 feet above sea level. Most Destin watersports companies offer parasailing trips where you’ll be safely lifted into the air behind a special boat designed for parasailing. Soar solo, tandem, or triple for 15 exhilarating minutes over the Gulf of Mexico.

13. Take A Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Get a whole new perspective on Destin’s marine life and coastal scenery with a trip aboard a glass-bottomed boat. Large windows set into the hull below deck allow you to look directly down into the Gulf’s blue-green waters. Local companies like Southern Star Dolphin Cruises and Sailboat Charters offer glass bottom boat tours along the coast. See a wide variety of fish and marine life from this unique vantage point.

14. Stroll Through Destin Harbor

Filled with fishing charter boats, yachts, seafood restaurants, and boutiques, Destin Harbor has a lively boardwalk atmosphere. Take an afternoon or evening stroll along the harbor for great people-watching, window shopping, and beautiful views. Stop for a bite to eat or cocktails as you soak in the sights. You’re likely to see dolphins frolicking in the marina.

15. Play a Round of Beachside Mini Golf

Destin has several fun, family-friendly mini golf courses featuring creative designs and seaside layouts. Try your putting skills on courses shaped like whales, alligators, pirates, dinosaurs, and more. Most beachside mini golf courses stay open late in the evenings, so they’re great after-dinner entertainment for all ages. Some also have arcades, ice cream shops, and other amusements.

16. Catch a Concert at Destin Harbor

Catch a Concert at Destin Harbor

Throughout spring and summer, Destin Harbor rocks out with free live music concerts on its Main Stage. Sit on the lawn or bring chairs and blankets for an evening of music under the stars. Concerts typically take place on Thursday evenings and feature a wide variety of bands playing country, rock, oldies, and more. Food and drinks are available from on-site vendors.

17. Go Deep Sea Fishing

Head offshore into the Gulf of Mexico’s open waters for an unforgettable deep-sea fishing experience. Destin’s charter captains know how to find the bite and get you hooked into massive fish like tuna, sailfish, and mahi. Full and half-day deep-sea fishing trips are available. The boats have bathrooms, shade, food, and everything you need for an amazing offshore adventure.

18. Explore Point Washington State Forest

Just north of Destin, Point Washington State Forest has more than 15 miles of hiking trails through scenic woodlands, lakes, and marshes. Spot wildlife as you hike through coastal dunes, rolling hills, and pine flatwoods on trails of varying length and difficulty. Leashed pets are permitted on most trails. Mountain biking, horseback riding, and primitive camping are also allowed in designated areas.

19. Tour the Indian Temple Mound Museum

Learn about the history of Destin’s indigenous people at the Indian Temple Mound Museum. See artifacts and exhibits showcasing regional Native American history from prehistoric times through the 1800s. The on-site grounds include a ‘temple’ mound built by the Fort Walton Culture as far back as 1050 AD. Guided tours of the museum and grounds are available.

20. Go Crab Hunting

Go Crab Hunting In Destin, Florida

Put on some water shoes and grab a basket for an afternoon of shallow-water crab hunting. The waters around Destin are full of blue crabs and stone crabs. Locals seek out crabs hiding in rock jetties, marshes, or seaside shallows. Once you’ve harvested your limit, take home and cook up a fresh seafood feast. Popular crabbing spots include East Pass and Crab Island sandbars.


With its emerald coastline, excellent seafood, exciting watersports, golf courses, attractions, and charming harbor boardwalk, Destin truly offers memorable activities for travelers of all ages and interests. The soft sand beaches and calm gulf waters accommodate beach fun, while chartered fishing excursions and boat rentals explore offshore. Area attractions like Gulfarium, Big Kahuna’s Waterpark, shopping centers, mini golf, and Crab Island provide family-friendly entertainment. Nightlife centers around the harbor restaurants and bars. When planning your upcoming Florida vacation, consider adding a few days in the paradise of Destin.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best month to visit Destin?

Destin has a year-round subtropical climate that’s ideal for vacations any time. However, late spring and summer between May and August are the most popular for beach vacations. The weather is consistently warm and ideal for water sports during these months when kids are also out of school. Fall brings milder weather, fewer crowds, and low off-season rates.

What kind of fish are caught in Destin?

Some of Destin’s top sport fish species include snapper, grouper, cobia, tuna, mackerel, amberjack, and mahi. Inshore fishing produces redfish, speckled trout, and flounder. Destin’s jetties and Destin Bridge are also popular spots to catch pompano, sheepshead, and mangrove snapper.

Is Destin kid-friendly?

Yes, Destin is very popular for family vacations. The beaches are gentle with soft white sand and calm emerald water ideal for kids. Many resorts and rental companies cater to families. Attractions like Gulfarium, Big Kahuna’s water park, and beachside mini golf give kids plenty to do. The harbor also offers dolphin cruises, wave runners, and parasailing for ages 5+.

What is there to do in Destin at night?

At night, stroll along the well-lit harbor boardwalk which has restaurants and bars with live music. Take a sunset dolphin cruise and admire the city lights. Play mini golf or arcade games before grabbing ice cream. Drive out to Crab Island or Norriego Point sandbars, which are popular evening hangouts when the tide is low. Head to Destin Commons for shopping, dining, and movie theaters.

How do you get around Destin?

Destin is very spread out along the coastline so having a car is recommended to access different beach areas, attractions, and restaurants. The heart of Destin is accessible along Highway 98 which runs parallel to the coast through the town centers. Free parking is available at most beach access points, shopping centers, harbors, and attractions. Walking along the harbor is also a popular activity.

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