15 Can’t-Miss Activities in Destin and 30A
May 10, 2021
At Scenic Stays, we hear it all the time from our first-time visitors to the Destin and 30A area: they came for the beaches. It’s no surprise, the Gulf of Mexico is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States, and while visitors may have initially come for the beaches, they come back for the ample activities embedded in the vibrant communities of Destin and 30A.
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or an experienced traveler to Northwest Florida, we want you to vacay like a pro so you can make the most of your visit. Things to do near 30A and Destin are like diamonds in the ruff, tucked away, and totally worth it.
Here are our top 15 things to do in Destin and 30A, broken down by area and all bucket list-worthy.
Destin & 30A Activities
1. Downward Dog in the Sun with Beach Yoga
The beaches of Destin and 30A are so much more than a means of relaxation; they’ve become a place to enjoy from sunrise to sunset. Namaste your vacay by taking a yoga class on the beach, preferably at sunrise. Places like Destin Yoga By the Sea offer year-round public beach yoga classes making it super convenient to pop in at your leisure, or book a private yoga class for the whole family with 30-A Yoga, located in Santa Rosa Beach.
2. Visit the Local Breweries
Over the past decade, Destin and 30A have become a hotspot for local breweries. Each has its different vibe, but all are catering to the beach lifestyle. Plan your route because some of these places are tucked back in areas only the locals know. Our favorites? They’re all so tasty; it’s hard to pick. Destin Brewery for their fun coastal rotating brews. Idyll Hounds Brewing Company for their epic and pet-friendly taproom. They’re located right next to Distillery 98, and while not a brewery, we feel they deserve an honorable mention here for their small batch and locally crafted spirits. Grayton Beer Brewpub for their beer flights. We could go on, but this is your adventure, not ours!
3. Up Your Beach Setup Game
When heading to the beach, you bring all the essentials, like beach chairs, umbrellas, sunscreen, snacks, we can go on. It’s a lot to carry, especially if you have kids in tow. Up your beach game along Destin and 30A by hiring beach service to do the heavy lifting. La Dolce Vita along Destin and 30A has everything you need to enjoy your time in the sand from morning till night. From beach chairs and umbrellas to nighttime bonfires, they know the lay of the land and make it effortlessly fun and relaxing for you and your family.
4. Go Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
Experience the water beyond the beach by renting stand-up paddle boards. With crystal clear water and shallow sand bars, there’s plenty of sea life to experience past swimming distance, like dolphins, grouper, and sea turtles. Businesses like Vacayzen (formerly Rent Gear Here) service both Destin and 30A and deliver straight to your beach home or condo. No hassle here.
5. Shop Local
Whether you view shopping as an activity or a sport, Destin and 30A have ample opportunity to shop your socks off. We recommend keeping your shopping local as we have many local clothing, jewelry, and decor designers waiting for your to discover them. Places like The Hub next to the beach town of Watersound on 30A have locally curated stores for the whole family, not to mention a pretty cool night scene on their greenspace. If you’re closer to Destin, HarborWalk Village is a vibrant scene filled with local retail shops, bustling restaurants, and a view you can’t beat.
6. Go On a Dolphin Cruise
Destin and 30A have an abundance of beaches, an abundance of sunshine, and an abundance of dolphins. Spend enough time on any beach along the Gulf of Mexico and you’ll be sure to spot a family of dolphins in the distance. It doesn’t get much better than that. Well, it does, by getting up close to the majestic creatures with a dolphin cruise. Destin Dolphin Cruises is voted the ‘best dolphin tour in Destin’ and offers plenty of time slots to fit your schedule.
7. Grab Lunch at Lulu’s
Arguably the best view from the bay, Lulu’s sits at the tip of the 293 bridge crossing over the bay. Lulu’s is a fun, family-friendly restaurant with beach flare. Fresh margarita’s, friendly staff, and a beach for the kids to play on, this place is sure to put you in vacay mode pronto.
Staying on 30A? We don’t want to leave you hanging. For the ultimate Choctawhatchee Bay view along 30A, check out The Bay, a waterfront restaurant with delicious Gulf cuisine and a robust and inventive cocktail scene.
8. Bask in the Sun on Norriego Point
Norriego Point has changed drastically over the past decade, going from a relatively inaccessible peninsula to a unique beach area to catch some rays. Located on Holiday Isle in Destin, one side faces Destin Harbor, the other, east pass leading out to the Gulf of Mexico, both offering plenty to see with boats weaving in and out of the canals.
“I’ve been coming to Norriego Point for decades and love to see how our community has taken care of and preserved the area. My family and I particularly enjoy the little beach alcoves on the east pass side. It feels like we’re on our own private beach!” ~ Chris, Scenic Stays employee
9. Pet a Gator at Fudpuckers
When driving along Highway 98 at night, you can’t miss Fudpucker’s Beachside Bar and Grill. Lighted up to the max, it’s every kid’s dream, with something for the parents as well. This restaurant has all the vacation classics and keeps the family entertained with Gator Beach, where you can feed, hold, and even take a photo with a live gator.
10. Visit Henderson Beach State Park
For an admission fee, you can head to Henderson Beach State Park. Filled with pavilions for gatherings, wash stations, RV area, and sandy beaches as far as the eye can see, Henderson Beach is perfect for the outdoorsy family.
11. Paddle Along the Dune Lakes
Coastal dune lakes are a rare geological feature only found in a couple of places in the world. One of them just happens to be along 30A. Lending to some of the most picturesque places in Northwest Florida, paddling along these dune lakes is sure to create a lifelong memory with the ones you love. If you aren’t the paddling type, not a problem. Many state parks, including Grayton Beach State Park, offer vistas of the lakes for your viewing pleasure.
12. Grab Brunch at Blue Mabel
Blue Mabel Smokehouse & Provisions is located in Blue Mountain Beach and is known for its locally smoked meats and house-made sauces. Go on an empty stomach because their menu is stocked full of rich and tasty options leaving you wanting more, but you just can’t manage it. Our favorite? Their Signature Crab Omelette, of course!
13. Bike the Timpoochee Trail
The Timpoochee Trail is 18.5 miles of wide trail along 30A for your biking and walking pleasure. It winds through many of the unique beach towns 30A is known for, so we highly recommend renting bicycles and making a day of biking the trail, stopping off as you see things that interest you. All the shopping, dining, and activities we’ve already talked about, well consider the Tinmpoochee Trail your vessel to get to all of them via bike.
14. Dine the Restaurant Scene
Making a pivot from nature, 30A is known for being a luxury slice of beach paradise, and their restaurant scene is no different. Each of 30A’s 16 unique beach towns boasts a restaurant scene worthy of Instagram. Some of our favorites include Stinky’s Fish Camp for their mouthwatering preparation of fish (don’t be fooled by the name, there’s nothing stinky about it), Bud & Alleys for their rooftop bar at sunset, and La Crema because, well, they have an entire menu dedicated to chocolate tapas.
“I’m an ice cream fanatic, so I can never pass up Blue Mountain Beach Creamery. It’s family-owned and operated, and I feel that every time I stop by. Southern hospitality mixed with the creamiest ice cream in town, I’m in!” ~ Ron, Scenic Stays employee
15. Check Out the Art Crowd
30A prides itself on its local artists, so they make it easy for you to experience the artistic side of everything they love, particularly the beach. Artists of 30A is a website that outlines all the art hot spots you’ll want to check out if you decide to do a tour (and trust us, you should totally do a tour). If you see a piece of art you love in a local restaurant along 30A; it likely has come from a local artist. Like Justin Gaffrey, who’s supplied many restaurants and hotels along Northwest Florida with his stunning 3D murals.
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