destin, florida beaches

Destination: Destin, Florida

Plan your escape to Destin, Florida with Scenic Stays. Named the #1 Best Florida Beach by U.S. News thanks to the area’s pristine coastline and sugar-white Appalachian quartz sands, we couldn’t agree more. 

Whether planning a couple’s vacation, a girls’ trip, or a family reunion, we have accommodations for groups of all sizes and access to limitless activities in and around the Destin area. Celebrate your Northwest Florida getaway your way, doing as much or as little as you like!

Book your Destin, Florida vacation today.

Why We Love Destin, Florida

Destin, the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village, has blossomed into a world-renowned beach destination packed with family-friendly activities. Prepare to be dazzled by miles of sugar-white sand and sparkling emerald green water upon arrival to Destin. 

While you’re here, explore a wide array of water activities and outdoor adventures, or check out the many boutiques, shops, and restaurants in the area. Destin, Florida, knows how to host a crowd and has built a reputation for creating memories for all who visit! 

Where is Destin?

Destin is located in the Florida panhandle along Highway 98 between Panama City and Pensacola. A five-hour drive from Atlanta, four hours from New Orleans, and a two-hours from Mobile, visitors from surrounding states make the drive often; many dropping in for long weekend trips several times a year. 

Flying into Destin, Florida is easy! The area is serviced by carriers including Southwest, Delta, American, and United, flying into the area’s regional airports, including: Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, just 20-minutes from Destin in neighboring Fort Walton, along with the Pensacola International Airport and Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport about an hour away in Pensacola and Panama City, respectively. Additionally, Destin Executive Airport is situated in the heart of Destin and available for chartered flights. 

Things to do in Destin

Destin’s climate is perfect for any outdoor activity, and you’ll find plenty of options. The beach is the biggest draw, and with twelve access points, you’ll quickly find your toes in sugar-white sand in no time. Henderson Beach State Park offers one of our favorite beach access points, a protected stretch of coastline in the heart of Destin.

For days off the beach, shop, eat and drink at nearby entertainment districts like the Destin Harbor Boardwalk and Destin Commons, or hit the Silver Sands Premium Outlets in neighboring Miramar Beach.

Water Activities in Destin

There’s no better way to spend a warm, sunny day in Destin, Florida, than in or on the water. Water activities are plenty, ranging from dolphin cruises and charter fishing trips to kayak and paddleboard rentals. However, you choose to experience Destin water activities, make sure you pack plenty of snacks and sunscreen! 

Crab Island 

Southerners know how to have a good time. And if they can’t find one, they’ll create one! Crab Island, a sand bar near the Destin bridge, is an experience like no other and a must-do for anyone traveling to the area. Bring your boat or rent one and join in for a day of fun in the sun!

Family-Friendly Activities in Destin

Known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” fishing is certainly a favorite pastime for locals and visitors alike. Catch pompano or king mackerel at Okaloosa Island Pier in nearby Fort Walton Beach or head off-shore and cast for snapper, grouper, or cobia. With over 150 charter boats, you’re sure to find one to suit your needs. If golf is your game, get in a round at one of 25 courses in the Destin area, each catering to different skill levels and abilities

Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park

A great family fun spot is Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park, a hit with visitors and locals alike. Primarily a water park with over 40 water attractions, the park boasts both kiddie rides and thrill rides, including the Sky Coaster and Cyclone Twister. With activities for all ages, it’s a fun time for everyone! 

The Track

The Track Family Fun Park is an excellent place for an afternoon outing with mini-golf courses, go-kart tracks, bumper boats, kids rides, and an arcade.

Gulfarium Marine and Adventure Park

The Gulfarium Marine and Adventure Park on neighboring Okaloosa Island features marine life exhibits, shows, demonstrations, and animal encounters. Kids and adults alike will love the up close and personal interaction with dolphins, seals, and penguins, to name a few.

Where to Eat in Destin

Fresh seafood, casual environments, and dining with a view are Southern staples, and Destin restaurants check all the boxes. Experience the flavors of the Gulf at every meal, with menus showcasing the freshest catch alongside traditional Southern specialties. Our favorite local catches include Grouper, Snapper, and Cobia (available seasonally). 

Can’t decide where to eat in Destin? We’ve compiled a list with a few of our favorite Destin restaurants:

  • Crackings – for breakfast, lunch, and a brunch that features benedicts, omelets, and scrambles, with lobster gouda grits and “croisseignets”, a must-try.
  • Harry T’s – for lunch, dinner, or a weekend brunch with great food and gorgeous views.
  • Harbor Docks – a fabulous local hangout with a varied menu of seafood, steaks, sushi, and a few Thai dishes thrown in to round out the menu.
  • Louisiana Lagniappe – for beautiful views and casual, family-friendly dining specializing in fresh-from-the-Gulf creatively prepared seafood.
  • McGuire’s Irish Pub – known for traditional pub fare and strong drinks, but the menu is surprisingly varied. Be sure to sign a dollar bill to add to their collection of over a million.
  • Boshamps Oyster House – for lunch, dinner, signature cocktails, and all things seafood, including oysters, fish, lobsters, and shrimp.
  • Beachwalk at Henderson Park Inn – for fine dining with a “Toes in the Sand Package” available for parties up to six. Dine on the sand overlooking the Gulf of Mexico with service by a waiter designated for your private party.

Destin Events

Given the gorgeous year-round climate and picturesque setting, it’s no wonder Destin, Florida, is home to an array of festivals and events. Join in the fun and attend one or all of them!

Spring and Early Summer Events

The Sandestin Wine Festival attracts wine novices, connoisseurs, chefs, and industry enthusiasts each year. This four-day event showcases hundreds of international and domestic wines for sampling, presenting a unique opportunity to learn about the many different varieties and flavors. The Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival starts at the Fort Walton Beach Landing with a pub crawl, followed by a pirate landing and downtown party, culminating in a torchlight parade. The Emerald Coast Poker Run, a charity event, has been going on for 25 years and is one of the largest poker runs in the country.

Fall Events

The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation hosts a series of outdoor concerts and events throughout the year. Bring a lawn chair and a tasty beverage and enjoy the show while the kids play on the sprawling lawn. Tap into the Annual Baytowne Wharf Beer Festival featuring over 40 craft brewers, beers, tastings, and seminars. 

Anglers from all over compete for prizes at the month-long Destin Fishing Rodeo, and everyone seems to enjoy the daily weigh-ins. The Destin Seafood Festival, a three-day event, continues to be a favorite among the locals. Enjoy live music, great seafood, and an afternoon of shopping vendor’s booths along the Destin harbor.

Destin Weather

Florida is known as the “Sunshine State” for a reason, and Destin is no exception. Days are pleasant and warm overall, with the hottest month being August and the coldest, January. While temperatures vary throughout the year, warm Gulf water offers the ability to extend summer as the water stays warm through early fall, with average temperatures peaking near 88°F in July.

No matter when you visit, what brings you here, or how long you stay, you’ll find friendly people ready to welcome you to Destin’s coastal playground. 

Book your Destin, Florida vacation today.