Off-Beach Activities – Destin
July 5, 2022
Let’s face it, one of the biggest draws of Destin is the beach. The crystal clear turquoise waters and sugar-sand shoreline lure visitors from miles away. And, although you’ll definitely want to spend some of your visit basking in the sun, building some sandcastles, and floating in the Gulf of Mexico, don’t overlook the fun to be had beyond the beach. Destin is loaded with excellent restaurants, exceptional shopping, and tons of family fun attractions you won’t want to miss. Here are our top 8 activities to check out beyond the beach on your next trip to Destin.
The temperate climate and stunning scenery certainly encourage time spent outdoors, no matter when you travel to the area. With a host of city parks and numerous state parks nearby, take advantage of other ways to explore Destin beyond the beach. You’ll find tons of hiking, biking, and recreation opportunities in our local parks, many outfitted with playgrounds, splash pads, and designated areas for launching kayaks and paddleboards. Several of our parks have facilities for rent should you want to celebrate a special event during your stay. Pack a picnic, gather at a pavilion, and enjoy a stunning coastal sunset.
Destin is a water lover’s dream. Surrounded by water on three sides, the Inlets, bayous, and bays present calm waters and ideal conditions for an array of paddleboard and kayak adventures. Rent your watercraft, explore the crystal clear waters in the surrounding areas, and take in the scenery. Launch at the Destin harbor or Norriego Point, cruise to the jetties, then head out to Crab Island and join the fun. Henderson Beach State Park is another excellent spot to launch, and you can easily paddle to the artificial reefs offshore. The area is teeming with native fish species and, if you’re lucky, you might see a sea turtle or dolphin. While exploring, take your pick from the many waterfront restaurants, and top off the day with a frozen margarita!
Coastal communities have their own vibe, and Destin is no exception. Be sure to carve out some time to shop for much-needed beach essentials, a few must-haves for a night on the town, and maybe a souvenir. Destin Commons has something for everyone, including a movie theatre, splash pad, dining options, and shopping, while Silver Sands Premium Outlets features over 100 stores with name brands at discount prices. The entertainment districts of Baytowne Wharf and Harborwalk Village offer more than just shopping, with dining, nightlife, and a mix of events and activities available all year long. Get your shopping on, grab some fresh seafood and a frozen cocktail, and watch the boats come in as the sun sets over the water.
Destin is a golfer’s paradise, featuring over 20 public golf courses within 15 miles of the city center. Set amid picturesque tall pines with natural habitats left intact, you’ll find a host of family fun centers and championship courses presenting challenging play for novices and experienced golfers alike. While each is unique, all present well-groomed fairways, gorgeous greens, and stunning views. Interesting water features, tricky sand traps, and challenging hazards guarantee stimulating and memorable rounds of golf for the whole family. Full-service pro shops offer instruction while putting and chipping greens present opportunities to work on your short game. Many courses offer club rentals, so call beforehand to reserve equipment and book your tee time in advance.
Another great way to spend time between the sun and the sea is to dive into fun adventure parks, and Destin certainly has its share. With two mini-golf courses, bumper cars and boats, and five go-kart tracks, let’s just say The Track spells F-U-N for the whole family. Beat the heat at Big Kahuna’s, the largest water park on the Emerald Coast. Chill in the lazy river, take the littles to the kiddie slides, then challenge yourself on the Honolulu Half Pipe, Jumanji, or the Maui Pipeline Slides! Catch a dolphin or sea lion show at the Gulfarium in Fort Walton Beach, and if the kids still have energy to burn, there’s no better place than Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone. With over 70 arcade games, a 4D movie theatre, go-karts, and a 60-foot ropes course, they’ll be fast asleep before making it back to the condo.
You can always find live music in Destin, whether it be a local band playing on Choctawhatchee Bay, a headliner at a Gulf-front bar, or out on the deck at your favorite restaurant. From rock to blues to reggae and everything in between, the area is swimming with talented musicians eager to make your night a memorable occasion. Locals and visitors alike enjoy outdoor summer concerts all summer long at Mattie Kelly Arts Village. Bring a bottle of wine, snacks, and chairs, and enjoy a multi-genre lineup of music every Thursday night out on the lawn. Check out the Harborwalk Theater on the Destin harbor for a fun evening with a twist. Comedy, magic, and hypnosis shows guarantee lots of laughs and a good time for the whole crew.
Coined “the luckiest fishing village in the world” for a reason, anglers flock to Destin year-round. Warm Gulf waters present ideal conditions for perfect days on the water, and you’ll find tons of places to reel in your catch, whether it be onshore, inshore, or deep-sea fishing. Destin boasts a wide assortment of fish species, including redfish, tarpon, snapper, grouper, cobia, and billfish, so book a charter, sit back, and settle in for a day of fun and sun. Too tired to cook after a day on the water? No worries! Several restaurants will offer to cook your catch right on the Destin harbor, so grab a cold one and celebrate your bounty with friends and family!
We’d encourage you to explore the area’s food scene featuring Gulf to table specialties prepared in new and exciting ways. From waterfront cafes to fine dining, you’ll find no shortage of restaurants in Destin, with culinary delights sure to tempt your taste buds. If fish tacos, jambalaya, and shrimp and grits sound appealing, Margaritaville is serving it up, with great views and an unsurpassed margarita menu. Southern cuisine with a coastal twist and some of the tastiest cocktails around is what’s on the menu at Boshamps Seafood and Oyster Bar. Start by sharing the fried green tomatoes with jumbo lump crab or the house-smoked yellowfin tuna dip for an authentic taste of the South. Top it off with a refreshing cocktail (we’d suggest the Banana Breeze or a signature Bloody Mary) and just see where the afternoon takes you!