I’ve lived near Destin for over a year now, and I’ve had such a fun time exploring all of the fun spots to eat and play as a local! I figured it would be helpful to some of you to put together a travel guide with fun things to see and do, and of course, all of the best spots to eat!
Destin has definitely become one of the major travel hotspots over the past several years, especially as the 30A area has become more widely recognized. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below!
See + Do
- Crab Island – Chances are you’ve already heard about Crab Island if you know anything at all about Destin. This popular vacation “hot spot” is right off the Destin Harbor in a beautiful area of mostly clear water, where all kinds of boats gather around for some fun in the sun! If you don’t have a boat, you can also find shuttles out to Crab Island or even try the fun Pedal Pub! There are even “water parks” with fun inflatables that can be rented for a fun day on the island.
- Big Kahunas Water Park – This water park can be seen from the main “strip” in Destin and recently got a huge re-brand/new ownership. If you have kiddos, this is a must-do while in Destin!
- Destin Commons – The Commons can be found right after passing over the Mid-Bay bridge. There are so many great places to shop which makes this a must-do if you want a break from the beach or encounter a rainy day. There are also several restaurants at the Commons. We love going to World of Beer and Jaliscos!
- Helicopter Tour – If you’ve been to the beach, you’ll likely see helicopters circling non-stop. These tours can be a great way to get a birds-eye view of Destin and our beautiful beaches!
- Harborwalk Village – Harborwalk always has something fun going on for the whole family! Visit this fun little area for good food and entertainment. During the summer this is a hot-spot that can be crowded, so visiting during the weekdays would probably be most ideal. They even have a weekly fireworks show on Thursday nights!
- Baytowne Wharf – Baytowne Wharf can be found in Sandestin, and is definitely worth the drive over. This sweet little village is home to some seriously good restaurants and bars – with live music, usually! There are kid-friendly things do to at the Wharf, as well – but this is always a great spot for a Bachelor/Bachelorette party or an adults-only night out!
- Public Beach Access Spots/Henderson Beach – Of course you’ll be visiting the beach while in Destin, and there are several places to find public beach access if you aren’t staying beachfront. Be aware that Destin now charges $5 a day for parking. It can be tricky to find public parking so be sure and get an early start for a low-stress day! Also, Henderson Beach Park is always a great option if you aren’t staying beachfront.
- Silversands Outlets – These outdoor outlets offer some great, high-end options for shopping while in Destin! Just be sure to take an umbrella if you’re going on a rainy-day, as the outlet is outdoors!
- McGuires – McGuires is a MUST while in Destin. My family goes at least 2 or 3 times while my parents are in town! Don’t be reluctant if there is a long wait (there always will be in the summer months). The restaurant is HUGE and they will usually be quick about getting people in and out. Take a look at the gift shop while you wait. You can even sit outside with drinks, appetizers, and corn hole at Vinnys to pass the time!
- Boshamps – This is another one with a long wait-time in the peak season, but the food is DELICIOUS. With beautiful views of the harbor, this is one you don’t want to miss while you’re here!
- Donut Hole – This is definitely a local fan-favorite, and I can’t go without a slice of homemade (DAILY!) key lime pie for long periods of time. Trust me – and go!
- Mimmos – If you’re craving good Italian, Mimmo’s is great.
- Dewey Destins – Dewey’s can easily be missed if you aren’t looking hard enough, since it’s tucked away in a little spot on the harbor, but the food is wonderful. More of a local favorite, so you may not encounter those longer wait-times with this one!
- Bric a Brac – Nate and I recently discovered Bric a Brac and we fell in LOVE with the crab cakes. Another hole in the wall local spot, so take advantage of lower crowd levels here. It turns into a nightclub after dinner time, and the atmosphere inside is SO fun.
- Pompano Joes/Back Porch – If you’re looking for more of a “touristy” place, try these! Added bonus – they’re beachside so you enjoy an amazing ocean view while you eat.
- AJ’s – If you’re looking for a fun place to party with drinks and live music, AJ’s is a must. (Bachelorette party approved!)
- Burrito del Sol – Need a quick lunch spot and love mexican food? Burrito del Sol is it!
- To Do In Destin : For even more things to do and see in Destin, be sure to check out my friend Cali’s To Do In Destin guide. She goes into even more detail and offers an abundant list of things to do and more places to eat.
- Crosspoint Church : If you’re here on a Sunday morning and feeling like visiting a new church, hop over the Mid-Bay bridge into Niceville and come see us at Crosspoint! Services are at 9:30a and 11a.
Things To Know
Parking in Destin : As stated above, be aware that the City of Destin now charges for daily parking. If you are not staying beachfront, this is important to know, especially if you’ll be visiting public beach access points.
Lack of Ubers and Lyfts : Ride sharing services in this area are VERY scarce. My husband, Nathaniel, drives both Uber and Lyft on the weekends, and it’s usually crazy. If you’re coming from the airport, just be advised that you might have to wait a bit longer for rides. If you do get my hubby during a ride, be sure and tip him well!! 😉
Airport : Our airport is VPS (Fort Walton Beach/Destin) and can get really crazy and crowded during the summer months since it is a bit of a smaller airport. Fun fact – It is located on Eglin Air Force Base, so when flying in or out, you will likely see some amazing aircraft from our U.S. Military!
Distance to 30a : Destin is about 1 hour to 1.5 hours to the popular 30A vacation site. If you are coming from the airport to go to the 30A area, be sure to account for that extra travel time once you land. You can usually go through Freeport to get to the 30A area and avoid the Destin traffic.
Hurricane season is from June 1 – November 30
If you want to avoid larger crowds, I would suggest waiting to come until peak season is over. September and October are almost PERFECT months to be in this area!
Happy + safe travels!!