Destin travel guide

The World's Luckiest Fishing Village

Destin Tourism | Destin Guide

You're Going to Love Destin

Destin is the perfect place for a sunshine getaway. If the winter clouds and rain are getting you down or you need a place to take your kids for an Easter escape, Destin is simply ideal.

This upscale Florida resort attracts a sophisticated clientele to its golf courses, spas, and high-class seafood restaurants. You can spend all week fishing for marlin with experienced local captains or avoid seeing the sea by spending all of your time on the links. Sunbathe and sip cocktails along the Emerald Coast or strap on water skis and take to the water for an adrenaline-filled watersports vacation.

Once you've enjoyed your choice of activities, Destin's many seafood restaurants await your order. With great shellfish at the Crab Trap and fresh seafood buffets at Captain Dave's on the Gulf, you can end every day in style. So make a date to enjoy the Florida sunshine, and choose a break to this beautiful destination.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Destin

Charter Fishing

Destin is known as one of the "luckiest fishing ports in the world", and it has a huge sport fishing fleet. If you've ever wanted to try your skills against Florida marlin or less formidable foes, check out charter companies at Destin Marina and see if you have what it takes.

Marine Wildlife that the Family will Love

You don't need to catch fish to get close to the marine wildlife of the Gulf of Mexico. Destin also offers dolphin tours from Harborwalk Marine, glass-bottomed boat tours from Southern Star and dolphin displays at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park.

The Beautiful Beaches

Destin's other greatest asset is its long, sandy coastline. Near the resort, there are five beachfront parks and dazzling white beaches with soft, welcoming sand and warm waters. If you love being beside the sea, a day spent at John Beasley Beach or Henderson Beach will be sublime.

First-Rate Fresh Seafood

Being such a thriving fishing center, it's hardly surprising that Destin has so many fantastic seafood restaurants. From the grilled delights at Bonefish Grill to the Creole specialties at Marina Cafe or the shellfish at Crab Trap, it's seafood heaven.

Challenging Golf Courses

You don't need to be near the sea to enjoy Destin. The resort also caters for golfing fans. If you want to base your trip around golf, you can stay at specialist resorts like the Seascape Resort, or just book a tee time at Regatta Bay or the Kelly Plantation.

Charter Fishing

Destin is known as one of the "luckiest fishing ports in the world", and it has a huge sport fishing fleet. If you've ever wanted to try your skills against Florida marlin or less formidable foes, check out charter companies at Destin Marina and see if you have what it takes.

Marine Wildlife that the Family will Love

You don't need to catch fish to get close to the marine wildlife of the Gulf of Mexico. Destin also offers dolphin tours from Harborwalk Marine, glass-bottomed boat tours from Southern Star and dolphin displays at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park.

The Beautiful Beaches

Destin's other greatest asset is its long, sandy coastline. Near the resort, there are five beachfront parks and dazzling white beaches with soft, welcoming sand and warm waters. If you love being beside the sea, a day spent at John Beasley Beach or Henderson Beach will be sublime.

First-Rate Fresh Seafood

Being such a thriving fishing center, it's hardly surprising that Destin has so many fantastic seafood restaurants. From the grilled delights at Bonefish Grill to the Creole specialties at Marina Cafe or the shellfish at Crab Trap, it's seafood heaven.

Challenging Golf Courses

You don't need to be near the sea to enjoy Destin. The resort also caters for golfing fans. If you want to base your trip around golf, you can stay at specialist resorts like the Seascape Resort, or just book a tee time at Regatta Bay or the Kelly Plantation.

What to do in Destin

1. Henderson Beach State Park: A Family-Oriented Beach

Hit the water of Henderson Beach and you may just catch a glimpse of a dolphin. Henderson is also a habitat for migratory birds and butterflies that live among the scrub oaks and dune rosemary. Ride a bicycle along the paved road and enjoy the view of the park. With over 60 campsites, Henderson Beach can accommodate tents and RVs. In addition to electricity, grills, and water, the camp provides air conditioned bathrooms with showers, coin washer-dryers, and vending machines. Set up your tent and then head out to the nature trail where you'll be treated to a view of the Mexican Gulf. After that, try your luck fishing and catch a pompano, red fish, catfish, whiting, or flounder.

2. Crystal Beach: Swimming, Sunning, and Shopping

Rent a chair and umbrella and get cozy on Cyrstal Beach. Considered one of the prettiest beaches in Destin, Crystal Beach is surrounded by pristine, white sands that run along the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Soak up the sun and jump in the clear blue-green water. The beach is adjacent to a pavilion within walking distance to the bathrooms, outdoor showers, and a convenient parking lot. Crystal Beach is also the home of the Destin Commons, an outdoor Mall.

3. Okaloosa Island: The Emerald Coast's Core

Enclosed by the Gulf of Mexico, Santa Rosa Sound, and Choctawhatchee Bay, Okaloosa Island is a beachgoer's paradise. Stroll along the velvety sands or lay down and enjoy the warmth of the sun. Catch one of the various entertainment shows Okaloosa hosts every year. Take a stroll on The Boardwalk and see the Pirate Show, featuring storytelling, music, and amazing magic. Then, go on a boating excursion on the Gulf of Mexico and stop for some fishing.

4. Big Kahuna's Lost Paradise: A Water & Adventure Park

Home to 40 water rides, slides, pools and play areas, Big Kahuna's Lost Paradise offers adventure for the entire family. Twist down the Thunder River slide and catch a glimpse of the park as you plunge into the water. For a swim amongs simulated waves, visit the Wave Pool. After that, stroll over to Big Kahuna for a game of mini golf amidst the sculpted trees, waterfalls, bridges and caves. The obstacles offer fun challenges and are decorated with wooden Tiki heads that guide the holes.

5. Destin Commons Mall: The Heart of Destin's Shopping District

If you love to shop, Destin Commons is the perfect shopping mall for you. Located on Crystal Beach, Destin Commons offers a plethora of retail stores, restaurants and fun activities. Destin Commons is also surrounded by Crystal Beach's emerald sea water. Destin Commons is also a venue for local artists who sell their work. Spend the day buying your favorite items or pick up a souvenir at one of the many jewelry or clothing stores. Next, stop by Always Happening and paint a rock you picked up at the beach.

Henderson Beach State ParkHenderson Beach State Park
Okaloosa IslandOkaloosa Island

1. Henderson Beach State Park: A Family-Oriented Beach

Hit the water of Henderson Beach and you may just catch a glimpse of a dolphin. Henderson is also a habitat for migratory birds and butterflies that live among the scrub oaks and dune rosemary. Ride a bicycle along the paved road and enjoy the view of the park. With over 60 campsites, Henderson Beach can accommodate tents and RVs. In addition to electricity, grills, and water, the camp provides air conditioned bathrooms with showers, coin washer-dryers, and vending machines. Set up your tent and then head out to the nature trail where you'll be treated to a view of the Mexican Gulf. After that, try your luck fishing and catch a pompano, red fish, catfish, whiting, or flounder.

2. Crystal Beach: Swimming, Sunning, and Shopping

Rent a chair and umbrella and get cozy on Cyrstal Beach. Considered one of the prettiest beaches in Destin, Crystal Beach is surrounded by pristine, white sands that run along the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Soak up the sun and jump in the clear blue-green water. The beach is adjacent to a pavilion within walking distance to the bathrooms, outdoor showers, and a convenient parking lot. Crystal Beach is also the home of the Destin Commons, an outdoor Mall.

3. Okaloosa Island: The Emerald Coast's Core

Enclosed by the Gulf of Mexico, Santa Rosa Sound, and Choctawhatchee Bay, Okaloosa Island is a beachgoer's paradise. Stroll along the velvety sands or lay down and enjoy the warmth of the sun. Catch one of the various entertainment shows Okaloosa hosts every year. Take a stroll on The Boardwalk and see the Pirate Show, featuring storytelling, music, and amazing magic. Then, go on a boating excursion on the Gulf of Mexico and stop for some fishing.

4. Big Kahuna's Lost Paradise: A Water & Adventure Park

Home to 40 water rides, slides, pools and play areas, Big Kahuna's Lost Paradise offers adventure for the entire family. Twist down the Thunder River slide and catch a glimpse of the park as you plunge into the water. For a swim amongs simulated waves, visit the Wave Pool. After that, stroll over to Big Kahuna for a game of mini golf amidst the sculpted trees, waterfalls, bridges and caves. The obstacles offer fun challenges and are decorated with wooden Tiki heads that guide the holes.

5. Destin Commons Mall: The Heart of Destin's Shopping District

If you love to shop, Destin Commons is the perfect shopping mall for you. Located on Crystal Beach, Destin Commons offers a plethora of retail stores, restaurants and fun activities. Destin Commons is also surrounded by Crystal Beach's emerald sea water. Destin Commons is also a venue for local artists who sell their work. Spend the day buying your favorite items or pick up a souvenir at one of the many jewelry or clothing stores. Next, stop by Always Happening and paint a rock you picked up at the beach.

Henderson Beach State ParkHenderson Beach State Park
Okaloosa IslandOkaloosa Island

1. Henderson Beach State Park: A Family-Oriented Beach

Hit the water of Henderson Beach and you may just catch a glimpse of a dolphin. Henderson is also a habitat for migratory birds and butterflies that live among the scrub oaks and dune rosemary. Ride a bicycle along the paved road and enjoy the view of the park. With over 60 campsites, Henderson Beach can accommodate tents and RVs. In addition to electricity, grills, and water, the camp provides air conditioned bathrooms with showers, coin washer-dryers, and vending machines. Set up your tent and then head out to the nature trail where you'll be treated to a view of the Mexican Gulf. After that, try your luck fishing and catch a pompano, red fish, catfish, whiting, or flounder.

Henderson Beach State Park

2. Crystal Beach: Swimming, Sunning, and Shopping

Rent a chair and umbrella and get cozy on Cyrstal Beach. Considered one of the prettiest beaches in Destin, Crystal Beach is surrounded by pristine, white sands that run along the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Soak up the sun and jump in the clear blue-green water. The beach is adjacent to a pavilion within walking distance to the bathrooms, outdoor showers, and a convenient parking lot. Crystal Beach is also the home of the Destin Commons, an outdoor Mall.

Okaloosa Island

3. Okaloosa Island: The Emerald Coast's Core

Enclosed by the Gulf of Mexico, Santa Rosa Sound, and Choctawhatchee Bay, Okaloosa Island is a beachgoer's paradise. Stroll along the velvety sands or lay down and enjoy the warmth of the sun. Catch one of the various entertainment shows Okaloosa hosts every year. Take a stroll on The Boardwalk and see the Pirate Show, featuring storytelling, music, and amazing magic. Then, go on a boating excursion on the Gulf of Mexico and stop for some fishing.

4. Big Kahuna's Lost Paradise: A Water & Adventure Park

Home to 40 water rides, slides, pools and play areas, Big Kahuna's Lost Paradise offers adventure for the entire family. Twist down the Thunder River slide and catch a glimpse of the park as you plunge into the water. For a swim amongs simulated waves, visit the Wave Pool. After that, stroll over to Big Kahuna for a game of mini golf amidst the sculpted trees, waterfalls, bridges and caves. The obstacles offer fun challenges and are decorated with wooden Tiki heads that guide the holes.

5. Destin Commons Mall: The Heart of Destin's Shopping District

If you love to shop, Destin Commons is the perfect shopping mall for you. Located on Crystal Beach, Destin Commons offers a plethora of retail stores, restaurants and fun activities. Destin Commons is also surrounded by Crystal Beach's emerald sea water. Destin Commons is also a venue for local artists who sell their work. Spend the day buying your favorite items or pick up a souvenir at one of the many jewelry or clothing stores. Next, stop by Always Happening and paint a rock you picked up at the beach.

Activities & attractions in Destin

Where to Eat in Destin

Seafood is the most common item on Destin's menu, and few resorts offer such a wide selection of high-quality restaurants. The great thing about dining in Destin is that you can walk straight from the beach into gourmet eateries like Captain Dave's on the Gulf and the Boathouse Oyster Bar. If you want an upscale family option, be sure to check out the Camellia Grill, which blends Florida seafood with New Orleans Cajun cooking. A good meal won't cost more than $35 and in many places a great seafood dinner will cost less than $20.

When to visit Destin

Destin in January
Estimated hotel price
$126
1 night at 3-star hotel
Destin in January
Estimated hotel price
$126
1 night at 3-star hotel

Although thousands of people visit Destin in mid-summer (July and August), it's probably not the best time to go. The weather might be hot, but it can also rain every day if you are unlucky. To enjoy great weather (over 75 degrees Fahrenheit) and smaller crowds, visit in April and May when the waters are warm and rain is not a factor.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Destin

Plane

If you are flying to Destin, the best option is to fly into Pensacola Airport, which is just 50 miles to the west. Your hotel may well supply a shuttle bus from Pensacola, but if not it makes sense to book ahead with companies like Advantage Airport Shuttle or AShuttletaxi. A shuttle will cost you around $90, and taxis about the same.

Car

Driving is easily the most convenient way to approach Destin, Florida. Many people choose to fly into Jacksonville or other nearby airports and pick up a rental car from outlets like Avis or Alamo. If you do fly into Jacksonville and continue by car, take I-10, which also approaches Destin from Texas and New Orleans. Those coming from the northeast should take I-95 to Jacksonville, then switch to I-10. Anyone coming from Chicago can take I-65 to Mobile, then switch to I-10 straight into Destin.

Bus

The nearest Greyhound bus stop to Destin is in Fort Walton Beach at 101 Perry Ave Se. From there, Destin is just a short taxi drive away, which should cost around $20.

Plane

If you are flying to Destin, the best option is to fly into Pensacola Airport, which is just 50 miles to the west. Your hotel may well supply a shuttle bus from Pensacola, but if not it makes sense to book ahead with companies like Advantage Airport Shuttle or AShuttletaxi. A shuttle will cost you around $90, and taxis about the same.

Car

Driving is easily the most convenient way to approach Destin, Florida. Many people choose to fly into Jacksonville or other nearby airports and pick up a rental car from outlets like Avis or Alamo. If you do fly into Jacksonville and continue by car, take I-10, which also approaches Destin from Texas and New Orleans. Those coming from the northeast should take I-95 to Jacksonville, then switch to I-10. Anyone coming from Chicago can take I-65 to Mobile, then switch to I-10 straight into Destin.

Bus

The nearest Greyhound bus stop to Destin is in Fort Walton Beach at 101 Perry Ave Se. From there, Destin is just a short taxi drive away, which should cost around $20.

Airlines serving Destin

Lufthansa
Good (4,686 reviews)
KLM
Good (843 reviews)
British Airways
Good (4,724 reviews)
Delta
Good (4,465 reviews)
Iberia
Good (1,599 reviews)
Air France
Good (970 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (2,110 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (4,951 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (2,376 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (6,194 reviews)
Finnair
Good (786 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (5,897 reviews)
JetBlue
Good (1,553 reviews)
Spirit Airlines
Good (4,571 reviews)
Frontier
Okay (1,354 reviews)
Korean Air
Excellent (770 reviews)
ANA
Excellent (511 reviews)
Japan Airlines
Excellent (948 reviews)
Aeromexico
Good (777 reviews)
Copa Airlines
Good (754 reviews)
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Where to stay in Destin

Accommodation in Destin is centered around seafront resorts, with all of the amenities you would expect. The Seascape Golf, Beach & Tennis Resort is ideal for families and couples who want an active vacation, Ocean Reef Resorts offers a range of attractive self-catering homes, while the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa is a luxury option right on the beach.

Popular Neighborhoods in Destin

Destin – Located on a peninsular, Destin is a self-enclosed resort city with its own distinctive atmosphere. If you are in town for the sport fishing or sailing, you'll want to stay near Destin Harbor, while downtown Destin also contains the area's best restaurants, including AJ's Seafood and Dewey Destin's.

Emerald Beach – A couple of miles to the east of Destin city, you'll find Emerald Beach. This long stretch of pure white sand has it's own high-class seafood eateries like Captain Dave's, but the real attraction is the gorgeous coastline. There's no better spot to sunbathe, paddle or snorkel than in the bay's warm, emerald waters.

Fort Walton – Situated across Choctawhatchee Bay from Destin, Fort Walton is more down to earth and family-oriented. It has great golf courses like Shalimar Pointe, as well as family attractions like the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, which puts on dolphin shows for the crowds. With Publix and Walmart supermarkets in the area, it's also a great neighborhood for self-catering vacationers.

Destin – Located on a peninsular, Destin is a self-enclosed resort city with its own distinctive atmosphere. If you are in town for the sport fishing or sailing, you'll want to stay near Destin Harbor, while downtown Destin also contains the area's best restaurants, including AJ's Seafood and Dewey Destin's.
Emerald Beach – A couple of miles to the east of Destin city, you'll find Emerald Beach. This long stretch of pure white sand has it's own high-class seafood eateries like Captain Dave's, but the real attraction is the gorgeous coastline. There's no better spot to sunbathe, paddle or snorkel than in the bay's warm, emerald waters.
Fort Walton – Situated across Choctawhatchee Bay from Destin, Fort Walton is more down to earth and family-oriented. It has great golf courses like Shalimar Pointe, as well as family attractions like the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, which puts on dolphin shows for the crowds. With Publix and Walmart supermarkets in the area, it's also a great neighborhood for self-catering vacationers.

Where to stay in popular areas of Destin

Most booked hotels in Destin

Hotel Effie Sandestin
4 stars
Excellent (9.1, 1637 reviews)
$322+
The Henderson Beach Resort & Spa
5 stars
Excellent (9.1, 450 reviews)
$457+
Embassy Suites by Hilton Destin Miramar Beach
3 stars
Excellent (8.8, 1419 reviews)
$231+
Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa
4 stars
Excellent (8.8, 682 reviews)
$408+
Wingate by Wyndham Destin
2 stars
Excellent (8.4, 1553 reviews)
$106+
Hilton Garden Inn Destin Miramar Beach
3 stars
Excellent (8.3, 1117 reviews)
$155+

How to Get Around Destin

Public Transportation

The only public transportation option in Destin is the Emerald Coast Rider which provides bus connections along the seafront every 20 minutes during summer (and less frequently out of season). A single fare costs $1.50 or $0.75 for seniors.

Taxis

If you are staying at a major resort hotel in Destin, ask about their shuttle services. It's likely that they offer a private shuttle to the major attractions. If not, there are taxi services in the area like Sexton Taxi, but their services aren't cheap. Uber is slightly cheaper, charging $1.50 as the meter drops, then $1.15 per mile after that.

Car

Driving around Destin couldn't be simpler. To travel up and down the Emerald Coast, just take Highway 98. Remember that not all of the beaches are accessible or have cheap parking. One of the best places to park is Henderson State Park, which charges $5 for access.

Public Transportation

The only public transportation option in Destin is the Emerald Coast Rider which provides bus connections along the seafront every 20 minutes during summer (and less frequently out of season). A single fare costs $1.50 or $0.75 for seniors.

Taxis

If you are staying at a major resort hotel in Destin, ask about their shuttle services. It's likely that they offer a private shuttle to the major attractions. If not, there are taxi services in the area like Sexton Taxi, but their services aren't cheap. Uber is slightly cheaper, charging $1.50 as the meter drops, then $1.15 per mile after that.

Car

Driving around Destin couldn't be simpler. To travel up and down the Emerald Coast, just take Highway 98. Remember that not all of the beaches are accessible or have cheap parking. One of the best places to park is Henderson State Park, which charges $5 for access.

The Cost of Living in Destin

Shopping Streets

Although Destin isn't renowned as a shopping destination, it actually has some great places to shop for branded goods. Probably the best is Destin Commons, which features stores like Victoria's Secret, Aldo, Yankee Candle and Forever 21.

Groceries and Other

If you are staying in self-catering accommodation, Destin offers a range of grocery shopping options. There are upscale delis like the Fresh Market on Commons Drive alongside well known supermarkets like Wynn Dixie and Publix. There's also a Walmart Supercenter across the water in Fort Walton. The cost of living tends to be a little higher in Destin than most other resorts, so don't expect bargains. A gallon of milk will cost over $3.30 and a pound of apples more than $2.

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