Destin Travel Guide

Our Destin Travel Guide will provide everything you need to plan your trip to beautiful Destin, Florida.  Stunning white beaches, challenging golf and world-famous fishing define the Emerald Coast city of Destin. Snuggled against the Gulf of Mexico in northwest Florida, Destin is rightfully famed for its sugar-white sands and emerald-hued waters. And due to its plentiful and always hungry underwater population, Destin is widely known as the “world’s luckiest fishing village.” Destin also harbors world-class resorts and rentals – and some of the best shopping and dining anywhere.  So, come visit some of Florida’s most beautiful beaches, and have a relaxing stay in sunny Destin.  Visit the area beaches in Destin and along the Emerald Coast.

Destin Weather – When to Visit

The best time to visit Destin is in April and May when the water is warm, the sun is shining and the temperatures are comfortable (expect highs in the mid-70s and 80s). If you visit any earlier, you risk cooler weather and chilly water. A summer trip will put you among the crowds and the peak prices. Although you might consider late summer and early fall, the temperatures can be sweltering and accompanied by rain. Average highs reach the high 80s in summer, while winter temps fluctuate between the low 40s and 60s.

Destin Attractions

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Gulfarium-Marine-Adventure-Park-300x95.jpgGulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Though it does feature daily dolphin and sea lion shows, the Gulfarium is no SeaWorld (it doesn’t boast large animals or rides). But even with its small size, the park is still a hit with travelers, especially those visiting with children.  When you’re not watching dolphins jump through the air, you can learn more about the gators, reptiles, penguins, sea lions and stingrays that call the park home.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Crystal-Beach-300x153.jpgCrystal Beach

You’ll have your pick of stunning shorelines in Destin and neighboring Okaloosa Island, but make time for Crystal Beach. Situated on the Gulf of Mexico, Crystal Beach is frequently praised for its ivory sands and crystal-clear waters. You will also appreciate the cleanliness of the beach.  The beach is open from dawn to dusk and offers a pavilion, restrooms, showers, picnic tables and limited parking and it’s free to access.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Henderson-Beach-State-Park-300x124.jpgHenderson Beach State Park

Pristine white sugar sand beaches and more than 6,000 feet of natural scenic shoreline border the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Natural features of the park include sand pines, scrub oaks, and dune rosemary. Boardwalks provide access to the beach for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. Four large and two small pavilions allow for picnicking and grilling. A playground is the first stop on our nature trail and is sure to be a success with the kids. The nature trail provides visitors a rare glimpse of the coastal dune ecosystem and abundant wildlife and is pet friendly.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Grayton-Beach-State-Park-300x200.jpgGrayton Beach State Park

Grayton Beach consistently ranks among the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the United States. Western Lake offers fishing and paddling, and those who want to explore on foot have four miles of trails to traverse through a coastal forest where scrub oaks and magnolias stand, bent and twisted by salt winds.  An overnight excursion yields its own unique experience with a stay in one of the well-outfitted cabins or a more rustic accommodation at one of Grayton’s cozy campgrounds. At nearly 2,000 acres, Grayton Beach State Park is more than a backdrop for golden sunrises and silver moonlit evenings.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Big-Kahunas-Water-and-Adventure-Park-300x142.jpgBig Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park

This is one of Destin’s best spots to take the family when you need a break from the beach. The water park is open from mid-May through August and features more than 40 attractions, including slides, water rides and the Honolulu Half Pipe with a wave simulator. You can also float through the park along its lazy river. And between September and early May – when the water rides are closed – you can still enjoy Big Kahuna’s Adventure Park, which is home to a mini-golf course and other thrill rides.

Things To Do in Destin

Southern Star Dolphin Cruises

Dolphin and sunset cruises aboard the Southern Star, is a relaxing, educational tour of the bottlenose dolphin. The narrated two-hour cruise is on the waters of Destin. On board you will participate in searching for the bottlenose dolphin, bird feeding and listening to island music. The boat is air-conditioned and has a snack bar, gifts and restrooms. Coolers are welcome.  Telephone:  850-837-7741  Web:  Southern Star Dolphin Cruises.

Sure Lure Fishing Charters

The Sure Lure Charter Company offers outstanding deep-sea fishing trips in the Gulf of Mexico off of Destin, Florida.  If it swims in the Gulf of Mexico, the Team SURE LURE has caught them and will bring you to where they are.  They specialize in 6 to 12 hour deep-sea bottom fishing, trolling (offshore and inshore), as well as popular 18-hour Billfish/Marlin adventures. As a private charter, they carry no more than six guests aboard plus crew.  Telephone:  850-376-8399  Web:  Sure Lure Fishing Charters.

AJ’s Water Adventures

AJ’s Water Adventures offers daytime dolphin cruises, sunset dolphin cruises, sunset sailing cruises,  snorkeling and more! Enjoy a thrilling ride on their 53 foot speedboat “Sea Quest” or sail the emerald waters on their 74 foot custom built schooner “Daniel Webster Clements”. They have multiple dolphin cruises to choose from. Every cruise comes with complimentary beer, wine, soda, water, and kids can Captain! Telephone:  850-837-2222  Web:  AJ’s Water Adventures.

Luther’s Pontoon, Wave Runner, Kayak Rentals

Their Pontoon Boats are an easy way to enjoy the beautiful Choctawhatchee Bay in Destin. All their boats are in great shape, reliable, and are kept clean, thanks to Mom. By the time you’re done filling out the paperwork, they’ll have your boat already loaded for you. Once your day is over, they’re sure you’ll be tired. Don’t worry, they’ll have all your cargo waiting for you at your car. Rent wave runners, kayaks, and paddle boards as well.  Telephone:  850-650-8733  Web:  Luther’s Pontoon, Wave Runner, Kayak Rentals.

Buccaneer Pirate Cruise

Embark on the adventure of a lifetime aboard the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise! This popular boat tour is located at Harbor Walk Village in Destin, Florida. Join us as we take to the seas of the pristine waters of the Emerald Coast in search of undiscovered treasure. Entertainment and interaction create adventure, excitement, and merriment for the young and young at heart.  Telephone:  850-269-0896  Web:  Buccaneer Pirate Cruise

Just Shoot Me Parasailing

Looking for Excitement on Your Destin Florida Vacation?  You’ve found it! Experience the thrill of floating on air with Destin’s premier parasail operator – Just Chute Me!  They specialize in providing the safest, easiest, and most exciting watersports activity available – Parasailing! Breathtaking panoramic views of the Emerald Coast beaches await you as you are gently lifted from the boat’s flight deck to your chosen altitude.  Telephone:  850-200-2260  Web:  Just Shoot Me Parasailing.

Best Destin Restaurants

Dewey Destin’s Seafood  $11 – 30

They use original Destin and Gulf Coast recipes, and are proud to serve seafood and other favorite area side dishes to local friends and out-of-town guests alike. While they maintain a casual atmosphere, they are serious about great tasting food. Therefore, Dewey makes it a practice not to use food warming lamps which he feels turns quality fish into chewy and rubbery leftovers.  Telephone:  850-837-7525  Web:  Dewey Destin Seafood.

Boshamps Oyster House  $11 – 30

After a fabulous day fishing, playing on Crab Island or enjoying Destin’s sugar white beaches, tie off your boat, and let the Boshamps experience begin!!  Boshamps wants to be the place to “take your family and friends” for an incredible, memorable experience…..combining the fresh, local, catch of the day, world famous Apalachicola oysters any way you like, the sunset of a lifetime, and wonderful southern hospitality.  Telephone:  850-424-7406  Web:  Boshamps Oyster House.

Beach Walk Café  $31 – 60

Beach Walk Café, known as the “Most Unique Dining Experience in Destin”, is located inside the Henderson Park Inn. Enjoy unobstructed views of the Gulf overlooking more than a mile of the world’s most beautiful and secluded beaches with spectacular sunset views.  In this idyllic private setting Beach Walk Café features an intimate atmosphere with dining available inside, with a cozy fireplace and magnificent views of the coast and outside on the verandas of the Inn overlooking the emerald waters of the Gulf.  Telephone:  850-650-7100  Web:  Beach Walk Café.

The Other End  $11 – 30

The Other End has a unique atmosphere with one area offering a wooden deck with bar seating and round deck tables, and another turf area equipped with long picnic tables and surrounded by shrubs and citrus trees. This atmosphere creates the perfect ambiance to enjoy craft beers, wine, and pub style cuisine. With 16 beer taps, delicious burgers, specialty duck fries and beer cheese, nightly specials, local live music, and breathtaking views, The Other End is quickly turning into a favorite hangout for locals.  Telephone:  850- 428-1534  Web:  The Other End.

Louisiana Lagniappe  $31 – 60

Louisiana Lagniappe has consistently served only the freshest seafood and steaks.  The Gulf seafood is prepared with a Creole flair, the attire is casual, yet an upscale waterfront dining experience is provided for the entire family.  Open year round, Louisiana Lagniappe is the spot for a memorable dining experience on all levels.   With there being hundreds of restaurants in Destin, Lagniappe is consistently ranked in the Top 10 restaurants on TripAdvisor and wins the Award of Excellence every year.  Telephone:  850-837-0881  Web:  Louisiana Lagniappe.

Best Destin Bars & Nightlife

Duck Duck

 Are you tired of the hectic routine?  The constant bickering of your boss and want some peace and quiet. Then just waddle your way into Duck Duck. One you enter their nest you will never want to leave.  Located right on the Destin Harbor, come hang out at the locals spot and quack it up with your friends. Live music and DJ’s through the week, you can unfluff your feathers and float on.  Their duck inspired drinks will bring a smile to your bill!  Telephone:  850-200-0026  Web:  Duck Duck.

McGuire’s Irish Pub

McGuire’s Irish Pub first opened in 1977 as a small neighborhood pub in a shopping center. McGuire’s is in Pensacola’s original 1927 Old Firehouse. Inside the pub you’ll find a turn-of-the-century, New York Irish Saloon themed 615-seat restaurant.  Telephone:  850-650-0000  Web:  McGuire’s Irish Pub.

The Wine Bar

The Wine Bar in Destin is located at the Shoppes of Paradise Key (just West of the Destin Commons). Chan’s The Wine Bar is a great gathering sport for lunch serving delightful sandwiches and salads. Enjoy a night out in Destin with prime steaks and fresh seafood for dinner. Pair with wines from their award-winning list.  Browse their extensive selection of artisan cheeses & join them for their daily happy hour special – a carafe for the price of a glass (11am – 6pm).  Telephone:  850-269-2909  Web:  The Wine Bar.

The Other End

The Other End has a unique atmosphere with one area offering a wooden deck with bar seating and round deck tables, and another turf area equipped with long picnic tables and surrounded by shrubs and citrus trees. This atmosphere creates the perfect ambiance to enjoy craft beers, wine, and pub style cuisine. With 16 beer taps, delicious burgers, specialty duck fries and beer cheese, nightly specials, local live music, and breathtaking views, The Other End is quickly turning into a favorite hangout for locals.  Telephone:  850- 428-1534  Web:  The Other End.

Mellow Mushroom

At Mellow Mushroom, they’re committed to providing the best hand-crafted cocktails, premium wines and freshest local craft beer available. Each Mellow caters to their community by partnering with their local breweries, distilleries and vineyards while also bringing you the time-honored favorites that they know you love. At Mellow, quality is their passion and they want to share it with you.  Telephone:  850-650-6420  Web:  Mellow Mushroom.

Best Destin Hotels

Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin at Grand Boulevard

This pet-friendly hotel features an outdoor pool, a hot tub, and complimentary breakfast. Accommodations are provided with full kitchens and free high-speed Internet.  The Residence Inn Sandestin includes suites and studios with living and dining areas. The kitchens feature stove-tops and refrigerators. Tea- and coffee-making facilities are also provided.  Guests at this Grand Boulevard hotel can work out at the fitness center which features cardio equipment and a weight machine. A sports court is also on site. A social hour with snacks is provided on select weeknights.

Hampton Inn & Suites Destin

This Destin, Florida motel is located 1.5 miles from Big Kahuna’s Water Park. Guests can enjoy an outdoor pool, daily continental breakfast, and free Wi-Fi throughout their stay.   Guests can check burn a few calories in the fitness center or consult the tour desk for area activities. A business center, launderette, and snack shop are available at Hampton Inn and Suites Destin for added convenience.

Henderson Beach Resort

This property is a 6-minute walk from the beach. Showcasing a spa center and a private beach area, Henderson Beach Resort is located in Destin, just 1,300 feet from Emerald Coast Centre. The resort has a year-round outdoor pool and fitness center, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant or a drink at the bar. Private parking is available on site.  Free use of bicycles is available at this resort and the area is popular for golfing. The resort also provides bike rental and car rental. Beaches of South Walton is 0.8 miles from Henderson Beach Resort, and Big Kahunas is 2.4 miles from the property. Northwest Florida Regional/Eglin Air Force Base Airport is 9 miles away.

Hyatt Place Sandestin at Grand Boulevard

Hyatt Place Sandestin at Grand Boulevard beautifully reflects the thriving arts culture of South Walton with its custom design and carefully curated artwork by local artists, providing guests with a unique cultural and artistic experience. Plus, with 24/7 conveniences such as freshly prepared meals, free Wifi, and 24-hour Gym and Business Center, you can move seamlessly from work to play, from frenzied to relax.

Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa

On Miramar Beach, this golf and full-service spa resort features 15 tennis courts and 3 swimming pools. Free Wi-Fi is provided in all rooms.  A game room, shops, and laundromat are available for guest use at this Destin Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa. Paddle boards, kayaks, and organized children’s activities are available as well.  Five restaurants are on site, which includes Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood and Hadashi Sushi Bar. A mini-market, full-service bar, and coffee shop are provided as well.


  1. Shawn

    I can attest to the fact that Destin is BY FAR one of, if not THE best beach in Florida. I used to live there!! I grew up on the Destin shoreline and know that when it comes to Destin and the surrounding area. You are talking about some of the most beautiful areas in all of the world!!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Well I live in Clearwater Beach, so I have to say that it is right up there too 🙂 Destin is beautiful though, with the gorgeous white sand. And I agree, this IS one of the most beautiful areas. But then I can be kind of partial to Florida 🙂

  2. Matthew Freeman

    Leahrae, I really took interest in your Airfare tab. It was quite informative. The reason I choose that particular area of your website, is because I have a family of 5. This next coming January We will be traveling t Vietnam…..excited!

    So your explanation of when to buy tickets was very cool indeed. I did not know the many ways to purchase tickets….so this way of doing it could possibly save us a $1000.00. I did however could not find any beaches for Vietnam? If you could find out about the best beaches or Islands to go to near Saigon it would be greatly appreciated because we will be staying for a month or more.

    Looking forward to your response.



    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Matthew! Yes, I planned on doing that particular area 🙂 I have just not gotten to it yet. But for you, I will go ahead and get busy on the best beaches and/or islands in the Saigon area. I will email you the link so you can determine what options are best for you. Thanks for asking, and I look forward to helping you!

  3. Dino

    This is a great post. When I think about travel I will refer to your site because it would give me some guide. Love this, thanks.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are welcome Dino 🙂 Glad you find it helpful and please let me know if I can help you make your plans!

  4. John

    The Fishing charter sounds like a great idea to me. Did a business trip out of Clearwater Beach and we caught Barracuda and King Mackerel. The Barracuda was great on the BBQ when we got home.
    Have a 11 year old, do you have any information on Mini Golf or Go Carts in the Destin area. This is the place my brother and his family goes every year, they rent a house on the beach for the 10 or more that go at one time.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, John we actually went to a miniature golf and go cart place. It is all next to Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Great area with LOTS of things for kids to do. Ripleys was interesting, but I think my son liked the mini golf and go karts the best.

  5. Erik Colburn

    Great site and very informative. Destin is an amazing destination for beaches. I highly recommend Mcguire’s Irish Pub! You will not leave hungry and their drinks are amazing too.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You have been there! And I TOTALLY agree about McGuire’s. Great food and great drinks situated in Destin where the beautiful white sandy beaches are, what is not to love? Thanks for reading Erik 🙂

  6. Monika

    Hi Leahrae,
    What an amazing site you have put together here. Makes me so want to book a get away very soon. You have gathered a lot of great information, suggestions and ideas in one place. Your site is easy to navigate. I will definitely be checking back to see what other ideas and suggestions you will come up with.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Monika 🙂 I am always adding information on different beach destinations, so do be sure to check back. I am glad you enjoyed Beach Travel Destinations!

  7. Keith

    Hi Leahrae,

    I enjoyed reading your about page. I have to agree who doesn’t like warm sand and being on the beach listening to the Ocean. I live in Illinois but lived in Charleston SC for a while and loved it. I saw you had a link to Mellow Mushroom on your website and it brought back some memories because they have good beer and pizza.

    Your website is very professional looking and if I ever need to get away I know where to go.
    I’m going to bookmark your page on my computer so I can revisit it often.


    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so much Keith. Yes, there is more than one Mellow Mushroom, and they are awesome! Thanks you for visiting my Destin Travel Guide!

  8. Philip

    What is not to like about your site? The only thing that I can think for you to add would maybe be some of your own experiences and your own travels. Maybe some more pictures.Other than that I really like your site and how its set up. You have everything I would be looking for when planning a vacation.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Philip, and yes I plan on adding my personal experiences. You are the second person that has suggested that, so I will do 🙂

  9. Shawn

    Your site seems to have all the content for someone to plan a full vacation. Congrats for that. My advice if I had any would be to make it a little more personal by adding a page of your personal experiences. Try and give or provide information on your favorite places you’ve been. This might help customers trust your site more and help them pick a vacation that they didn’t even know they wanted.
    Overall, like I said, your site is well layout and is easy to browse through. Good luck with everything.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Shawn, Yes I have thought about doing that. I have been to most places I have listed so far. And some, I do say it is a personal favorite for me 🙂 But, I like your idea! Thanks for visiting!

  10. Shawn

    I seem to always be hearing of friends or family headed somewhere warm. Problem is I’m never going with them. Canadian winters are fun fro winter sports but leave people like myself hiding over the furnace for months. Your site makes me want to jump on a plane right now. Very easy to find info on related topics fro anyone planning a vacation. My wife and I have not been on a holiday “alone” for over 10 years. It is time to do so, don’t you think? Thanks for letting me remember how much I liked to travel, I will be planning a trip somewhere, anywhere soon.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Shawn I am glad I let you remember what it is like to be on vacation! Florida beaches are awesome, you will love it and if your wife loves sunshine and the ocean, she will as well! Thanks for reading my Destin Travel Guide!

  11. Tony

    Are you kidding? This is simply fantastic. What is there not to like? You have poured tons of applicable information into your website. Absolutely fantastic.

    To begin let’s look at your About Me. You begin with a very inviting phrase where you state that you love going to the beach. It is so simple, yet so very inviting to those who love the beach. You made me a friend just with that statement.

    Next we get drawn in to the wonderful photos of these great destinations. You provide us with enough detail that my trip is already planned based on your suggestions. I can see it in my mind’s eye. But, I know that will not happen so why even look? Then I click on the other pages.

    Yes, the other pages tell me that it is possible so long as Leahrae is by my side. I can secure travel, I can negotiate, I can even get the right beach gear because you have already reviewed it for me.

    I particularly liked the Valentine’s Day post that begins with been there, done that. Ouch! I hope my wife does not read that…! That is solid writing.

    I guess that my question to you is whether you feel that this is well done or not. Thank you for allowing me to take a look at your wonder website. You certainly set the bar high.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you so very much Tony. Shoot, I set high standards for myself LOL. I just want to try to get my love for the beach out there to everyone, and provide good solid information that will help them have a fantastic time. Your comments mean a lot to me, it means I am doing what I want to be doing! Hope to see you in Florida!

  12. Kameron

    I sure am sold on going to Destin Florida now. Your page is such a thorough guide, that I would feel confident I could get the most out of a vacation there. I love the way that you have $ to rate the pricing at each location. It is easy to follow and spot out.

    Thank you for the helpful information!

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome Kameron! I am glad I have you sold on visiting Destin, and you will love the beaches, the warm tropical air and all the fun stuff to see and do. Thanks for reading!

  13. Kevon

    Coming from the Caribbean, where beaches and tourism are big business, I could not agree more that beaches are very attractive for any destination. I’ve never heard of Destin but after a bit of research I think that while the beach is a great attraction, it is just the beginning. Community life, culture and so many other things to do make this spot in Florida a must visit destination.

    Thanks for sharing

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I have to agree with you Kevon. The reasons you talked about are exactly why I really love a lot of places in Florida. The atmosphere, the community, the experience, all that on top of great Florida beaches and warm tropical air. Thanks for visiting Beach Travel Destinations.

  14. Jaclow

    I just fall in love with the Florida Beaches ! I will be planning my next holiday there.

    Which month is the best time that you would advise me to visit ?

    Your article is filled full of information
    Interesting Bars and Restaurants list and yes I want to see bottlenose dolphin.

    The Hotels list looks good too but does Florida have “homestay” ?

    Looking forward to your reply, thanks.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Jaclow, yes, you will love Florida! I know I do. It really depends on what type of weather you want, and that sort of thing. I like the water to be warm as well as the weather. So that is anytime between March and October. Now June thru the beginning of September will be crowded. Some beaches not as crowded as other, but still more people than normal. That leaves us with March thru May (May being the best) and September thru October, with September the better because the water will be a little warmer. Yes, you will find Homestay in Florida. There are several choices 🙂

  15. Marc

    I have always thought about going to Destin with my family but have not made the trip yet. Your post gives me the motivation to put a trip together. Thank You so much for the great information.

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are very welcome Marc. You will love it here. My family and I went last summer for a week, and we had a great time. There is something for everyone. As not everyone wants to stay close to a beach.

  16. Mike Aubor

    Destin looks like a really great holiday location. Is there any hotel you recommend for families?

    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      The Embassy Suites and the Best Western are the best for families, but actually all the hotels I listed are. The B&B, not so much. That is definitely more for couples. Thanks for reading Mike!


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