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Top 10 Things to do in Destin, Florida

Updated on November 21, 2016
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Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller, librarian, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

Destin Beach, the white sand and emerald green waters make Florida's Emerald Coast a special and beautiful place to be.  Leisure pursuits here include fishing, boating, eating, checking out the dolphins, and hanging out at the beach.
Destin Beach, the white sand and emerald green waters make Florida's Emerald Coast a special and beautiful place to be. Leisure pursuits here include fishing, boating, eating, checking out the dolphins, and hanging out at the beach. | Source

Located on the Emerald Coast, a beautiful area of Florida that is famous for its white sands and emerald waters, Destin has grown from a small and quiet fishing village into a popular destination for tourists and day trippers.

More than 75% of the 4.5 million Emerald Coast visitors who arrive each year visit Destin, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, with the city happy to promote itself as: "The World's Luckiest Fishing Village".

Below is my list of the top 10 things to do in Destin, Florida.

#1 Crab Island

It is only accessible by boat but well worth the visit. The water is shallow and calm, perfect if you have kids with you, or just want to relax and have fun.

You can slide on the big inflatable water slide, enjoy the Crab Island Water Park, order ice cream from the ice cream man (who brings it to you by boat), or buy cajun boiled peanuts (delivered by boat too).

Plus you can do some snorkeling and hermit crab collecting as well.

I definitely used to lie about my age. I'm from Tennessee and everyone would vacation in Destin, Florida, where there are lots of cute guys. I would go with my older sister and lie about my age to them.

— Lucy Hale
Fishing can be a great bonding experience for the family, as well as enormous fun.  Destin has fish in abundance and there are plenty of opportunities for chartering a boat and heading out to enjoy a catch of your own sea food.
Fishing can be a great bonding experience for the family, as well as enormous fun. Destin has fish in abundance and there are plenty of opportunities for chartering a boat and heading out to enjoy a catch of your own sea food. | Source

#2 Fishing

They don't call it the "Luckiest Fishing Village" for nothing, the area is abundant with sea life!

You can fish off the docks, on a boat, from a kayak, at the pier, at the jetties, or from the shore - what you catch will vary according to your location and the time of year.

There are plenty of fishing boat charters ready to take passengers out and give fishing help. It is a great experience for a family, both as bonding and as great fun!

#3 Dolphins

The Emerald Waters are an excellent place to see and interact with dolphins.

There are plenty of Destin local companies who know where to find dolphins and will take you out to see them for a very reasonable and affordable price.

It's an experience that will last a lifetime.

A thrilling experience, parasailing will give you an entirely new view of Destin and the Gulf.  You can spot the dolphins and turtles from the sky.  An unforgettable experience for all the family.  You can book your tickets the day before.
A thrilling experience, parasailing will give you an entirely new view of Destin and the Gulf. You can spot the dolphins and turtles from the sky. An unforgettable experience for all the family. You can book your tickets the day before. | Source

#4 Parasailing

You can purchase your tickets online and go parasailing the next day.

You will catch a bird's eye view of the city and Gulf, spotting turtles and dolphins from on high.

A thrilling experience for all the family, never to be forgotten.

The official seal of Destin, Florida, including its nickname: "World's Luckiest Fishing Village".  The city gets its name from Leonard Destin, a New London, Connecticut fishing captain who resided in the area between 1845 and 1850.
The official seal of Destin, Florida, including its nickname: "World's Luckiest Fishing Village". The city gets its name from Leonard Destin, a New London, Connecticut fishing captain who resided in the area between 1845 and 1850. | Source

Facts About Destin, Florida

The city is named after Leonard Destin, a New London, Connecticut fishing captain who settled in the area between 1845 and 1850.

During the 1970s, condominiums were constructed in Destin.

The city has grown rapidly since the 1980s.

Destin the city has a total area of 8.2 square miles (21 km2), of which 7.5 square miles (19 km2) is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2) (7.95%) is water, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

11,455 people live in the city, according to the year 2000 census.

#5 Gator Beach

A free attraction, the alligator venue houses 100 of the reptiles.

A fun time for all the family with friendly staff.

They let you hold a baby alligator, take photographs, and feed them.

Most people visit the Destin area for the preponderance of beautiful beaches, with white sands and emerald waters.  As well as Destin Beach, there are a number of State Park Beaches to visit.  You will never be short of sand and sea in the Destin.
Most people visit the Destin area for the preponderance of beautiful beaches, with white sands and emerald waters. As well as Destin Beach, there are a number of State Park Beaches to visit. You will never be short of sand and sea in the Destin. | Source

#6 Other Beaches

It may seem like a no-brainer, but you can always hang out on a beautiful beach.

The white sands and emerald waters of the Destin area are what draws most visitors after all.

As well as Destin Beach, other attractive sandy locations include Henderson Beach State Park, Crystal Sands Beach, and Grayton Beach State Park.

#7 Big kahuna's Waterpark

This gigantic and exciting waterpark has something for everyone, no matter what their age or size.

There's a wide range of thrilling water rides, go-karts, miniature golf and even some extreme rides.

Located in the heart of Destin, Big Kahuna's can be accessed via highway 98.

Singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow at the USC's Changing Lives and Creating Cures Gala on November 20, 2014.  Photo was taken at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.  Crow has connections with Destin.
Singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow at the USC's Changing Lives and Creating Cures Gala on November 20, 2014. Photo was taken at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Crow has connections with Destin. | Source

Famous People Connected with Destin

Sheryl Crow - Singer, songwriter

John Grisham - Author

Dave Hope - Bassist of the band Kansas

Mike Huckabee - Former Arkansas Governor

Emeril Lagasse - Chef

Wayne Rogers - Actor

Karl Rove - Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff and Political Analyst

Nick Wheeler - Guitarist of the band The All-American Rejects

Danny Wuerffel - Former Florida Gators and NFL quarterback

Keith Brooking - Dallas Cowboys linebacker

Jeff Cook - Singer, musician

Kevin Greene - Former NFL Linebacker

#8 Destin Harbor

At the heart of the city is Destin Harbor and its boardwalk.

The boardwalk is fun to wander, especially in the late-afternoon/early evening when the fishing boats arrive back with their catches.

The boardwalk project was completed in June 2012 and features new decking and pavers, landscaping, lighting and seating.

There is plenty of parking and shopping on 2 levels, kid activities to do. If you get hungry, there are several restaurants to choose from.

Cycling offers healthy fun for all ages.  Biking is a great way to get around the Destin area, you can cycle to the beach or one of the nearby state parks.  There are numerous rental options, including bikes which accommodate multiple people.
Cycling offers healthy fun for all ages. Biking is a great way to get around the Destin area, you can cycle to the beach or one of the nearby state parks. There are numerous rental options, including bikes which accommodate multiple people. | Source

#9 Bike Rentals

Cycling is a great way to get around the Destin area and the kids love it.

You can ride your bikes to the beach or one of the state parks, such as Henderson Beach State Park.

Destin offers numerous rental options, including bikes that can accommodate multiple people, bikes with baby carriers and baby seats, and even bikes with canopies to protect you from the glaring sun.

A bottlenose dolphin swimming in the ocean.  The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park has had a dolphin named Delilah since June 1980.  She loves to play with a soccer ball and interact with her trainers.  In 2003, Delilah gave birth to Lily.
A bottlenose dolphin swimming in the ocean. The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park has had a dolphin named Delilah since June 1980. She loves to play with a soccer ball and interact with her trainers. In 2003, Delilah gave birth to Lily. | Source

#10 Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is located at Fort Walton Beach and gives you the opportunity to meet and learn about bottlenose dolphins alongside a trainer.

You can also see an otter, sea lion, penguin, turtle, tortoise, and many other animals.

Kids and adults alike love to feed the penguins, and encounter a dolphin, one of the most intelligent and social mammals.

© 2015 Paul Goodman

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