Since graduating university, Paul has worked as a bookseller, librarian, and educator. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.
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. Visit 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.
2. Go Fishing
They don't call Destin 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. See 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.
4. Go 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. It is a thrilling experience for all the family, never to be forgotten.
5. Visit Gator Beach
A free attraction, the alligator venue houses around a hundred of these fascinating reptiles. They let you hold a baby alligator, take photographs, and feed them. Enjoy a fun time for all the family with friendly staff.
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6. Enjoy Multiple Attractive 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 draw most visitors after all.
Destin, Florida Beaches to Visit
- Destin Beach
- Henderson Beach State Park
- Crystal Sands Beach
- Grayton Beach State Park
7. Go to 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.
8. Walk Along Destin Harbor and Boardwalk
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 two levels, kid activities to do. If you get hungry, there are several restaurants to choose from.
9. Rent a Bike and Go Cycling
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.
There are 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.
10. Visit 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.
What's the Best Month to Visit Destin, Florida?
I would recommend going in April, May, September, or October if you possibly can. The weather during these months is sunny, but not too hot and humid. The water is warm if you want to swim. There is plenty going on but without big crowds of people.
Visit in late fall, winter, and early spring and may well find that the temperature is a little on the cold side, especially if you want to swim in the sea. Go during the summer months and you will find that the city is more crowded, as well as expensive.
Quick Facts About Destin, FL
- 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.
Famous People Associated With Destin
Bassist of the band Kansas
Former Arkansas Governor
Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff and Political Analyst
Guitarist of the band The All-American Rejects
Former Florida Gators and NFL quarterback
Dallas Cowboys linebacker
Former NFL linebacker
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Are there sea lions in the Gulf of Mexico?
Answer: The short answer is no. They are not found living here in the wild.
© 2015 Paul Goodman