Located in northwest Florida on the Emerald Coast, Destin is a popular vacation destination, renowned for its sandy white beaches and beautiful green waters. It's a great place to relax and unwind by the water, or play a round of golf at one of the award-winning courses in the area on your weekend getaway.

Easily accessed thanks to the Northwest Florida Regional Airport, Destin is filled with excellent resorts, wedding venues, and vacation rentals as well as a wide range of premier shopping and dining options. Here are the best things to do in Destin, Florida.

1. Henderson Beach State Park

Henderson Beach State Park
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Henderson Beach State Park gives visitors access to over 6,000 feet of scenic shoreline bordering the beautiful emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to its white sandy beaches, the park features a three-quarter mile nature trail, outdoor showers, and a playground.

Boardwalks provide beach access for those who wish to swim, sunbathe, and fish, while several pavilions make a great space for grilling, lounging, and picnicking. Beach access isn't limited to the daytime; there are a number of campsites available that include water and electric hookups as well as access to temperature-controlled bathhouse facilities. Explore Destin resorts on vacation.

Henderson Beach State Park, 17000 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Destin, Florida 32541, Phone: 850-837-7550

2. Destin Harbor Boardwalk

Destin Harbor Boardwalk
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Stretching nearly a quarter of a mile along the beautiful Destin Harbor, The City of Destin's Harbor Boardwalk provides extensive access to the waterfront and helps preserve the harbor’s unique character. The boardwalk features beautiful landscaping, lighting, and seating, as well as a number of local restaurants and rental businesses.

Every October, the harbor becomes a bustling hub of activity when it hosts both the annual Destin Seafood Festival and the annual Destin Fishing Rodeo. Four public parking lots are situated within a 5-10 minute stroll of the boardwalk, and all are free of charge. Dine at top restaurants in Destin.

Destin Harbor Boardwalk, 102 Harbor Blvd, Destin, Florida 32541

3. Destin Commons & Crystal Beach

Destin Commons & Crystal Beach
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Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Crystal Beach is known for its adorable, rainbow-colored beach cottages, and a large number of vacation rentals are available for visitors to enjoy. Located just off of Highway 98, the Shores at Crystal Beach Park is a family-friendly space that features a pavilion, restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. Limited parking is available, and the park is open to the public every day from dawn to dusk, free of charge.

This portion of Destin is also the home of Destin Commons, an outdoor lifestyle center with restaurants, boutiques, a movie theater, and a Bass Pro Shop. Destin Commons & Crystal Beach Map

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4. The Village of Baytowne Wharf

The Village of Baytowne Wharf
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Located on the shores of Choctawhatchee Bay, the Village of Baytowne Wharf is the gathering place for everyone visiting, living, or working along the Emerald Coast. It's always open to the public and is home to a wide range of boutiques, eateries, and nightlife.

The wharf also offers a busy schedule of festivals and special events for the entire family, including movies under the stars, flyboard shows, and free concerts. The Village is a pet-friendly venue, and guests are welcome to enjoy catch and release fishing in the lagoon. Public and valet parking are both available.

The Village of Baytowne Wharf, 244 Fisherman's Cove, Miramar Beach, Florida 32550, Phone: 850-267-8000

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5. HarborWalk Marina, Destin, Florida

HarborWalk Marina, Destin, Florida
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Located in the Destin Harbor, the HarborWalk Marina is a great starting point for a day on the water. The Crab Island Convenience Store sells drinks, snacks, fuel, bait, and fishing equipment, and it offers clean restroom facilities and fishing licenses.

Those in search of souvenirs can stop at the Nautical Treasures gift store to pick up giftware, including T-shirts, sunglasses, beach apparel, and jewelry. The marina also hosts the Destin Cobia Tournament every spring, and is home to SWOOP Deep Sea Fishing Charters, a company that offers deep sea fishing tours to people of all ages and abilities. Explore Florida Panhandle Beaches on your trip.

HarborWalk Marina, 66 Harbor Blvd, Destin, Florida 32541, Phone: 850-650-2400

6. Destin History & Fishing Museum

Destin History & Fishing Museum
© Destin History & Fishing Museum

The Destin History & Fishing Museum contains a number of exhibits depicting the history of the town and the fishing industry in the area. Visitors can admire vintage photographs of early Destin settlers and get a sense of what it’s like to swim in the Gulf of Mexico thanks to a 100-foot long display of fish caught in the area.

Other highlights include a large collection of antique fishing rods and reels, one of which belonged to Ernest Hemingway, and a seine fishing boat built in 1925 that is the oldest still in existence. Guests can explore the museum either on their own or with a guide. Read about the best Florida weekend getaways for a relaxing vacation.

Destin History & Fishing Museum, 108 Stahlman Ave, Destin, Florida 32541, Phone: 850-837-6611

7. Destin Commons

Destin Commons
© Destin Commons

Destin Commons is an outdoor shopping center that offers a wide range of both local and national retail stores, including Bass Pro Shops, Belk, and Forever 21. Those who don't feel like shopping can catch a movie at the AMC theater or grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and cafes on-site.

Children can spend time at the playground, cool off in the water park, or take a ride on the miniature train that operates daily. Wi-Fi is provided throughout the property, and visitors can park either in the metered spaces on the road or in the large above ground parking garage. Browse our best places to visit in Florida guide for more ideas.

Destin Commons, 4100 Legendary Dr, Destin, Florida 32541, Phone: 850-337-8700

8. SandCastle Lessons with Beach Sand Sculptures

SandCastle Lessons with Beach Sand Sculptures
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Run by former architect Rick Mungeam and his wife Capri, Beach Sand Sculptures creates one-of-a-kind sculptures for any occasion imaginable. They provide sand sculptures to enhance and promote various events and activities, including festivals, holiday displays, and grand openings.

They will also travel to any beach in the Destin area to provide corporate team building exercises, romantic marriage proposal sand sculptures, or sandcastle lessons in which participants learn the proper technique to build 3 1/2 foot tall sand sculptures. The lessons usually last two hours, and they are suitable for all ages and can be given to groups of any size. More info

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9. James Lee Park Public Beach, Destin, Florida

James Lee Park Public Beach, Destin, Florida
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James Lee Park is a county-owned park located on the beach near the border of Okaloosa and Walton counties. Visitors have access to a beautiful stretch of sand where they can swim and fish in the Gulf of Mexico, and the park features a number of pavilions, picnic tables, and dune walkovers. If desired, beach chairs and umbrellas can be rented at the park for a small fee.

A beachside playground is available for families with children, and large, well-maintained restrooms with changing facilities can be found on-site. Public parking is offered, and use of the beach is free of charge. More beaches in Florida

James Lee Park Public Beach, 3510 Scenic Hwy 98, Destin, Florida 32541, Phone: 850-689-5772

10. Flipper's Adventures, Destin, Florida

Flipper's Adventures, Destin, Florida
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Flipper’s Adventures offers many exciting activities including snorkeling, dolphin sightseeing, and firework or sunset cruises. All tours are family-friendly, and guests of all skill levels are welcome, including non-swimmers, beginners, and experienced snorkelers.

The company's US Coast Guard certified boats hold up to 49 people at a time, and all crew members are trained in first aid and CPR in addition to all aspects of boat handling. Hours vary depending on the season, advance reservations are required, and the company has a strict 24-hour cancellation policy. Trips typically last between 1.5 and 3 hours, and some include free beverages. Browse our things to do in Florida guide for more ideas.

Flipper's Adventures, 500 Harbor Blvd., Destin, Florida 32541, Phone: 850-837-0113

11. Buccaneer Pirate Cruise

Buccaneer Pirate Cruise
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Based out of HarborWalk Village, Buccaneer Pirate Cruise is an interactive family-friendly adventure that takes place aboard a 100-foot U.S. Coast Guard approved motor vessel. Younger passengers are entertained with interactive sword fights, water gun battles, stories, songs, dances, and treasure hunts, and adults can choose to either join in the fun or relax and take in the scenery.

Snacks and beverages are available for purchase on-board, and the company recommends arriving one hour prior to departure time to allow for parking and picking up tickets. Cruises last two hours, and boarding begins 30 minutes prior to departure.

Buccaneer Pirate Cruise, 100 Harbor Blvd, Suite B Destin Florida 32541, Phone: 850-269-0896

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12. Big Kahuna's Water and Adventure Park

Big Kahuna's Water and Adventure Park
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Opened in 1986, the Big Kahuna's Water and Adventure Park is the Emerald Coast's largest water park and a fantastic family destination during the hot summer months. There is no shortage of adrenaline-pumping water slides to enjoy at Big Kahuna's like the Kowabunga Racer, which promises insane speeds, the Hammerhead, twin slides that begin at the top of the park's Temple of Doom, and the 360-turning Monkey River Slide. Other water slides to enjoy at the park include the Cobra Twister, the Jumanji, and the Maui Pipeline Slides. Meanwhile, other exciting features of the park are the Honolulu Half Pipe, the Mini-Golf Course, and several more amusement park rides.

Big Kahuna's Water and Adventure Park , 1007 US-98 East, Destin, Florida 23541, Phone: 850-837-8319

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13. Sail Away - Destin Florida Sailing

Sail Away - Destin Florida Sailing
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Sail Away caters to those who wish to have private party excursions by providing a thirty-foot long catamaran that can hold up to six people. Tours are completely personalized and can last between two and eight hours. Captain Bryan Klein is happy to take guests sailing as far as five miles out into the gulf.

Popular activities include dolphin watching, snorkeling, and light tackle trolling, but many people choose to do “free-sailing” and cover as much water as possible while exploring the beautiful surroundings. The boat is well equipped, featuring a stereo system, restroom facilities, and a freshwater shower.

Sail Away - Destin Florida Sailing, 404 Harbor Boulevard, Destin, Florida 32541, Phone: 850-376-4757

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14. Primrose Restaurant, Destin, Florida

Primrose Restaurant, Destin, Florida
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Primrose Restaurant is a signature eatery at the elegant Destin’s Henderson Resort located just across the road from the sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. The spacious, bright, and airy restaurant offers breathtaking views of the Emerald Coast and an inspired menu focused on the freshest seafood, high-quality steaks, and healthy, creative dishes. The menu changes with the season and the availability of fresh ingredients. The display kitchen offers guests a glimpse into the magic happening behind the scenes. Check out their superb sushi selection and leave some space for the fresh, delicious desserts. The restaurant has an elegant private dining area for special events.

Primrose Restaurant, 200 Henderson Resort Way, Destin, FL 32541-3471, 850-424-4533

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15. Destin Snorkel

Destin Snorkel
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Destin Snorkel offers a wide range of tours on their Coast Guard approved passenger boats, and they have options that are suitable for all ages and abilities. Personalized trips are available, or guests can choose one of the pre-planned snorkeling, dolphin-watching, or sunset tours on offer. For those who want a little more excitement, the company also offers SNUBA adventures.

This unique technology allows participants to dive up to 20 feet, stay underwater for up to half an hour, and explore areas not accessible by snorkeling. All the required equipment is supplied, and free soda and bottled water are provided on all tours. Reservations are recommended.

Destin Snorkel, HarborWalk Village, 10 Harbor Blvd, Destin, Florida 32541, Phone: 850-269-2329

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16. Intracoastal Experience, Destin, Florida

Intracoastal Experience, Destin, Florida
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Intracoastal Experience specializes in inshore and near-shore fishing charters for clients of all skill levels. The warm, abundant waters off the shore of Destin are home to a wide variety of fish species, and the area is one of the most bountiful in all of Florida.

Charters typically last 4-6 hours and are guided by highly accomplished tournament angler Captain LW Burroughs. Bait, tackle, ice, Florida Fishing licenses, and fish cleaning/bagging are provided, but it's suggested that customers bring their own drinks, snacks, and a small ice chest for fish filets. Trips must be booked in advance.

Intracoastal Experience, 314 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 32541, Phone: 850-585-7173

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17. Just Chute Me Parasail

Just Chute Me Parasail
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Just Chute Me Parasail provides customers with a safe, accessible way to experience the thrill of floating on air. Passengers can fly two or three at a time, and flights take off from and land on the boat's deck. The time in the air lasts 10-12 minutes, and provides you with spectacular views of the Destin beaches and Emerald Coast.

Most of the flight will be spent at an altitude of 400 feet, and passengers are offered the choice to either stay dry or get their feet dipped in the water. Reservations are required and can be made online or over the phone.

Just Chute Me Parasail, 500 Harbor Blvd, Destin, Florida 32541, Phone: 850-650-4630

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18. The Track

The Track
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The Track family recreation center offers a wide range of activities for people of all ages, including two 18-hole miniature golf courses, bumper cars, bumper boats, and kiddie rides. The center also features five separate go-kart tracks of varying difficulty and an arcade filled with state-of-the-art video games.

Thrill seekers can take a spin on the giant Hurricane360 ride or try out the SkyFlyer, which simulates the experience of skydiving. Hours and available attractions vary depending on the season, weather, and business levels, so it's wise to call ahead. Discounts are offered for seniors, locals, and bulk purchases. Browse the best romantic Florida islands.

The Track , 1125 US-98, Destin, FL 32541, Phone: 850-654-4668

19. Mobile Sports

Mobile Sports
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Mobile Sports specializes in personalized boat tours for groups of six people or fewer. Popular options include banana boat rides, dolphin watching, and sunset tours, but the company will accommodate any special requests to the best of their ability. A professional photographer is present on board for each trip, and personalized photo packages are made available for purchase.

Participants of all ages are welcome on the tours, but children must be at least 5 years of age to ride on the banana boat. Tours typically last one hour, and guests are asked to arrive 15-20 minutes early to ensure a timely departure. Read about the most beautiful white sand beaches in Florida.

Mobile Sports, Phone: 850-687-1626

20. The Market Shops

The Market Shops
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The Market Shops is an upscale shopping, dining, and entertainment center in Miramar Beach, located along the entrance of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. More than 15 merchants are housed within the center, including lovely boutiques such as Favori, and Wren's Village Boutique. Coastal French cuisine is served at Bijoux, while casual fare is offered at regional chain Pizza by the Sea. Families can enjoy ice cream at Ben and Jerry's or try their hand at an escape room challenge at Escapology. Live music is presented throughout the winter and spring months. Each year, the shops also host the annual Bloody Mary Festival.

The Market Shops, 9375 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Miramar Beach, FL 32550, Phone: (850) 837-3077

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21. Golf Sandestin

Golf Sandestin
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Golf Sandestin has four unique courses: Raven Golf Club, Baytowne Golf Club, The Links Golf Club, and the exclusive and private Burnt Pine Club. Each course has its own special challenges and rewards, and together they make up a total of 72 holes spanning from the beach to the bay.

The resort has received a number of prestigious awards, and it regularly hosts events and competitions such as the Champions Tour during the NCAA National Championships. Proper golf attire is required on the courses, including the practice facilities. Collared shirts and spikeless shoes are permitted, but denim and women’s halter tops are not.

Golf Sandestin, 9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Miramar Beach, Florida 32550, Phone: 850-267-8000

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22. Mid-Bay Bridge

Mid-Bay Bridge
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Since opening in June 1993, the Mid-Bay Bridge has been the primary transportation link between the communities of Niceville and Destin. The 3.6-mile two-lane toll bridge spans Choctawhatchee Bay, and it is the quickest way to reach the beaches of Okaloosa County and South Walton.

Together with the newly opened Spence Parkway, the route contains two separate toll points. For the sake of convenience, those who routinely use the system are advised to sign up for a pre-paid Sunpass account, which can be used for both toll points on the bridge as well as for many other Florida toll roads.

Mid-Bay Bridge , Mid-Bay Bridge Rd, Destin, Florida 32541, Phone: 850-897-1428

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23. Jolee Island Nature Park

Jolee Island Nature Park
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Just a short walk from the Baytowne Marina, Jolee Island Nature Park is a great tourist destination that covers more than five acres of land. You can access the park by crossing over an attractive wooden footbridge, and the area features a pirate-themed playground with a lookout tower as well as a mile-long nature trail around the perimeter.

The trail is dotted with porch swings, which are a great place for visitors to sit and admire the views across Choctawhatchee Bay and Horseshoe Bayou. Pets on leashes are welcome, but visitors are advised to watch out for snakes and bring insect repellent.

Jolee Island Nature Park, 8868 Baypine Dr, Destin, FL 32550, Florida 32550

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24. AJ's Water Adventures, Destin, Florida

AJ's Water Adventures, Destin, Florida
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AJ's Water Adventures provides Destin visitors with dolphin cruises, sunset cruises, and snorkeling tours. Moonlit firework cruises are also available on occasion, and reservations are recommended for these. The company has two boats to choose from: a 53-foot speedboat called the "Sea Quest" and a 74-foot custom built schooner named the "Daniel Webster Clements."

Excursions last between one and three hours depending on the option chosen, and all cruises come with complimentary beer, wine, soda, and water. The tours are all family-friendly, and children are given the opportunity to take charge and "captain" the vessel.

AJ's Water Adventures, 116 Harbor Blvd., Destin, Florida 32541, Phone: 850-837-2222

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Silver Sands Premium Outlets

Silver Sands Premium Outlets is home to more than 100 designer and name-brand outlet stores, including Coach, Kate Spade New York, and Michael Kors. Numerous shopping opportunities are available, including women’s apparel, accessories and house wares, and sporting goods.

Located outdoors, the mall features covered sidewalks, beautiful landscaping, and a large play area to keep children entertained. A wide range of restaurants is also available, and an information booth can be found in the center of the mall. Sales are offered quite frequently, and regular shoppers can join the VIP Shopper Club for additional savings.

Silver Sands Premium Outlets, 10562 US-98, Destin, FL 32550, Phone: 850-654-9771

Luther's Pontoon, Waverunner & Kayak Rentals

Located in the Destin Harbor, Luther's Watersports rents out a variety of watercraft, including pontoon boats, waverunners, kayaks, and paddleboards. Family owned and operated, the company is located only five minutes away from Crab Island, and it offers clean, reliable vessels and friendly service.

Vessels cannot be taken into the Gulf of Mexico, but renters can fish in the fishing village's water, go dolphin-watching in the Choctawhatchee Bay, or cruise along the beautiful shore of the Emerald Coast. Reservations can be made online or by phone, and customers are asked to arrive early to go over safety instructions and fill out paperwork.

Luther's Pontoon, Waverunner & Kayak Rentals, 202B Harbor Blvd, Destin, Florida 32541, Phone: 850-650-8733