Destin, Florida, sits along the Emerald Coast of the Gulf of Mexico. With its white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, it’s no wonder why this small town has become a popular vacation destination for tourists from all over.
So whether you want to spend your days on the beach or explore all Destin offers, you will have a great time.
Let’s explore the top things to do in Destin.
#1 Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is a must-see for any visit to the Gulf Coast. This unique attraction offers the chance to get up close and personal with some of the ocean’s most amazing creatures.
Visitors can interact with dolphins, sea lions, seals, stingrays, and more in a safe and fun environment. The Stingray Bay Snorkel is an exciting experience for the family.
It involves snorkeling with stingrays, bamboo sharks, and several types of tropical fish. The marine adventure park also features educational shows and exhibits that provide insights into the fascinating world of marine life.
The park is only a 10-minute drive from the heart of Destin, making it an easy day trip for the family.
General admission ranges from about $18 – $25. Infants 2 and under are free.
No outside food or drink is allowed in the park for the safety of the animals.
The park offers food and drinks concessions on site. You can also leave and return the same day with proof of admission.
So whether you’re a local or a tourist, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park will be a memorable experience.
#2 Fort Walton Beach
Fort Walton Beach, Florida, is a gorgeous Emerald Coast city in northwestern Florida. The white sand beaches and emerald waters are amazing to see.
Visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, surfing, fishing, and searching for shells. In addition, the area has many great restaurants, cafes, and bars.
Okaloosa Island Boardwalk is a must-see. It features shops, restaurants, and a fishing pier.
The Boardwalk has several fun events, such as Movies on the Beach, plays for the kids, and even fireworks in the summer.
If you enjoy exploring nature, several state parks offer hiking trails, camping sites, and opportunities to see wildlife.
John Beasley Park and the Gulf Islands National Seashore are beautiful state beach parks. Fort Walton Beach is about 8 miles west of Destin, a quick 15-minute drive for the family.
Fort Walton Beach is a great place to relax and enjoy the sun.
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#3 Henderson Beach State Park
Henderson Beach State Park is a beautiful place to enjoy a camping trip near Destin, Florida.
The park offers spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico and is conveniently located near many popular attractions.
Henderson Beach State Park is known for its sugar-white sand beaches, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing.
The park also has plenty of hiking nature trails and is an excellent bird-watching place. The campsite has 60 campsites to accommodate either tents or RVs.
The sites have water, electricity, picnic tables, and ground grills. Other amenities include picnic pavilions, restrooms, a shower station, and a playground.
Admission into the park is $6 per vehicle if you are just spending the day. Camping is $30 per night. A few other fees may apply.
Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. Campers at Henderson Beach State Park will enjoy all this beautiful park offers.
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#4 Deep Sea Fishing
When it comes to deep-sea fishing, Destin, Florida, is one of the best places. Destin is known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.”
The waters off the coast of Destin are teeming with fish, and anglers of all experience levels can find success. In addition, Destin is known for some of the best saltwater fishing in the United States.
Several charter companies offer deep-sea fishing trips, and they can provide all of the equipment and expertise you need to catch fish. Charter boats can range from $120 – $240 per hour.
The maximum amount of people is 6 per boat. Go with friends or family; you’ll save money and have a blast.
The most popular fish in the area include red snapper, grouper, Mahi Mahi, and tuna.
If you’re hoping to land a trophy fish or enjoy a day out on the water, deep-sea fishing in Destin is an experience you won’t soon forget.
#5 Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park
Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park in Destin, Florida, is excellent for family fun. The water park has various attractions, including a lazy river, a wave pool, and slides.
A kids’ area has a giant play structure and kid-friendly slides. Parents can relax in the nearby lounges while the little ones have a blast.
The adventure park also has a fantastic 54-hole putt course and the Sky Coaster ride. The park is well-maintained, and the staff is friendly and helpful.
One of the best things about Big Kahuna’s water park is that it is open all year round. Admission is around $35 for Adventure Park, about $53 for the water park, and around $73 for both parks.
There are plenty of restrooms, lockers, and options for eating. So if you’re looking for a great way to spend the day, check out Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park in Destin, Florida.
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#6 Destin Harbor Boardwalk
Located in the heart of Destin, Florida, the Destin Harbor Boardwalk is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
The boardwalk is one-quarter of a mile and features a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions. Visitors can stroll along the waterfront or take a break to enjoy a refreshing beverage at one of the many cafes.
The boardwalk is also home to several boat rental companies, making it easy to explore the bay. In addition, the boardwalk has a carnival-like atmosphere which is fun for the whole family.
There are so many great shops and fun places to eat. Of course, it’s always beautiful walking along the boardwalk.
The Destin Harbor Boardwalk is the perfect place to spend an afternoon, whether you’re looking to shop, dine, or take in the incredible views.
#7 Buccaneer Pirate Cruise
The Buccaneer Pirate Cruise is the perfect way to experience the thrill of pirate life without walking the plank.
This family-friendly cruise takes place aboard a replica pirate ship, where you can explore all the nooks and crannies while searching for hidden treasure.
As you sail around the bay, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, turtles, and other marine life. Also, don’t forget to wave to all the friendly pirates you’ll encounter.
The Buccaneer Pirate Cruise is a great way to spend an afternoon in Destin, Florida.
The captain and the crew make the experience fun with games, silly banter, singing, dancing, and many pirate-themed activities.
It is best to check out the website for up-to-date pricing; they have plenty of specials, too—plan for about 2 hours for this fun-filled cruise.
With its exciting mix of adventure and education, the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise will be a hit with everyone in the family.
#8 Maximum Magic Show
The Maximum Magic Show in Destin, Florida, will be an experience the whole family will never forget. You will laugh, cry, and be amazed by this mesmerizing show.
The show is put on by a husband and wife duo, Noah and Heather Wells, both incredibly talented magicians. They perform a mix of traditional and contemporary magic tricks- some of which I’ve never seen before.
What sets this show apart is the incredible connection that Noah and Heather have with their audience.
They make you feel like you’re part of the act, and their warmth and humor shine through even when they’re doing the most mind-boggling tricks.
It’s clear that they love what they do, and it makes for a truly magical experience. Tickets start at $30, which is well worth a night of laughs and surprises for the whole family.
If you’re ever in Destin, check out the Maximum Magic Show- you won’t regret it!
#9 Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone
Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone is perfect for letting your inner child run wild!
With over 17,000 square feet of air-conditioned space, it is a great way to take a break from the sun and have a fantastic time. A state-of-the-art arcade, 4D movie theater, and laser tag are inside the theme park.
When heading outside, you can experience a 60-foot ropes course, bungee trampoline, and two mini gold courses. Some new additions are bumper boats, go-karts, and a 100-foot slide.
Wild Will’s has plenty of food and drink options and is also great for parties and group events. Multiple ticket options at different prices depending on what you want to do at the park.
You can get unlimited park passes or individual game and event tickets. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday or looking for a fun night out, you’re covered.
#10 Destin History and Fishing Museum
The Destin History and Fishing Museum is a must-see for any fan of seafood or history.
The museum chronicles the history of Destin, Florida, from its days as a sleepy fishing village to its current status as a world-famous tourist destination.
Visitors can learn about the early settlers who fished the waters off the coast of Florida and see how the town has changed over time. In addition, the museum showcases how Destin became the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.”
The Rodeo Gallery is a popular exhibit telling how The Rodeo got its start and its impact on the community. The Rodeo is one of the longest-running fishing tournaments in the United States.
Tickets are only $5, so there is no reason to miss out on this museum.
With its fascinating exhibits and rich history, the Destin History and Fishing Museum is a great place to learn about this unique corner of the Sunshine State.
#11 Pontoon Boat Rentals
If you’re looking for a fun and unique way to experience the beautiful waters of Destin, Florida, then you should consider renting a pontoon boat.
Pontoon boats are great for groups of all sizes and provide plenty of room for relaxing and enjoying the scenery. However, no captain is on the boat, so the driver must have boating experience.
Depending on age, a Florida boating license may be required. Many companies offer pontoon boat rentals in Destin, so shop for the best deal.
If you’re worried about sunburn, don’t worry – most pontoons have shade canopies that keep you cool and comfortable all day. You can even rent a double-decker pontoon with slides that will be a huge hit for the entire family.
There are multiple boat rental services in Destin, do a little research to find what works best for you.
#12 James Lee Park
James Lee Park is a beautiful place to take a stroll, have a picnic, and relax with friends. The park has a public beach and well-maintained amenities making for an easy and relaxing day at the beach.
The location is ideal for locals or tourists wanting to escape the louder and busier beaches closer to the party hubs. The park has a playground, pavilions, and 41 picnic tables; the restrooms have changing tables.
The outdoor showers come in handy at the end of the day. There are over 150 parking spots, but James Lee Park can get busy on the weekends, so get there earlier if possible.
The park is an excellent place to watch the sunset in the evening. The view from James Lee Park is simply breathtaking.
If you’re ever in Destin, check out this wonderful park.
#13 Crab Island Sandbar
Crab Island is one of the most popular destinations in Destin, Florida. It is especially popular with the locals during the summertime.
Crab Island is not an actual island but an area of very shallow water from a dredging project back in 1960. Today this underwater sandbar is a place to anchor your boat and hang out with friends.
Although Crab Island is only accessible by boat, you can easily rent a pontoon for the day if you don’t own a boat. They also offer shuttles to the island for about $50 per person.
The shuttle boat allows you to bring a cooler for food and drinks and lasts about 2-3 hours. This is a great way to explore the island without the stress and worry of being responsible for a boat.
Crab Island is about 4 acres and has plenty of space for several fun activities. The shallow waters are perfect for games like water volleyball, paddle boarding, water football, snorkeling, or just chillin’.
As if that isn’t fun enough, Crab Island has floating restaurants and foot boats. So pack up your swimsuit and sunscreen and head to Crab Island Sandbar for a fun day.
#14 Destin Commons Outdoor Shopping Mall
Destin Commons is an outdoor lifestyle shopping center in the heart of Destin, Florida.
The center features over 85 stores and restaurants, a movie theater, a large shaded splash pad, and a playground for the kiddos.
In addition to shopping and dining, Destin Commons also offers a variety of events and activities throughout the year.
There is always something happening at Destin Commons, from live music performances to holiday celebrations. It is a beautiful atmosphere in the evening with live music and string lights for ambiance.
After a day in the sun, the whole family can enjoy an evening exploring the outdoor mall. And with its convenient location, Destin Commons is the perfect place to take a break from exploring all the Emerald Coast offers.
So whether you’re looking to shop, grab a bite to eat, or enjoy some time outdoors, check out Destin Commons.
#15 Dolphin Sunset Cruise
If you’re looking for a unique way to experience a Destin sunset, you should consider going on a dolphin sunset cruise.
As the sun sets, you’ll be able to see the dolphins swimming and playing in the water – it’s truly a magical experience. Sunsets on the Emerald Coast are a fantastic way to end the day.
It is also the perfect way to see dolphins swimming and playing in their natural habitat. The best time to see dolphins is from late May to August.
You can see them from about 10 am until noon, then they return for the afternoon until it gets dark. So while watching the sunset on the Emerald Coast, you can spot some dolphins.
Destin has multiple options with boating companies that offer a dolphin sunset cruise. Rates run anywhere from $25-$50 for the cruise.
You’ll create memories that will last a lifetime, and you might even see some unique wildlife up close.
#16 Gator Beach
Gator Beach Alligator Park is one of the coolest places in Destin. Not only is it home to dozens of alligators, but you can feed them, hold them, and even get your picture taken with them.
The staff is very friendly and knows all about the alligators. There are plenty of opportunities to learn about alligators’ habitats and behavior.
It’s an unforgettable experience that everyone should try at least once. Gator Beach is free to the public. You only have to pay for alligator food, photos, and merchandise.
The park has hundreds of alligators and even baby alligators. The gator handlers are passionate about their work and love sharing their knowledge with guests.
They do a fantastic job answering all the questions kids come up with. So if you’re ever in Destin, swing by Gator Beach Alligator Park and say “hi” to the resident alligators.
#17 The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island
The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island is one of Florida’s most popular tourist destinations.
Thousands flock to the Boardwalk yearly to enjoy the sun and sand. The Boardwalk is also a great place to people-watch, as it is always full of interesting characters.
The boardwalk offers a range of activities, making it a perfect family-friendly destination for everyone. The location of the boardwalk is a big plus, with its proximity to the beach and a variety of shops and restaurants that offer a unique dining experience.
With beautiful beach fronts views and a wide variety of shops, it is easy to spend hours at The Boardwalk. If you tire of shopping, take a break and enjoy a glass of wine or gelato at one of the many beautiful restaurants.
Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or have fun, the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island will not disappoint.
#18 Jet Ski/Waverunner Rentals
Destin is well-known for its beautiful beaches and turquoise waters. And what better way to enjoy the Florida coastline than renting a jet ski or Waverunner?
There are plenty of places to rent watercraft in Destin, and most rental companies offer hourly or half-day rates.
If you want to spend an hour enjoying the waves or a whole day exploring the coast, there’s an option for you.
If you’ve never ridden a jet ski or Waverunner before, don’t worry – most rental companies will provide a brief tutorial to get you started. This is one of the most fun activities to do with your family.
Even teenagers will have a great time. So what are you waiting for? Pack your swimsuit and sunscreen, and head to Destin for a day of fun in the sun!
#19 Indian Temple Mound Museum
Nestled in the heart of historic downtown Fort Walton Beach the Indian Temple Mound Museum is one of the most unique and fascinating attractions in Destin, Florida.
The museum tells the story of the Mississippian culture that once thrived in this area. Its exhibits showcase a wide variety of artifacts from this period.
From pottery and tools to jewelry and weapons, these artifacts provide a unique view into the lives of the people who once called this place home.
The Indian Temple Mound was used for ceremonial purposes by the Mississippian people. Admission is only $3, making this a very affordable trip with the family.
With its beautiful setting and intriguing exhibits, the Indian Temple Mound Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in learning more about this area’s rich history.
#20 Choctawhatchee Bay
Destin is a coastal city in northwestern Florida. It is known for its white sand beaches and emerald green waters.
One of the best places to enjoy these features is Choctawhatchee Bay. The Choctawhatchee River feeds the Choctawhatchee Bay and stretches over 30 miles. It spans 4-6 miles wide.
The bay is home to various marine life, including dolphins and beautiful fish. Visitors can enjoy fishing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding.
In addition, the bay offers stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico. So whether you are looking for a day of adventure or a place to relax and enjoy the scenery, Choctawhatchee Bay is a great spot to spend some time.
#21 HarborWalk Village
You won’t be disappointed if you look for things to do in HarborWalk Village in Destin. Shopping, dining, fishing, and boating are all popular activities.
Of course, the scenic views are simply breathtaking. One of the best things to do in Harbor Walk Village is to stroll along the boardwalk.
You’ll enjoy the fresh sea air and take in the stunning views of the Emerald Coast. There are also several shops and restaurants along the way, so you can stop and browse or grab a bite.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also go fishing or sailing in Harbor Walk Village. Several charter companies offer both half-day and full-day trips.
Several rental companies can hook you up with all the gear you need to try stand-up paddleboarding.
No matter your interests, you will find something to do in Harbor Walk Village in Destin.
If you’re looking for a place to have fun in the sun, there’s no better destination than Destin, Florida. Destin is a perfect place to relax and have a great time with its white sandy beaches and emerald green waters.
But that’s not all that this lively city has to offer. Destin is a fantastic vacation destination, from parasailing and jet skiing to deep-sea fishing and golfing.
When the sun goes down, the fun doesn’t stop. You can enjoy live music or take a walk along the waterfront.
No matter your interests, you will find plenty to do in Destin. So pack your bags and head to Florida’s Emerald Coast for a vacation you’ll never forget.