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Discover Destin: The Top 8 Must-Do's for Every Visitor

The Top 8 Must-Do_s in Destin Beach Bliss

As one of the most popular vacation spots on the Florida Panhandle, Destin is renowned for its pristine white-sand beaches and emerald waters, offering breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s no secret that this idyllic coastal town, blessed with abundant natural beauty and amazing weather all year round, provides a wealth of outdoor activities for visitors, a vibrant cosmopolitan atmosphere, and unique experiences for a memorable vacation. 


Planning a trip to the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village?” read below our curated list of the top 8 things you can’t miss when traveling to this Florida gem! 

Let’s dig into it!

1. Explore miles of pristine beaches at Henderson Beach State Park

Any visit to Destin is not complete without spending some time exploring the pristine miles of beach that call Henderson Beach State Park home—a piece of heaven on the Emerald Coast.


The park’s unspoiled coastline of powdery white sands and dazzling turquoise waters is the stage for relaxation, sunbathing, and swimming—the gentle waves and the warm, crystalline Gulf waters are truly therapeutic. If you’re more of an explorer and want to get more active, Henderson Beach State Park also features natural trails where you can discover the beauty of a dune ecosystem filled with wildlife. Keep your eyes open for pelicans, plovers, and turtles. 


Nice amenities include a beautiful boardwalk that easily connects the beach to picnic areas, campsites, well-maintained restrooms, showers, and changing areas.

Here’s an extra tip: While visiting the park, don’t forget to wait until the sun goes down so that you can experience a spectacular sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.



2. Stroll along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk


The Destin Harbor Boardwalk is the beating heart of the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” It’s not only home to the largest fishing fleet in Florida but also a go-to place for lots of entertainment, people-watching, stunning sea views, and the starting point of several adventures in the city.


As soon as you set foot on the boardwalk, you’ll feel the lively atmosphere emanating from everywhere. Walk around admiring the gorgeous vistas, watch a live music performance, and then pick one of the amazing restaurants facing the sea to savor fresh seafood dishes. Some excellent places for a memorable dining experience include Boathouse Oyster Bar, Tailfins Waterfront Grill, Dewey Destin’s Seafood Restaurant, Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House, and The Back Porch. Dining while feeling the fresh Gulf breeze? That’s all you need.


If you need some shopping therapy, the Destin Harbor Boardwalk is also home to amazing boutiques and souvenir shops. Got kids in tow? That’s the place to be! You’ll find a mini-golf course, escape rooms, laser mazes, and activities where the entire family can have fun together.


To top it all off, the boardwalk is the starting point for several adventures, such as dolphin cruises, fishing trips, snorkeling, diving, and parasailing adventures—all must-do activities while visiting Destin.

The Top 8 Must-Do_s in Destin Golf

3. Visit the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park 

A visit to the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is not only educational but also fun. There’s nothing like watching fascinating creatures up close, learning about them, and even getting personal with them—indeed, a memorable experience in Destin.


Some highlights of the aquarium include fantastic dolphin shows and exhibits featuring incredible marine mammals, fish, and reptiles. However, the animal encounters are an unbeatable experience. From getting in the water and engaging with dolphins to being kissed by a sea lion and feeding penguins, these encounters will certainly be among the most cherished moments of your trip. All of this happens under the care of the extremely professional and friendly staff, who will also give you insights about these wonderful creatures.


4. Soak up the sun and engage in water activities on Crab Island


From the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, you can also embark on a day of fun at Crab Island. Technically, Crab Island is not an island but a submerged sandbar in the middle of Choctawhatchee Bay. However, the beauty of the place truly matches that of Caribbean islands.


The best time to visit is at high tide when the sandbar is covered in vibrant turquoise waters. It’s like a huge waist-deep swimming pool where you can wade, float, snorkel, relax, and soak up the sun. There’s also a festive atmosphere emanating from Crab Island since several people rent pontoon boats to spend the day playing in the crystalline waters. You can bring your beverages, play music, and chill in paradise.


For the more adventurous, you can also rent jet skis, kayaks, and paddleboards to explore the stunning submerged sandbar in different ways.

The Top 8 Must-Do_s in Destin Golf

5. You’re in the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” so go fishing!

Since we’re talking about the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” fishing is a great idea when you’re visiting Destin. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, there are several opportunities to engage in the activity and see why the city holds such a title.


Because of the quick and easy access to the deepest depths of the Gulf, Destin is a fishing paradise. Anglers can quickly reach all depths of fishable water featuring 20 types of edible game fish, such as marlin, tuna, swordfish, and mahi-mahi. 


That makes deep-sea fishing extremely popular. There are endless fishing chart options you can choose for an unforgettable fishing trip. Some of the most popular include:



Other popular types of fishing in Destin include surf fishing, bay fishing, pier fishing, and kayak fishing.

The Top 8 Must-Do_s in Destin Golf

6. Hit some balls on a golf course

It’s undeniable that Florida is home to several world-class golf courses, and a few of them can be found in Destin. Once again, whether you’re a beginner seeking to try something different or a professional looking to challenge yourself, visiting a golf course in Destin is a great idea.


The best options in Destin are:


If you are more experienced and want something more challenging, just a short drive from Destin, the Burnt Pine Golf Club in Miramar Beach will certainly provide a top-notch golfing experience.


7. Find more dream-like beaches on Okaloosa Island


One of the most beautiful places on the entire Emerald Coast is Okaloosa Island, just a short drive from Destin. If you are thinking about those dream-like sugar-white beaches with turquoise waters, that’s where you’ll find them.


For a crowd-free beach day, head to John Beasley Park. This is a great option to spend the day on the beach since the park offers many convenient amenities such as beachside pavilions, picnic tables, a snack bar, changing rooms, and showers.  


Needless to say, the park features miles of Caribbean-like shores where you’ll have unlimited access to the calm crystalline waters, soft sands, beautiful dunes, and coastal vegetation. 


Extra tip: other must-visit beaches in and around Destin include Grayton Beach State Park (between Destin and Panama City Beach), considered a favorite spot by locals and one of the best beaches in the US, and James Lee Beach in Miramar. 

The Top 8 Must-Do_s in Destin Fstivals

8. Experience the Destin Seafood Festival


The Destin Seafood Festival is an unmissable event celebrating the fishing heritage of the city. All year round, you’ll undoubtedly have fun in Destin, but if you visit the city during the festival, there’ll be an extra pleasant atmosphere filled with culture, good music, and, of course, the freshest seafood dishes for your delight.


The festival happens every year at the beginning of October. It’s a three-day celebration of the local seafood industry taking place along the beautiful Destin Harbor, featuring over one hundred food and craft vendors. Food enthusiasts can try the freshest catches prepared by local chefs and drink local beer, all while strolling along the boardwalk, admiring Destin’s Fishing Fleet, and taking in the breathtaking views.

Add to that an outstanding music lineup throughout the three-day festival. From rock and reggae to country and tropical music, the event attracts musical artists from around the country, bringing them to different stages spread across the Destin Harbor.


If you’re traveling with kids, there are also plenty of kids’ rides and other activities for children of all ages to enjoy in the special Kids’ Zone set up along the harbor.



Top Things You Can’t Miss on a Trip to Destin


Destin is full of surprises! There’s much more to see and do in the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” If it’s your first time traveling to the city, you can follow our tips above so that you can cover the most visited and top-ranked experiences in Destin. You’ll be covered for the best Destin has to offer—natural splendor, vibrant venues, unique experiences, and tons of fresh seafood.


Want more tips on Destin? Head over to our destination blog for insights on all things Destin and Emerald Coast. From the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants to a nightlife guide and the reasons you should consider living in Destin all year round, all the info you need can be found — and we have many more juicy blogs coming up soon!



Wondering where to stay in Destin, FL?


Thinking about traveling to Destin, FL yourself? Then stay like a local by booking one of our RealJoy Vacations rentals.

From spacious beachfront houses to luxurious resorts, we offer a wide selection not just in Destin but along the Emerald Coast. All our properties come with top-notch amenities that will make your experience unforgettable.

Book now with RealJoy Vacations and have the ultimate vacation on the Emerald Coast.

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