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BeTraveler - Say Yes To A New Adventure

The 11 best Things to Do in Destin, Florida in 2024 With Photos

Discover the top 11 things to do in Destin, Florida in 2024 with stunning photos and must-see top attractions along the beautiful beaches.

Top 11 Must-See Attractions in Destin, Florida 2024: Best Things to Do in Destin

Things to Do in Destin, Florida
Things to Do in Destin, Florida

About destin, florida:

Discover the enchanting beauty of Destin, Florida, nestled along the breathtaking Emerald Coast. With its pristine beaches of soft, white sand and shimmering, crystal-clear waters, Destin beckons to beach lovers and adventure seekers alike. Known affectionately as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village," Destin offers a welcoming embrace to anglers eager to cast their lines into the abundant depths of the Gulf of Mexico. But Destin is more than just a fishing paradise; it's a vibrant community bursting with diverse culinary delights, inviting shops, and thrilling attractions like water parks and dolphin cruises. Whether you're strolling along the shore, savoring local flavors, or embarking on an aquatic adventure, Destin promises an unforgettable escape filled with warmth, wonder, and the timeless allure of coastal living.

Read Also: 5 best beaches in florida

best things to do in destin florida:

Destin beckons visitors with its pristine beaches, boasting gorgeous white sands that rival even the most famous destinations further south in Florida. Yet, focusing solely on the beach means overlooking a wealth of other attractions that make this coastal haven truly remarkable. Dive into the warm emerald waters of the Gulf, tee off on championship-level golf courses, or embark on a fishing charter adventure. These activities promise to deepen your appreciation for Destin's unparalleled natural beauty.

1- Henderson Beach State Park:

Henderson Beach State Park
Henderson Beach State Park

Henderson Beach State Park is a natural gem nestled along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico in Destin, Florida. This coastal sanctuary offers visitors a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, with its pristine beaches, lush coastal dune ecosystem, and picturesque landscapes. Visitors to Henderson Beach State Park can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including swimming, sunbathing, picnicking, and hiking along scenic nature trails. The park is also home to a diverse array of wildlife, making it a popular destination for birdwatching and wildlife photography. Whether you're seeking relaxation, adventure, or simply a connection with nature, Henderson Beach State Park offers an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.

Read Also: Miramar Beach: Top Beach Rentals & Attractions in Destin, Florida

2- Crab Island:

Crab Island
Crab Island

Crab Island in Destin is a popular spot for boaters, tourists, and locals alike. It's known for its shallow, clear waters and sandy bottom, making it an ideal place for anchoring boats, swimming, snorkeling, and enjoying various water activities.

During the summer months, Crab Island becomes a lively gathering spot with floating vendors selling snacks, drinks, and various water toys. People bring their boats, kayaks, paddleboards, and even inflatable rafts to enjoy the sunshine and socialize with others.

Despite its name, Crab Island is not actually an island but rather a sandbar that emerges during low tide. It has become an iconic destination in the Destin area, attracting visitors from all over who come to experience its unique charm and natural beauty.

Read Also: Bradenton Beach : Your Ultimate Beach Destination Guide - 2024

3- Destin Dolphin Cruises:

Destin Dolphin Cruises
Destin Dolphin Cruises

When visiting Destin, a coastal city in Florida, it's essential to explore the waters as well as the land. Fortunately, there's a plethora of boat tour options in Destin, many of which are dedicated to spotting dolphins in their natural habitat. Seeing these playful sea creatures is sure to be a highlight of your Florida vacation, delighting the whole family and adding excitement to your trip.

One highly recommended option is AJ's Water Adventures, which offers dolphin cruises along with sailing and snorkeling excursions. Previous visitors have praised the knowledgeable guides and affordable prices. Adult tickets range from $28 to $32 depending on the cruise time, with discounted rates for children. Guests were amazed by the abundance of dolphins they encountered during their tours.

Another popular choice is Southern Star Dolphin Cruises, departing from HarborWalk Village. They offer ecotour dolphin cruises and sunset dolphin cruises on glass-bottom boats equipped with convenient facilities and onboard vendors. Travelers appreciated the efforts of the crew to ensure that every passenger had a chance to witness the dolphin spectacle. Tickets cost $32.99, with discounts available for children and seniors. For departure times and tour availability, visit the individual tour operators' websites.

Read Also: Discover Siesta Key Beach in FL: Your Ultimate Guide Before You Go

4- Destin Harbor Boardwalk:

Destin Harbor Boardwalk
Destin Harbor Boardwalk

The boardwalk in Destin stretches approximately a quarter mile along the waterfront, offering a fantastic free activity that can captivate visitors for hours. Tourists can relish unparalleled views of the harbor's ships and indulge in watching them come and go from the area. Along the boardwalk, there are numerous shops and restaurants to explore; however, some past visitors noted that while enjoyable, these venues can be quite touristy. As evening falls, the boardwalk transforms into a lively scene with bars and restaurants offering live entertainment. Despite the nightlife options, travelers mentioned that the boardwalk maintains a family-friendly atmosphere.

If a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk isn't exciting enough for you, there are plenty of adrenaline-pumping adventures to be had. Rental places for kayaks, paddleboards, parasailing, and Jet Skiing are available right from the boardwalk.

Although entry to the boardwalk is free, visitors should expect to spend money on food and souvenirs; some found the shopping in the area slightly pricey but worth it for the vibrant atmosphere. Multiple parking lots near the boardwalk are available, but they typically charge for parking. For more information about the area's offerings, visitors can consult the boardwalk's website.

Read Also: 12 best beaches in maui (map & photos)

5- Destin Boat Tours:

Destin Boat Tours
Destin Boat Tours

Whether you're in search of a pirate-themed cruise, a romantic sunset sail, or a dolphin-spotting excursion, Destin has a boat tour tailored to your desires. According to the Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, Destin boasts the largest for-hire fishing fleet in the U.S.

For those keen on catching sight of the area's resident bottlenose dolphins, booking a dolphin cruise comes highly recommended by recent travelers. Fishing enthusiasts will also find an abundance of fishing charters operated by highly rated companies. Interested individuals can explore our roundup of the top Destin fishing charters for more information and to book a trip. Many companies offering day trips and snorkeling excursions also provide sunset sails, ideal for groups of around six people. Sail Away, in particular, is favorably rated by recent visitors. Additionally, couples visiting Destin may consider a romantic dinner cruise, such as those offered by SunQuest Cruises.

Most fishing charters and boat tours depart from Destin Harbor. Rates vary depending on the type and length of the tour or cruise, ranging from $30 per person for the entire experience to $200 for a four-hour excursion. Prices tend to be higher during peak season. For more specific information on fees, schedules, and available tours, visitors can visit each company's website or head to the Destin tourism board website.

6- Shores at Crystal Beach Park:

Shores at Crystal Beach Park
Shores at Crystal Beach Park

If you're having difficulty deciding which of the numerous stunning shorelines in Destin and neighboring Okaloosa Island to visit, consider the recommendation from previous travelers: Shores at Crystal Beach Park. Positioned on the Gulf of Mexico, this beach park receives frequent praise for its ivory sands and crystal-clear waters. Visitors also commend the cleanliness of the beach.

The Shores at Crystal Beach Park also hosts a variety of vacation rentals and cottages. If you're traveling with a large group and prefer not to spend excessively on multiple hotel rooms, renting a house or cottage here could be a great option.

The beach operates from dawn to dusk and provides amenities such as a pavilion, restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and limited parking. Access to the beach is free. For additional information about all of Destin's beach access points, visitors can refer to the city's website.

7- Destin Shopping:

Destin Shopping
Destin Shopping

When the weather isn't cooperating or when you've had your fill of sun and sand, why not indulge in a little retail therapy at one of Destin's shopping complexes? Whether you're searching for charming boutiques, outlet malls, or open-air shopping areas, the Emerald Coast has it all.

The visitors bureau suggests three main destinations: Destin Commons, HarborWalk Village, and Downtown Fort Walton Beach. Destin Commons offers an open-air setting with a mix of restaurants and national retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch, Express, Bass Pro Shops, Bath & Body Works, H&M, Sephora, and more. HarborWalk Village is the place to go for beachwear or a quick meal, though travelers caution that the restaurants here can be pricey. Additionally, visitors can arrange water sports rentals such as Jet Skis, as well as book fishing charters, dolphin excursions, or parasailing tours at HarborWalk.

Downtown Fort Walton Beach provides a farmer's market atmosphere with local retailers, including an antique shop and flea market. Travelers particularly enjoyed the flea market for its affordable and diverse offerings, describing it as a great place to spend an hour or two. Furthermore, visitors highly recommend Silver Sands Premium Outlets for deals at stores like Adidas, GAP, and Vans. For more information on hours and stores, visitors can check each location's website.

8- Destin Golf Courses:

Destin Golf Courses
Destin Golf Courses

Much like its counterparts in Florida, Destin and Fort Walton Beach boast a variety of picturesque golf courses. In Destin alone, there are four championship golf courses and country clubs, with a total of eight across the Emerald Coast region, ensuring you won't have to travel far to hone your swing.

Kelly Plantation Golf Club, situated along the Choctawhatchee Bay, earns praise from both visitors and locals alike. Built on the former site of a turpentine plantation, the 18-hole course features miles of waterfront, bayous, and a backdrop of magnolia and palmetto trees. Recent visitors have lauded the meticulously manicured grounds and friendly staff, though some note that it can be a bit pricey, though still worth the investment. Emerald Bay, located within the gated community of the same name, is another favorite for its stunning views of Choctawhatchee Bay.

According to recent visitors, other "must-play" courses include Regatta Bay and Sandestin, which is also considered one of the best resorts in Destin by travelers and critics alike. For more information on green fees, location, and amenities, visitors can check the individual websites of these golf courses.

9- Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park:

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Exploring Florida's Marine Wonders: A Guide to Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Unlock the Hidden Gems of Florida's Marine World

Embark on an exciting journey into Florida's marine wonders at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, where every visit promises an unforgettable experience. While encountering wild dolphins might not always be guaranteed, the Gulfarium offers a thrilling alternative for those eager to immerse themselves in the marvels of the ocean.

Discover Florida's Aquatic Treasures

Unveil the Mysteries of Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Dive into the heart of Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, where daily dolphin and sea lion spectacles await. Although it may not rival the grandeur of SeaWorld, this park boasts its own charm and allure. Nestled within a compact layout, it continues to captivate travelers from all walks of life, particularly families seeking marine adventures.

Engage with Enthralling Exhibits

Experience the Wonders of Gulfarium's Marine Exhibitions

Beyond the captivating dolphin displays, Gulfarium presents an array of mesmerizing exhibits featuring Florida's diverse marine life. Marvel at gators, reptiles, penguins, sea lions, and stingrays that call this park home. For a more immersive encounter, opt for the park's Animal Encounters, where visitors can interact with dolphins or snorkel alongside stingrays for an additional fee.

Insider Tips for an Unforgettable Experience

Make the Most of Your Visit to Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Prioritize your time wisely to fully absorb the wonders of Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. Spend a few hours exploring the various exhibits to gain insights into Florida's rich marine ecosystems. Visitors laud the park's knowledgeable and amiable staff, ensuring an enriching experience for all. While it may come with a price tag, many agree that the park's offerings justify the expense, particularly for families seeking a memorable outing, rain or shine.

Getting There and Practical Information

Navigate Your Way to Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Conveniently located just 6 miles west of downtown Destin, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is easily accessible by car. Plan your visit between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. daily, with the last admission at 4:30 p.m. Admission rates are $23.95 for adults (aged 13-61), $22.95 for seniors (aged 62+), and $15.95 for children (aged 3-12). To enhance your experience, consider booking Animal Encounters online in advance.

10- Destin Fishing:

Destin Fishing
Destin Fishing

Staying true to its moniker as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village," Destin offers an abundance of opportunities for anglers to reel in their prized catch. With a plethora of prime locations including jetties, beaches, seven piers, and the renowned Destin Bridge, fishing enthusiasts are spoiled for choice. Local fishermen frequently snag pompano, channel bass, bluefish, king mackerel, and flounder, among other coveted species in these waters.

For avid anglers seeking the ultimate fishing experience, an October trip coinciding with the Destin Fishing Rodeo is a must. This exhilarating event sees participants vying for the title of the most impressive catch of the day, providing a thrilling spectacle for both contestants and spectators alike.

For those new to the sport or in search of expert guidance, booking one of Destin's top-rated fishing charters is highly recommended. These knowledgeable locals offer invaluable assistance and ensure a memorable fishing expedition.

Alternatively, for seafood enthusiasts keen on indulging in Destin's delectable ocean bounty, the annual Destin Seafood Festival held in October is not to be missed. Revel in a gastronomic delight as you savor locally sourced seafood prepared in various delectable styles.

If the idea of relishing your own freshly caught fish appeals to you but you lack access to kitchen facilities, fret not. Numerous local restaurants offer the service of cleaning, cooking, and serving your catch with your preferred sides. Simply inquire with the visitors bureau for a comprehensive list of participating restaurants.

For anglers eager to cast their lines at Okaloosa Island Pier, the facility welcomes visitors daily from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. between mid-November and mid-March, extending to 24-hour access during the summer months. Angling rates are reasonable, with fees of $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $5 for children aged 6 to 12, while younger children can fish free of charge. Additionally, rods and reels are available for rent on-site for added convenience. Spectators wishing to witness the fishing action are charged a nominal fee of $2.

It's important to note that fishing permits are not required for those fishing from a pier with a saltwater fishing license or from a for-hire vessel, such as a guide, charter, or party boat, equipped with a valid charter boat license or charter captain license. For further information on fishing permits, prospective anglers are encouraged to consult the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.

11- Go Snorkeling or Diving at Norriego Point:

Go Snorkeling or Diving at Norriego Point
Go Snorkeling or Diving at Norriego Point

Snorkeling Delights

For snorkeling enthusiasts, Norriego Point presents an unparalleled opportunity to discover the vibrant marine life thriving in its crystal-clear waters. Slip into the turquoise depths and marvel at the kaleidoscopic array of tropical fish, colorful coral formations, and graceful sea turtles that call this underwater paradise home. With visibility often reaching impressive depths, every snorkeling excursion promises awe-inspiring encounters with the wonders of the sea.

Diving Adventures

Dive into the depths of Norriego Point and unlock a realm of unparalleled beauty and intrigue. Whether you're a seasoned diver or a novice seeking new thrills, the underwater landscape of Norriego Point offers something for everyone. Explore enchanting coral reefs teeming with life, navigate through mesmerizing underwater caverns, or glide alongside majestic marine creatures such as graceful manta rays and majestic barracudas. With its diverse dive sites and rich biodiversity, Norriego Point beckons adventurers to delve into its depths and uncover its hidden treasures.

Practical Considerations

Before embarking on your snorkeling or diving excursion at Norriego Point, it's essential to ensure that you're adequately prepared. Be sure to pack essential gear such as snorkels, masks, fins, and wetsuits, as well as any additional equipment required for diving expeditions. Additionally, familiarize yourself with local regulations and safety guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Exploring Norriego Point

Located within close proximity to Destin's bustling harbor, Norriego Point is easily accessible by both land and sea. Whether you choose to embark on a guided snorkeling or diving tour or venture out independently, Norriego Point promises unforgettable experiences for adventurers of all skill levels.


Discover the magic of Norriego Point and embark on an unforgettable underwater adventure in the heart of Destin. Whether you're snorkeling amidst colorful coral gardens or diving into the depths of the ocean, Norriego Point invites you to explore its pristine waters and encounter the wonders of the sea. Prepare to be mesmerized by the beauty and biodiversity that await beneath the waves at Norriego Point.

Explore Destin on a Budget: Free Things to Do in Destin, Florida

Discover Destin's Hidden Gems Without Breaking the Bank

Embark on an adventure in Destin, Florida, without spending a dime! From pristine beaches to captivating cultural experiences, Destin offers a variety of free activities for budget-conscious travelers to enjoy. Whether you're seeking outdoor adventures or cultural exploration, Destin has something for everyone to discover at no cost.

1. Enjoy the Beaches

Sink your toes into the soft, white sands of Destin's stunning beaches without spending a penny. Pack a picnic, grab a beach towel, and spend a day soaking up the sun at popular spots like Henderson Beach State Park or James Lee Park. Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, collect seashells, or simply relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the Gulf Coast.

2. Visit Destin Harbor Boardwalk

Explore the vibrant atmosphere of Destin Harbor Boardwalk, where you can admire scenic views of the harbor and watch fishing boats come and go. Take a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk, browse local shops and boutiques, or simply soak up the lively ambiance. Don't miss the opportunity to snap photos of the iconic Destin Harbor Bridge and the colorful fishing fleet.

3. Attend Free Events

Check out Destin's calendar of events for free activities and entertainment throughout the year. From live music performances and outdoor movie nights to art festivals and farmers' markets, there's always something happening in Destin that won't cost a dime. Join in the fun and experience the local culture and community spirit firsthand.

4. Explore Nature Trails

Embark on a scenic hike or nature walk along Destin's picturesque trails and nature preserves. Head to the Timpoochee Trail, part of the Florida Greenway Trail System, for a leisurely bike ride or stroll through scenic coastal landscapes. Alternatively, explore the serene surroundings of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, home to diverse ecosystems and abundant wildlife.

5. Visit Destin History & Fishing Museum

Immerse yourself in Destin's rich maritime heritage with a visit to the Destin History & Fishing Museum. Learn about the area's colorful past, from its humble beginnings as a small fishing village to its emergence as a premier vacation destination. Explore exhibits showcasing local artifacts, fishing memorabilia, and historical photographs, offering insight into Destin's fascinating history.

Romantic Escapes: Things to Do in Destin, Florida for Couples

Embark on a Journey of Love in Destin

Escape to the charming coastal paradise of Destin, Florida, where romance flourishes amidst breathtaking scenery and captivating experiences. Whether you're celebrating a special occasion or simply seeking quality time together, Destin offers a plethora of romantic activities tailored for couples.

1. Sunset Beach Strolls

Savor the magic of a Destin sunset hand in hand with your loved one. Take a leisurely stroll along the sugar-white sands of the beach as the sun dips below the horizon, casting a warm glow over the Gulf of Mexico. With each step, immerse yourselves in the serenity of the moment and create cherished memories against the backdrop of nature's most enchanting spectacle.

2. Private Dinner Cruises

Indulge in a romantic dinner cruise and experience Destin's coastal beauty from a new perspective. Set sail aboard a private yacht or catamaran and enjoy an intimate dining experience as you glide across the tranquil waters of the Gulf. Toast to your love with champagne and savor delectable cuisine prepared by skilled chefs, all while basking in the romance of the sea.

3. Couples' Spa Retreats

Rejuvenate your spirits with a luxurious spa retreat designed for couples. Pamper yourselves with indulgent massages, facials, and body treatments tailored to enhance relaxation and wellness. Unwind in the serene ambiance of a spa sanctuary and let go of life's stresses as you embrace tranquility together.

4. Sunset Helicopter Tours

Soar above Destin's picturesque landscape on a romantic helicopter tour at sunset. Marvel at panoramic views of the coastline, emerald-green waters, and pristine beaches as you fly hand in hand with your beloved. Share an exhilarating adventure and witness the beauty of Destin from a bird's-eye perspective, creating unforgettable moments that will last a lifetime.

5. Wine Tasting and Sunset Picnics

Savor the flavors of romance with a wine tasting experience followed by a sunset picnic on the beach. Sample a selection of fine wines at a local winery or wine bar, discovering new favorites together. Then, gather a picnic basket filled with gourmet delights and find a secluded spot on the beach to enjoy an intimate evening under the stars, accompanied by the soothing sound of the waves.

Plan Your Romantic Getaway

With its idyllic setting and array of romantic activities, Destin provides the perfect backdrop for couples to reconnect and celebrate love. Whether you're seeking adventure, relaxation, or a combination of both, Destin offers endless opportunities for romance and enchantment.

Top Destin Attractions, Tours & Rentals

Unveil the Hidden Gems of Destin

Embark on an unforgettable journey through the charming coastal town of Destin, Florida, where a myriad of attractions, tours, and rentals await your exploration. From pristine beaches to thrilling water adventures, Destin offers something for every traveler seeking sun, sand, and excitement.

1. Crystal-clear Beaches

Indulge in the sun-soaked shores of Destin's world-renowned beaches, where powdery white sands meet the shimmering emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Whether you're lounging in the sun, building sandcastles with the family, or taking a leisurely stroll along the coastline, Destin's beaches provide the perfect backdrop for relaxation and rejuvenation.

2. Dolphin Cruises

Embark on a thrilling dolphin cruise and witness these playful marine mammals frolic in their natural habitat. Set sail on a guided tour and marvel at the sight of dolphins leaping gracefully through the waves, providing a memorable experience for animal lovers of all ages.

3. Fishing Charters

Cast your line and reel in the catch of a lifetime with a fishing charter adventure in Destin. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a novice enthusiast, Destin's waters teem with a diverse array of fish species, including snapper, grouper, and mahi-mahi. Join a guided fishing excursion and let experienced captains lead you to the best fishing spots along the Gulf Coast.

4. Water Sports Rentals

Get your adrenaline pumping with an array of water sports rentals available in Destin. From jet skis and paddleboards to parasailing and kayaking, there's no shortage of thrilling activities to enjoy on the water. Rent equipment from local outfitters and embark on your own aquatic adventure along Destin's pristine coastline.

5. Sunset Cruises

Experience the magic of a Destin sunset aboard a scenic sunset cruise. Set sail as the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky with hues of orange, pink, and purple. Toast to the beauty of nature with a refreshing drink in hand as you cruise along the tranquil waters of the Gulf, creating memories to last a lifetime.

Plan Your Destin Adventure

With so much to see and do in Destin, planning your itinerary is essential to make the most of your visit. Whether you're seeking relaxation on the beach, thrills on the water, or cultural experiences in town, Destin offers endless opportunities for adventure and discovery.

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