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21 Best Things to do in Destin Florida

Florida

One of Florida’s top tourist destinations, there aren’t a lot of non-touristy things to do in Destin, FL, as even the beaches and parks are overcrowded come summer. So let’s start with the immense amount of things to do in Destin, Florida for kids. Check out family-friendly attractions like the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise, Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone, and Maximum Magic.

If you’re instead looking for unique things to do in Destin, FL as a family, take a sandcastle lesson from Beach Sand Sculptures. On the other hand, one of the best things to do in Destin, Florida for adults is to spend the day at Crab Island. Here are more exciting things to do in Destin, Florida, in January and every other month of the year.

Big Kahuna's Water & Adventure Park
Courtesy of bigkahunaswp

1. Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park

Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park is home to both land and water-based attractions. There are more than 40 different water park attractions, including the Honolulu Half Pipe for surf enthusiasts, the five-story Jumanji waterslide, a giant wave pool, and multiple lazy rivers. Meanwhile, the Adventure Park has Tropical Mini Golf with 54 challenging holes over three courses and the adrenaline-pumping Cyclone Twister and Sky Coaster. There’s family fun around every corner at Big Kahuna’s.

Destin Harbor Boardwalk
Courtesy of karrieandcompany

2. Destin Harbor Boardwalk

Stretching for nearly a quarter of a mile, the Destin Harbor Boardwalk is home to HarborWalk Village, an area filled with restaurants, shops, and tour companies. Known as the heart of the city, take your pick of businesses offering kayak, stand-up paddleboard, and jet ski rentals; glass-bottom boat, pirate ship, and fishing excursions; and dolphin cruises. The boardwalk also hosts regular concerts, live music performances, and summertime fireworks, which combine to make a must-visit destination.

Henderson Beach State Park
Courtesy of hendersonparkinn

3. Henderson Beach State Park

Henderson Beach State Park is surrounded by 30-ft white sand dunes on one side and the warm and clear waters of the Gulf on the other. The city’s last remaining coastal scrub area, Henderson Beach State Park is a great place for swimming, fishing, and walking – particularly along its scenic nature trail with interpretive signage. The park also has a popular 60-site campground, so make a beeline for Henderson Beach State Park this summer.

Destin Snorkel
Courtesy of hendersonparkinn

4. Destin Snorkel

Destin Snorkel is the local headquarters for all of your snorkeling and SNUBA needs. It offers a range of tours, including a two-stop snorkeling tour, a shelling adventure perfect for families, a sunset dolphin cruise, and a fireworks cruise for unparalleled views of the Boardwalk’s summertime firework displays. We can’t forget their SNUBA adventure either. A cross between snorkeling and scuba diving, the SNUBA Runner allows you to breathe underwater for 20 to 30 minutes. 

Destin History & Fishing Museum
By Gee Willikers

5. Destin History & Fishing Museum

Called the world’s luckiest fishing village, Destin History and Fishing Museum explores the city’s journey from sleeping fishing village to a popular tourist destination. Exhibitions include 75 wall-mounted locally caught fish, historic artifacts and fishing equipment, displays on the city’s founding families, and the Destin Fishing Rodeo Gallery. Outside, the Museum Historic Park Complex also includes historic boats, the original Old Post Office, and a memorial walkway. The family-friendly attraction also has scavenger hunts available.

Village of Baytowne Wharf
Courtesy of The Village of Baytowne Wharf

6. Village of Baytowne Wharf

With an array of dining, shopping, nightlife, and entertainment options, a visit to the Village of Baytowne Wharf is one of the top things to do in Destin, Florida. Centered around multiple lagoons, it’s also home to several accommodation options and fun attractions like Baytowne Adventure Zone, Blast Arcade and Laser Maze, and Baytowne Carousel. The village hosts an eclectic range of weekly events too, including outdoor cinema screenings, magic shows, and live music performances.

Crystal Sands Beach
Courtesy of Crystal Sands by ResortQuest – Destin, Florida

7. Crystal Sands Beach

One of the city’s top-rated attractions on TripAdvisor, Crystal Sands Beach will instantly transport you to a Caribbean beach, with its pure white sand and crystal clear water. Backdropped by condominiums, Crystal Sands Beach has plenty of facilities available, including water sports and sun loungers for hire, a playground, a waterfront boardwalk, and barbecues alongside picnic tables. The beach is conveniently located near Destin Commons, a lifestyle center home to both shops and dining options.

Silver Sands Premium Outlets
Courtesy of premiumoutlets

8. Silver Sands Premium Outlets

Silvers Sands Premium Outlets is the region’s premier shopping destination. It features 110 outlet stores, including a combination of designer and popular chain store brands like Tory Burch, Old Navy Outlet, Michael Kors, J.Crew Factory, and Kate Spade New York. From fashion to homewares to sporting goods, all your shopping needs are taken care of at Silver Sands Premium Outlets. It’s also home to both casual and sit-down dining options, including Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

 HarborWalk Village
Courtesy of HarborWalk Village

9. HarborWalk Village

As mentioned, HarborWalk Village is located at Destin Harbor Boardwalk. The one-stop destination is home to a selection of restaurants, activities, and entertainment. Children will want to visit the Kids Adventure Zone at HarborWalk Village and hop aboard the Cubby Caboose train. Meanwhile, families will love the Maximum Magic show, which is performed at the HarborWalk Theater. HarborWalk Village also hosts weekly Fat Tuesday parades in summer, when it’s transformed into a New Orleans look-a-like.

Destin Commons
Courtesy of destincommons.com

10. Destin Commons

An award-winning shopping and dining destination, Destin Commons is a stone’s throw from Crystal Sands Beach. The outdoor lifestyle center has nearly 100 stores and restaurants, including Florida’s first Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen and Southern Living Store; the World of Beer and its selection of 550-plus beers; the AMC Movie Theater, and Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl – an underwater-themed bowling alley. Arts Destin Commons is also a vibrant set of murals by local and international artists.

Jetty East Beach
Courtesy of Condos for Sale at Jetty East

11. Jetty East Beach

Another one of the city’s top beaches is Jetty East Beach. Featuring the characteristic sugar-white sand and crystal clears waters you’ll find at most beaches in the area, Jetty East Beach also boasts beachfront condominiums, a waterfront boardwalk, and a stone jetty – hence the name. Furthermore, Jetty East Beach is home to premier deep-water snorkeling opportunities, as it’s located close to the East Pass Inlet, which happens to be filled with vibrant marine life.

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Courtesy of VISIT FLORIDA

12. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is dedicated to educating, entertaining, and inspiring people to respect and protect wildlife. It’s been providing memorable ways for visitors to connect with marine life since 1955. There are dolphin encounters available, where people can swim or have breakfast with dolphins. Other animal encounters include the Stingray Bay Snorkel, the Discover Penguins meet and greet, and the Kid’s Reptile Safari, where children can safely get up close to Gulfarium’s cold-blooded residents.

Dolphin Sunset Cruise
Courtesy of destinsnorkel

13. Dolphin Sunset Cruise

There are several local tour companies offering dolphin sunset cruises. Let’s start with the aforementioned Destin Snorkel, which has a dolphin-finding success rate of 95%. From the open-air boat, take in other sights like Destin Harbor and the area’s beautiful beaches, before seeing the sunset from either the Gulf of Mexico or Choctawhatchee Bay. An alternative company is AJs Water Adventures, where you can take in the same views surrounded by great music (dancing encouraged).

Gator Beach
Courtesy of destinfwb

14. Gator Beach

Gator Beach happens to be the self-proclaimed world’s greatest alligator park. Located at Fudpucker’s Bar and Grill, the free attraction is home to hundreds of alligators, including babies and a rare albino alligator. Gator Beach also has an informative Wildlife Museum section and hosts multiple daily alligator shows that are designed to both educate and entertain. Adventurous visitors have the opportunity to feed live alligators and to take a photo holding a live alligator too.

Crab Island
Courtesy of WaterWorld Destin at Crab Island

15. Crab Island

One of the top things to do in Destin, Florida every summer is to visit Crab Island. The area’s most talked-about attraction, Crab Island is, in fact, an underwater sandbar surrounded by shallow turquoise water. Located on the north side of Destin Bridge, Crab Island is in the middle of the water, so it’s only accessible by boat. In summer, hundreds of boats anchor themselves at the sandbar to enjoy the coast’s hottest social scene.

Maximum Magic Show
Courtesy of todoindestin

16. Maximum Magic Show

Maximum Magic is a magic show featuring award-winning illusionists Noah and Heather Wells. Held at HarborWalk Village’s HarborWalk Theater, their 90-minute performance features world-class illusions, audience participation, mindreading segments, comedic moments, and special effects. All of these elements combine to create Maximum Magic – a magic show suitable for the whole family. For an upgraded experience, the VIP package includes front row seats, a meet and greet backstage, and a Noah and Heather Magic Kit.

Beach Sand Sculptures
By iflydachoppa

17. Beach Sand Sculptures

If you’re looking for a unique activity to enjoy while on vacation, why not take a sandcastle lesson with the knowledgeable team at Beach Sand Sculptures? Appealing to families looking for fun things to do in Destin, Florida, you first get to choose the beach. Then the lesson begins with a demonstration, where participants learn professional sand sculpting tips. Next, you’re mentored through creating a 3.5-ft tall sandcastle masterpiece to achieve ultimate “Sandcastle Success”.

Golf Garden Of Destin
By Wayne Luker

18. Golf Garden Of Destin

Speaking of attractions suitable for families, the Golf Garden of Destin is a family-friendly golf facility. Kids will love the 18-hole putting course, which can be as fun or as challenging as you like. Both beginner and experienced golfers will enjoy hitting the links at the par 29, 9-hole Executive Golf Course. The facility also has a driving range that’s perfect for practicing. In summer, the Golf Garden is aglow and open at night.

Destin Helicopter Tours
Courtesy of destingetaways

19. Destin Helicopter Tours

For the best view in town, reach for the sky and enjoy a helicopter tour alongside the professional and experienced team at Timberview Choppers. The company offers an affordable Intro Flight package, which includes great views over Destin Harbor. Another option is to hop on the Jaws Run, which takes you on a 20-mile journey over Fort Walton towards beautiful Navarre Beach. Finally, the Destin Tour flies over Fort Walton, Watercolor Inn, and Sandestin Resort.

Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone
Courtesy of Judy Adkisson

20. Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone

Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone is Northwest Florida’s largest family entertainment center. Here’s a glimpse at just some of the attractions waiting for you at Wild Willy’s: the state-of-the-art Redemption Arcade, a 4D movie theater, Urban Assault Laser Tag, Bumper Wars Bumper Boats, the 60-ft Tree Top Challenge Ropes Course, Ptero Jump bungee trampolines, and a 110-ft slide. Together with its three mini-golf courses and Island Grand Prix Race Tracks, Wild Willy’s is a fun-filled destination.

Buccaneer Pirate Cruise
Courtesy of destinpirateship

21. Buccaneer Pirate Cruise

If your children have ever wanted the opportunity to live like pirates for the day, here’s their chance. The Buccaneer Pirate Cruise embarks from HarborWalk Village and takes on the area’s pristine waters in search of secret treasure. With pirate-themed activities like water gun battles, authentic cannon fire, and sword fighting, the interactive and entertaining boat tour is geared towards children. Once pirate training is completed, only the bravest kids become honorary Buccaneer Crew members.

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