24 Awesome Things to Do in Destin, Florida

Aerial view of Destin, Florida city skyline

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With its glorious white beaches and emerald green waters, there is an endless list of fun things to do in Destin Florida.

This vibrant city is home to state parks, rich marine life, and entertainment and dining centers that ensure a wealth of exciting Destin activities.

Ready for an epic adventure? Do all things sunny in the Sunshine State with our ultimate Florida Bucket List.

Check out all of our Florida guides for all of the fabulous fun.

Fun Things to Do in Destin FL

Our guide starts on the Boardwalk and covers all the nearby sites and activities before circling Choctawhatchee Bay so you can enjoy even more in the Destin area.

Destin Harbor Boardwalk

The quarter-mile Destin Harbor Boardwalk (102 Harbor Blvd) is where you’ll find shops, waterfront dining, and fantastic fishing opportunities.

Some of the shops and restaurants along the boardwalk include Nautical Treasures, Kitty Hawk Kites, Naples Soap Company, Harbor Docks, and Brian’s Boardwalk Grill.

When it comes to things to do on the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, be sure to indulge in unbelievably fresh seafood, buy some unique souvenirs, or simply enjoy the sweeping views of the Gulf.

A visit to the Boardwalk is a must, allowing guests the perfect chance to soak up the lively coastal atmosphere of this town.

Dolphin-Watching Cruise in Destin Harbor

Dolphin-watching is one of those activities in Destin you’ll always hear and read about, so make sure to try it out at least once when you’re in the city!

This speedboat cruise, with its smaller boats and dedicated crew, is sure to give you a personalized experience where you can spot dolphins and other marine life in their natural environment.

Or check out this highly rated guided tour, which boasts a US Coast Guard-certified crew and lets you choose between a daytime or sunset dolphin watch cruise through Destin Harbor.

You might also like our guide to nearby Pensacola for more dolphin-watching fun and coastal charm.

Sunset Boat Tour

With the radiant sunsets the Panhandle gets practically every night, you’d be remiss to not embark on a sunset boat tour while in Destin!  

Get a front-row seat as the sky turns into a tapestry of vibrant hues, painting a breathtaking backdrop for your trip across the water.

Check out this sunset cruise in Destin Harbor and catch the sunset and sail through Florida’s breathtaking emerald waters on a tiki boat.

If you want to give your experience a bit of a twist, try out this hydrojet sunset tour and board a hydrojet, feel the waves of the Gulf of Mexico, and watch the sunset.

If you want something a little more intimate, there are private sunset cruises in Destin as well.

There’s a good chance you’ll also see pods of dolphins playfully swimming along, which adds to the magic.

Snorkel Tour

Booking a snorkel tour is something you must do in Destin.

Jump into the incredible underwater world of the Gulf of Mexico with this family-friendly snorkeling tour.

The warm, crystal-clear water of the Gulf is home to sea turtles, dolphins, starfish, and an abundance of tropical fish and colorful coral formations.

Norriego Point

Norriego Point is a special place to go in Destin because it faces both the Destin Harbor as well as the Gulf, offering a one-of-a-kind perspective and location to spend a day in the sunshine.  

The inlets that are protected by jetties make the water that surrounds Norriego Point calm and perfect for swimming or even scuba diving.

If you’d rather stay on the shore, there are plenty of opportunities to sunbathe, walk, fish, and search for shells along the sandy stretches.

Crab Island

Crab Island is a submerged sandbar in Choctawhatchee Bay that transforms into a mesmerizing aquatic playground during low tide.

You can only get to Crab Island via boat, and there are numerous ferries or charter boats that can get you there if you don’t have access to your own.

Or, you can take this jet ski tour for a truly memorable adventure!

It’s only a 5-minute ride to the island from Destin Harbor, and it’s a favorite spot for paddleboarding, snorkeling, swimming, and simply floating in its crystalline water.

The shallow water here also makes it a good place for families with kids, and there are even floating food and ice cream vendors to keep you fueled up for those long fun-filled days.

You don’t want to miss out on visiting Crab Island when in Destin – you’ll truly feel like you’ve been transported to the Caribbean once you arrive here!

Aerial view of busy Crab Island near Okaloosa Island Grass Flats in Destin Florida

Cruisin’ Tikis Crab Island Sandbar Adventure

Don’t miss the most photographed tiki bar-themed vessel with this sandbar adventure in the famous Crab Island.

This is a family and group-friendly activity so you can make new memories with your loved ones, or form new friendships along the way.

The tiki bar boats will take you from Destin Harbor to Crab Island where you can have non-alcoholic drinks and snacks, and swim once you arrive.

Destin History & Fishing Museum

Did you know that Destin is considered the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village?”

In case you didn’t, now you can learn why on a trip to the Destin History and Fishing Museum (108 Stahlman Ave)!

This museum navigates you through the city’s intriguing maritime heritage by showcasing the history of fishing and the impact it has had on this coastal community.

Take your time meandering through the exhibits that feature antique fishing equipment, boats, historic photos, and local artifacts.

The museum details the evolution of Destin from a small fishing village to the thriving destination it is today.

Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park

One of the top Destin attractions, especially for families with kids, is without a doubt Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park (1007 US-98).

This is the largest water park on the Emerald Coast, with more than 40 rides that range from thrilling water slides to the relaxing lazy river.

There are kid-friendly play areas for the younger ones as well as land attractions that include mini golf and the Skycoaster.

The park is open seasonally each year between early May and Labor Day.

Big Kahuna’s is the place to come for an action-packed day of aquatic fun and entertainment for all ages.

The Back Porch

The Back Porch (1740 Scenic Hwy 98) is a beloved restaurant that offers a phenomenal waterfront dining experience.

The restaurant opened in 1974 and provides breathtaking views of the emerald Gulf water as you chow down on impeccably fresh seafood.

Dishes include baked oysters with crab meat, grouper, snow crab legs, fried oyster po-boys, and ribeye as well as grilled chicken for those who prefer turf over surf.

The Back Porch is a laid-back spot to enjoy a great meal and some drinks while catching a vivid sunset over the Gulf.

Henderson Beach State Park

Imagine being surrounded by 30-foot sand dunes and 6,000 feet of gorgeous Gulf shoreline…

If that sounds like your idea of a perfect day, then pay a visit to Henderson Beach State Park (17000 Emerald Coast Pkwy).

This lengthy beach is an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, fishing, beachcombing, long walks, and sunset picnics.

If you want to extend your stay, there are 60 campsites that are just steps away from the beautiful beach.

Visitors can explore the park’s nature trail and watch for shorebirds, crabs, and migrating monarch butterflies in the fall.

Henderson Beach State Park is easily one of Destin’s top destinations with its top-tier coastal scenery and activities!

Check out our guide to all the best FL State Parks to enjoy even more protected areas.

A beautiful view of a wooden path going to Henderson Beach State Park Destin Florida

Timberview Destin Helicopter Tour

Reach new heights and see Destin from a unique perspective by booking a helicopter tour!

Timberview Destin Helicopters (34859 Emerald Coast Pkwy) provides an exciting way to witness the stunning beauty of the Emerald Coast through their variety of tour options such as the Coastal Tour, Beach Run Tours, and Dolphin Run Tour.  

Receive unmatched views of the turquoise water and other picturesque landscapes below while your experienced and knowledgeable pilot shares interesting facts about the region.

There are plenty of things to see in Destin FL, and what better way to witness it all than through a helicopter tour adventure that you won’t ever forget?

Destin Commons

No matter if you prefer having fun indoors or outdoors, entertainment in Destin is everywhere!

To get your fill of shopping in an open-air mall with a wide variety of stores, you’ll be delighted by Destin Commons (4100 Legendary Dr).

The shopping center has more than 85 stores and restaurants that range from local brands to popular chains.

Stores and dining options include Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath & Body Works, Lolaandrosa Boutique, Sephora, Redbrick Pizza, Chipotle, and Gulf Coast Burgers Co.

There’s also an underwater-themed bowling alley and movie theater if you’re looking for an entertainment option!

James Lee Park

James Lee Park (3510 Scenic Hwy 98) is a place to enjoy all the best Destin beach activities like swimming, picnicking, games of frisbee, paddleboarding, and basking in the sunshine with a good book.

There are a few covered pavilions, restrooms, and showers that make it easy to rinse off after spending all day in the salty water and sand.

James Lee Park is a wonderful, quiet public beach in Destin that’s especially ideal for families seeking relaxation and seaside fun while visiting this charming town.

John Beasley Park

John Beasley Park (1550 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, Fort Walton) is a phenomenal beach with all the best aspects of the Emerald Coast.

In addition to the soft sand and unbelievably clear water, the park has shaded picnic pavilions, a convenient boardwalk to the beach, and restrooms.

This beach is ideal for lazing in the sun, cooling off in the calm, shallow water, fishing, and coastal picnics.

John Beasley Park offers a peaceful getaway for beachgoers.

The Island Pier

The Island Pier (1030 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, Fort Walton), formerly known as the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier, is definitely where you want to cast a line if fishing is one of your favorite hobbies!

The pier stretches 1,262 feet into the Gulf, providing the perfect spot for fishing with breathtaking views.

The pier has rods you can rent, bait, and tackle for anyone who may need it, as well as drinks and snacks to help you replenish after hours of fishing!

Even if you’re not fishing, the pier has observer passes so you can relax and see how many species of marine life you can find.

Common fish species anglers can expect to catch here include tarpon, tuna, king mackerel, cobia, redfish, and bonito.

Come enjoy the sea breeze and see for yourself why this is known as “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” at The Island Pier!

Jet Ski Rentals

Do you crave the rush of the wind whipping through your hair as you coast over the bright blue water of the Gulf?

A surefire way to get your fix is to rent jet skis while in Destin, easily one of the most exhilarating ways to spend a pleasant day in the Sunshine State.

Explore private islands and feel the rush with this Fort Walton Beach jet ski tour.

You can choose to ride solo or with a partner, making it a fantastic activity for couples or a day out with a friend.

Air Force Armament Museum

For an immersive and educational experience, a trip to the Air Force Armament Museum (100 Museum Dr, Eglin AFB) serves as an awesome Destin area attraction!

This museum is a must for anyone interested in aviation history and equipment.

It’s the only one in the world dedicated to the collection, preservation, and exhibition of artifacts related to the Air Force Armament.

Visitors can check out the 29 aircraft that date back to WWII as well as other historic weapons and equipment.

See the evolution of the Air Force through detailed exhibits and get a glimpse into the technology that has shaped this military sector.

Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park

Just a short drive away from Destin along Choctawhatchee Bay, you’ll find Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park (4281 State Rd 20, Niceville).

This refuge includes 3 hiking trails that wind through red cedar trees, next to Puddin Head Stream and the pitcher plants that line it, and the picturesque bayou.

Rocky Bayou and the freshwater stream are teeming with aquatic plants and wildlife like dolphins, otters, and occasionally trumpeter swans and bald eagles, making kayaking another highly popular activity here.

With its diverse ecosystems that are unique to this area, Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park is a nature enthusiast’s paradise, and definitely one of the most stunning places to visit in Destin.

Kelly Plantation Golf Club

For a round of golf set against a breathtaking backdrop, look no further than the Kelly Plantation Golf Club (307 Kelly Plantation Dr).

This highly rated course, situated right on the Choctawhatchee Bay, offers a challenging yet picturesque game with its strategically placed hazards and 7,000 yards of greens.

When your round is done, visitors are welcome to stop by the clubhouse for a delicious and fresh meal.

Note that the Kelly Plantation is named for its previous owner, Samuel Kelly, a wealthy Virginian who built his cotton plantation here in the early 1800s and profited from the system of slavery.

The property was converted into a turpentine farm in the early 20th Century and is now a gated community.

Golf ball on a tee in front of a golf club

The Village of Baytowne Wharf

Located within the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and open to the public is The Village of Baytowne Wharf (9300 Baytowne Wharf Blvd, Miramar Beach), a quaint shopping, dining, and entertainment center.

There are charming stores and an assortment of dining options, and the village regularly holds events each month such as farmer’s markets, beer fests, and concerts!  

There’s nothing like strolling the pathways with some homemade ice cream from one of the shops and soaking in the friendly atmosphere of the village.

The Village of Baytowne Wharf also offers activities for kids like the Blast Arcade.

Known as the “heart and soul” of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, enjoying this waterfront setting is certainly one of the best things to do around Destin.

Blue Mountain Beach

Setting foot on Blue Mountain Beach (475 Blue Mountain Rd) is like stepping directly into paradise.

This is a top thing to do near Destin at just 35 minutes away; its sand dunes that reach 65 feet in height make this the place with the highest elevation on the Gulf Coast.

The beach enjoys far fewer crowds and is known for its sugary sand and turquoise water.

If you need a day to swim, paddle, stroll, fish, and float, then Blue Mountain Beach with its laid-back atmosphere is perfect for you.

Grayton Beach State Park

There’s hardly a better place to enjoy activities near Destin like hiking, biking, camping, swimming, paddling, fishing, picnicking, and wildlife observing in the Florida Panhandle than at Grayton Beach State Park (357 Main Park Rd, Santa Rosa).

This 2,200-acre park is about a 35-minute drive east of Destin, and it features a 4.5 hiking and biking trail as well as snow-white sand beaches, towering dunes, and turquoise Gulf water.

Keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed deer, foxes, bald eagles, great blue herons, osprey, and potentially Florida black bears!

The park is dedicated to being as accessible to its visitors as possible, with accessible campsites, cabins, pavilions, and beach wheelchairs.

Grayton Beach State Park boasts a peaceful atmosphere and unspoiled landscapes, making it a dream location for those seeking an escape along the spectacular Gulf Coast.

Eden Gardens State Park

For an activity that ties in both natural beauty and history, don’t miss out on Eden Gardens State Park (181 Eden Gardens Rd, Santa Rosa).

The 163 acres of land at this park were once part of the estate of William Henry Wesley, a late 1800s lumber baron.

The centerpiece of the park is the grand Wesley House, a beautifully preserved mansion that’s surrounded by towering oak trees, a pond, and gardens blooming with azaleas and camellias.

Visitors are welcome to fish and paddle in the Tucker Bayou, hike the 1 mile of trails, take guided tours of the Wesley House, and picnic under the shady trees that are draped in Spanish moss.

Eden Gardens State Park is the definition of a tranquil escape, offering a glimpse into Florida’s rich history and infinite natural beauty.

Aerial view of Destin, Florida city skyline

Final Words

We hope our fun-filled list of things to do in Destin Florida did all the planning for you so you can sit back, relax, and bask in the warmth of the Sunshine State.

Share your favorite Destin activities and attractions in the comments below.

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