Traveling to Destin, FL but not sure what to do while you’re there? This article will show you all the best things to do in Destin, Florida for a fun trip!
Located on the beautiful Emerald Coast in Northwest Florida, Destin is a city with humble beginnings of a small fishing village but has since flourished into a sunny Florida vacation destination with blue skies, sugar white sand, and emerald green water.
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However, if you think that sand and sea are all there is to see in Destin, you’ve got it all wrong.
This sunny Floridian city has much more to offer than just beaches and islands. Whether you’d like to shop, dine, swim, golf, or hike, there’s something for you in Destin.
Read on to discover the best things to do in Destin for all kinds of travelers!
Best Things To Do In Destin, Florida
Regardless of whether you’re traveling with the entire family, a romantic partner, or solo, this list of things to do in Destin FL has something for you.
1. Stroll through the Destin Harbor Boardwalk
The iconic Destin Harbor Boardwalk is one of the top places to go in Destin Florida.
Plenty of fun and historical events like the Destin Seafood Festival and Destin Fishing Rodeo take place here, making it a significant location that should be on your Destin checklist.
The Harbor boardwalk is the bustling heart of Destin, with lots to offer from a great selection of restaurants to food trucks, Destin’s best bars, boutiques, souvenir shops, family-friendly attractions, and shops where you can book boat tours and excursions. Even just strolling through without doing anything else is very enjoyable.
We suggest allocating a few hours so you can stroll without rushing through and be sure to make time to take a scenic stroll along the harbor’s edge for some lovely views!
2. Do Some Shopping at Destin Commons
Want to do some shopping while on your trip? Make your way to Destin Commons, Destin’s exciting shopping and entertainment hot spot.
Destin Commons is an open-air complex filled with over 90 shops and restaurants, art exhibits, a lovely soft-play kids’ playground, restaurants, and more.
Whether you’re in search of a new pair of sunglasses, a hat to shield yourself from the Destin sun, new clothing, or something special to bring home as a souvenir, you’ll be able to find it at Destin Commons.
Popular retailers you can find here include Bass Pro Shop, H&M, Hollister, Forever 21, Sephora, Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, Foot Locker, Claire’s, Pandora, and more.
You can also catch the latest blockbuster at the AMC Theater!
3. Get some fresh air at Mattie Kelly Park and Nature Walk
Mattie Kelly Park is one of the best spots to get some fresh air and relaxing vibes in Destin.
This hidden gem feels worlds apart from Destin’s bustling beaches and is popular amongst locals.
The park is just a bit over 10 acres and features a lovely boardwalk, pier, a small beach, and plenty of spots to picnic, fish, spot some wildlife, or indulge in the sounds and sights of nature.
The park also offers short and easy nature trails that are doable even with the elderly or children.
Make sure to bring along some insect repellent and do note that the park is not developed since it’s mostly swampy, so you won’t find any restrooms or other amenities.
4. Learn about the city at The Destin History & Fishing Museum
For those who are keen on learning about Destin’s history, the Destin History & Fishing Museum is a great place to start.
This quaint museum holds exhibits that showcase the history of Destin from the 1830s with a focus on the city’s fishing industry — after all, it’s nicknamed “the world’s luckiest fishing village”.
Historical photographs, maps, artwork, memorabilia, and an extensive collection of fish mounts decorate the walls of the museum.
Expect to catch a glimpse of everything from antique fishing rods including a Penn Reel that belonged to the famous writer, Ernest Hemingway to the oldest seine fishing boat still in existence, over 100 fish mounts, shark teeth, and more interesting stuff that perfectly tell Destin’s story as a fishing village.
5. Visit the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Planning a family trip to Destin? Complete your vacation with a visit to the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, a family-friendly location that’s frequently ranked high when it comes to fun things to do in Destin FL.
The waters of Destin are teeming with marine life, and the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is your best bet on up-close encounters with gentle sea creatures like dolphins, sea lions, stingrays, turtles, and seals.
Admission to the park provides you access to interactive exhibits, ethical animal shows, educational talks, and special animal encounters.
6. Have a fun day at The Track
Get your dose of adrenaline at The Track, an exciting venue featuring fun attractions for the whole family.
From thrilling rides to milder ones, The Track offers hours of fun for people of all ages — adults and children alike.
The park has been an iconic community spot since 1989 and features go-kart tracks (with a variety of kart options for single and double riders as well as ones specifically for kids), mini golf courses, bumper cars, a Ferris wheel, spinning tea cups, an arcade, and more.
For the thrill seekers, be sure not to miss out on the Spinning Coaster, Skyflyer, and spinning Hurricane 360 while you’re here!
7. Play golf
If you like golfing, make sure to pack your clubs for a swing in Destin. Besides sunny beaches, Destin has its fair share of perfectly-sculpted green courses, many of which also come with picturesque views of the ocean.
Playing golf at one of them promises a scenic golfing experience like no other. Some golf courses we recommend include the Kelly Plantation Golf Club, Emerald Bay Golf Club, Indian Bayou Golf & Country Club, and the Regatta Bay Golf & Yacht Club.
Many of these golf courses offer golf club rentals as well as restaurants, so there’s nothing to worry about if you forget to bring along your equipment or get hungry midway.
8. Experience underwater-themed bowling at Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill
Looking for more family-friendly Destin activities and a restaurant suited for everyone?
Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill is a casual diner where you can grab some pizza (it has some of the best pizza in Destin), chips, burgers, or fried shrimp, though its menu is not its biggest appeal.
Food aside, the restaurant is known for its underwater-themed bowling lanes which are quite impressive!
From custom bowling balls to hand-painted murals and fish hanging from the ceiling, Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill is a fun hangout spot for families or friends who’d like to grab a bite and play bowling.
9. Check out some aircraft at The Air Force Armament Museum
Located just half an hour’s drive from Destin, the Air Force Armament Museum is the best place to visit in Destin for those with an interest in aircraft and the aviation industry.
The museum preserves and exhibits an impressive selection of artifacts and mementos associated with Air Force Armament including aircraft that date back to the WWII era, guns, bombs, rockets, the fastest plane ever built, and more. And if you didn’t know, it’s the only museum in the world of a kind.
The best part? It’s open every day and admission is free for all! So if you’re up to expanding your aircraft knowledge and looking for things to do near Destin FL, you know where to go.
10. See Alligators At Gator Beach
Did you know that the world’s largest alligator park is located right here in Destin? Well, at least according to Gator Beach!
Next up on our list of fun activities in Destin, Florida is to have an up close and personal encounter with alligators at Gator Beach, a park that’s home to hundreds of alligators of all ages and sizes.
Besides being able to catch a glimpse of alligators in their natural habitat, you can also feed, take photos with, and learn about them in a fun and interactive way.
Make sure to also check out the park’s rare albino alligator as well as baby alligators!
Admission to Gator Beach is free, though certain activities like feeding require a small fee.
Disclaimer: Just because feeding alligators at Gator Beach is allowed doesn’t mean that you can do so anywhere else in Florida! Please don’t feed alligators unless authorized!
11. Have Fun At Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park
One of the best places to visit in Destin is none other than Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park, an iconic water and amusement park that’s been around since 1986!
Featuring over 40 water attractions and thrill rides, Big Kahuna’s is hard to beat when it comes to Destin attractions for families.
From a huge wave pool to a Lazy River, Speed Slides that run the length of a football field, and a tropical mini golf course with 54 challenging holes in the adventure park, this park can keep your little ones (and adults too) occupied for a full day.
Do note however that this park is only open seasonally with the Adventure park opening mid-march and the waterpark in mid-may. You can check the opening calendar on the official website to stay up to date.
12. Relax at the Henderson Beach State Park
If you’re looking for free things to do in Destin, the city’s many sunny state parks are your best bet and Henderson Beach State Park is one of them to consider.
Boasting a majestic shoreline, sugary 30-foot-high dunes, and emerald-green waters, Henderson Beach State Park is the perfect spot to spend a beach day at.
The state park is great for swimming, sunbathing, fishing, cycling, and picnicking, and you’ll also have access to nature trails, get the opportunity to camp by the beach from the available campsites, and enjoy breathtaking sunsets in the evenings.
There is also a kid’s play area to keep them entertained and other amenities like restrooms, rinse-off stations, pavilions, and more.
With all that, it’s no surprise that Henderson Beach State Park is one of the top-rated tourist attractions in Destin.
There’s nothing like spending a full day on Destin’s beautiful beaches. The beaches in Destin are beautiful all year round and are quite unique.
There are less crowded local gems as well as well-equipped, popular beaches filled with energetic beachgoers, so depending on the kind of vibe you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find one to suit your taste.
Some of our recommendations include the June White Decker Park (which is centrally located and family-friendly), Princess Beach (a tranquil, no-frills beach hidden out of plain sight), James Lee Beach (a clean, peaceful, and well-equipped stretch), and the Norriego Point Beach Park (an underrated and calming stretch that’s perfect for swimming and snorkeling).
You can also check out our complete list of the best beaches in Destin to find your paradise.
14. Hang out with some dogs at Destin Dog Park
If you love dogs or are traveling to Destin with your own, then Destin Dog Park is one of the must-visit attractions in Destin Florida.
Usually frequented by locals, the park may not be huge but it has well-manicured open grass space and shaded areas for dogs to run about off-leash, as well as facilities like water fountains, benches, and waste receptacles.
There are also separate areas for big and small dogs to play, so you don’t have to worry about your pup fitting in!
Besides beautiful beaches, there are a handful of secluded islands located within the vicinity of Destin.
One of our favorites is none other than Crab Island, not an island per se but rather a raised sandbar nestled on the north side of Destin Bridge.
Crab Island is Destin’s unofficial party destination thanks to its fun vibe and the type of crowd it attracts.
The island can be accessed via a short boat ride from Destin Harbor, Okaloosa Island, or Fort Walton Beach.
The water here is perfect for activities such as snorkeling, swimming, water volleyball, and more.
So if you’re looking for fun activities in Destin Florida, consider renting a boat to get there, or simply hop on a boat shuttle to reach the island!
Alternatively, you can sign up for this Crab Island cruise tour if you don’t want to stress with planning.
If you’re a big group, you might save more and definitely be more comfortable by booking this private boat to Crab Island instead of join-in tours.
Make sure you check out our complete guide to visiting Crab Island to plan your day trip well.
Why get on a normal cruise when you can hop aboard a pirate cruise or relive the history of pirate life in Destin?
Ranked high when it comes to unique Destin attractions is the quirk Buccaneer Pirate Cruise, a 100-foot U.S. Coast Guard pirate-themed ship that will bring you on an unforgettable adventure through the waters of the Emerald Coast.
The Buccaneer Pirate Cruise is perfect for families and anyone who’s ever had a pirate dream or wants to experience it!
You can expect interactive performances and entertainment, live music, games, sword fights, and scenic views throughout the journey.
Your little ones will even get to participate in treasure hunts, water gun battles, singing, and dancing!
If you’re traveling with kids, definitely consider squeezing this experience into your Destin itinerary, and if you can, dress them as little pirates or in anything pirate-themed to make it extra special for them.
17. Go on a dolphin cruise
If a pirate cruise doesn’t sound like your thing, a dolphin cruise may be your type of fun.
Dolphin cruises and tours are popular activities to do in Destin FL and promise a fun time for people of all ages.
These cruises are bookable at affordable rates and depart many times daily but for an elevated experience, go on this sunset Dolphin cruise to watch a beautiful sunset.
Remember to bring a cap and slap on some sunscreen if you plan to stand out on the deck for long in search of friendly dolphins!
Although you can book a dolphin tour on-site, we suggest booking one in advance to guarantee a spot. In that case, this is the dolphin cruise in Destin we recommend.
The cruise is on a Hydrojet, so besides seeing dolphins and other wildlife, you’ll get a chance to cruise on a unique boat.
Beach and water sports are some of the best Destin Florida activities and are available at most beaches in the city.
You can pre-book your activities online or try to snag a good deal from one of the many local companies with counters downtown and by the beach though we recommend the former to be assured of a spot.
If you choose to go for a banana boat experience, you can book your spot here! For those into jet skiing, you can book the activity here, but if you’d rather go snorkeling, you can book your snorkeling adventure here!
If just hanging out at the beach sounds boring to you, consider heading out into the ocean on a boat!
Boat and pontoon rentals are hugely popular in Destin and are perfect if you enjoy deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, and island-hopping in a comfortable private charter.
If you’re traveling with family or a big group, renting this private chartered pontoon will be more fun, comfortable, and economical than booking join-in tour slots for everyone.
20. Learn to build sandcastles with Beach Sand Sculptures
Want to pick up a fun new skill while on vacation? Take a sand sculpture lesson while you’re in Destin!
Beach Sand Sculptures is an award-winning Destin business that consists of a team of local sandcastle coaches who have delivered thousands of sandcastle lessons every year.
These 2-hour lessons are lots of fun for groups of friends or family and can be arranged to be held in Miramar Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Sandestin, or Destin.
You’ll learn how to create the best sandcastle tower masterpiece that’s going to stand at approximately 3.5 feet tall!
By the end of the lesson, you’ll be ready to build beautiful sand art at beaches across the globe and gain bragging rights as a sand sculptor.
21. Visit The Village of Baytowne Wharf
If you have some extra time to spare, definitely consider venturing a bit further to the charming village of Baytowne Wharf, located just a 20-minute drive from Destin along Choctawhatchee Bay.
Baytowne Wharf is easily one of the most fun places to go in Destin Florida if you enjoy shopping, eating, or casually walking in a quaint little village.
Besides plenty of boutiques, restaurants, and galleries, the village also often hosts special events and outdoor festivals from time to time, including a weekly Farmers Market that happens every weekend, a Mardi Gras parade, live music during the Wednesday Night Concert Series, the Annual Sandestin Wine Festival, and more. You can check out more events at the village of Baytowne Wharf here.
There is also an adventure zone where adventure thrill-seekers can get their hearts throbbing either by ziplining or participating in various rope challenges.
It’s also a great spot to experience some nightlife if you’re looking for fun things to do in Destin at night! In our opinion, this village has some of the best bars in Destin for a fun night out.
22. Feast on some fresh seafood
It’s not a vacation in Destin without indulging in seafood.
Beach activities aside, eating is one of our favorite activities to do in Destin FL thanks to the city’s abundance of fresh seafood — something that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering it’s one of the greatest fishing ports in the world.
From fresh oysters to crab legs, lobster tails, shrimp, sushi, and different kinds of fish, you can pretty much get any type of seafood here.
Some popular seafood restaurants in Destin include Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House, Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer, Boathouse Oyster Bar, Dewey Destin’s Seafood Restaurant, and Louisiana Lagniappe!
The best part is that these are also Destin’s best beachfront restaurants so you’ll be able to enjoy great ocean views alongside good food.
Related Post: Where to Eat Italian Food in Destin
23. Grab some dessert
Last on our list of what to do in Destin Florida is to grab dessert!
Destin’s sunny weather will no doubt make you crave something cold and sweet.
Thankfully, there are many dessert spots in the city for you to satisfy your sweet tooth whenever you’re in the mood.
Get some donuts at the Donut Hole Bakery and Cafe ( this is also one of the best breakfast places in Destin), ice cream from Ice Cream Shoppe, frozen custard or a milkshake from Shake’s Frozen Custard, or even boba (bubble tea) from Wave Ice Cream & Coffee.
Getting dessert is a great way to escape the heat and rest your legs for a while in-between all that sun, sand, and sea.
Final Thoughts on the Best Things to Do in Destin
We hope you found this article on the best things to do in Destin FL inspiring as you plan your Florida getaway!
From family-friendly amusement parks to pristine beaches and shopping venues, you won’t run out of stuff to do in Destin for days.
Time to pack your sunnies and flip-flops for an unforgettable, fun-filled vacation with your loved ones!
But before you go, consider sharing these Destin Florida activities if you found the article helpful!