A Guide to my Hometown: Destin, FL // Things to Do

Growing up, I always complained about how there was never anything to do at home. Almost immediately upon moving to Birmingham for college, I realized how privileged I was to have so much at my fingertips. There are always new things to do in Destin, but here are just some of my favorites.

THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS

  • HarborWalk Village // link : There is SO much do to at HarborWalk, and it just keeps growing! From great places to eat to ziplines and sunset cruises, HarborWalk is a fantastic place for families who have children of all ages. There's usually some sort of music or concert, and every Thursday night they have fireworks! 
  • Abrakadoodle // link : My sister, Julia, has worked for Abrakadoodle for several summers and it just continues to grow and evolve! This art program offers something for kids as young as two and has multiple locations. Make sure to check out their schedule and sign your kids up!
  • Big Kahuna's Water Park // link : I grew up getting a season pass to BK for Christmas every year. This water park is great if you have kids of various ages. Also, season passes are $100-ish, so if you're going to go more than once on your vacation, it's worth looking into season passes. Also, passes are cheaper at Christmas, so if you know that you're going to be going during the summer, they make fantastic (and affordable) gifts for your family!
  • The Track // link : This amusement park and mini-golf course is great for kids, but it gets expensive very quickly. I also find it difficult to find enough to do to spend a while there as well. The go carts are fun, and there are several things for little kids, but it's definitely low on my priority list of things to do.
  • The Gulfarium // link : Dolphin shows,  stingrays, and gators, OH MY! 
  • Destin Commons Splashpad: In the center of the Destin Commons you'll find tots running around in swim suits and moms relaxing with an iced coffee in the shade. Make sure to take advantage of this great feature! Even better, let the guys watch the kiddos and go do some shopping!

BEST BEACHES

  • Henderson Beach State Park // link : Henderson Beach is, in my opinion, the best family beach in Destin. This state park is beautiful, and it's right in the middle of everything. The pavilions are nice (including the restrooms) and parking is typically pretty easy. You do have to pay to get in (I think it's $3 per person), but it's completely worth it!
  • Beasley Park // link : Beasley Park is closer to Fort Walton, but it's another beach that is less crowded and clean. It's also very family friendly, which I just love.
  • The Bay: Right across from Beasley Park is the Choctawhattchee (chak-taw-hatch-ee) Bay. There's a large parking area and this is a great place to swim, especially for dogs and little ones. It's shallow for a while and there are very few waves. This is where my parents used to take us when we were little because we were a lot more independent and they didn't have to worry as much about rip currents! 
  • Norriego Point // link : This tiny little strip of beach is the perfect place to go to watch HarborWalk's fireworks on Thursday nights. It's also a more remote beach area. To get there, follow Gulf Shore Drive until you get to the public beach access. There's a small parking lot there and you have a perfect view of the East Pass.

WATER SPORTS

There are SO MANY places to rent boats, wave runners, and paddle boards. Here are just a few places that I know are reputable. There really isn't a best place, but you can consider how busy you want the water to be. If you want to go to Crab Island, you're going to want to find a place on the Destin Harbor. If you want to see more and cruise around, look for a place in Fort Walton or on Okaloosa Island.

  • Fudpucker's // link // Okaloosa Island
  • Boogie's // link // Destin Harbor
  • Gilligan's // link // Destin Harbor
  • Adventure Marina // link // Okaloosa Island 
  • Baytowne Marina // link // Sandestin 

SHOPPING

There is So. Much. Shopping. in Destin. It's even changed a lot since I lived there. For several years I worked at several different stores in the Destin Commons - and now most of them have closed! Last year a new section of the Destin Commons opened and it includes an H&M, which is crazy since Birmingham doesn't even have that store! The outlet mall remains to be amazing, and there are plenty of beachy boutiques scattered throughout the area. Here are some general places that you can just park and shop:

  • Destin Commons // link
  • Silver Sands Outlet Mall // link
  • Grand Boulevard // link
  • Boutiques // mostly east. between Destin Commons and Sandestin
  • Second-hand stores // mostly east. between Destin Commons and Sandestin

MY FAVORITES

  • Stop at Shake's and go for a walk on the beach
  • Ovation movie theater at Grand Boulevard // link
  • Drive 30A 
  • Grill fresh seafood from Sexton's
  • Take Swanson to the dog park // link
  • Watch deep sea boats bring in their loot at HarborWalk (I always take a big whiff of dead fish and say, "MMMmmm, smells like home!")
  • Ride bikes along Old 98!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my favorite things to do in my hometown! Let me know if you have suggestions for me, I'd love to add to my list and try something new next time we visit! Enjoy Destin, spend lots of money, and wear sunscreen!

If you missed my guides to Destin check out:
Destin: Where to Stay
Destin: Places to Eat
30A from a Local

Posted on August 9, 2015 and filed under Travel.