Set your sights on Gulf waters.
Are you dreaming of leisurely beach days spent under sunny skies and beside emerald waters? We are too. That means it’s high time for a trip to the Gulf. Set your sights on Destin, Florida, and let us help you plan your beach trip. Whether you’re in the mood to lounge on the sand, get your fill of fresh seafood, or explore both land and sea, there’s entertainment aplenty in this bustling seaside city. (Don't forget the sunscreen!) So, what should you put on your Destin itinerary? Cast your net, and take in a few of these ideas for your next trip.
Relax on the beach.
It’s the main attraction, the big show. If you’re in Destin, the beach is hard to miss. These emerald waters and white sandy beaches attract visitors from far and wide. There are 13 beach access points in the city, so find one, claim your stretch of sand, and settle in for fun in the sun—or ultimate relaxation, if that’s more your style.
Enjoy the daily catch.
You’ll want to track down some of the best restaurants in Destin during your trip. The Panhandle has menus for every palette. Enjoy your crab cakes with a Gulf view at the Beach Walk Cafe at Henderson Park Inn. Get your fill of fresh seafood from Louisiana Laginappe (and be sure to save room for dessert). Make reservations at Marina Cafe for a candlelit dinner you’ll still be talking about months later, or go casual at The Crab Trap, McGuire’s Irish Pub, Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s, or Boshamps Seafood & Oyster House.
Embark on an adventure or two.
Set off with Destin Snorkel for a shelling tour, dolphin cruise, or snorkeling adventure. If you’re a SCUBA fanatic, you’ll want to book a dive trip with Emerald Coast Scuba. They also offer snorkel trips and courses in SCUBA and open water diving as well. Feel the ocean breeze on a sailing tour or boat charter from Smile-n-Wave Sailing Adventures, or get active with Blue Crab Watersports—they rent wave-runners, kayaks, paddleboards, and pontoon boats to intrepid beachgoers. If you have kids in tow, they'll love the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise, a sea adventure with sword fights, storytelling, and snacks. (There’s even a treasure hunt!)
Drop your anchor at a Destin marina.
Kick off your deep-sea fishing adventure at one of Destin’s marinas, where you can hire a boat or join a tour. Hop aboard a Swoop deep sea fishing boat at HarborWalk Marina for a day on the ocean, or drop into Destin Marina if you brought your own vessel. Rent a boat to get to Crab Island, Destin’s famed underwater sandbar, where locals and visitors go to hang out on the water.
Pitch your tent (or park your RV) at Henderson Beach State Park, a 200-acre park with 60 campsites, a playground, nature trail, and boardwalks for beach access. Meander the nature trail and learn about the coastal dune ecosystem and the wildlife of the area, which includes several endangered species.
Go wild at a water park.
Treat the kids to a day at Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park for rides, slides, waves, rivers, and pools galore. There are attractions for every age, including kiddie rides and racing slides—as well as few meandering rivers with varying falls, chutes, twists, and turns.
Are you heading to the Gulf this summer? Soak up the sun, enjoy the coast, and share your photos with us on Instagram (@southernlivingmag).