fun things to do in Destin, Florida

With arguably the best fishing that Florida has to offer and a ton of excellent seafood restaurants, Destin is a great place to visit any time of year. Its white sandy beaches and emerald waters are its most inviting natural features.

You can find great resorts with shopping, entertainment and sports facilities nearby, including many golf courses that are among the best in the country. Surrounded by the Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Destin has sun, sea and sand just waiting to be explored.

Nicknamed the Emerald Coast, experience its plethora of outdoor adventures first-hand that will make your heart go boom with stunning coastal landscapes surrounding you. Jet-ski ventures, dolphin-watching expeditions, lazy beach days and sunset sails are just the tip of the iceberg!

Here’s a travel tip: Destin is also an amazing destination for families! There’s much to get involved in, from pirate-dinosaur-themed mini golf to magic shows to arcades to banana-boat rides to professional sandcastle-building lessons… Need we say more?

Whilst the little ones have their hands full, moms and dads let your hair down and take a tour to a wine vineyard, sample craft beers at a local brewery or hire a self-driven pontoon boat (with water slides included in case the kids can’t miss out on this one!).

Here are some fun things to do in Destin, Florida.

1 – Get to know the city at Destin Harbor Boardwalk

Destin Harbor Boardwalk

Staying true to its fishing roots, the Harbor Boardwalk is the bustling heart of the city. The recently renovated Boardwalk is home to bars, restaurants, shops, and local charter fishing boats.

It extends for about a quarter-mile along the harbor front providing a great place to stroll on an evening, grab a drink or just sit and watch the sunset.

There’s always something going on at the Boardwalk.

2 – Ride the rapids at Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park

Big Kahuna's Water & Adventure Park, Destin

If you’re in search of fun things to do in Destin for all the family then look no further, Big Kahuna’s has fun by the ton.

With names like Kowabunga Racer, Monkey River, and Cobra Twister, you know these slides won’t disappoint.

Take a lazy meander down one of the river rides or catch some barrels on the Honolulu Half Pipe surf simulator. There is a choice of gentle slides and pools for smaller children too, so no one’s left out.

3 – Catch some rays at Henderson Beach State Park

Henderson Beach State Park, Destin

This state park boasts wide sunny beaches, warm waters, and a host of amenities for sports and activities. The white sandy dunes have a hiking trail that runs throughout and is a great place to spot coastland plants and creatures.

The park contains a children’s play area, facilities for camping and RVs, picnic grounds, campfire circles and is widely wheelchair accessible. There are also a number of shaded Pavillions with barbecue stations for when you need a brief retreat from the summer sun.

Above the greens of the park is one of the city’s best-loved restaurants, which love celebrating their own three favorite “F” words… Food, Fun and Family.

Serving patrons since 1982, Fudpucker’s Beachside Bar & Grill’s Gator Beach sets this establishment apart from the rest. Find a small alligator park inside, visit the reptiles and get the chance to feed some, as well as learn about the creatures from the passionate host/guide.

Super family-friendly; there is a children’s playground, games and activities, and dedicated teen nights at Fudpucker’s.

4 – Take a sunset tiki boat cruise

tiki boat cruise in Destin

For a unique Destin experience why not take a tiki boat cruise?

These tiki boats are more like an intimate floating bar than what you may usually consider a boat. Bring along your own drinks to enjoy and relax while your captain shows you around the harbor sites.

Gather up your friends and loved ones and enjoy a private sunset cruise in the calm Destin harbor waters. Could there be a better way to spend a hot summer evening!

5 – Explore the Air Force Armament Museum

Air Force Armament Museum, Florida

Established back in 1976, don’t miss the one-of-a-kind Air Force Armament Museum; interesting for adults and enthralling for children as you walk among real-life, vintage warplanes on display — including the world’s fastest jet ever built: the SR-71 Blackbird!

With a whopping 29 planes to investigate; reimagine what life was like for pilots during WWII, as well as the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars as all the aircrafts preserved and restored were utilized during these wars in real-time fighting.

As one of the only museums around the globe with a focus on ‘artifacts and memorabilia associated with Air Force Armament and its platforms of delivery’, there are some interesting items to inspect inside its exhibits.

Exhibitions are divided into themed spaces: Korean War, Air Power, Modern Weapons, Vietnam War, Aircraft, WWI, Gulf War, Gun Vault, WWII, Armament and Special Operations. Scope out gadgets, apparatus, machinery and contraptions utilized by soldiers from the different wars comprising aircraft and munitions.

6 – Take a trip on a banana boat

banana boat tour in Destin

With such inviting emerald waters, it’s no wonder there are a bunch of fun pursuits to try right down at the harbor front.

We’ve all seen those bright yellow inflatable banana boats, well now might be the right time to give it a try.

Grab some wet and wild thrills and explore the lazy gulf waters in the most flamboyant way possible. Perfect for groups of 4-6 people.

7 – Go dolphin watching

dolphin watching in Destin

The waters around Destin are known for an abundance of wildlife, one of the most celebrated is the bottlenose dolphin. There are many local companies offering trips to view these magnificent mammals in their natural habitat and they are well worth the trip.

The Southern Star Cruise has been a staple of Destin holidaymakers for 20 years. Its glass-bottom boat allows visitors to see an array of other sea life as well. Take the sunset cruise for an unforgettable experience the whole family will love.

8 – Feed an alligator at Gator Beach

Gator Beach, Destin

Gator Beach calls itself the “World’s greatest Alligator Park”. With hundreds of resident alligators of all ages and sizes, it is the largest park of its kind in the area.

It offers educational tours, opportunities to feed the gators, and even have a photo taken with one.

For a rare chance to see full-size and tiny baby alligators up close, Gator Beach is well worth the trip. Admission is totally free as are shows and tours which are given daily through the summer season.

9 – Paddle in Okaloosa Island

stand up paddle in Destin

Be sure to visit Okaloosa Island on your trip to Destin, there is so much to do here. Between its soft sandy beaches, water sports and adventure parks you are really spoiled for choice.

Take a kayak or paddleboard out onto the water or get a surf lesson from a qualified instructor. There’s also an abundance of restaurants and shops which provide plenty of things to see and do away from the beach.

10 – Play a round of mini golf

mini-golf at Wild Willy's Adventure Zone, Destin

Kiddos, do you want to be a pro golfer when you grow up? Best you let the parents know that there are some super cool mini golf options in the city, one is even a pirate dinosaur-themed golfing venture!

You can find Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone just outside Destin, in Fort Walt Beach. With a huge amount of air-conditioned, indoor play areas and attractions, you can visit whatever the weather.

This place has a state-of-the-art arcade, 4D movie theatre, and laser tag. Its outdoor play areas have bungee trampolines, a 60-foot rope course, and a choice of animatronic pirate or dinosaur mini-golf courses. Wild indeed!

Step into a darkened world lit up in neon lights and designed like a magical jungle at Rainforest Black Light Golf & Arcade, and make your way through this glow-in-the-dark putt-putt course!

Truly get to put your skills to the test, aiming for a hole-in-one with no bright lights to help, only luminous pathways around the greens leading the way. There are 18 holes in total to conquer at the rainforest-themed mini golf course.

Apart from tee-time, there is a games arcade filled with the classics!

11 – Take a wild ride on a jet boat

jet boat tour in Destin
credit to HydroJet Boat Tours

If you feel the need for some action-packed, high-speed fun on the water, why not try a jet boat ride! If life in the slow lane is just not your style, these high G-Force trips will surely satisfy your itch.

Let your captain show you what these boats can do in a roller coaster ride of 360 turns and wet and wild action! This is a seriously fun thing to do in Destin, FL.

12 – Relax at Clement Taylor Park

Clement Taylor Park, Destin

Once the site of Destin’s single-room schoolhouse, Clement Taylor is now the city’s most popular park. With a swimming area and pier, waterfront gazebo, pavilion, playground and picnic areas, It’s a favorite local hangout.

The park benefits from a refreshing sea breeze and its large old trees offer shade on a hot summer afternoon. Keep an eye out for the local squirrels in the trees above.

Directions with Google Maps

13 – Experience a sailing tour

sailing tour in Destin

There’s something very peaceful about traveling by the power of wind and sail alone. The gentle tides of the Gulf are a great place to try if you’ve ever dreamed of sailing the seas as our ancestors did.

AJ’s Water Adventures runs a variety of boat trips out of the harbor including daytime and sunset cruises, dolphin cruises, and snorkeling trips. Enjoy complimentary drinks with every trip.

14 – Take a dip at June White Decker Park

June White Decker Park, Destin

June White Decker Park is only small but offers free access to the seashore for sunbathing and swimming. It has plenty of amenities with car parking, restrooms, outdoor showers and popular restaurants nearby.

This place is popular so try to get there early to be sure of a place. You’ll find it along Highway 98 and it opens from dawn until dusk every day.

Directions in Google Maps

15 – Try your hand at axe throwing

axe throwing in Destin

After taking the world by storm over the last 5 or so years, popping up in major cities here, there and everywhere, indoor axe throwing has finally made its way to Destin!

Over at The Ratchet Hatchet, which you’ll find in Fort Walton Beach (just a 15-minute drive from Destin proper), you can unleash your inner lumberjack and learn how to throw tomahawks, rifleman axes, and even old-school Viking axes! After being briefed on the safety basics, you’ll have your own lane to hone your technique and practice hitting the bullseyes.

Then, when you’re ready for a bit of friendly competition, your instructor will explain the rules of some classic games and get a tournament underway. Prefer an outdoor experience? Then you don’t have to venture too far – the Gulf Coast Axe House is conveniently tucked away on the Destin Harborwalk.

16 – Enjoy interactive fun and learn something at the Emerald Coast Science Center

Emerald Coast Science Center, Florida

Calling all budding scientists to the Emerald Coast Science Center! Originally opening its doors to the public in 1989, the initial volunteer-run center was known as the FOCUS (Families of Okaloosa County Understanding Science) Center until 2001 when it underwent a name change.

Gaining in popularity as the years passed, the center moved to its present home in 2014 as a bigger space was required to hold its ever-growing collections and exhibitions focusing on the different sciences.

Today, young and old can come to enjoy the science center made up of indoor and outdoor exhibits, most of which are interactive. In the outside zone, visit the Marine Exhibit and hop on deck a boat to learn all about the mechanics of ships, or pretend to be a paleontologist at the Dino Dig Pit.

Learn more about Testudines at the Sea Turtle Sanctuary or jump back in time at the When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth expo. Other indoor exhibitions include Robotics; Engineering, Physics, AR, and Electricity; Color, Light, and Sound; Space and the Emerald Coast Ecosystem Exhibit.

Immerse yourselves at the Mini Makers and Experimenters Lab, Creation Station or DREAMS Lab … the kids will never want to leave!

17 – Take a fishing trip

fishing trip in Destin

They don’t call Destin the “World’s luckiest fishing village” for no reason. Many people come here for the fish alone. There are plenty of spots with fantastic fishing in Okaloosa Island, the Jetties and East Pass, and John Beasley Park in Fort Walton Beach.

For the more adventurous angler, boats can be chartered for inshore and nearshore fishing in Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Night fishing trips are also available with knowledgeable local captains. Destin is a fishing paradise.

18 – Crush that adventure craving at HarborWalk

HarborWalk Village, Destin

A family-favorite Destin attraction sitting in the shadow of the Destin Bridge, this outdoor village is a hotbed of activity year-round; with cafes, bars, art galleries, and plenty of souvenir shops, it’s the top port of call for an afternoon stroll.

But if you’re on the hunt for adventure, rest assured that you’ll more than your fair share of thrills here too. For starters, HarborWalk has its very own zipline course – with over 1,000 feet of cable, it’s officially the longest and tallest duel zipline track in the area.

For something a little more active, the 40-foot climbing wall ought to do the trick. Not only does it have various vertical routes of different difficulties, but it’s also the world’s first interactive LED Rockwall, which adds another whole dimension to the experience. And, rounding out the high-octane options, is the 100-foot freefall — when you take your leap of faith and crash down onto a giant, inflatable bullseye platform, you’ll feel like a true Hollywood stuntworker!

HarborWalk is also a common starting point for water sports, with paddleboard, kayak, pontoon, and jet skis all available for rent.

Throw in regular live music, weekly fireworks shows, themed events, and occasional festivals, and it’s clear to see why HarborWalk is one of Destin’s most visited spots.

19 – Go on a shopping spree at Destin Commons

shopping at Destin Commons, Destin

Destin Commons is an outdoor shopping center located just off Highway 98. With over 95 stores it has a wide selection of popular brands selling clothing, jewelry, sporting equipment, and furniture.

It has a cinema as well as a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, and snack bars. It features decorations by local artists and hosts an artisan market on the last Sunday of each month.

20 – Set sail on a catamaran experience

catamaran tour in Destin

When the Destin sun sizzles just that little too hot, the best way to cool off is to get out on the waves. And if you’re looking for an experience that’s a little more luxurious than your typical sightseeing boat tour, then why not spend the day on board a sleek and stylish catamaran?

With all the amenities of a cruise liner — but in an intimate setting — you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your time offshore as your crew takes you to some of the most stunning spots along the Emerald Coast (Crab Island, in particular).

A typical catamaran excursion lasts about 4 hours, which gives you all the time you’d need to snorkel, swim, spot dolphins in the distance, and sip on a few cold ones.

If drinks aren’t already included, you can usually bring your own. And with both social small-group and intimate private tours available, there’s something for everyone.

21 – Win the chequered flag at The Track, Destin

The Track, Destin

The Track is a one-stop shop for a fun day out! With five go-kart tracks as well as rides, arcades, and mini-golf courses the fun here doesn’t end.

The unique elevated courses lead you up and down three and a half floors. There are also tracks and karts for younger kids.

With a bunch of other hilarious activities like blaster boats, bumper cars and high-flying rides, this has to be one of the most fun things to do in Destin, FL.

22 – Visit Destin History & Fishing Museum

Destin History & Fishing Museum

The history of Destin is intertwined with its maritime traditions. From its roots as a tiny fishing village just over 100 years ago, it has grown to be a popular holiday destination for many.

Visit the Destin History and Fishing Museum and learn how the sea shaped the people of the city and how they in turn shaped the sea.

23 – The Stoked Comedy Hypnosis show

The Stoked Comedy Hypnosis show, Destin

Sure to leave you in stitches, and, to be honest, a little confused as to what just happened, The Stoked Comedy Hypnosis show sells itself as a great, highly immersive way to spend an evening indoors.

Combining classic hypnosis techniques with mind-reading, adults-only comedy, and plenty of improv – not to mention a peppering of audience participation (don’t sit front row unless you’re up for getting on stage!) – this head-scratching show regularly leaves its audience both delighted and perplexed. You’re almost guaranteed to walk out of the theatre muttering, “How the hell did he do that?”

Hosted by the legendary Terry Stokes and held in the HarborWalk Village, the 60-minute performance typically takes place on Thursdays at 9 PM. And with ticket prices that won’t break the bank, it earns its stripes as one of the best things to do in Destin after sundown.

24 – Solve the mysteries of the Escape Rooms

escape room in Destin

Are you obsessed with murder mysteries or reading novels that involve solving a crime? Bringing fiction to “reality,” escape rooms aren’t just exciting, but require some thinking too, and you get to play the detective role for this one!

Escape Zone 60 is not your average escape room experience. With a choice of themed rooms to experience you can be in a zombie apocalypse one minute and a mummy’s tomb the next.

Scaled on a scary level of zero to nine, most of the rooms at Gulf Coast Escape Room Destin aren’t for the faint-hearted, but there are one or two suitable for families, for example, Alice & The White Rabbit. Other rooms with a super-horrifying chill factor include Bates Motel, Zombie Autopsy and The Doll Room.

Designed hyper-realistically using quality finishes inside the rooms, Escapology is favored for its upscaled interiors and intricately planned storylines. Find the treasure of the Lost City or stop a nuclear war when attempting Cuban Crisis. There are plenty more to choose from.

Revisit the Old West or board the Queen Anne’s Revenge and steal pirate treasure at Mr. E’s Escape Rooms, and the rooms here utilize interactive, high-technologies.

Gather up your friends or family to decipher clues, work together as a team and try to escape before your time runs out. Will you accept the challenge?

25 – See the sea life up close while snorkeling

snorkeling in Destin

The sparkling green waters of the Emerald Coast are some of the best places to snorkel in the whole country. The abundance of life in the seas around Destin makes it a top spot for a fantastic snorkeling experience.

Destin Snorkel offers snorkel and snuba trips around Destin. Take a boat ride for some shallow water snorkeling and hit the beach and jetties to collect shells. Equipment and water are provided.

26 – Search the city with a scavenger hunt

scavenger game in Destin

One of the most fun ways to get to know a city better is with a scavenger hunt. Gather your group and use an app to navigate to checkpoints and local points of interest while solving clues and completing challenges.

Test your skills against other teams and try to get the highest score. A scavenger hunt is great family fun that engages everyone. Why not try it in your time in Destin.

27 – Go parasailing over the Gulf of Mexico

parasailing in Destin

Looking for a truly unforgettable experience, parasailing has to be one of the biggest thrills out there. Soar above Destin’s white sandy beaches and shimmering seas with a parasailing trip.

There are a number of local companies that provide parasailing activities in Destin. Check out Wet-n-Wild Watersports, Just Chute Me, and Boogie’s watersports for a range of parasailing experiences.

28 – Go (free) wine tasting at Emerald Coast Wine Cellars

Emerald Coast Wine Cellars, Florida

If you’re not much of a beer-drinker, swap hops for grapes and indulge in a divine wine-sampling stint at Emerald Coast Wine Cellars.

One thing to note from the get-go so you don’t get confused: the wine manufacturer’s vineyard is located at Chautauqua Winery (their sister store) in DeFuniak Springs — a 50-minute drive from Destin. These parts provide optimate growing conditions for wine-making than comparison to salty, humid Destin.

Procuring bottles since 1989, the wine experts specialize in muscadine wines — whether it’s a white or red that you prefer. This type of wine is the name for that native to America.

Arriving at the tasting room, enjoy a complimentary sampling of six wines! The first four are pre-selected, and you can decide which remaining two wines you’d like to taste. Purchase bottles from their shop to take home to enjoy afterward of your favorites!

29 – Hunt for treasure on a Buccaneer Pirate Cruise

Buccaneer Pirate Cruise, Destin
credit to Buccaneer Pirate Cruise

The Buccaneer Pirate Cruise is great fun for everybody but especially the kids. The crew has lots of fun, pirate-themed activities for little ones including dancing, singing and pirate training. Join the crew of the Buccaneer for a merry adventure.

Bring along a sense of adventure and good humor. There’ll be lots of opportunities for swashbuckling fun. You can expect sword fighting, real cannon fire and uplifting good times on the high sea.

30 – Moor up at the famous Crab Island

Crab Island, Destin

You may not know that Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico were once separated by land. Early fishermen dug a narrow trench between the two and made the East Pass. Later the pass was dredged and the piled sand created what’s now known as Crab Island.

It’s one of the most popular spots for visitors to Destin. With its shallow warm waters, it’s a great place to moor up and relax in the sun. The Crab Island Water Taxi offers daily excursions.

31 – Explore the sandbars in a kayak

kayaking in Destin

Kayaking is one of the best ways to spend a peaceful day out on the water.

Explore Destin Harbor, the nearby beaches, and the shallow sandbars at Crab Island by kayak. Move at your own rhythm and relax into a slower pace of life.

SEA Chase watersports offer free kayak or paddleboard rental when you hire one of its self-drive pontoon boats.

32 – Hire a pontoon boat with slides

pontoon boat ride in Destin

These self-drive pontoon boats are a great way to keep everyone entertained. Play captain for a day and take your friends and family out for a trip on the water.

These boats have a lower deck for the adults to relax on and an upper deck with slides for the kids. what better way to spend a fun-packed day in the sun.

Double-decker pontoon boats can be hired from Discount Watersports Destin opposite Noriego point.

33 – Zipline at Baytowne Wharf

Baytowne Wharf, Destin

Baytowne Wharf is located on Choctawhatchee Bay in the Sandestin Resort. It has a quaint village vibe with a good choice of restaurants, bars, and boutiques. There’s also a stage for live music.

Baytowne has some great activities for kids and adventurous adults with a nautical-themed playground, an arcade with a laser maze, and a carousel. Its Adventure Zone is for daredevils only with a host of climbing, ziplining, and rope courses.

34 – Embark on a romantic dinner cruise

dinner cruise in Destin

Looking for a romantic way to wind down a day of sightseeing? Taking place on the calm waters of Choctawhatchee Bay, a romantic dinner cruise could be just what the doctor (in this case, Cupid) ordered.

As you sail around the bay, glass of bubbly (or two) in hand, you’ll be treated to a spectacular sunset, with live music and a full bar on board to add the finishing touch.

The menu is always changing, but you can expect delicious multi-course meals like boneless braised short rib, Solaris Creole chicken, Gulf shrimp & grits, or stuffed eggplant, each complimented by an appetizer, freshly-made bread, and a chef’s dessert.

Typically departing from Baytowne Marina, dinner cruises last about 3 hours – and, with upscale casual attire expected, they’re a great excuse to dress to the nines!

35 – Go pro with a sandcastle lesson

sandcastle lesson in Destin

Ever lose sleep because your sandcastle skills are just not up to par? Luckily, the fine white sands of Destin are fantastic for sandcastles. Why not level up your skills with a family sandcastle building lesson.

Learn professional sculpting tips to build taller castles and create dazzling sand sculptures. Beach Sand Sculptures gives private sandcastle building lessons in the Destin area.

36 – Zip around on a jet ski

jet ski in Destin, Florida

Whizz around the waters of Crab Island, tear up the waves and skid over barrels during a jet ski adventure — one of the most riveting water sports for first-timers!

If you’ve never ridden a jet ski before, become acquainted with how to maneuver and ride the watercraft before you set off for a tour to the island. Easily locate its location following your tour guide on the waters.

Starting from Fort Walton Beach, you’ll cruise along the Santa Rosa Sound lagoon (situated in the Pensacola Beach area) passing Destin Harbor and its iconic boardwalk, and then onto Crab Island.

Here, enjoy time playing on the waters, showing off tricks on your 110 HP Yamaha VX (which can seat up to two passengers).

Lasting between one or two hours, keep an eye peeled for schools of dolphins swimming en route!

37 – Eat at Destin’s best restaurants

Lulu's Destin restaurant
credit to Lulu’s Destin

Lulu’s is a fun place to relax after a day on the beach. With an eclectic seaside style, live music, a friendly atmosphere, and a large menu of southern-inspired dishes with seafood high on the list. Expect a plethora of great cocktails, burgers, shrimp, and fish dishes.

Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer offers the best of local seafood served up in a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere. Named after the Bearded Brotula, a fish that is considered a local delicacy, this family-owned eatery specializes in local fresh-caught seafood.

The Back Porch first opened in Destin in 1974 in a small beach-side shack. Since then it has grown to be one of the most popular seafood restaurants in the city but it still stays true to its modest roots, well known for its grilled amberjack and Apalachicola oyster dishes.

The Surf Hut is another great Destin restaurant with a chilled-out, family-friendly atmosphere. Located in a perfect spot at Miramar Beach, serves up local Gulf seafood, freshly caught and prepared each day. The Surf Hut serves a large selection of beers, cocktails and wines and has a dedicated kids’ menu.

38 – Test your limits at Rock Out Climbing

Rock Out Climbing, Destin

Rock Out Climbing is an indoor climbing gym that specializes in bouldering. This means the climbs are not too high but can still be challenging. You don’t need ropes or harnesses and there are crash mats to catch you.

Rock Out is open to all levels and abilities and aims to foster a sense of adventure and community through climbing. You can rent climbing shoes and equipment and they have beginner classes during the week.

39 – Escape for an hour with a floating spa experience

float spa experience in Destin

Let’s admit it: traveling can be a little stressful. Plus, all of the partying and sightseeing that Destin is known for can take its toll on your energy levels. That’s why some good old-fashioned R&R in a state-of-the-art floating tank could be the perfect remedy.

Sensory deprivation tanks are believed to offer all kinds of health benefits – from reduced stress and improved sleep quality to enhanced creativity, reduced muscle pain, and better circulation. So why not give it a try? At the very least, you’ll get some much-needed alone tone (which is especially appreciated if traveling with kids in tow).

Most experiences will take place at Float Brothers, which sits a stone’s throw from the golden sands of Henderson Beach State Park — the ideal back-to-back itinerary, perhaps?

40 – Chill out at Margaritaville Destin

Margaritaville Destin

Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville is a light-hearted tropical-themed family restaurant. It has funky decor, four different bars and island-inspired foods with names like Volcano Nachos and Paradise Cheeseburger.

The restaurant has plenty of outdoor seating with views over the harbor. Live bands play regularly and there’s plenty of space to dance.

A night at Margaritaville is a fun thing to do while in Destin.

41 – Enjoy a romantic sunset cruise

sunset cruises in Destin

The Emerald Coast has fantastic views and some of the most impressive sunsets in the country. A sunset cruise out onto the Gulf is a great opportunity to see the city from a different perspective, away from the bright lights, hustle and bustle.

There are many local companies that run daily sunset cruises out of Destin Harbor. Bottlenose Dolphins can often be spotted in the area and some cruises run special dolphin spotting trips.

42 – Get some culture at Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation

Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, Destin

The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation puts on a program of events with live concerts throughout the year hosted at the Cultural Arts Village.

It puts on a yearly art festival in August which features artists and artisans from all over the country displaying their work.

The Foundation also puts on dinner events and a yearly Wine Walkabout. It is a non-profit organization that runs arts outreach programs for children with special needs, families and veterans.

43 – Watch the Destin fireworks bursting over your head

Destin fireworks

Be sure not to miss the Destin firework display, every Thursday evening through the summer months. Start the weekend early with live music from 7 pm in the harbor. The fireworks launch from a boat out in the bay and create a great party vibe in the city.

Why not try a boat tour through the harbor to get the best views. The fireworks run from Memorial Day through to mid-August and the display starts at 9 pm.

44 – Play to win at Fat Daddy’s Arcade

Fat Daddy's Arcade, Destin

Fat Daddy’s Arcade is jam-packed full of video game action. With some of the latest and greatest games around, as well as some old favorites, you’ll have hours of fun here.

Get together with friends for a game of air hockey, shoot some hoops or maintain a steady hand to pick up prizes with the giant crane.

From modern zombie-slaughtering shoot-em-ups to retro classics there’s tons of fun to be had at Fat Daddy’s Arcade.

For even more thrills, bring the kids to Thrills Laser Tag and Arcade and let them unleash their energy beasts for a few more hours. Constructed across two levels, the indoor Temple of Doom arena incorporates design elements for an ultra-immersive experience.

Built with interactive features, the craftsmanship is top-notch, from the glyphs to cobra-shaped pillars inside the tombs.

Combining games both new and old, there are more than 70 to play and win prizes when you hit the arcade! Smack down the Minion Whacker or pretend to be Jordan throwing balls at the NBA Hoops.

45 – Buy fresh at Sexton’s Seafood Market

Sexton's Seafood Market, Destin

Sexton’s Seafood Market is the place to be in Destin if you like fresh, locally-caught shrimp and seafood.

Just a stone’s throw from the Harbor, Sexton’s is a family-owned seafood market that has been operating in Destin for the last 35 years.

The staff members are knowledgeable about the fish and the prices are reasonable. For a friendly, local experience and to try great, fresh Destin seafood, Sexton’s Seafood Market is worth a visit. It is open from 9 am to 6 pm every day.

46 – Hit the green at Destin’s top golf courses

Emerald Bay Golf, Destin

It’s time to perfect your golf swing at the best courses around town, and for serious golfers, dads and business colleagues, there are a few to take your pick.

Emerald Bay Golf Club is one of the most prestigious golf courses in the region. Positioned on the idyllic shores of Choctawhatchee Bay between Destin and Fort Walton, Emerald Bay has a world-class golf course designed by architect Bob Cupp.

It has a residential community with tennis courts and a swimming pool and is located near to a choice of shopping, dining, and entertainment venues. It recently underwent extensive renovation and features a clubhouse with a professional golf store.

Curving and twisting your way through the surrounding marsh and pine forest landscapes, Raven Golf Club is a multiple-award winning championship course, taking home accolades and titles for best playing course, and more!

The greens and fairways are lined with tall trees, and water features in between lend a calming and relaxing atmosphere at the 18-hole Indian Bayou Golf & Country Club — much appreciated in tense golf rounds. Bring the little kids to the Bayou Golf Academy, or work on improving your own skills with one of the pro instructors.

47 – Be amazed at Maximum Magic

Maximum Magic show, Destin

This award-winning magic show at the Harbor Theater will have the whole family dazzled. A feast of world-class illusions, mindreading and comedy, Maximum Magic will have you questioning your eyes.

This duo won the Merlin award for magic two years in a row and the best entertainers award from the International Magicians Society. Maximum Magic is an action-packed extravaganza, you won’t want to miss.

48 – Relax at Crystal Beach

Crystal Beach, Destin

Crystal Beach is one of many favored spots in Destin. Its rows of picturesque beach homes and colorful cottages give it a comfortable small-town feel.

Near to the popular Destin Commons outdoor shopping center, Crystal Beach is a lively and fun place to be.

With outdoor live music and fun events going on throughout the summer not to mention the picturesque beach itself, Crystal beach is a fun place to stay while you’re in Destin, FL.

49 – Get some retail therapy at Silver Sands Premium Outlet

Silver Sands Premium Outlet, Destin

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Destin, FL an afternoon shopping at the Silver Sands Premium Outlet just might fit the bill. With 110 premier brands represented, you’ll find plenty of options for some retail therapy.

Stores include Saks OFF 5TH, Kate Spade New York, Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren. With a variety of clothing and sportswear, fragrances, home furnishings and dining options too, there’s so much to see at Silver Sands.

50 – Cruise the bay on Mid-Bay Bridge

driving Mid-Bay Bridge in Destin

Mid-Bay Bridge is a mammoth structure that spans 3.6 miles across the Choctawhatchee Bay. The bridge links the community of Niceville, on the north of the bay, with Destin on the south.

It’s not only a convenient and quick route across the Choctawhatchee Bay. The views on the drive across the bridge are also pretty spectacular, giving a 360 panorama of the bay. The bridge is for motor vehicles only.

51 – Grab a round at the best bars

McGuire's Irish Pub, Destin

After city exploring or trekking with children to water parks and arcades, treat yourselves to a well-deserved cold one at Destin’s best bars.

This popular Irish pub offers hearty food, ales, and traditional live music every night. McGuire’s serves a selection of beers that it brews on-site in its own craft brewery. This includes IPAs, stouts, red ales, porters, and seasonal imported beers.

To accompany the ales they serve up a mixture of traditional Irish and American dishes like shepherd’s pie, pot roast, fish and chips, burgers, and steaks. The fun decor is a bonus!

Talk about an extensive bar menu! From the many drafts on tap (like the Dank Side of the Moon IPA, Uncle Dunkel wheat beer or Zombie Killer cider) to hand-crafted cocktails, The Craft Bar is one of Florida’s top gastropubs, with a few locations around the state, including Destin.

Take advantage of the daytime drink specials at Lucky’s Rotten Apple, or arrive in the evenings for a round of pool (with three playing tables available). DJs take to the decks some nights and keep an eye out for any special events/parties like an NYE shindig.

Live out your 2000 cinematic dreams when popping into the Coyote Ugly Saloon! Just as you imagined; dancers strut their stuff on bar tops as they serve shots, there’s beer pong on Thursdays, games night and live DJs on the weekends!

52 – Catch some live music at Club LA

Club LA live music, Destin

For an evening of sweet melodies, grab tickets to Club LA and let the tunes carry you away — because nothing beats live music! As Destin’s premier concert venue, make sure to check out the calendar to see who’s playing here each month.

From megastar names like Bon Jovi and internationally-acclaimed bands such as Red Jumpsuit Apparatus taking to the stage, you might get to finally see your favorite musician in person!

The space also holds tribute concerts to some of the most beloved musical geniuses of the last few decades. Witness a salute to Rod Stewart or a dedication to Pink Floyd instead.

Remember, concerts and shows change monthly, so there is always something new happening here. Within the same complex is Hurricane Lanes bowling alley sporting an impressive 26 lanes to play.

53 – Taste the local crafts at Destin Brewery

Destin Brewery, Florida

The craft brew scene has really come to life in the last few decades — much to the delight of serious beer drinkers. For those that consider themselves beer connoisseurs, embark on an expedition to Destin Brewery and sample some of the tastiest local (award-winning) brews!

Donning an on-site microbrewery, take a sneak peek behind the scenes before visiting the tasting room where it all goes down. As a dedicated tap house, their beers are brewed in small batches, and Florida’s citrus fruits are the keynotes in their beers.

Order one of their flagship crafts and they also produce batches of seasonal and specialty concoctions. On the draft menu expect an array of porters/stouts, Saison, sours, lagers, ales, IPAs and gluten-free hard seltzers,

The atmosphere is laid-back and the staff is highly knowledgeable, who love stopping for a chinwag with customers and to share their insights.

54 – Have fun at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, Destin

The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is an aquarium and research and conservation center. It is home to dolphins, stingrays, alligators, reptiles, sea lions, penguins and turtles. Gulfarium is actually one of the area’s oldest attractions and was first conceived in the mid-50s.

It puts on regular dolphin shows which seek to educate as well as entertain. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is worth checking out if you are looking for fun things to do in Destin.

Where to stay in Destin?

Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, Destin
credit to Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort

When you’re ready to return back to your accommodation after salty, sandy afternoons, ensure the most comfortable stay with these picks of the best hotels and resorts in Destin.

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort offers some of the most peaceful places to relax in the area. Conveniently located near Baytown and its marina and offers a range of beach and watersports, tennis, a fitness center, and a host of excellent local shopping and dining experiences.

Situated on the pristine white beaches of South Walton, the Hilton Sandestin has three pools, four golf courses, a spa, and a wide choice of restaurants and casual dining options.

With direct access (and shuttle service) to a private beach, an incredible rooftop pool and bar, an on-site golf course and a restaurant headed up by a celebrity chef, you’ll never want to leave Hotel Effie Sandestin.

Classy and elegant, Henderson Beach Resort is an ideal pick for either couples or families, and the rich coastal design is well-appointed. Private beach? You bet!

Wake to the sounds of the ocean, then navigate down to the private beach for the day at Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott Destin, and its quality finishes are appreciated.

Do you prefer a stay that’s fully equipped with a kitchenette and living space? Book a suite or studio at the Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin at Grand Boulevard — and guests have access to the outdoor pool and hot tub.

If you’re traveling as a group of friends or family, call Costa Vista Townhomes your home away from home for the next couple of days. Sporting tons of natural woods and coastal white interiors, the stay is pretty and comfy.

There are plenty of options to choose from at TOPS’L Summit VI, whether it’s a suite with ocean views or a three-bedroom apartment.

Where to go next?

Destin is just one small city in the State of Florida, and there are other destinations nearby filled with an explosion of fun activities.

Traveling one hour from Destin, there are many other things to do in nearby Pensacola, and as the first European settlement in the US, it’s steeped in way more history than you could imagine!

Renowned for its year-round fabulous weather and nightlife, Panama City Beach is also a one-hour drive from Destin.

Suitable for a day trip or your next overnight stay, head along the coastline to Orange Beach (1.5 hours from Destin) or Gulf Shores (one hour and 45 minutes from Destin) —and both of these small cities are a 15-minute drive from each other. Plus, both are fishing hotspots that draw in crowds.

Explore even further and visit New Orleans or Birmingham, Alabama. With travel time from Destin clocking in at four hours to reach either place, these major cities are great for a weekend adventure or your next holiday spot!

Final thoughts

Whether you’re planning an epic family vacation to Destin or are seeking some holiday time induced with endless beach days along pristine shores, the Emerald Coast dazzles travelers time and time again.

Are you a Florida regular? If you’ve passed by the seaside city before, what were some of your favorite travel moments or things to do in Destin? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

As always, happy and safe travels!

Benjamin Halliday is a seasoned content writer for TourScanner. Based in the UK, Benjamin's wanderlust has taken him across Europe and the US, with a transformative 7-year sojourn in Portugal adding depth to his tales. Beyond his written words, he's a gifted musician who revels in sampling, creating, and playing enthralling tunes. Whether through captivating articles or mesmerizing music, Benjamin's creations always promise an unforgettable journey.