Ah Thanksgiving, that honored holiday tradition, time to share feasts and fun with family members. I’ll have equal helpings of awkward and calories please. These days some like to selectively celebrate with their “chosen family”. Those close friends from childhood, school or work that sort of “get it.” The conversations can be way more theme specific and interesting, and there are strictly no weird vegetables. Friendsgiving happens when you make plans for Thanksgiving and the following long weekend that don’t specifically include your great Uncle Paul. Traditional camaraderie is still alive and strong in “Friendsgiving.” It’s a judgment-free zone. The Emerald Coast is the perfect place to spend the holidays. Here are some Destin centric “Friendsgiving” activities for your frolicsome, fun turkey day.
1. Dining Out: Seafood Beats Poultry
The Destin area is world renowned for our fish. The area features almost 80 restaurants with Seafood, Cajun, Caribbean, French, Italian, Mexican, Greek, Mediterranean, Barbeque and Southern-styled food. All that beg one hard question: “where would you like to eat?” Many restaurants and bars are located in or around the Destin Marina in Harborwalk Village, upscale Grand Boulevard as well as the charming Village of Baytowne Wharf at the Sandestin Resort. Almost a dozen beachfront restaurants are nestled along Scenic Gulf Drive in Miramar Beach and adjoining Scenic Highway 98 in Destin. If you’re lucky enough to be here, please don’t limit yourself to turkey.
2. Spa Day All Day – Don’t Discount Yourself
Why punish yourself with a half hour massage, you’re teasing yourself and only scratching the surface. We recommend spending at least half a day with your pals at one or more of the many specialty spas located in Destin and Miramar Beach. Three top-rated spas include Serenity by the Sea, Salamander Spa, and Avantgarde Salon & Spa.
3. Sport Fishing – Reel Fun for Real People
Destin was founded upon a flourishing fishing industry over 150 years ago and now boasts harboring the largest private charter fishing fleet in the nation. It’s the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” for good reason. The proximity to a deep underwater canyon places it enviously close to deep water fishing in the gulf while the bay provides additional opportunity for angling adventures. Nature abounds with Amber Jack, Cobia, Flounder, Grouper, King Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Pompano, Red Fish, Sea Trout, Sheep Head, Snapper, Spanish Mackerel, Scamp, Shark, Tarpon and Trigger Fish. Trophy fish include Swordfish, Sailfish, Mako Sharks and Blue Marlin. Ocean Reef Resorts guests received reduced rates on fishing boats with experienced captains as well as rentals on individual watercraft.<.p>
4. Shopping – Get More for Less
Thanksgiving is a great time hunt for deals at the Silver Sands Premium Outlets, near Sandestin. It’s one of the largest designer discount centers in America with over 110 famous name brand stores to choose from. World-class goods and clothing are available at bargain prices. Upscale shops, boutiques, and galleries are located at Sandestin’s town center of Grand Boulevard. Destin Commons near the Mid Bay Bridge Road is a “premier regional lifestyle center” and voted the most popular shopping destination in town. The 500,000 square foot pedestrian friendly center resembles a charming Mediterranean village with flag topped turrets, a clock tower, a fountain plaza, and soaring tropical palms. It features clothing boutiques, a Belk’s Department store, a Bass Pro Shop, restaurants, bars, and a multiplex theater.
5. Bar Hopping on the Harbor
Harborwalk Village is the heart of Destin with the bustling marina as its hub. Lots of delightful diversions are found there including friendly bars with live music, waterfront restaurants, and abundant amusements. Fantastic fireworks occur weekly during the summer along with Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and New Year's Eve. Harborwalk is a special destination for fun festivals throughout the year. During the autumn months, College GameDay Parties are held at the Crab Island Cantina and Charlie’s Burger Bar that overlooks the western waters at the Destin Bridge, the iconic Harry T’s Lighthouse on the harbor, Jackacuda’s Seafood & Sushi and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. You can dance the night away at the famous AJ’s Oyster Bar and Restaurant while overlooking Destin’s harbor from a giant Tiki Hut which features rollicking live bands 365 nights per year. Right across from Harborwalk Village, McGuire’s Irish Pub has great food and handcrafted brews. Their motto is “Feasting, Imbibery and Debauchery” so you’re sure to have fun!
6. Golf – Fun in the Sun
Destin features fairway fun at many championship golf courses. Ocean Reef Resorts guests receive complimentary discounts at Seascape and Emerald Bay in Miramar Beach. Seascape is a 71 par course designed by golf architect Joe Lee with gulf views along with a forested terrain and an exotic coastal dune lake. The Emerald Bay Club by golf course designer Bob Cupp is a 72 par course within a gated community on Choctawhatchee Bay. Two-thirds of the holes have water obstacles and the back nine spans along the shoreline with breathtaking views. Sandestin has three courses open to the public that have all received top ratings in Golf Digest. They include the fabulous Raven course by Robert Trent Jones along with the Baytowne and Links courses designed by Tom Jackson. Baytowne is conveniently located near the heart of the charming village located there. The Links course water features on all but four fairways and five holes stretch along the bay. Three courses in Destin off the Emerald Coast Parkway include the original Indian Bayou Country Club with 27 holes of beautifully manicured play, the Fred Couples course at Kelly Plantation with expansive rolling greens set among old forested areas and the award-winning Regatta Bay Club by Robert Walker is set beside lakes and marshlands near the shore.
7. Beach It – Get Sandy Together
The beach is what brings you to Destin in the first place, and you may actually take a brave brisk swim up until Thanksgiving. The warm sunny days inspire a good time regardless and this time of year coincides with spectacular sunsets that sink right into the gulf. Services can be provided for beach bonfires with permitted set ups and clean ups. Many of our Ocean Reef vacation rentals include big beach homes so you may enjoy this heavenly experience from your own sugary shore, deck or balcony. Some include a heated pool, making your beach “Friendsgiving” absolutely perfect.
Take time now to pick your favorite and remember Friendsgiving is just like Thanksgiving without the drama. Lucky for you it may be celebrated all year long!