Wow, can you feel that? Vacation: Loading. We know you can't wait to get here to Destin or 30A, almost as much as we can't wait to have you! Rather than wasting your time sitting in the Silver Sands parking lot or driving in circles around Sandestin, here are some fun, dare we say awesome, ways to burn daylight in the unlikely event that you and your kinfolk find yourselves here on our shores before your little slice of paradise (aka your vacation rental) has become available to occupy.
Before we drop this knowledge bomb of activities on you, we have a few important ground rules to get out of the way. The essential don'ts of the check-in process, if you will, real basics, just to free you up for the good stuff. First out, if you are early, know we will text you as soon as your property is ready. Between stays, we are consistently cleaning and inspecting properties at a high rate of speed. Arriving before they've been cleared to do so will most likely result in a delay of a vacationer's arrival time, counterintuitive as it may seem. If your property is available earlier, we will most definitely let you know, because, well, we aim to please. Second, our standard check-in time starts at 4 PM; if you arrive after this time, you may go directly to the property. Finally, don't buy groceries until you are checked-in. Doing so may result in, brace yourself, melted ice cream.
Blame it on your new Tesla, your lead foot, or most likely your last conversation with your mother-in-law; you've found yourself at the beach a few, gulp, hours(!) ahead of schedule. Now that you know the ground rules, let's get a little more specific with a few fun, paid things to do while you wait, you 'ol money bags, you. For two crisp 'bills, you can rent a pontoon boat with La Dolce Vita and hit the blue-green harbor for a few hours, or for a similar spend, drive your family of 8, in go-carts around a figure eight, at The Track. Renting bikes by the hour is a perfect pick as well. Pro-tip: try the Pedegos - they're electric-powered bikes that can cover 3x as much ground, designed with the beach in mind. If you're looking for some indoor fun, try shopping at the numerous surf shops in Destin. They have everything you may have forgot to bring to the shore as well as some fun surprises and will keep your crew occupied for anywhere from one half to two hours.
Next on the list is food. With most homes ready for check-in at 4 PM, hitting up the local bar & grill is very much on order. There are tons of great places to stop for a nosh along the shore. In Destin, try ∫ or Kenny D's for some fried shrimp and umbrella drinks. On the east side of town, near Gulf Place, visit Local Catch, or if you are out past Seagrove, stop in Old Florida Fish House for some of the tastiest fare around. Come to the beach hungry, and you won't be disappointed.
Related article: Best Destin Seafood Restaurants
Moving right along, pun intended, we have the art of walking. You may vaguely remember that thing you could do before you got on the interstate all those hours ago. Destin and 30A are some of the most pedestrian-friendly places on the planet. Starting in the west, we have HarborWalk Village - it's right in the name. This place is perfect for people-watching; you'll see some real characters down here where the charter-fishing crowd mixes with the general public and the crunchier beach-goers. Just a few minutes east, you'll hit Crystal Beach and, more specifically, Scenic Highway 98. This slow two-lane beach highway winds its way along the shore, punctuated by quaint little places to stop for coffee and to see impossibly epic sunsets. Continuing east, we hit Baytowne Wharf, a fun New Orleans-inspired enclave in the heart of Sandestin. Just a few steps away, we come to Grand Boulevard, where bougie shops are plentiful. Snacks and appetizers here are prepared by the likes of Emeril Lagasse. If 30A is your property's location, you should consider stopping by Gulf Place for a big open green space or Seaside, Florida, a town so synonymous with walking it's in the very design of the place.
Are you still stumped for things to do while you wait? We saved the best for last. You can walk on it, eat on it, drink on it and even reflect on it. How can we make this more simple? Go to the beach, silly. It's the reason we are all here, after all. The pure white sand and soothing emerald green waves of the Gulf will calm even the most road enraged traveler. Just park at one of the many public accesses and relax; nature does the rest. There is a multitude of public beach access in South Walton, just off 30A. In Destin, you may end up paying a few dollars to park, but you'll be just a step or two away from the shore. Pro-tip: bring a bathing suit separate from your packed clothes so you can make the quick change and go for a dip. The calm Caribbean waters are naturally soothing.
So there you have it - when you arrive early, take a page out of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Destin & 30A Universe and "Don't Panic." We can't wait for you to be all checked-in, unpacked with your toes in the sand - but until you are we hope you enjoy every minute here at the beach!