“It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you be of good cheer. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
Yes, just like the song says, it is indeed the most wonderful time of year again, and it’s rapidly approaching… Christmas! This also happens to be quite a lovely time to visit Destin, Miramar Beach and the picturesque coastal villages along Scenic 30A in South Walton. Savvy visitors also know that it also coincides with some of the lowest vacation rental rates of the year, so there is lots to celebrate. Seasonal festivals abound with twinkling lights, Christmas carols, holiday concerts, and charmed gatherings. The crystal sparkling white sandy beaches can help put you in the mood, and some people even refer to it as “summer snow.” Still, it’s not the frigid, icy cold variety! Temperatures are way too temperate for that since they usually hover near 70 during the day and 50s at night. It is also the “season of giving” as people shop for gifts for beloved family members and close friends. Here are four favorite Destin Christmas shopping venues where you can get something for everyone on Santa’s list.
1. Destin Commons
Destin Commons has been named as the most popular shopping destination for several years by readers of Emerald Coast Magazine. This expansive Disneyesque shopping village includes a Bass Pro Shops, Belk’s Department Store, a wide variety of clothing boutiques, specialty stores, dining establishments, bars, and a multiplex movie theater for entertainment. It is pedestrian and family-friendly. The tall turrets festooned with twirling colorful flags, plaza squares, and fountains make it resemble a fairy tale village from somewhere in Europe. Festivities kicked off here on Friday, November 22nd. Happy holiday tunes filled the air on outdoor surround sound systems. Face painting, as well as photos with a snowman and reindeer, were available for fun. At 7:00 pm, a big Christmas parade marched right down the main street to welcome Santa’s early arrival. He lit the lavish 50-foot tall Christmas tree with lots of countdown fanfare. The Sinfonia Brass Quartet played, and the Grand Finale included a fireworks extravaganza.
2. Silver Sands Premium Outlets
Bargains galore are available for Christmas shoppers at Silver Sands in Destin's Miramar Beach, which is one of the largest discount designer outlets in the entire nation. Millions of people from throughout the southeast and other parts of the country make it an annual tradition to shop here at one time or another. It is a "Who's Who" of American and international fashion designers for men's, women's and kid's clothing, fancy footwear, coveted handbags, jewelry, perfumes, and specialty items. Since prices are up to 65% off of what you would pay elsewhere, it has become a must-visit shopping destination. The Christmas shopping season is particularly humongous, so make sure you arrive early to find a parking space and "shop till you drop." You might even consider taking an Uber for transportation to avoid the hassle of parking. There is rest for weary feet however, since there are many restaurants nearby. Stores will open the day before the traditional "Black Friday" holiday shopping kickoff at 6:00 pm Thanksgiving evening till 2 am. On Friday, November 29th, it will reopen at 6:00 am to 10 pm. Saturday it will be from 8:00 am to 10 pm then on Sunday it is open from 9 am to 8 pm. Regular hours otherwise are 10:00 am to 9 pm.
3. Grand Boulevard
A short distance away from Silver Sands, you will find the upscale town center of Sandestin, known as Grand Boulevard. It is a distinctive destination that serves as an enchanting casual place to shop with streetscapes lush landscaping, tropical plantings, an intimate park with a green lawn, and geyser fountains. There are nationally renowned clothing shops for men and women, specialty boutiques, galleries, and gift shops. Restaurants and bars are all along the boulevard, including Another Broken Egg Café, Cantina Laredo, The Craft Bar, Flemings Steakhouse, Kilwin's Chocolates, P.F. Changs, Vintij, Tommy Bahama's, Emeril's Coastal Italian, and The Wine Bar. The Grand Boulevard Theater is open daily for entertainment, and the Emerald Coast Theater has performances from December 12th through December 22nd, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sunday Matinees at 2:00 pm. Charities compete with decorated Christmas trees on the lawn, which goes up just before Thanksgiving and stays up until December 25th. Shoppers get to vote for their favorite tree. The winning tree receives a cash reward for its own listed charity. A very jolly Santa will be on hand for free photo ops every Saturday from 2:00 till 3:00 pm from November 30th till December 21st.
4. Merchants of Seaside
The charming golden Americana styled town of Seaside received international recognition as a picture-perfect and pedestrian-friendly coastal village when it began in the 1980s. It includes a diverse collection of shops, galleries, boutiques, and restaurants centered upon a town green across the street from the gorgeous gulf. Bohemian outfits, stylish casual clothing, and souvenir gift items may be found at the outdoor beachside bazaar. Designer jewelry, pearl necklaces, perfumes, fun stocking stuffers, objects de art, books, and even vinyl records are found at other specialty shops. Restaurants include the Great Southern Café, the famous Bud n Alley's to watch dinner sunsets over the gulf, The Shrimp Shack, and multiple eateries in gleaming Airstream Trailers around the central green. An outdoor amphitheater has an arc of towering palm trees filled with glistening white lights and a tall Christmas tree. Shops are decorated with festive wreaths and garlands. Seaside was recently featured in Southern Living Magazine with holiday visitation described as "being in a Norman Rockwell painting." The annual holiday festivities begin after Thanksgiving on November 30th with the annual "Turn on the Town" celebration, which includes a Christmas Parade, the arrival of Santa, and lighting of the tree at the amphitheater.
Get excited and make your plans now to enjoy a unique, magical, memorable Destin Christmas Holiday Shopping experience and have lots of fun at the same time. It is definitely "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"!