Destin vs. Daytona Beach

Which Famous Florida Beach is Best for You?

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Destin and Daytona Beach both begin with a “D,” but other than that, they have little in common related to location, beaches, and general ambiance. The “D” for Daytona Beach could easily stand for Daredevil Driving while Destin could stand for Delightful Diversions! Ocean Reef Resorts guests already know that Destin is their favorite! For others who may be considering Daytona Beach for a vacation and have never been to either Florida beach – here is a comparison of the two.

The Locales

Destin is located in the Northwest Florida Panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico – along the famous jewel-toned waters of the aptly named Emerald Coast. Destin itself is quite old, having been established in the 1850s by Captain Leonard Destin. A cornucopia of fish is found here since it has the closest access to deep water fishing on the entire Gulf of Mexico – due to an underwater canyon close offshore. Today it harbors the largest private charter fishing fleet in all of North America, and many visitors take advantage of this treasured locale to experience abundant angling adventures. However, it was only discovered as a dazzling destination for amazing beach vacations in the 1980s. Resort communities, almost a dozen championship golf courses, gated residential neighborhoods, along with enchanting picturesque coastal villages nearby, were wonderfully created, and many of them are less than twenty years old. Southern Living Magazine has repeatedly named Destin as the top location for family beach vacations.

Daytona Beach is located on the Atlantic Ocean and is primarily inland, but a twenty-three mile stretch of shore is located on a barrier island on the other side of the Halifax River. It has an urban look since rows of high rise hotels, condominiums, and some resorts line the beach. Although Daytona Beach has about 70,000 people, the urban metropolitan area adjoining it stands at about 600,000. Dark parchment colored sand is hard-packed, so they allow cars to drive on certain portions of the coast during the day. The Atlantic Ocean is a dull grayish-green color, and the waves can be quite high. The beach features a fun boardwalk with a long pier for fishing, the Ocean Walk Shoppes for retail gifts, clothiers and souvenirs, snack bars, restaurants, bars, along with a classic arcade. A bandshell promotes seasonal concerts and fireworks. A “Screamer’s Park features a popular, exhilarating Sling Shot ride. There is also a shopping mall, the Riverfront Shops at Daytona Beach, and a Tanger Outlet for discount shopping. It has three public golf courses.

How to Get There

Destin is considered mostly a “drive to” destination due to its relatively close proximity to major cities throughout the southeast. For example, Atlanta is only about six hours away, so most visitors drive down for their beach vacations. However, two major airports serve the Destin area, which include the Destin-Ft. Walton Airport (VPS) that is only a thirty-minute drive and Northwest Florida Beaches International in Panama City Beach, about forty minutes away. Destin also has a small airport for private Leer jets and commuter flights from Atlanta. VPS is served by Allegiant, Delta, United, and Southwest Airlines. Non-stop travel is available to Destin from thirty-seven cities (especially on Allegiant Airlines), including Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore/Washington Airport, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Knoxville, Louisville, Memphis, Newark/New York, and Orlando to name a few. Northwest Florida Beaches International in Panama City is served by the same airlines with non-stops from Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Nashville, St. Louis, and Washington DC.

Daytona Beach is mostly a fly-to destination since it is almost 100 miles south of Jacksonville, Florida, at the Georgia state line and 265 miles north of Miami. The Daytona Beach International Airport is served by Delta, American Silver Airways, and Jet Blue with non-stop flights from Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, and New York City. International flights are connected mostly through Atlanta.

Destin’s Delightful Diversions

Destin Florida Beach

Destin extends from the town itself 47 miles eastward through Miramar Beach and across South Walton along Scenic 30A into Panama City Beach. The location on a long wide peninsula nestled between the open Gulf and wide expanse of Choctawhatchee Bay. It resembles an offshore island. A sugar white beach on the shore is wooded along Scenic 30A with thousands of acres of preserved state forests and beach parks. Rare precious forested coastal dune lakes, which are found hardly anywhere else in the world, provide a treasured natural habitat for a wide array of fish and abundant wildlife due to a magical mixture of salted fresh water.

The shimmering sugary shoreline is composed of pure white quartz crystal shaved off Appalachian mountain tops during the last Ice Age and ground into a powdery form through over twelve thousand years of tidal action. The reflective qualities are brilliantly bright, so sunglasses are needed, and sunlight in the clear gulf waters illuminate natural microscopic plankton – creating a dazzling jewel-toned glow. Seventeen miles along Scenic 30A have Blue Wave Beach status, which is the nation’s highest acclaim of excellence based upon environmental studies related to cleanliness and natural beauty.

Destin also features many championship golf courses, gorgeous lushly landscaped resorts, shopping venues, dining establishments, fishing adventures, water recreation, outdoor concerts, and fun festivals.

HarborWalk Village on the bustling Destin fishing marina along with the enchanting New Orleans French Quarter styled Village of Baytowne Wharf and swank Grand Boulevard at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach also offer delightful diversions. They feature a wide variety of wonderful restaurants, friendly bars, retail shops, family amusements, free concerts, fun festivals, and seasonal firework displays. Ocean Reef guests receive special reduced rates for golf, pontoon boat rentals, watercraft, sunset dinner cruises, boat sightseeing tours, fishing, miniature golf, and a giant waterpark.

Shopping is a popular pastime at the Disneyesque Destin Commons retail complex that is adorned with Royal Palms and fountains. It features fine clothiers, specialty shops, fashion boutiques, restaurants, bars, and an AMC Multiplex Theater. One of the nation’s largest Discount Designer centers known as the Silver Sands Premium Outlets in Miramar Beach attracts millions of shoppers every year with over 100 well-known world-class stores providing fashion bargains with up to 80% off.

Daytona’s Dare Devil Driving

Daytona Beach Florida

Besides being able to drive right on the hard-packed shore, Daytona Beach is famous for race cars. The famous Daytona International Speedway is located here. Each year one hundred thousand people descend here from all over to watch the Daytona 500. The famous Daytona 500 started back in 1959 and is the most prestigious important race on the NASCAR Cup Series, offering the largest winning award. It is the final event in Speedweeks, which occurs in February. It is known as the “Super Bowl of stock car racing” with more television viewers than any other, including the Indianapolis 500. The Coke Zero Sugar 400, The Coca Cola 250, multiple NASCAR Races, and a Biketoberfest with motorcyclists compete also compete here at other times of the year. There is also an interesting “Living Legends of Auto Racing” Museum on site.        

If you have joined many others to pick Destin as your favorite Florida beach destination, enjoy taking a look here on our Ocean Reef Resorts website. You will see vivid imagery of the Destin area, detailed property descriptions, individual pictures of vacation rentals offered, satellite views of each location, seasonal rental rates, and calendar dates available for reservations. You’ll be glad you did!