It is (always) time for a beach vacation!
With its pure white sands, sparkling waves, and the radiant Florida sun warming its picturesque beaches, Destin is the vacation destination that heaven itself dreams of. Anyone who loves the coast will find themselves at ease relaxing in this perfect paradise. Sunbathing, building sandcastles, skimming the waves, and enjoying the views are just a few activities that make a Destin holiday great. Besides the beach, Destin offers a variety of restaurants, bars, and coastal experiences to encourage tourists to enrich their trip.
Of course, planning a Destin vacation does not mean you can only hang out in Destin the whole time. Though not actually in Destin, places like 30A, Baytowne Wharf, Crab Island, Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier, the Gulfarium, and Silver Sands are located in the surrounding area and are certainly worth visiting. These spots are a quick drive away when you book your stay in the heart of Destin, making it easy for you to make the most of your Emerald Coast visit.
Scenic Highway 30A is a ribbon of pristine coastline between Destin and Panama City Beach that boasts the same gorgeous beaches as Destin, but with a small-town feel. This stretch of land is characterized by its beaches and the cute coastal towns that are scattered all along the way, from funky Grayton Beach to world-renowned Seaside to upscale Rosemary Beach. 30A is walkable and pedestrian friendly, meaning travelers can ditch their cars in favor of their own two feet or a bike to explore this fun area.
30A is where vacationers come to relax. To bask in the relaxed atmosphere, to take life a little more slowly. Outdoor activities such as kayaking or paddle boarding on the dune lakes, biking the miles of nature trails, or strolling on the beach are only the tip of the sand dune (no icebergs here)! Each beach town also radiates its own unique personality through its variety of art galleries, boutiques, wine bars and restaurants, and seasonal events and festivals. When you want to get away from the slightly busier feel of Destin, 30A is a nice breath of fresh air.
The Village of Baytowne Wharf is located in Sandestin along the Choctawhatchee Bay, just north of the pristine Gulf Coast beaches. With its collection of shops, eating locales, galleries, and festivals, Baytowne Wharf feels like an entire world unto itself. This hotspot of fun is great for kids and adults alike. For the kids, there is the Adventure Land Playground, Adventure Zone, Blast Arcade & Laser Maze, a carousel, and other activities that provide hours of excitement. Adults will enjoy the nightlife, and should check out the daiquiri bar, nightclub, and other nighttime fun. The village also keeps visitors entertained with unique events and activities that can be found on the monthly calendar. If you are looking for a different setting than the saltwater coast, the Village of Baytwone Wharf is the perfect stop.
Though many people think of Destin when they picture Crab Island, this watery oasis is not technically in Destin. It is located just off the shore of the coast and at the entrance of the Choctawhatchee Bay, and its name is a little misleading. Crab Island used to be an actual island, but years of erosion transformed it into a sandbar perched just below the surface of shallow, emerald water. Now, this underwater sandbar is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, who get there by boat, kayaking, or paddle boarding. With so much to do, once you arrive you will never want to leave. Activities include soaking up the sun from your boat, snorkeling, eating at one of the mobile vendors, watching kids play on the inflatable obstacle courses, and listening to live music from the floating stage. There is something for everyone at Crab Island, and it is a great way to escape dry land for a day!
Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier
Take a break from the beachgoing crowds in Destin and head to Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier to spend some time with your underwater friends. The pier features an octagon platform at the end to increase the fishing area, making it easy for anglers to catch some fish right from the pier. And not just any fish – big fish – including tarpon, tuna, king mackerel, and more. The tackle shop boasts everything you need to have your best day of fishing ever.
Located in Fort Walton Beach, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park was created to help educate the public about wildlife and the importance of conservation efforts through entertainment and interactive experiences with marine life. This is a great opportunity place an educational spin on your vacation. Activities include dolphin and sea lion shows, animal chats, unique animal exhibits, and other educational fun. You will leave the Gulfarium with an increased understanding of current research and conservation efforts, and feel inspired to do your part to help preserve this incredible environment.
Escape the sand and the sun for a few hours – it is shopping time! Silver Sands Premium Outlets is a world-renowned outlet mall with discount shopping for over 100 designer and name-brand stores. Stores include Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Kate Spade New York, Nike, Oakley, and so many more. Shop for holiday and birthday gifts, or just treat yourself! Not only can you score amazing deals, you will also create vacation memories with your family and friends. When you need a shopping breather and to rest your feet, there are a number of eating options, from sit-down eateries to grab-and-go restaurants. After that, you will be ready to get back out there and shop ‘til you drop!
Planning an Emerald Coast vacation? Don’t forget to visit these awesome locations that are near Destin, but not actually in Destin. These experiences will enhance your trip, guaranteed. If you haven’t booked your stay yet, we recommend you get started. We will help you plan a vacation you will never forget!