Staff Picks: Destin & 30A Dive Bars

(a term of endearment) Casual bars where locals go to hang out!

Posted on 10/19/2021

There's more to a beach vacation than simply hanging out on the water. We know, hard to believe, but it's true! Exploring local-favorite restaurants, shops, and other locations is an awesome way to add to your vacation experience.

One fun way to enhance your Emerald Coast getaway is by visiting a local dive bar. A dive bar is a casual bar where locals go to hang out, let loose, and drink together. The term "dive bar" is a term of endearment, and these establishments are often highly sought after for their laidback and low-key vibe.

Our staff works, lives, and plays on the Emerald Coast, so you better believe they know all about the best dive bars in the area. We polled our staff to find out their favorite Destin and 30A dive bars, and this is what they said!

Idyll Hounds

Idyll Hounds 30A

845 Serenoa Rd, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

Located in Santa Rosa Beach, Idyll Hounds Brewing Company is a local brewery with a great atmosphere and creative collection of quality beers. Made from the finest ingredients available, Idyll Hounds prides itself on brewing drinks that everyone from newbies to beer connoisseurs will love. This easy-going dive bar is the favorite for Ivan in Guest Services. He likes Idyll Hounds because "it has small limited indoor seating with all beers on tap. The beer menu changes based on the season. They also have an outdoor area with dimmed string lights with nice portraits on the walls! Don't forget to check out their merch. It's limited and always getting refreshed with new stickers, hats, and more."

Johnny McTighe's Irish Pub

Johnny Mctighes Dive Bar 30A

2298 W County Hwy 30A, Blue Mountain Beach, FL 32459

Johnny McTighe's Irish Pub is a must-visit 30A pub with a lively local feel. This dive bar offers classic bar food and drinks, and makes sure everyone feels welcome. You can enjoy discounted drinks during Happy Hour, which runs Monday through Saturday from 3 pm to 6 pm. The game room has a variety of games, including foosball, air hockey, and more. Cameron in Reservations says that Johnny McTighe's Irish Pub has a "great atmosphere, good people, and great bar food."

Destin Seafood Restaurants

Related article: Staff Picks - Best Destin Seafood Restaurants

Rupert's in Hurricane Lanes

Ruperts Dive Bar Destin

34876 Emerald Coast Pkwy. Destin, FL 32541

Hurricane Lanes is a laidback, non-touristy bowling alley in Destin, where locals like to hang out and get in a few rounds of bowling. Located in the bowling alley is Rupert's Sports Bar, which is another beloved Destin dive bar. Here, you can watch the football game, challenge your friends to pool or ping pong, and enjoy an eight-hour Happy Hour Monday through Friday. Ivan in Guest Services says you should definitely stop by Rupert's after a couple of games of bowling. According to Ivan, locals love Rupert's, and its "long U-Shape bar ensures there is space for everyone to be there and around. The music is always based on the crowd. Whether it's country, rap, or even 70s, anyone can enjoy the tunes. There is a huge selection of bar games. If pool tables and darts aren't enough, Rupert's also provides two ping pong tables and a few standalone arcade machines. Always a great local place to hit up!"

Steamboat Bar & Grill

Steamboat Dive Bar 30A

4942 US-98 #1, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32450 & 4935 E County Hwy 30A, Seagrove Beach, FL 32459

Just off of Highway 98 in Santa Rosa Beach (and off 30A in Seagrove Beach), you'll find another of our staff's favorite dive bars. Steamboat Bar & Grill is a casual tavern with international pub food, fun memorabilia décor, available outdoor seating, and a relaxed atmosphere. Zach in Housekeeping & Maintenance says that Steamboat Bar and Grill is his favorite local spot by far. In Zach's words, "Steamboat is a great little place. Ms. Apple, the bartender, will always take care of you. There is only one pool table and a handful of tables. Also, the Chicken Alfredo is amazing, along with the Fried Pickles."

AJs Grayton

AJ's Grayton Dive Bar 30A

63 Defuniak St, Grayton Beach, FL 32459

AJs Grayton is a well-known little spot in Grayton Beach, and a favorite of locals and visitors. One of a couple of locations on the Emerald Coast, AJs Grayton is a friendly bar with a small-town vibe. It offers fresh seafood, refreshing drinks, live music, and lots of fun all around. According to Richard in Marketing, "AJs is more of a laidback beach bar than a true dive bar, but you can always count on a good time at AJ's in Grayton. There is live music and a fun adult party atmosphere in the evenings."

Chiringo

Chiringo Dive Bar 30A

63 Hotz Ave, Grayton Beach, FL 32459

Another great local dive bar in Grayton Beach is Chiringo. This local establishment is located in Grayton's historic village center, and is a casual beach restaurant and bar with tasty dishes and ice-cold drinks. Richard in Marketing enjoys the low-key vibe, and that it offers "unpretentious and excellent drinks, fun beach bar food, and salty gulf breezes running through. No shirt, no shoes, no problem—just pull up a seat at the outside bar." He also recommends the frozen Billy Ocean drink and the Snapper dip!

Swizzle Stick

Swizzle Stick Bar Okaloosa Island

380 Santa Rosa Blvd, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548

Though not located in Destin, Swizzle Stick can be found on Okaloosa Island just west of Destin. This is another great dive bar and our honorable mention. The vibrantly decorated cocktail bar boasts superb bartenders, creative cocktails, live music, and (of course) adorable swizzle sticks!

In addition to our staff, many of our Ocean Reef guests have come to love a few local places on the coast, as well. Classic guest favorites on the harbor include Red Door Saloon and Boathouse Oyster Bar

Red Door Saloon

Red Door Saloon Destin Dive Bar

240 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 32541

Red Door Saloon provides a full bar, a full menu, indoor and outdoor seating, and an energetic atmosphere. 

Boathouse Oyster Bar

Boathouse Dive Bar Destin

288 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 32541

Boathouse Oyster Bar boasts the slogan "Where Every Hour is Happy Hour," and it is a local favorite spot with fresh oysters, beer, and live music every day.

Would you like to experience Destin and 30A like a local? Check out these staff-favorite dive bars, and get ready for a fun time. Most are located within a short distance from our selection of beach rentals, and it's a great way to make lifelong vacation memories, and maybe even some new friends!

Keep reading: 21 Must-Visit Miramar Beach Bars

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