Thanksgiving in Destin and The Emerald Coast

Everything You Need To Know About Turkey Day @ The Beach

Posted on 10/22/2021

The season of gratitude is fast approaching! While we're thankful for beach living and countless blessings every day, Thanksgiving is a great reminder to remember everything there is to be grateful for. For many, Thanksgiving is a time to get together with loved ones and celebrate our biggest blessing—friends, family, and friends who are family. And there's no better way to celebrate and give gratitude than by spending this special season on Destin's Emerald Coast!

Here along this gorgeous stretch of shoreline, Ocean Reef welcomes any and all who venture to Destin for this annual, traditional celebration. This time of year at the beach coincides with warm, sunny days and smaller crowds - making for a fun and relaxed fall excursion.

The Thanksgiving routine in Destin usually goes something like this: Eat and drink. Go to the beach. Feast. Spend some time golfing, boating, fishing, shopping, or playing tennis. Eat and drink some more. Not a bad routine, if we say so ourselves!

Because feasting is the biggest part of any Thanksgiving celebration, no matter where you are, you will love the fact that our private Destin vacation rentals often come with large dining rooms and fully equipped kitchens. This makes cooking up a delicious, home-cooked meal easy as pie—pumpkin pie, that is! And if you'd rather order out for your big feast, the spacious dining and living areas are perfect for enjoying a tasty meal and the company of your family and friends. Whether you're looking for a beachside mansion, charming cottage, or luxury Gulf-front condo, we have rental options to meet your specific holiday needs.

No matter how you decide to celebrate, one of the best parts about having an Emerald Coast Thanksgiving is having that "home away from home" feeling. Want to cook your feast from scratch? You can do it! Want to order a meal to prepare or serve at your vacation rental? You can do that, too! Would you rather dine out with your loved ones at a popular Gulf Coast restaurant? That's a great option, as well.

We simply want you to have a good time and a memorable experience while you're here on the shore. That's why we've put together everything you need to know about Turkey Day at the beach. Check it out!

Homecooked Meals from Sarah Ks

If you do want to cook, you can pick up prepared gourmet entrees from Sarah Ks Gourmet. They do all the prep work and have a wide variety of delicious food. Seriously, the food is amazing, and you don't even have to take our word for it—Sarah Ks has won the Best of the Emerald Coast Award every year since it opened 19 years ago. These ready-to-cook Thanksgiving dishes take about twenty minutes to bake in the oven and are by far the easiest Thanksgiving dinner you'll ever make. Be sure to try the half-pound award-winning Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes. As an Ocean Reef guest, if you order four or more crab cakes, you get a complimentary bottle of champagne. And who can say no to complimentary champagne?

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Free Charity Dinner at Harbor Docks Restaurant

There's no better way to celebrate the season of Thanksgiving than by giving to others. Every year for more than 25 years, Harbor Docks Restaurant hosts a free Thanksgiving dinner. Volunteers provide the meal free of charge for anyone who comes in; however, donations are requested and highly encouraged. Donations go to the Habitat for Humanity and Destin Harvest. Over the years, this event has raised tens of thousands of dollars. When you attend, not only do you get a delicious meal with loved ones, you also get the privilege of giving back to others! Meals begin at 11 am on Thanksgiving morning and are served until 7 pm.

Thanksgiving Buffet Dinner Cruise on the Solaris

For a nautical, memorable feast, check out the Thanksgiving Buffet Dinner Cruise on the Solaris Yacht, which is anchored at the Village of Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin. This 5,300 square-foot, three-tiered yacht, complete with an open-sky deck, boards at 10:45 am on Thanksgiving Day for an 11:30 am launch. The two-hour Bay Buffet Cruise includes herb-roasted turkey with giblet gravy and bourbon-maple glazed ham, along with delicious side dishes and desserts. Another Thanksgiving cruise boards at 5:15 pm and launches at 6:00 pm. A full bar is available for drinks upon boarding, with a buffet starting thirty minutes later. Online reservations run about $80 for adults, $50 for kids, and $30 for infants under 3. Also, don't forget—Ocean Reef Resorts guests receive a 20% discount on regular dinner cruises. So, if you like this, go back again for one of their sunset cruises!

Dine Out at Popular Restaurants

In addition to charitable feasts and buffet dinner cruises, Destin and the surrounding areas have a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. You can find great seafood, steaks, Mexican, Asian, Italian, and more. For some really great options, check out the charming Village of Baytowne Wharf, the chic Grand Boulevard in Sandestin, the award-winning Destin Commons near the Mid Bay Bridge in "new" Destin, the picturesque HarborWalk Village in "old" Destin, or Pier Park in Panama City Beach. Then there are always the restaurants on Scenic Gulf Drive or Scenic 30A in the Beaches of South Walton. Lots of decisions, but you can't go wrong!

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Black Friday Shopping in Destin

Is Black Friday shopping one of your Thanksgiving traditions? We love it because huge discounts mean it's the perfect time to buy Christmas gifts. And with a large number of premium shopping centers, cute beach boutiques, and local shops in the area, you're bound to find something unique for your loved ones. In addition to Baytowne Wharf, Grand Boulevard, the Destin Commons, and HarborWalk Village, another star attraction for Black Friday is Silver Sands Premium Outlets in Miramar Beach. As one of the largest designer discount outlets in the nation, Silver Sands has over 100 designer and name-brand stores. Doors open at 6 pm on Thanksgiving, and you can shop Black Friday discounts for adult and kid's clothing, shoes, leather goods, linens, sheets and towels, crystal, china, jewelry, colognes, candles, soaps, kitchenware, and more. Free Christmas concerts are held beneath a forty-foot tree near the Off Saks Fifth Avenue courtyard. Christmas carols play choreographed music to an ever-changing display of over 70,000 red, green, and white holidays on the sparkling tree. Black Friday on the Emerald Coast is truly an experience to remember!

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Local Destin Thanksgiving Activities

Besides eating and shopping, there are other fun local events and activities to check out during your Thanksgiving getaway. Some of these include:

  • Festival of Trees Kickoff—The Festival of Trees at Grand Boulevard kicks off at the end of November. Trees are decorated by local charity groups, and the public votes for their favorite.
  • Grand Boulevard Farmer's Market—On Saturday, check out the popular farmer's market at Grand Boulevard, which hosts a cornucopia of culinary goodies like honey, preserves, jellies, organic soaps, lotions, potions, artisan bread, baked treats, dips, juices, local farm produce.
  • Beerunch at Destin's World of Beer—Enjoy a mouthwatering brunch at a weekend Beerunch at Destin's World of Beer. They offer bottomless Bloody Mary's and their special "Beermosas."
  • Meet Santa at HarborWalk Village—Santa will visit with youngsters at HarborWalk Village on Destin's Harbor at the end of November. Great time for the kiddos to tell Santa what they want for Christmas!
  • Discounted Golf—Ocean Reef guests can celebrate the Thanksgiving season discounted golf at Seascape and Emerald Bay in Miramar Beach.

Are you planning a Turkey Day celebration on Destin's Emerald Coast this year? This guide should help you plan the best Thanksgiving getaway you've had so far. No matter how you choose to celebrate during your stay with us, we wish you an annual beach tradition filled with fun family memories, friendship, and many blessings!

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