Since the summer of 2005, I’ve been visiting Destin, Florida with my husband. The beautiful panhandle town is where his family has vacationed for years, so he had to share the white beaches, crystal blue ocean, and delicious seafood with the love of his life, right? If you’re looking to take a trip to Destin, here in my Destin Florida Travel Guide.
When do you visit Destin?
The best time to visit Destin is in late spring (April-May) or late summer (Aug-Sept) because it is least crowded and the weather is beautiful. We usually end up in Destin during June/July and it can be very hot, humid, and overpopulated. My favorite time to visit Destin is before/after the crowds go on vacation. Since school is in session in the South during the beginning of May or end of August, there aren’t that many people at the beach.
Where do you stay in Destin?
There are two parts to Destin – Sandestin and Destin. Sandestin is the resort side of eastern Destin, with upscale shops and restaurants, close to Seaside, while the rest of Destin is more laid back and usually populated. My family always stays in Sandestin as we prefer the proximity to Baytowne Wharf (a popular attraction).
If you want to stay at a resort in Sandestin, I recommend the Hilton. If you want to rent a condo/house in Sandestin, we usually use VRBO or AirBNB. My family and I have found condos through Destin Memories and homes through Frangista Beach Properties. I would consider how long you plan to stay in Destin and how many people you’ll be vacationing with before you decide between a condo and a house. There are some homes in Destin for rent that sleep 20 guests! We just stayed comfortably in a house for 16.
What do you do in Destin?
Go to the beach!
There are many places in Destin where you can pay for beach activities: paddle boarding, banana boat rides, parasailing, jet skiing, etc. There are boat rentals, dolphin sightseeing tours, and more.
If you’re visiting during the off season (aka when it isn’t extremely crowded), head to Big Kahunas, any of the outdoor shopping centers – Baytowne Wharf, The Shoppes at Destin, Destin Commons, or Silver Sands Premium Outlets.
Where do you eat in Destin?
The Crab Trap – Amazing Crab Legs, Oysters, and Gumbo! This beachfront restaurant is especially fun for families since there’s a playground on
the beach. We never visit Destin without eating at The Crab Trap.
Barefoot’s Beachside Bar and Grill at the Hilton – The Blackened Grouper sandwich or salad is a meal I must have when I visit Destin. We also love their nachos, peel and eat shrimp and chicken tenders.
The Red Bar – One of our most favorite restaurants, this hole in the wall is actually located in Grayton Beach, about 20 minutes from Sandestin. They only take cash or credit, there’s usually a wait, and the menu is short – but every penny and second spent there is worth it. I recommend trying anything on the chalkboard menu – the crab cakes are out of this world (and only served on Fri and Sat).
Cantina Laredo – If you’re craving modern Mexican at the beach, this spot is perfect for just that. You can order traditional items like guacamole
made table side, creamy queso, or sizzling fajitas, or fresh salmon with chimichurri sauce.
The Donut Hole – Donuts at the beach? Be careful because there is usually a line to take out their delicious breakfast sweets or even to sit down for a meal.
Another Broken Egg Cafe – There are a few locations around Destin and we always visit for brunch. The Bloody Mary is SO good, as well as their omelettes (think crawfish or lobster!).
Roberto’s – We always order a pizza from Roberto’s when we’re in Destin! Located in Baytowne, they call themselves a sports bar and serve everything from pizza to calzones to burgers and beer. If you’re within a 3 mile radius, they deliver too.
The Whale’s Tale – Great beach bar with delicious drinks and easy tasty beach food.
Cook at HOME! – Save time and money cooking at your rental.
How do you get to Destin?
When we lived in the South, it was easy to drive to Destin overnight. Now that we reside in New England, we fly into Panama City, Florida, which is about 45 minutes away from Destin. The airport is fairly new and easy to get in/out of. There is also an airport in Fort Walton, but it is cheaper to fly from Hartford, CT to Panama City on Delta or Southwest.