ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Best Attractions and Activities for Vacations and Travel In Destin, Florida

Updated on May 12, 2013

Attractions Are Expanding

Destin, Florida and much of the Florida Panhandle and nearby Emerald Coast experienced a business decline in 2010 after the BP Oil rig disaster that spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. However, in later 2011, many hotels and resorts bounced back and reported increased visitors. One, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort just east of Destin is expanding, with a Ferris wheel, video game arcade, and a larger marina in 2012 (Reference, the Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2012). This report is enormous and includes a village inside: the Village of Baytowne Wharf, Sandestin.

The village within the report is a mixed use property that contains condominiums and other vacation rentals set conveniently close to boutiques and other shops in a color coordinated community. It also sits near the Choctawhatchee Bay, where many water activities can keep adults and children entertained. The village supports many forms of food service that include catering, fine and casual dining, and coffee boutiques. For adults, several taverns present the opportunity for an interesting nightlife. It even sports its own lagoon. However, this golf and beach resort is just one of many places to enjoy around Destin, Florida.

Many people have heard about or visited Sea World in Orlando, but the Gulfarium, right outside Destin and on the Gulf Islands National Seashore is the oldest sea life education and entertainment center in America. Dolphins and sea lions perform in three shows every say, but also meet visitors in an interaction section. Kids love it, but so do adults! A group of penguins is interesting to watch and visitors can feel wild birds in another sector. Exhibits of salt water fish and sharks complete the venue that is one of the most popular with visitors and locals.

HarborWalk Village in Destin on the waterfront is another village offering entertainment, shopping, and special events. You can find small shops; boat, pontoon and jet ski rentals; fishing, water adventures, festivals, dolphin cruises, nightlife, fireworks, and concerts in an amphitheater on the waterfront.

Water Temperatures

Weather stations and reality companies report that from November through February, Destin area waters at the Gulf of Mexico average in the high 50s to 60s Fahrenheit. March through May often see the 70s and June through September reach the mid- to high-80s. Some sources show an average of 90 degrees in August. Overall the temperature is pleasant. Air temperatures highs range generally from 70 to 90 degrees, winter having the lowest.


The Fort Walton Beach Airport is located on the main thoroughfare, Highway 98. Highway 98 through Destin and the Emerald Coast is usually busy, but three taxi cab companies and a limousine firm provide effective means of travel. There are also bicycle shops for bike rentals and several destinations make for an easy walk.

Blue Heron in Destin, Florida
Blue Heron in Destin, Florida | Source

Popular Destinations

1010 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548, USA

get directions

Harborwalk Marina :
66 Harbor Blvd, Destin, FL 32541, USA

get directions

Silver Sands Designer Outlet Stores - Over 110 Stores:
10562 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Destin, FL 32541, USA

get directions

2012 was he 20th Anniversary year for this center.

Baytowne Wharf Village FL:
Baytowne Wharf At Sandestin, 9300 US Highway 98 W, Destin, FL 32550-7268, USA

get directions

Choctawhatchee Bay:
Choctawhatchee Bay, Florida, USA

get directions

Pensacola Beach


White Sands

The white sands are made up of quartz crystals that were carried by waterway from the Appalachian Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, 125 miles east Destin. The sea level rose and the quartz sands made a new shoreline. White sands replenish daily all the way to Pensacola Pass (ref.: OSU Geology Dept.). The beaches are popular places for outdoor weddings.

Beach Wedding


Emerald Waters and White Beaches

My favorite part of Florida is the Emerald Coast with its particular emerald-colored Gulf waters and comfortable climate across the four counties of Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay. A full 100 miles of coastline extends in this region from Gulf Breeze just east of Pensacola Bay to Panama City just east of St. Andrews Bay.

The waters around Pensacola and across the Emerald Coast depicted in two ways in the film Contact, starring Jodi Foster. We see a crayon drawing drawn by her character as a child, but we later see a part of space-time to which she has traveled depicted in the colors of the Gulf of Mexico for the adult character to use as a point of reference in a strange place. Interestingly, this part of Florida has experienced its share of captivating UFO sightings.

Deep-sea and other types of fishing bring many of the 4.5 million yearly visitors (ref. Chamber of Commerce) to Destin and several fishing tournaments are popular over the 100 miles of the Emerald Coast.

Accommodations run from vacation rental homes and condominiums to luxury reports to less expensive hotels like Sleep Inn and Comfort Inn. RV and Tent Camping are available at Henderson Beach State Park near the white sand beaches at 17000 Emerald Coast Parkway Destin, Florida 32541. Over a mile of beaches and boardwalks are ADA wheelchair accessible, with 60 campsites within a nature preserve of many native plants and wildlife species. Dozens of outdoor activities are provided to day visitors and campers.

The Emerald Coast

Gulf Breeze:
Gulf Breeze, FL, USA

get directions

Western end of the Emerald Coast.

Destin FL:
Destin, FL, USA

get directions

Henderson Beach State Park:
17000 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Destin, FL 32541, USA

get directions

Panama City Fl:
Panama City, FL, USA

get directions

Eastern end of the Emerald Coast.


US Navy Blue Angels

A-4F Skyhawk Blue Angels flight demo team execute a "Fleur-de-Lis."
A-4F Skyhawk Blue Angels flight demo team execute a "Fleur-de-Lis."

Golden Knights Paracute Demo Team

A jump at one of the Annual Elgin AFB Air Shows. The Gold Knights have a Gold and a Black Division and the US Army also has a parachute group called the Black Daggers.
A jump at one of the Annual Elgin AFB Air Shows. The Gold Knights have a Gold and a Black Division and the US Army also has a parachute group called the Black Daggers. | Source

Elgin Air Force Base

Elgin AFB is to the north of Destin, and not only Elgin AFB, but 6 other US military bases are located in this 100-mile stretch of Florida coastline.They include:

  • US Naval Air Station Pensacola, where the Blue Angels demo team work and all naval aviators begin training;
  • Hurlburt Field;
  • Tyndall Air Force Base and its F-22 Raptors;
  • Coastal Systems Station-Naval Surface Warfare Center and its US Navy Experimental Diving Unit and training centers; and
  • Corry Station Naval Technical Training Center.

No wonder people might see UFOs here!

Elgin AFB is one of the largest military bases in America, with a massive land area that is Elgin Reservation, on which there are many species of endangered plants and animals live. Preserving them is daily work for staff of Elgin AFB. In addition, the base also maintains a no-kill animal shelter. The base adopted a stray cat recently and called him Bumblebean.

This military base offers an array of outdoor activities. Its outdoor program is one of the largest worldwide. There is wildlife viewing, children's water safety, diving classes, deep sea fishing, camping facilities, boat slips and more. Reservations: Call FAMCAMP at (850) 883-1243.

Hunting and fishing are also offered. Contact the Natural Resources Division (Jackson Guard) of the Environmental Management Directorate Division at the website below.

An annual Air Show at Elgin AFB provides entertainment and historical presentations, along with family activities. Nearby, military history museums add the back story of the bases on the Emerald Coast and their involvement in settling and defending Florida and the nation.

Location of Historic Military Installations

Corry Station:
Naval Hospital of Pensacola, 6000 U.S. 98, Pensacola, FL 32506, USA

get directions

Elgin Air Force Base:
Eglin AFB, Eglin Blvd, Eglin AFB, FL 32542, USA

get directions

Hurlburt Field:
Hurlburt Field, Eglin, FL 32544, USA

get directions

Coastal Systems Station:
Coastal Systems Station Heliport (NBV), Panama City Beaches, FL 32407, USA

get directions

Tyndall Air Force Base:
Tyndall AFB, FL, USA

get directions

Elgin Air Force Base:
Eglin AFB, Eglin Blvd, Eglin AFB, FL 32542, USA

get directions

Employment Market

The largest numbers of jobs available in the Destin area are in IT (Information Technology) and are well paid.

The second highest demand job cluster is among Heathcare Professionals and the third is among Engineers, both clusters also well-paid.

Higher Education

  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - World's Leader in Aviation and Aerospace Education -- Embry-Riddle is rated number one in Aviation and Aerospace Colleges in America. It provides training for a variety of high demand air and space related degrees. This is particularly noteworthy int he advance of privatized space travel and he first private spaceship flight to the International Space Station in early 2013.
  • NWF State College -- Northwest Florida State College is a public State College accredited for the Bachelor and Associate Degrees.
  • Pensacola State College -- A public State College, one of eleven colleges and universities in the city of Pensacola.
  • Troy University -- Located nearby in Troy, Alabama. Accredited to award he Associate, Bachelor, Master’s, Education Specialist, and Doctoral Degrees
  • UF - REEF - Research and Education Engineering Center -- Master's and Doctoral Degree programs in Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Industrial and Systems Engineering. University of Florida at Shalimar FL.
  • University of West Florida -- University of West Florida (UWF) is one of eleven universities located in America's oldest settlement, Pensacola, Florida. Just a few miles from Destin.



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • breakfastpop profile image


      6 years ago

      I would be more apt to book a ticket and fly to Florida, if New Jersey didn't feel exactly like Florida!

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 

      6 years ago from San Antonio, FL

      I've camped at Henderson Beach State Park a few years ago, and am anxious to go back. The panhandle is one of my favorite places. Nice hub!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      The Panhandle is one of my most favorite places in the world, the temperature being pleasant most of the year. I think it would be a good place to retire. Thanks for all your comments!

    • HawaiiHeart profile image


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Very informative post. I love to travel but have yet to make it to Florida. Great list of attractions!

    • SquidooLens profile image


      6 years ago

      I love the white sands.. Thinking for a summer escapade to this place.

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      6 years ago from Western New York

      Those sparkling turquoise waters make me want to dash down to the panhandle of Florida! Destin is definitely on our "to do" list with our boys - the drive is long from western NY, but worth it for the sun and white sand!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)