There are so many fun things to do in Destin, Florida. It’s no wonder that Destin is a top travel destination. If you’re planning your Destin vacation and are looking for things to do to stay entertained on your trip to Destin, this list will be the perfect start! Here are our top picks of the 30 coolest Destin activities that are sure to make your vacation memories last a lifetime.
Things to Do in Destin
Rent a pontoon boat–Renting a pontoon is one of the most popular things to do to get out on the beautiful Destin waters with a group of friends and/or family. Pontoon boats allow you to bring around a dozen people with you, so they are ideal for large groups. They are safe, easy to drive, and comfortable, and can get you out to areas you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access, like Crab Island (listed below). For an extra-special experience, try the double decker pontoons that come with your choice of one or two slides! This is sure to make your vacation the coolest ever! Click here to see different boats available to rent.
Visit Crab Island-A must-do in Destin, Crab Island is a unique experience as much as its own destination. Not really an island, Crab Island is an underwater sandbar and popular gathering place for boaters. You can take the Crab Island Shuttle Boat or make a splash with your own private boat (rented or personal) and enjoy relaxing in the most beautiful water you’ve ever seen.
Experience an Adventure Tour. The Crab Island Adventure Tour offers a little bit of everything under the sun, combining multiple activities into one fun-filled trip. This all-inclusive, captained boat tour offers 2 stops at local boating hot spots, including the Gulf Islands National Seashore and the famed Crab Island sandbar and includes kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, shelling, an inflatable water park, and more! As a bonus, it’s a lot less expensive than doing these activities separately. So dive in and book your seats on the Crab Island Adventure Tour here. It’s becoming one of the most popular things to do in Destin.
Fishing charter-Destin, known as The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village, boasts the largest charter fishing fleet in Florida and the closest deepwater access in the northern gulf. A trip to Destin would not be complete without adding fishing to your to-do list. Hire a charter boat and let the experts get you out to their secret honey holes to reel in the BIG FISH!
Learn about alligators at Gator Beach-Conveniently, located right next door to Fat Daddy’s Arcade, Gator Beach is a local alligator attraction with over 100 baby alligators that you can watch or even feed (from a nice, safe distance). Of course, you can’t go home without getting your picture taken holding a live baby alligator! Nothing says “Florida” quite like alligators!
Take a fireworks cruise-The sunsets in Destin are spectacular, and are best viewed from the water. Even better? Destin puts on a fireworks display over the Harbor every Thursday night from Memorial Day through Labor Day and every Saturday in October. If you’re planning a trip to Destin during the summer, you won’t want to miss taking a fireworks cruise. Tour the Destin Harbor, sightsee for dolphins as the sun goes down, then anchor out and watch the the sky explode with color as the light show begins. Click here for more information on taking a fireworks cruise! You’ll want to plan ahead as seats fill up fast.
Visit The Track-Need a break from the sun and sand, or just some things to do after dinner? The Track is centrally located in the heart of Destin and has gokarts, an arcade, bumper cars, roller coasters and mini golf, just to name a few. Kids LOVE this place! (Dads do too!)
Go Parasailing -Fly high and get the birds eye view of the beautiful beaches of Destin. The adrenaline rush and amazing views are bucket-list-worthy by themselves!
Enjoy a Jet ski rental-Satisfy your need for speed with a jet ski rental! Enjoy the thrill of the wind in your hair and the sea spray leaving a wake behind you as you skim across the top of the water at top speed.
Go sailing-Kick back, relax, and let the wind fill your sails as you coast along the waterway. Experienced sailors can rent a Hobie cat or you can choose to charter a catamaran for a day sail or sunset cruise.
Visit the Gulfarium– See marine life up close at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. Regular admission gives you access to see all of the animal displays and scheduled shows, as well as spend some time at the “touch tank” (my 12 year old’s favorite) where you can play with sea plants and small marine creatures. For an extra fee you can have encounters with various marine life (ie feeding the penguins, having a dolphin encounter, “fishing” in a stocked tank, etc). The Gulfarium is consistently rated as one of the top things to do with kids in Destin.
Take a cruise on a floating tiki boat-These floating tiki bars are a fun and unique way to cruise the waters of Destin. Pack your own food and drinks and set out on a captained adventure cruise. Sightsee for dolphins as you cruise the Harbor and anchor at Crab Island, where you’re sure to be the center of attention. Nothing says “vacation paradise” quite like a tiki cruise!
Sightsee for Dolphins on a Boat Tour-We are all mesmerized by these amazing creatures. Take a dolphin tour on one of the the area’s many boat tours and watch these marine animals ride the wake of the boat in their natural habitat. Truly a cool experience!
Rent a fishing boat–If pontoons aren’t your thing, or you would rather not be limited to the bay area but would like to instead explore the Gulf, experienced boaters can rent a fishing boat for the day. These boats are smaller but much faster and are fully equipped with all the electronics you’ll need to go after the big one!
Try Paddleboarding–One of the latest crazes is the standup paddleboard, or SUP. A cross between a surfboard and a kayak, these boards allow you to stand on the water and paddle, offering an amazing vantage point of the water and the marine life below. Plus, it’s great exercise and a lot of fun! You can rent one from HarborWalk Village, or there are companies that will even deliver one for your stay!
Feed the Fish. The Edge Seafood Restaurant on the Destin Harbor is built directly on top of the water. They have fish feeders around the perimeter so you can feed the fish swimming around the docks. At night, there are underwater lights that light up and attract the fish so you can see them while they attack the food. Bring lots of quarters-kids stay occupied for hours (you might even get to relax and enjoy a quiet meal or a couple of drinks while they’re occupied!).
Try a Waverunner dolphin tour– Destin is home to some of the largest populations of bottlenose dolphins in the world. It’s no surprise that waverunner dolphin tours are some of the most popular things to do in Destin, combining 2 popular activities-jet skiing and dolphin watching- into one. Watch these beautiful and playful creatures on a guided dolphin tour for an up-close experience with our area’s most beloved marine mammals.
Slide into fun at Big Kahuna’s– Water parks provide another option for a day of family fun in the sun, with lazy rivers, wave pools, and water slides galore-you won’t be disappointed at these water-filled theme parks.Big Kahuna’s Water Park features over 40 different water attractions and is fun for all ages!
Be a pirate-Hop on a pirate-themed cruise ship out of the Destin Harbor or visit us during the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival for pirate shenanigans to write home about! (Pro tip: the first is kid-friendly, the second is NOT.)
Play at Fat Daddy’s Arcade-Need a rainy day activity? Or just a break from the sun? Check out Fat Daddy’s Arcade! Fat Daddy’s is home to over 100 arcade games in a clean, cool environment. Games award tickets which can be redeemed for fun prizes!
Go Snorkeling-The crystal clear waters of Destin beg to be explored. Rent a boat and snorkel the shoreline along the Gulf Islands National Seashore, or join a snorkel tour to experience marine life up close!
Go Shopping-Destin has shopping galore! Boutiques, a giant outlet mall, and plenty of outdoor retail shopping centers to help you shop till you drop!
Satisfy your need for speed with a Speed boat tour- Sightsee for dolphins and other marine life as you leisurely tour the Destin Harbor, then hold on to your hats for a thrilling boat ride along the Gulf coastline aboard a speedboat.
Try to escape the Escape Room-Escape Zone has a couple of different locations in Destin and in Fort Walton Beach and offers a fun team-building experience that you will be talking about for months to come. Put together a team to be locked into a room. You must find and solve all the clues to escape AND you must do it before time runs out!
Go to the Beach-This is a no-brainer, obviously! Who comes to visit the Emerald Coast and doesn’t visit the beach? Sugar white sand and emerald green waters will have you wishing you could make Destin your permanent home…
Enjoy a beach bonfire. Sitting around a fire on the beach is a unique and relaxing experience that the whole family can enjoy. Royal Palm Grille offers free beach bonfires every Friday night, or you can hire a company to set up a private beach bonfire for you. (Permits are required, don’t DIY.)
Try axe throwing. Axe throwing is fun…and maybe a little scary! Try your hand at this experience in the safety of a professional facility in Miramar Beach at the Gulf Coast Axe House. They offer free instruction for first-timers and you can even BYOB, if you like.
Watch a WWII air show followed by fireworks. Enjoy watching an air show featuring WWII stunt airplanes over the scenic Destin Harbor every Thursday night from Memorial Day through Labor Day, followed by a fireworks display. You can watch from anywhere along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk (Destin’s Skybar, an adults-only rooftop harborside bar, has the best views!) or rent a boat for the best views!
Hang on for a wild banana boat ride. Banana boat rides will get your blood pumping as you try to hang on to the long banana shaped inflatable. Lose your grip and you’ll go flying into the beautiful emerald green water.
Go dock hopping! Rent a boat and plan to visit Destin’s top boat accessible restaurants by water. Reminiscent of progressive dinners, where dinner partiers move from house to house for a different course of a meal, Destin offers the opportunity to add a little adventure, sunshine, and fun to the mix. “Hop” (meaning, drive your boat and anchor out in the water and wade in, or tie up to the dock of each establishment) from one restaurant dock to another, stopping to sample food along the way. Guaranteed to be a fun and unique experience, especially if you have foodies in your group!
With so many cool things to do in Destin, you can see why the city is known as one of America’s top family travel destinations. We hope this post has been helpful and we hope you enjoy your stay in Destin, Florida! If you tried one of the things on our to do list, let us know what you thought in the comments.
Hi, I’m Heather Thomas. As a Destin area native, mom to 3 boys, and all-around adventure lover, I love to share my passion for my hometown with others. Join me as I explore the Emerald Coast and show you how to add a SPLASH of fun and a BOAT-load of adventure to your Destin vacation!