Destin, Florida: Paradise in the Panhandle

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Advisor - Brittney Leigh
Curated By

Brittney Leigh

  • Destin

  • Florida

  • Beaches

  • Family Travel

  • Luxury Travel

  • Beach Town

  • National Park

  • Sightseeing

Destin is a city in northwest Florida known for its Gulf of Mexico beaches.
Curator’s statement

Growing up in the "world's luckiest fishing village" has allowed me to watch this sleepy town blossom into a paradise beach vacation hot spot. From partying poolside, overlooking state parks and shorelines from rooftop bars or finding the best beach spot to read a book and check out, I'm your girl. These waters will rival even the best-known beach getaways.

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Where to stay in Destin, Florida

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Things to do in Destin, Florida

Crab Island is one of the most popular attraction in Destin


For the most secluded options, drive a short distance of 6 miles to Okaloosa Island. Down Santa Rosa Blvd, you'll find access spots for public beaches. I recommend driving down until you hit #7. It buts up against a military shoreline. Privacy and lack of guests is a must.

If you want to stay in the party zone, check out Norriego Point. From here, you'll be side by side with tourists like yourself, who have beached their rental boats and decided to soak up the sun. You'll also witness all the charters leaving for deeper waters. BYOB and if you make friends, always say yes to a ride out to Crab Island.

Speaking of Crab Island, while it's not a beach, it is a waist-deep swimming area that fills up with boats, kayaks, jet skis and more. Located just under the Destin Bridge, you're only legally allowed to get there on a flotation device of some sort. Once there, throw anchor and prepare to spend the day.

Boat Rental

The one and only company I can always count on, is Dockside Water Sports. Please check out my TikTok @that1kidsmom for a full video review!


Day trips

Depending on how long your stay is, I would recommend a day trip to Vortex Springs. Just under two hours away, you'll experience the clearest water and a more southern Florida vibe. Experienced scuba divers will find this location particularly great!

Places to eat & drink in Destin, Florida

Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House is a locally sourced Southern-style seafood restaurant.


Boshamps Oyster Bar is the Number 1 Must-Eat Destination. Mark my words on this one. The restaurant is locally owned and operated, and employs James Beard Award-Winning Chef, Andy Bell. Max capacity is around 500 seats, and yes, they fill up fast. Wait times in the summertime average around three hours, but they offer a full beach play area out back to wait it out. Lunch time calls for their Blackened Grouper Sandwich, while dinner demands you order the famous Snapper Destin. Prices are on the higher side, but the service is second to none, and the food too good to believe.


If you asked the locals where they go to hang out, the answers would most definitely be tied. Both Red Door and The Boathouse are always full of fishermen, service industry and tourists. There are no other places I would recommend for the full experience of drinking like a local.

**An honorable mention on the rise is The Harbor Tavern. If you're a fan of house music, this is more your vibe.

A spot I would skip? Aj's Destin. If you're into shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, bachelorette parties, slammed dance floors, and more of the college frat vibe, this is for you. On the plus side, they do employ the area's best bartenders. Shout out to Doug and Ann Marie, true local legends.

Advisor - Brittney Leigh

Travel Advisor

Brittney Leigh

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Florida.