The white sand beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast are one of the main attractions in Destin, where vacation rentals in Destin often feature incredible views and easy access to the beach. This region just east of Pensacola offers great shopping and dining, amusement parks for the kids, and plenty of water sports. Get ready for a relaxing vacation when you head to a vacation rental in one of these 10 locations.
Crystal Sands Beach and Henderson Beach State Park both offer the kinds of beaches that great vacations are made of, or head to Destin Harbor to book a dolphin-watching cruise or to rent a boat for a day of fishing. You can also bring your own boat when you choose a vacation rental right on the harbor with its own boat slips or live the good life when you stay in an oceanfront condo that comes complete with beach chairs and umbrellas for ultimate relaxation. Take the kids to Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park for a special day of fun.
2. Miramar Beach
If your idea of a great day includes luxury shopping and spa treatments, check out Miramar Beach, just east of Destin, as a destination. Local golf courses also beckon, and you can enjoy sailing, surfing, parasailing, and plenty of other water sports. When you rent a vacation condo here, you can enjoy a fresh-cooked dinner on your balcony while taking in the amazing ocean views.
3. Okaloosa Island
Head over a bridge to the west of Destin, and you find yourself on the barrier island of Okaloosa Island. Fish from the long pier that stretches into the Gulf of Mexico, and then grills up today’s catch on the barbecue at your vacation condo. Many complexes here include tennis courts, heated pools, and hot tubs, so you never have to go far to find relaxation and fun.
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Loft-style condos in complexes that offer resort amenities such as tennis, paddle boarding, fitness centers, and spas await you in the community of Sandestin, which faces the Choctawhatchee Bay. Stroll to the Village at Baytowne Wharf for fine dining and fun shopping, and check out the Baytowne Adventure Zone for aerial adventures including zip lining.
5. Navarre Beach
From Navarre, you have easy access both to the Gulf and to the Intracoastal Waterway. Take a horseback ride at Bay Haven Farms, or check out the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center for an inspirational and educational experience. Vacation rentals here often take the form of condo complexes where you can enjoy water views from your balcony and let the kids play in the pool.
6. Santa Rosa Beach
Rent a bike to explore this part of Okaloosa Island up close and personal, and visit local wildlife preserves to understand what this part of the world would be like without all the vacationers. Nighttime is fun at Santa Rosa Beach, with locals and visitors alike heading out for evening pub crawls. Sign up for a beer-tasting tour to explore local craft brews, or pick up a six-pack to enjoy at your high-rise condo or a cozy cottage.
7. Grayton Beach
At Grayton Beach, you can choose a more secluded vacation cottage inland at Western Lake, or opt for a lavish beach house that puts you in the middle of the waterfront action. The small historic town of Grayton Beach has the air of an artists’ colony, and you can not only visit galleries but even take workshops hosted by local artists. Spend some time at Grayton Beach State Park as well to enjoy the natural beauty of this area.
8. Pensacola Beach
As you continue to head east from Destin, you’ll come to Pensacola Beach at the end of its barrier island. From here you can take a journey to the past when you visit Fort Pickens, a partially restored Civil War fort. High-rise condos here give you breathtaking views and all the vacation amenities you could wish for, including fine dining and the relaxation of spa treatments.
Browse music stores, art galleries, and bookstores when you stay in Seaside, a beach community not far east of Destin. Farmers markets let you re-create farm-to-table meals in the kitchen of your cozy condo, or spend the afternoon treating yourself to a massage or facial at one of the many local spas. Fine dining also abounds in this relaxed beach community, and you can return after a special dinner to open all the windows of your vacation rental to enjoy the sound of the waves.
10. Gulf Breeze
The Gulf Breeze National Seashore attracts visitors to explore this beautifully preserved landscape on bicycle or foot. The Gulf Breeze Zoo is fun for kids, or rent a kayak or canoe to head out onto the Gulf itself. Your vacation rental choices in this neighborhood often put you right on the beach, with refreshing breezes blowing through your condo or cottage and the enticing smell of salt in the air.
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