Located in the heart of the Florida Panhandle, Destin is a popular tourist area with its proximity to several Gulf of Mexico beaches and nature trails. Find a Destin vacation rental home or condo right on the beach, or opt for a rustic cabin near Henderson Beach State Park for some rest and relaxation. Known for its pristine golf courses and busy Harbor Boardwalk, Destin also gives you the chance to explore the city’s waterparks, hiking trails, parasailing adventures, and shopping outlets. With something to do for all ages, check out the top 10 things to do during your Destin vacation.

1. Explore the Destin Harbor Boardwalk

With nearly a quarter of a mile of harbor that gives you a clear view of the ocean and local businesses, it’s easy to consider the Destin Harbor Boardwalk as one of the top things to do while on vacation. Walk along the boardwalk and hear the rushing waves coming in awhile admiring the lush landscaping that surrounds you before getting in some retail therapy at the local shops. Stop for a bite to eat at one of the nearby restaurants. If you are visiting in October, you’re in for a treat since the city hosts the annual Destin Fishing Rodeo and the Destin Seafood Festival.

2. Take a Dolphin Cruise

Get up close and personal with the sea creatures on your Florida vacation with a dolphin cruise. Climb on board the luxurious boats at Olin Marler Fishing and Dolphin Cruises and jet out to the middle of the ocean to see the dolphins appear out of thin air. Opt for a snack or lunch in-between dolphin sightings on the ship.

3. Tour the Destin History and Fishing Museum

Thrill the fishing enthusiasts in your crew with a trip to the Destin History and Fishing Museum, where you can browse through a 100-foot long display of fish the fishing experts have caught in the Destin area. The historic exhibit also features antique fishing reels and rods, a seine fishing boat from 1925, and a guided tour full of information about the history of Destin.

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4. Shop Until You Drop

Find something for the entire family with a shopping trip to Destin Commons, an outlet chock full of both national and locally-owned retail stores such as Bass Pro Shops and Forever 21. Let the kids play on the outdoor playground or take a break from the sun in the water park on site. If you’re shopping in the evening, take a break from your retail therapy and catch a movie at the on-site AMC theater.

5. Embrace Your Inner Pirate

It doesn’t have to be Halloween for you to take on the persona of a pirate when vacationing in Destin. Head to HarborWalk Village and get on board a 100-foot motor vessel for a fun, family adventure. Buccaneer Pirate Cruise sponsors boat cruises complete with dancing, singing, treasure hunts, and sword fights for all ages. Grab a snack or a beverage at the on-site snack bar if hunger strikes.

6. Build a Beachfront Sand Castle

After a day of fun in the sun, relax and let your creativity thrive by building a sand castle. You can also enlist the help of professionals when signing up for a sandcastle building instructional lesson from Beach Sand Sculptures, a company who sends expert sandcastle builders directly to the beach. Whether you are relaxing on Crystal Beach or at the Harbor Boardwalk beach, these experts can help you to build a sculpture and provide an experience that lasts a lifetime for all ages.

7. Snorkel for the Day

Learn about Florida marine life while underwater with a snorkel lesson from Destin Snorkel. Offering a range of tours onboard the outfitter’s passenger boats, this company offers personalized instruction and equipment to help you dive up to 20 feet and spend at least a half hour underwater capturing views of underwater creatures.

8. Parasail Over the Gulf

Instead of wading in the water, choose to dip your toes in the ocean while soaring above the Gulf. When signing up for a parasail session from Just Chute Me Parasail, you can fly over the water with one or two friends or family members for 10 to 12 minutes. Enjoy the views of the Destin beaches while at an altitude of 400 feet and let the guide know that you want to dip your feet in the water while soaring above.

9. Get Active at The Track

If you’re seeking variety, The Track in Destin delivers. This recreational center features activities for both young and old members of your group with an 18-hole miniature golf course, kiddie rides, bumper boats, and bumper cars. Engage your need for speed on one of the five go-kart tracks or get a thrill by taking a spin on the SkyFlyer.

10. Explore the Waters

Venture just a few minutes from your Destin vacation rental to Choctawhatchee Bay for a day filled with water sports. Rent a kayak, paddleboard, or waverunner from Luther’s Watersports, located near Crab Island. Pontoon boat rentals are also available if you want to journey on your own dolphin-watching cruise.

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