Situated in the heart of the Emerald Coast, the city of Destin is a must-see destination. Fun attractions abound at this southwestern resort area in Florida’s Okaloosa County. Enjoy adventures such as diving for buried treasure and parasailing, or stay grounded with a day on the beach or at the zoo. Stay at one of many beautiful Destin vacation rentals to have easy access to white-sand beaches and its blue-green waters. Check out the top 15 things to do in the area.
1. Banana Boat Rides
Take the family to Destin Harbor for a fun-filled banana-boat ride up and down the Emerald Coast waterways. Boats can accommodate up to six people, and action photos of you and the kids will keep you laughing long after you’re dry.
2. Flipper’s Adventures
When you’re ready to go underwater to view tropical fish or look for hidden treasures, try snorkeling at Flipper’s Adventures. It’s okay if you don’t swim, because the staff at this family-friendly attraction offers expert instruction and specializes in working with non-swimmers and first-timers. They welcome experienced snorkelers, too.
3. Emerald Coast Scuba
Want to see Gulf Coast deep-water sea life close up? Emerald Coast Scuba offers dive charters to explore underwater reefs and wrecks for families looking for a Destin scuba experience. Before you go, get scuba training, swimming lessons, and buy or rent equipment you need at the well-stocked dive shop.
4. Aloha Pontoon Watersports
Rent a 24-foot pontoon boat at Aloha Pontoon Watersports, and spend the day relaxing on Destin’s beautiful waters. These comfortable boats hold up to 12 people. Family members who feel the need for speed can rent jet skis, and boater certification classes are available for vacationers under 22 years old who want to join the fun.
5. Geocaching at Okaloosa County Geocache Trail
Take a break from all that water and go geocaching on the Okaloosa County Geocache Trail, along the Emerald Coast. Geocaching is an adventure that’s fun for the whole family. You use GPS-enabled devices to hunt for treasures, called geocaches, hidden in containers outdoors. The kids can keep the treasures or trade them at the next cache stop.
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6. Just Chute Me! Parasail
Soar high above Destin’s beautiful beaches with Just Chute Me! Parasail. Flying two or three people at a time, these parasail rides give you spectacular views from up to 400 feet high. U.S. Coast Guard-certified captains pilot the certified boats that lift you up, and your less-adventurous family members can sit in them to watch.
7. Beach Sand Sculptures
Release the hidden construction talent in you and your family with Beach Sand Sculptures. The white sands of Destin are perfect for creating beautiful, unique sandcastles, and this experience gives you long-lasting vacation memories after the 2-hour session ends. The staff supplies all the tools and training you need, so just bring your imagination and your camera to take pictures before returning to your vacation rental.
8. Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park
Head for Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park for a fun-filled time. Race on two tracks in super-speedy go-karts or play their tropical miniature golf courses for a slower pace. This Destin vacation destination offers more than 40 exciting water attractions to choose from, including the fast Maui Pipeline and the five-story Jumanji. There’s so much to do, you may need a second day.
9. Buccaneer Pirate Cruise
Experience excitement on the seas on the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise, an interactive pirate ship. Whether you board a day or evening cruise starting at Destin’s HarborWalk Village, this popular attraction lets your family take part in treasure hunts, battles with water guns, swashbuckling sword fights, singing, and storytelling galore.
10. Amusement USA
While you’re at HarborWalk Village in Destin, visit Amusement USA. Make the kids laugh as you test your surfing skills on a mechanical surfboard or run on water in a hamster ball. Everyone older than three years can strap on harnesses and jump for joy on gravity-defying bungee trampolines. Keep that light feeling with some Spun Fun cotton candy.
11. Gator Beach at Fudpucker’s
Want to see 100 live alligators in one place? Make a stop at Gator Beach, a wildlife exhibit located in Fudpucker’s Restaurant in Destin. The alligator is Florida’s official state reptile, and these gators live in an artificial wetland pond where you can feed, touch, and learn fun facts about them. Just don’t call them crocodiles.
12. Emerald Bay Golf Club
Take the kids to play miniature golf, then treat yourself to the 18-hole championship golf course at Emerald Bay Golf Club. The shores of Choctawhatchee Bay between Destin and South Walton beaches cradle this Bob Cupp-designed course, offering splendid garden and water views. After your round, relax in the clubhouse or on the Grille’s covered porch.
13. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, Fort Walton Beach
Where can you feed penguins, snorkel with sharks, and kiss a harbor seal? At Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park in Fort Walton Beach, about 10 miles west of Destin, you can do it all. Have fun watching otters, sea lions, and dolphins, and then learn how the park staff takes care of their sea-loving friends.
14. Gulf Breeze Zoo, Gulf Breeze
Drive about 42 miles from Destin to the Gulf Breeze Zoo, a 50-acre park featuring lions, tigers, bears, and more. From antelopes to zebras, more than 900 animals live in this free-roaming zoo attraction. For close encounters with hippos, chimps, and other residents, walk the boardwalk or ride the Safari Line Limited Train.
15. Escape Zone 60
Head back to Destin for an indoor adventure at Escape Zone 60. Your group gets 60 minutes to solve puzzles that allow you to escape from the room. All you need is teamwork, creative thinking, and the desire to accomplish the goal under pressure. This attraction makes a rainy day fun.
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