Travel Spotlight on Destin, Florida, and Its 14 Best Attractions

Hopper's travel guide to Destin, Florida, features its top 14 beaches, attractions, restaurants and hotels, and has travel tips and photos from bloggers

Hopper Editors - Oct. 26, 2017

Located on a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and the Choctawhatchee Bay, Destin, Florida, is the jewel of a beach vacation destination in a state that is literally just one big beach vacation destination. It has everything people want out of their sunny weekend getaway: perfectly manicured golf courses, endless white sand coastlines bordering perfectly clear turquoise water, fresh local seafood, tons of family friendly attractions and a gorgeous state park heavy with pristine campsites. Known locally as "The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village," visitors and locals are spoiled for choice when it comes to eateries both high end and casual, and beach access is a breeze, with 12 entry points in the city. All of these factors and more are reasons that over 80% of the Emerald Coast’s 4.5 million yearly visitors head to Destin.

Located in the Florida Panhandle, Destin is an hour east by car from Pensacola and 2.5 hours west of Tallahassee. Serviced by the Northwest Florida Regional Airport and the further Pensacola International Airport, Destin is a predominantly drive-in or boat-in city for Southerners.

The Henderson Beach State Park is great for campers and beach combers

People who go to Destin go for the beaches, and while there are many beaches to choose from, the Henderson Beach State Park has all the natural fixin’s for an ideal family day in the sun. Six thousand feet of natural shoreline, pure aqua waters coming off of the Gulf of Mexico, miles of pristine white sugar sand, 60 private campsites, trailer hook-ups, playgrounds, picnic areas with barbecue stations, and more amenities and activities await on the resplendent Henderson Beach. Winding throughout the park is a scenic trail lined with scrub pines that leads through gorgeous wildlife and various Florida flora. Families looking for a truly special experience can take a sandcastle lesson with Beach Sand Sculptures, which sends sand sculptors to the beach for a tutorial on sandcastle tools, water to sand ratio and how to create a masterpiece in sand. It’s not just a bucket and a shovel; it’s better.

Golf one of the best courses in the Southern United States at the Regatta Bay Golf Course and Country Club

Consistently placed in "Best Golf Course" lists across rankings in a state that loves to play golf, the Regatta Bay Golf Course and Country Club is a 6,894-yard, par-72 course situated in the gorgeous nature preserves along the Choctawhatchee Bay. This pristine course is designed by renowned course architect, Robert C. Walker, suitable for players of all skill levels and ideally positioned with luxurious amenities. On the course are circulating beverage carts and chilled apples on the 1st and 10th tees, as well as Mango-scented iced towels and each golf cart is equipped with a Parview GPS system. Off the course is a 3000-square-foot pro shop, located in the Regatta Bay Clubhouse. Overlooking the shimmering Lake Regatta, The Clubhouse is also the home of a highly acclaimed restaurant and bar, which offers some of the best brunch in Destin, fresh seafood, steak and more casual eats.

Big Kahuna’s Water Park has your family fun all set

What do kids love more than slides and splashes? Big Kahuna’s Water Park in Destin is truly the local watering hole. Located in a giant sand dune hugging the gulf, Big Kahuna’s offers over 60 splishy-splashy water and adventure attractions: Two lazy rivers stream through the whole park, winding around massive rides and slides, kiddie fountains and slides, tubes, rivers and other pools. Families can rent a private cabana for $100, which includes a personal server who will deliver drinks and foods to your family. Back on dry land, families can hit Tropical Mini Golf, swoop around on the thrilling Sky Coaster and race around the Super Speed Raceway.

Fine microbrews and American-Irish fare at the festive McGuire’s Irish Pub

Who would think that some of the finest microbrews would be sold out of a somewhat hokey (in a good way!) Irish pub between two beaches in Destin, Florida? Great prices accommodate great beers, from their Wild Irish Raspberry Wheat beer to the nice Irish Pale Ale, a less hoppy, less cloudy, honey-colored pale ale, to the much-revered Irish Stout. Their food is also punched up with some Irish flavor – traditional Boxty appetizers are now a Florida favorite, as well as Shepherd’s Pie, Irish Steak & mushroom pie, Irish Lamb Stew, and more, but the real draw at McGuire’s Irish Pub are the long list of charbroiled steaks made with USDA certified prime steaks grilled over hickory wood fires. For an Irish night out in Destin, Florida, there’s only one place to go.

The most romantic of all romantic escapes, Henderson Park Inn

Built for romance, locals and wanderers all stop by Henderson Park Inn to enjoy a romantic weekend away. If their beachfront location next to the Henderson Beach State Park on a quiet stretch of sparkling white sand beaches wasn’t a sure winner, their long list of amenities will be. The all-inclusive (except for dinner) bed and breakfast includes all the regular beach services such as chairs, umbrella and towels for on-site use, free use of bicycles, a full breakfast buffet with the chefs, a boxed lunch of picnic-style salads and sandwiches, snacks in the main room, complimentary happy hour, wifi, community refrigerator with endless chocolate bars, shuttle service, private balconies in each rooms, kitchenettes or fireplaces in some rooms, wine and flowers upon arrival, and more. Their award-winning fine dining restaurant, the Beach Walk Henderson Park, offers beach dining as well as deck dining, delicately crafted cocktails, a curated wine list and some of the freshest and most carefully prepared seafood in the area.

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