Your perfect vacation in Destin, Florida.
Cheers! As a long-time resident of Destin, FL (30+ years), many of my clients ask me about places to go and things to do on the Emerald Coast. I have developed the perfect vacation week to “go local” on the Gulf Coast. It’s a balance of beach time, shopping, and activities.
My first recommendation is a 10-day trip. Why? The reason is the weather. Florida is a tropical state and we get regular afternoon thunderstorms or rain. It doesn’t usually rain all day. In fact, if you’re willing to drive, you can find another sunny beach area.
I want you to get the most out of your investment during your beach vacation. In 10 days, I’m sure you’ll have enough beach time for a perfect tan.
My second recommendation (very important) is sunscreen and take into account the time you spend on the beach. Our beaches have some of the whitest sand in the world. It is also very reflective and umbrellas do not offer complete protection. By the time you realize you’re sunburned, it’s already too late. During the first few days of your trip, spend just a couple of hours in the morning and late afternoon on the beach. This way you will have a basic tan. Be careful to put sunscreen on the tops of your feet, your ears, your hairline, and under your nose. If you forget those places… you won’t forget them next year.
My third recommendation. This is very important too. We have a wide variety of thunderstorms that come up along the Gulf Coast very quickly. Lighting is often associated with these storms. It can be deadly. More people die from lightning than from hurricanes, and both are preventable. If you see a storm coming, get off the beach. It is not safe to be in the water or on the beach. Period. If you can hear thunder, you can be hit. Fortunately, most storms (unless it’s a big moving front) only last an hour or two. Take care. Don’t risk it.
Are we ready to have some fun now?
There are three main tourist areas to choose from on the Gulf Coast: Ft. Walton Beach, Destin, and South Walton. There is a 45 minute drive time from one end to the other. I will choose activations of the three so that you become familiar with the area.
Day 1. Arrival. Most hotel or condo check-in times are after 3:00 pm I suggest just settling in and relaxing. Sunset time during the summer months is between 6:00 pm and 7:30 pm I recommend getting a couple of plastic cups (no cups on the beach) and a drink to go out and enjoy the sunset.
Day 2: Beach time! Sunrise is beautiful on the Gulf Coast if you’re inclined to get up that early. The beach is empty and it is the perfect time to exercise. Enjoy the beach until 10:30. Then go to the Publix supermarket to buy groceries. The lines are shorter during the day and it’s not as crowded. Don’t go after dinner…everyone thinks it’s a good idea…if you know what I mean.
Afternoon: Check out Destin Commons. They have shops and a playground/water area for the kids.
Evening: Go out for dinner early…around 5:00 pm Then you’ll beat the lines and the dinner rush. I recommend a restaurant along the Destin harbor. The Lucky Snapper has a nice view and you will be able to see the sunset. If you want to go out for a drink, there are places on the Paseo del Puerto.
Day 3 – Enjoy the beach in the morning, then schedule an afternoon sailing trip with one of the ships in Destin Harbor: Southern Star, Silent Lady AJs sailboat, and Nathaniel Bowditch. You will usually see dolphins. They also have sunset cruises. They sometimes offer special wine and cheese cruises. In the evening head to Baytowne Warf. They have outdoor concerts and fun stuff for kids and adults.
Day 4: Relax on the beach (you should already have a base tan). There are also several golf courses in the area to enjoy. Google Destin Golf courses only. In front of the Surfside condo, there are beach vendors with jet ski rentals or return to Destin Harbor for boat or jet ski rentals.
Day 5: Take a break from the beach with a trip to the Spa at the Hilton Serenity by the sea, NOT the Sandestin spa. It still needs renovation. Then head to South Walton for shopping and sightseeing. Stop by Grayton Beach, Seaside and Water color. If you want to go further down 30A, check out Rosemary Beach. Each township has interesting shops and cafes.
Day 6: Deep sea fishing in the morning. You’ll have to get up early for this. There are also fishing tours on the water. For the ladies I would stop at Silver Sands Mall and Grand Blvd in Sandestin.
Day 7: Enjoy the beach all day… you deserve it.
Day 8: Rainy day… there will be only one or none… if you are very lucky. In Destin Commons they have the RAVE theater. There are also a couple of paint shops and a place for kids to make their own pottery: Fired up in Seaside. There is a Barnes and Noble and Books a Million near Destin Commons. Just kick back, rent a movie and relax in the condo.
Day 9 – Hit the beach one last time or take a canoe trip through the coastal dune lakes in South Walton. Rent a bike and take a ride down 30A. Head to Ft. Walton Beach and enjoy the shopping and fine dining just across the Brooks Bridge at Historic FWB.
Day 10. Time to leave. Let’s hope it’s not too sunny this day…that makes it harder to go. But don’t worry, we’ll still be here next year and look forward to welcoming you again.
I hope you enjoyed your vacation in Northwest Florida. Be sure to come back down and see us. The door is always open.