Seafood Festival in Destin – What to Know Before You Go
February 19th 2021
Visiting the Annual Seafood Festival in Destin is an event you don’t want to miss… your taste buds will thank you later! From incredible live music, to talented artists, to delicious, local seafood, the 43rd Annual Seafood Festival in Destin is “o-fish-ally” one of the best times you can have on the Destin Harbor! Here’s what to know before you go to make the most of your trip!
Table of Contents
- Festival Events and Kids’ Activities
- Live Music & Entertainment
- General Information
Visitors can expect delicious, fresh seafood when visiting the Seafood Festival in Destin
One of the most important things to remember to bring with you to the Seafood Festival in Destin is an empty stomach! The area is saturated with delicious dining options including:
- Boathouse Oyster Bar
- Harry T’s Lighthouse
- Dewey Destin Harborside
- A Destin Dinner Cruise
If that wasn’t enough, visitors will also get to enjoy delicious vendors providing everything from fried mullet to fish tacos! However you decide to dine, expect to enjoy some of the freshest and most delicious food on the Emerald Coast!
2. Festival Events and Kids’ Activities
The Seafood Festival is the perfect activity for both kids and kids at heart
The Seafood Festival in Destin is a family-friendly affair, and welcomes foodies and fishermen of all ages and skill levels! If your little one doesn’t enjoy seafood or fishing, that’s okay! There are still an abundance of activities available to keep your child appeased, with three separate areas hosting fun activities such as:
- Pony Rides
- Petting Zoos
- Face Painting
- A Kids’ Mingo Toss
This festival is prepared to host so much family fun in Destin, FL, that your kids won’t soon forget it!
3. Live Music & Entertainment
Pictured above is the Seafood Festival’s music schedule from 2019. 2021 schedule TBD. Image Courtesy of Destin Seafood Festival
What pairs well with fresh seafood and spirits? Amazing live music! Don’t forget before heading to the festival to check out the Official Seafood Festival Music Schedule. With local favorites like Jason Tyler Findley, Austin Jennings, Heritage, and I’magene taking the stage, you may want to make sure you pack your favorite dancing shoes (or walking shoes, as the festival itself spans 2 miles)!
If you’re in the mood for something more magical, you and the family can check out the Maximum Magic Show starring Noah and Heather Wells! This vegas-style spectacular is great for all ages, and takes place in the Destin Harbor during the festival.
A father showing his son how to fish on a party boat fishing charter in Destin, FL
When it comes down to it, the heart and soul of the Seafood Festival in Destin is fishing. Whether you’re in town for the Destin Fishing Rodeo, fall break, a bachelor party, or just because, the seafood festival is the perfect occasion to knock, “fishing in the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” off of your bucket list!
The Destin Fishing Rodeo began in 1948, and has transformed into the ultimate fishing tournament for anglers of all ages and skill levels. With cash prizes at stake, the seafood festival is a great time to try out Destin charter fishing, hop on a party boat fishing trip, or even a try out a shark fishing charter!
All types of art and artists are showcased throughout the festival
One important thing to know about Emerald Coast locals is that they truly take pride in their trade. Whether it’s music, cooking, or art, you can rest assured that the product is a true reflection of the artist’s passion. Every business along the harbor will also be open during the festival, running specials and featuring local art work. This is another great thing about the Seafood Festival, as the art on display is some of Destin’s finest work!
So, you went to the seafood festival, ate the food, took the pictures, but you didn’t get the shirt (or poster)! While on most occasions I would suggest skipping the merchandise and putting that money towards more seafood, but picking up some official Seafood Festival art is a must. Each year a different artist is selected to design the official festival art, and each year that art sells out fast!
Pictured above is an angler enjoying the Destin sunshine on a party boat fishing charter through Olin Marler Charters
When most people think about October, they think about sweaters, cool weather, fall leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, etc. This is typically not the case on the Emerald Coast, and it is recommended to check the weather before packing for your trip. Wearing your fall finest at this festival may make you feel like it is summer break as opposed to fall break.
Anticipating traffic can be your best defense against arriving late and missing out on the Seafood Fest fun
Fall is a beautiful time of year to visit the Emerald Coast, if not simply for the reduced amount of traffic on the roads. This, however, does not apply to the Seafood Festival. With thousands of visitors in town, traffic around the harbor can almost feel like spring break all over again!
Your best defense against potential road rage is to be prepared. It is recommended to expect traffic delays, even when GPS says there aren’t any, and leave your condo or vacation rental early. It’s also important to be aware that with so many people in the same area, cell phone service will not be great. If you need directions or information from your phone that requires service, it is recommended to screenshot this information before arriving at the harbor.
If by a Seafood Festival Miracle you do not encounter traffic on the way, it is still important to leave early to give yourself time to park. There are multiple, “park and walk,” locations to choose from, ranging in cost from $10.00 - $20.00 per vehicle. Handicap parking is available at the Emerald Grande, with an elevator to bring people down to the ground level. For more information about parking at the Seafood Festival in Destin, please visit https://www.destinseafoodfestival.com/.
If parking sounds like something you would rather avoid, you still have two options! Patrons can be dropped off at one of three, “festival drop off locations.” There is also a shuttle service available for $2.00 per person, picking up at Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park and Bealls Plaza at Emerald Coast Centre. It is also highly recommended to bring cash with you to the seafood festival, as ATM’s are few and far between, and many services provided only accept cash.
Pictured above is one of Destin’s many fishing charters heading through the harbor to spend the day catching keepers
Destin, Florida, is home to the largest private charter fishing fleet on the Gulf of Mexico, and visitors travel far and wide to find out why Destin is dubbed, “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” This wasn’t always the case, however, as Destin was once just a small fishing community. The first Seafood Festival, in fact, was organized by the Charter Boat Auxiliary in 1978 to raise money in the off-season for locals who rely on fishing as their main source of income during spring and summer.
Just as Destin transformed into the tourist destination you know and love today, the Seafood Festival in Destin transformed, as well, into a major tourist attraction. Still held in its original location, the festival now hosts tens of thousands of visitors every year. The Seafood Festival also means the start of the Destin Fishing Rodeo, with thousands of dollars being awarded to whoever reels in the biggest catch. It’s a favorite among locals, anglers, and visitors alike!
10. General Information
Now that you’re prepared with all of this Seafood Festival knowledge, the last thing to know is when and where! Located at the historic Destin Harbor, taking place October 4-6, 2019, this event is free and open to the public!
210 Harbor Boulevard
Destin, Florida, 32541
Friday: 4:00pm - 10:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am - 10:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am - 4:00pm
Keeping you informed