What to do in Downtown Destin - 10 Best Activities
March 18th 2021
Destin, Florida, is a fantastic family vacation destination, known for its beautiful beaches, watersports, wildlife, and for having an array of fun and unforgettable things to do! Downtown Destin is the hub of it all, spanning from Crystal Beach to the Destin Harbor, and encompassing popular must-visit spots like HarborWalk Village, Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park, and more. Downtown Destin is truly your one-stop-shop for fun and adventure, with something for all types of travelers.
With so many options, choosing what to do in Downtown Destin can sometimes be overwhelming, but have no fear! TripShock has compiled a list of the top things to do in Destin, Florida, so you can rest assured you are experiencing the best of what downtown has to offer. Keep reading and discover 10 awesome activities to make this trip to Destin one for the books!
Table of Contents
- Dolphin Tours
- Crab Island
- Paddleboard Tours
- Live Entertainment
Dolphins spotted playing in the waves during an extraordinary Destin dolphin tour
So, if you’re wondering what to do in Downtown Destin first, you can’t go wrong with boarding a breathtaking dolphin cruise! Dolphin tours Destin, FL, are a one-of-a-kind experience, as the area’s crystal-clear waters and abundance of playful dolphins makes finding Flipper both simple and spectacular. Not only that, dolphin cruises allow you to see this beautiful slice of paradise from a whole new perspective, while also providing you with unparalleled views you have to see to believe!
Dolphin cruises come in all shapes and sizes, as well, so finding the perfect fit for you and your group is a cinch. Glass-bottom boat tours, tiki cruises, speedboat rides, sailing cruises, jet ski tours, and private charters are just a few of the many types of dolphin tours that get you out on the area’s emerald waters and frolicking with the dolphins in no time! One of the best things to do in Downtown Destin, dolphin cruises are perfect for all occasions, from date nights to family reunions.
Fresh local seafood dishes are both delicious and easy to find in downtown Destin
People travel far and wide just to dine on Destin’s delicious, fresh-caught seafood, at some of the best restaurants along the Emerald Coast! Depending on what’s in season, visitors will find a variety of Gulf-to-Table fish on the menu, like snapper, mahi mahi, amberjack, triggerfish, and more. From casual beachside restaurants, to fine dining options with delectable seafood entrees, there is something to tantalize all types of taste buds in Downtown Destin, FL! With that being said, below are a few of the top places for seafood in the area:
- Dewey Destin’s
- Boshamps Seafood & Oyster House
- Boathouse Oyster Bar
- The Back Porch
- Harbor Docks
- Marina Cafe
And that’s just to name a few! Not a seafood fan? No problem! Downtown Destin offers a wide variety of delicious eats, from savory steaks and burgers at McGuire’s Irish Pub, to mouthwatering Italian food at Mimmo’s Ristorante Italiano, and everything in between. Wherever you decide to dine in Downtown Destin, your taste buds will be thanking you!
Fishing charters departing from Downtown Destin are among the top things to do along the Emerald Coast
Whether you’re celebrating a bachelor party in Destin, FL, or are simply enjoying a family-fun beach vacation, fishing is a must when in, “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village!” Most fishing charters will depart from Downtown Destin, and there are many different types of charters to choose from. Popular fishing charters include the following:
- Party Boat Fishing Charters
- Semi-Private Fishing Charters
- Shark Fishing Charters
- Deep Sea Fishing Private Charters
- Inshore Bay Fishing Private Charters
- Kid’s Fishing Charters
- And MORE!
Destin fishing charters come equipped with everything you need to catch keepers like bait, tackle, fishing licenses, and instruction, if needed. Another fun feature of fishing charters in Destin is that many will actually include fish filleting in the cost, so you can easily cook your catch. If your hotel or condo doesn’t have a kitchen, many nearby restaurants will actually cook your catch for you for an additional fee. Below are a few of the Downtown Destin restaurants that will cook what you hook:
- Dewey Destin’s
- AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar
- Harbor Docks
- Harry T’s
- Brotula’s Seafood House & Oyster Bar
HarborWalk Village in Downtown Destin is lined with unique shops and boutiques
When searching for what to do in Downtown Destin to beat the summer heat, shopping is your best bet! HarborWalk Village, for example, is a great place to search for the perfect souvenir, as it offers awesome treasures like airbrushed t-shirts, handmade soaps and jewelry, custom caricatures, kites, swimwear, and more. Not only that, Downtown Destin is less than 10 miles away from both the Silver Sands Premium Outlets and Destin Commons, which means it is in close proximity to the top department stores and name brands, as well.
Pictured above is a pontoon rental making its way through Destin’s crystal-clear waters
When it comes to what to do in Downtown Destin, we would be remiss to not mention the famous Crab Island! Crab Island in Destin, FL, is actually a shallow sandbar, not an island, where both locals and visitors alike congregate for some good, old-fashioned fun in the sun. Some of the top activities to enjoy once at Crab Island include swimming, snorkeling, shelling, paddling, volleyball, searching for wildlife, and more. There are also floating vendors at Crab Island offering tasty treats, beach essentials, inflatables, slides, etc.
An important thing to be aware of is that Crab Island is not accessible by car, and the only way to get there is by watercraft. Pontoon boat rentals, kayak and paddleboard rentals, jet ski rentals, private charters, and Crab Island tours and excursions are popular ways to get there. No matter if you spend the whole day, or just a couple of hours, a trip to Crab Island is an essential part of any vacation to Destin!
Sunset paddleboard tours departing from Downtown Destin allow visitors to experience the area’s natural beauty up close
When trying to decide what to do in Downtown Destin, you can’t go wrong with a picturesque paddleboard tour! Following a knowledgeable guide through the Destin Harbor on a paddleboard is a great way to see the city from a whole new perspective, reconnect with nature, and take in dazzling Destin views. Don’t forget to look out for wonderful wildlife like dolphins, pelicans, herons, sea turtles, stingrays, manatees, and more.
Paddleboard tours come in all shapes and sizes, as well, which means there’s a tour for all skill levels, interests, and ages. The SUP Yoga Class is a popular option, as guests will paddle through the invigorating Destin Harbor, and practice their yoga poses while on the paddleboard. Sunset Stand Up Paddleboard Tours are a favorite among locals and visitors alike, providing a relaxing and unique way to take in a fantastic Florida sunset!
Parasailing with Gilligan’s Watersports is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of Downtown Destin
Fly like a bird in the sky and reach new heights on an unparalleled parasailing adventure! Parasailing allows you to experience Destin in a whole new way, providing breathtaking views of the city, the Gulf of Mexico, and beyond. Most parasailing tours in Destin will take guests to heights of up to 400 feet, creating unforgettable and awe-inspiring views. Not only that, some of the best parasailing in Destin, FL, departs from the downtown area, which makes soaring through the sky like Superman both scenic, and simple.
Another important thing to mention is that parasailing is just as peaceful as it is thrilling. Soaring up into the sky is sure to get the adrenaline pumping, but once you’re there, you’ll feel serene as you float and relax among the clouds. And let’s not forget to mention, this is an experience where you will want to be sure to look down! Destin’s tranquil and transparent waters make it easy to spot magnificent marine life from above, so be sure to look out for whimsical wildlife like the following:
- Sea Turtles
- And MORE!
Snorkeling trips depart daily from Downtown Destin during the peak season, and is fun for both kids, and kids at heart
Destin, Florida’s crystal-clear, emerald waters and snow-white sand create the ideal snorkeling conditions, making it easy to spot the wonderful wildlife and scenic beauty that lies just beneath the surface! Snorkeling tours take guests to the top spots to search for marine life, including Crab Island, the Destin Jetties, and Norriego Point. Popular animals you may encounter while snorkeling in beautiful Destin, Florida, include the following:
Pictured above are Noah and Heather Wells with the MAXIMUM MAGIC Show, a spellbinding performance that takes place in Downtown Destin’s HarborWalk Theater
Downtown Destin is the place to be for live entertainment, offering everything from mind-blowing, Vegas-style magic shows that are sure to amaze and awe, to hilarious hypnosis comedy shows. This type of live entertainment is not only a great way to beat the heat in the summer months, but is the perfect way to spend some quality time with your favorite people. In fact, Noah and Heather Wells’ MAXIMUM MAGIC Show is one of the top things to do with toddlers in Destin, FL, making for a family-friendly evening full of magic and mystery!
This area is also known for hosting some spectacular annual events, that attract tons of visitors to the area, year after year. It’s not uncommon to see street performers, artists, live music, concerts, and so much more during these events, offering tons of live entertainment for all types of travelers. The Destin Fishing Rodeo and the Destin Seafood Festival in October, Emerald Coast Boat Week in August, and the HarborWalk Marina Destin Cobia Tournament in March are just a few of the many amazing annual events that take place in Downtown Destin.
Group of friends toasting to the good life in Downtown Destin, FL
Wondering what to do in Downtown Destin when the sun goes down? The nightlife scene here is impeccable, and offers a plethora of things to do at night in Destin for the party-people in your group. Live music fills the Destin Harbor nightly, showcasing the top local talents, famous bands, and DJs mixing up the hottest tunes! Popular places for nightlife in Downtown Destin include the following:
- Club Bimini at AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar
- Boathouse Oyster Bar
- McGuire’s Irish Pub & Brewery
- Coyote Ugly Saloon
- Tailfins Waterfront Grill
- Red Door Saloon
- And MORE!
As you can see, when searching for what to do in Downtown Destin, the options are practically endless! From dining on delicious, fresh-caught seafood, to searching for shells, fish, and dolphins on a spectacular snorkeling adventure, Destin truly has something for everyone. Looking for more Destin, Florida, vacation information? Check out TripShock’s Destin Visitors Guide for everything you need to know about the area, including the top tours, attractions, and things to do at the best rates online.
Keeping you informed