Although Florida has been most famous for Miami, many are discovering the beauties of the Emerald Coast and the allure of Apalachicola. I know I am one of that number. In fact, Florida’s Emerald Coast has been voted the “Best Beach Town in the South” by the readers of Southern Living magazine, in 2011.
Visiting The Emerald Coast? Discover Destin Beach!
The Destin area is great for families. No place better for reunions, it is a fun place to meet up with kids and grandkids. The beaches are clean and beautiful, there are plenty of things to do and see -in a completely relaxed atmosphere.
Lots of shopping opportunities in the general area.
The clear waters, ocean breezes, and nice condos are the perfect backdrop for good memories and family fun…. and that is what makes this an area worth return visits.
Read on to find out about some of the great restaurants, attractions, hidden gems -all honestly reported from our family visits.
Our Latest Destin Beach Vacation
Our favorite part: time on the beach!
Another great time of fun in the sun
We love to spend most of our time on the beach.
Take along a really great beach bag to tote all the necessary essentials. My daughter uses the beach cart and considers it a lifesaver for hauling all the family gear to and from the beach: boogie boards, sand toys, beach umbrella, etc.
This cart is so handy to transport gear from condo to beach.
We’ve always enjoyed the beach, but Destin has such clear water and white sand beaches, it rates as our family’s top favorite place to enjoy a Beach vacation.
Being in the panhandle, it is a little far north for some snowbirds who like to vacation during the winter months, but for us the late spring and early fall are good times to go. That is when we have experienced Destin at its most pleasant.
The General Area: The Emerald Coast – Basic Beach Vacation Info
The Beach is what I go to Destin for… those gorgeous white sands and emerald waters are the centerpiece of the area. There are plenty of things to do and places to eat, but when all is said and done it is the natural beauty of the area that makes it really special.
Emerald Coast Guide Things to do at one of the most beautiful places in America. BEACH INFORMATION: Emerald Coast Guide Home, Recreation and Attractions, Fishing, Dining and Entertainment, Shopping, and more
a small insulated pack for water and refreshments.
Don’t forget your sunscreen …especially if you are from the North! Or have pale skin!
Most condos don’t have beach towels, so bring a nice big beach towel. You can buy them at the outlets, but they are cheaper and much better quality if you buy them before you arrive in Destin. This is true of most resorts and beach destinations.
“Sunscreen?”… by Kurt Ard
Packing list if you travel by car:
Bottled water and drinks
Beach umbrella or tent
Extras of paper products like paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper.
Get ready for the beach – Beach gear for maximum fun
This is another great idea that my daughter has adopted for her family’s beach vacations. When the sun is as hot as it gets in Florida, these tents are great for the young children who need to take a little nap, or for moms with fair skin who need timeout from the midday sun.
I need to reiterate: if you come from the North and have fair skin (I do) use a powerful sunscreen 30+ and above right from first thing in the morning.
I had thought I was protected enough but got badly burnt. Until slathering on 55 SPF first thing in the morning it was not enough. Get everything possibly exposed to the sun covered with sunscreen.
visit Seaside, too, while you are on the Emerald Coast.
My Favorite Breakfast Place
My family and I revisited my favorite haunts listed here during our 2011 trip. I still like Another Broken Egg, and the oysters from Shrimp Shack were still excellent.
We spent more time getting items at “Fresh Market” during this vacation, and found they sell oysters ‘Rockefeller’ there. The sandwich wraps, bakery items, and salads were just wonderful. Very good fresh fruits and juices, too. We highly recommend this as a choice for many lunch and light dinner times.
Another Broken Egg Cafe
I had the ultimate crabcakes here, but no matter what you order from the menu this restaurant is a destination as far as I’m concerned. I bought the souvenir coffee cups, too. We tried it out on recommendation of my daughter and son-in-law, and they know how to pick ’em.
I like everything about the pleasant inviting decor, the delicious food, and the menu selections. Everyone in our large party was happy. And that is a tall order!
If you want to know what other people thought, here’sÂ a review of the Destin locations.
I know it is a bit of a run to get over toÂ Seaside, but it is a nice attraction. While you are there looking at the little shops and all the pretty houses, get someÂ Apalachicola oystersÂ at the Shrimp Shack. They are addictively delicious.
The beach directly behind the eating area is pretty and there is a great smoothie trailer across the street.
Another Oyster and Seafood Place:
The Boathouse Oyster Bar
Taste the sea
A fun loving place where the oysters are shucked as fast as the guy can get ’em out, and the crowd is loud and happy. This place is tucked away and a bit hard to find… look for the “Boathouse Oyster Bar” sign as you near HarborWalk Village. They have lots on the menu besides oysters, but if you love oysters this is the place you want to go.
One thing, though, is that you can’t get them for take-out… oysters must be eaten on site.
I ordered the baked oysters “Half and Half”, two recipes of 6 each: one a butter,mozzarella,bacon, and onion smothered oyster- the other a cocktail sauce and cheddar cheese concoction. Both good.
Definite “beach” feel with old style wooden building.
Harborwalk Village – shops,views, fun, and food
photo by Marvin Kuo
Harborwalk Village is a waterfront collection of stores, eating places, and some fun stuff for kids located right next to the Destin Harbor Marina. A small “locomotive” gives a ride, upscale stores offer a place to spend your money, and restaurants are bright, lively, and can be expensive. It is all pretty expensive – but an enjoyable place to see. Located across the street from Mcguire’s and below the Emerald Grande Hotel.
Very sunny and hot in the daytime, I preferred visiting in the evening after sundown, the lights reflect on the water and the mood is upbeat.
Source: flickr.com via HarborWalk
Harry T Restaurant
Located within Harborwalk Village is Harry T’s – a loud and sloppy restaurant, but with very decent food if you don’t mind the high prices.
I ate the catch of the day which happened to be snapper and buttery new potatoes. My husband had the “best Reuben sandwich I ever tasted” – that is what he said, just quoted him.
We were seated overlooking the bay which was very beautiful, just missing the sunset views which I’m sure can be spectacular…looking over the water and towards the bridge toÂ Okaloosa Island.
I thought the seafood was okay, and very overpriced … so while it was an overall good experience, I don’t think I would choose to go there on my next trip.
Â Everyone seems to agree that this is a place for good food and fun.Â Â Mcguire’s in DestinÂ is right across the street from Harborwalk Village,Â wonderfulÂ place to walk along the waterside, visit upscale boutiques and eat- even if you don’t decide on Mcguire’s.