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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

family picture by the ocean

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
  • Official Site For Destin
    Award-Winning Beaches THINGS TO DO

Must-Have Travel Essentials for Florida

Must Have…Beach Towels!

These are beach essentials

These are beach essentials

Be sure to pack these:

  • Don’t forget to have sunglasses
  • 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

“Sunscreen?”… by Kurt Ard

Packing list if you travel by car:

  1. Sunscreen,
  2. Insulated pack
  3. Beach chairs
  4. Beach towels
  5. Bottled water and drinks
  6. Beach umbrella or tent
  7. Extras of paper products like paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper.

Get ready for the beach – Beach gear for maximum fun

Shade Shack Instant Pop Up Family Beach Tent and Sun Shelter, Blue/Yellow by Demco Incorporated

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.



Skinceuticals Sheer Physical Uv Defense SPF 50 Broad-spectrum Sunscreen Fluid, 1.7-Ounce Skinceuticals Sheer Physical Uv Defense SPF 50 Broad-spectrum Sunscreen Fluid, 1.7-Ounce

Explore the Area

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’s a review of the Destin locations.



My Favorite Oysters

At the Shrimp Shack in Seaside- Go There

I know it is a bit of a run to get over to Seaside, but it is a nice attraction. While you are there looking at the little shops and all the pretty houses, get some Apalachicola oysters 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
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: via HarborWalk
Source: via HarborWalk

Harry T’s

Harry T

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 to 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.

Harry T’s Menu


Unanimous Thumbs Up for McGuire’s Irish Pub

Great Place to Eat

  Everyone seems to agree that this is a place for good food and fun.  Mcguire’s in Destin is right across the street from Harborwalk Village,  wonderful  place to walk along the waterside, visit upscale boutiques and eat- even if you don’t decide on Mcguire’s.

Read reviews at Yelp.

Look at McGuire’s Irish Pub Menu and give them a call

There is a cute souvenir shop attached, and we bought some t-shirts, shot glasses and other Irish flavored memorabilia, but the big draw is the food.

Steak is a big favorite there. Try it- you won’t be sorry. Also famous for their burgers, they won best burger in Destin.

Very Good Asian Food

Chinese/Thai Food @ Lins Asian next to the Winn Dixie by Silver Sands Outlet. I recommend the panfried noodle dish.

Destin Commons

 An outdoor mall with many little shops and the usual: Starbucks, Loft, Talbot, Victoria Secret, etc. Anchored by a giant Bass Pro Shop, you can’t miss it on Highway 98.

I enjoyed the many different shops strung along the pleasant walkway, had great smoothies and fresh sandwich at Tropical Smoothie Cafe. Stop at the information desk for a map and ask for the coupons.

Don’t miss their “Life is Good” shop, where you can get lots of the newest designs of your favorite t-shirts.

Destin Commons website

Destin Area Festivals

Find Events Going On

We attended the Seafood Festival when there during our last vacation. I wasn’t very impressed. It was very crowded and the long lines for the seafood dampened my enthusiasm for the event.

If you want to know more, they have a facebook page.

Beer Festival October 13th

Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation Concerts in the Park

For more information, 850.650.2226

Destin’s Fishing Tournament

The Sandestin Wine Festival

Destin Area Events

Destin, Florida Annual Events Calendar

There are always all sorts of fun events going on including the annual ones like the Seafood Festival, the Beach Kite Festival and the Annual Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival .

Emerald Coast Events:

-watch this space for up coming events or check the website link-

For info and in depth descriptions, see the Calender of Events

Rent a Beach House – For us, that was the ideal place to stay

Postcard from Destin Florida by ilonagarden

Destin Info List – Important Links

Who was Mattie Kelley?

She was an important pioneer of modern Destin, and the arts foundation which gives summer concerts is named in her honor. Find out about Mattie Kelley, and how to enter an art contest.

Best Time To Visit

September is one of the best times to visit. Off season rates, more comfortable temperatures.

Beach Resort Footwear – Keep it comfortable and casual

These beach resort shoes are comfy and casual.

Buy before you go because they are pricey in the shops.
Sanuk Men's Shipwrecked LoaferBrindle11 M US

Sanuk Men’s Shipwrecked Loafer

Sanuk Women's Yoga Mat Flip Flop,Ebony,8 M US

Sanuk Women’s Yoga Mat Flip Flop,Ebony,8 M US

Gulf Coast Shopping

Gulf Coast Shopping
Gulf Coast Shopping