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
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.
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!
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
Packing list if you travel by car:
- Insulated pack
- Beach chairs
- Beach towels
- 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.
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’sÂ 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 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
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.
Unanimous Thumbs Up for McGuire’s Irish Pub
Great Place to Eat
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.
Look at McGuire’s Irish Pub MenuÂ 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 wonÂ 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.
Â 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 theirÂ “Life is Good” shop, where you can get lots of the newest designs of your favorite t-shirts.
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 FoundationÂ Concerts in the Park
For more information, 850.650.2226
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 theÂ Calender of Events
Rent a Beach House – For us, that was the ideal place to stay
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.
These beach resort shoes are comfy and casual.
Buy before you go because they are pricey in the shops.
Sanuk Women’s Yoga Mat Flip Flop,Ebony,8 M US
Gulf Coast Shopping
Gulf Coast Shopping