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Top 10 Budget-Friendly Things to do in Destin Florida

1. Enjoy mesmerizing Sunrise and Sunsets at Destin’s scenic beaches

Everyone loves the affordable yet memorable activities, beaches across the world offer humanity! God-given beach fun is UNLIMITED and FREE!!! Watching the magnificent Sun as it rises and sets fills us with a deep sense of appreciation for nature. 

Destin, Florida, boasts of a stunning shoreline lined by scenic beaches like Miramar Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Destin Beach, Crystal Beach, and many more. 

If you are up for a slightly longer drive and in the mood to explore beaches further down the coastline, then head up to the fascinating Panama City Beach, the Pensacola Beach, or the Navarre Beach.

So, get out there! And let your minds soak in the glorious beach views of sunrises and simmering sunsets with the hypnotizing power to calm your dog-tired souls.

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2. Go bananas at HarborWalk Village

Situated on Destin Harbor is the spirited HarborWalk Village with a whole range of restaurants, shopping areas, festivals, zip lines, magic shows, and live music. The restaurants offer a variety of cuisines for foodies, from fresh and sizzling hot local food recipes to a range of assorted mouth-watering desserts. Come, treat your taste buds with this divine food extravaganza! The destination also offers a vibrant and memorable nightlife experience. 

If you are an adventure-lover, then come in and enjoy the range of adrenaline sports this place offers, such as:

helicopter rides, 

treasure hunts, 

dolphin cruises, 

firework shows, 

the 60-mins Gulf Coast Escape room challenge, 

the 7D Interactive Movie ride, and much more to see and experience. 

Enjoy amazing water sports like parasailing, jet ski rides, deep-sea fishing tours, jet surfs, snorkeling, Scuba-diving, and so on. So, don’t forget your swim gear!

The shopping center is an out-of-the-box experience that is incomparable to the usual shopping scenario. The Village has an outdoor shopping center sitting on the edge of the Destin Harbor with grand views of the Gulf. Visitors typically spend 2 to 3 hrs in this most-happening spot. Check out all the fun here. 

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3. Sunbathing on the white sandy beaches

Boost your Vitamin D levels! Get tanned! And, don’t forget to pack up some good quality Sunscreen lotion. Sunbathing is an effortless activity. You just need to turn up, give it time, and the miracle happens! Sunbathing offers some great health benefits when done optimally. Check out here to learn the art of sunbathing the right way!. Fort Walton Beach, Destin Beach and Miramar beach are some ideal spots for embracing the sun’s rays.

Okaloosa Island

Okaloosa Island is just west of Destin across the Destin Bridge.

Miramar Beach 

Situated in the South Walton county of Florida, Miramar Beach is lively with its party-like crowded atmosphere. If you love having crazy fun and being around high-spirited people, then this is the beach for you! The beach offers great panoramic views over the Gulf of Mexico. The beach has ultra-modern amenities despite its supernatural vibes.

Crystal Beach

Located on the East end of Destin.

Situated at the heart of Destin is the Crystal Beach, known for its pristine white sands. The beach is indeed a heavenly getaway with its lush natural beauty.

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4. Fishing at Norriego Point

Enjoy fishing? Go fishing on Destin’s bountiful beaches that offer all types of fishing activities such as Surf fishing, Bay fishing, Deep-sea fishing, Pier fishing & Kayak fishing.  The Destin beaches are abundant with Trout, Redfish, Tarpon, Snapper, Flounder, Sheepshead, Blue Marlin, Grouper, Cobia, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Wahoo, and Mullet. 

The Destin beaches are active all year round, with multiple Fishing tournaments enjoyed by Fishing enthusiasts and huge crowds of viewers. If you are a skilled Piscator or Piscatrix, then why not try your hand at the yearly Destin Fishing Tournaments such as the famous:

Destin Fishing Rodeo, 

HarborWalk Marina Cobia tournament, 

Flounder Pounder competition, 

Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic. and 

Best of the Bay Fishing tournament

Norriego Point is a famous destination located at the tip of Holiday Isle for fishing and boating activities. The Norriego Point is one of Destin’s hidden treasures and a must-visit.

Except when fishing on a charter where the captain holds a fishing license, a license is mandatory for anyone above 16 years of age. Recreational fishing licenses are also available with short-term and long-term options for residents and non-residents. Fishing licenses can be purchased online here or from the shops near the city beaches. The Florida Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations are regularly updated. So, for the latest rules, always visit their site here before heading out to fish.

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5. Enjoy a Pontoon Charter Boat ride with family

A pontoon Charter Boar ride with your partner or family is one of the best ways to chill and enjoy the summer. The boating experience is one of a kind and will always hold a special evergreen spot in your brain’s zone of fun memories. Hire a boat ride online here or with one of the many boating services providers in the area, such as the Destin Vacation Boat Rentals, Wet-n-Wild Watersports, Paradise Pontoon and Captain Services, and so on.

The Pontoon boats carry 10 to 14 person max depending on the boat size, and the duration of the rides are between 2 and 10 hrs. These boat rides also offer various water sports add-ons like snorkeling, jet ski, fishing, etc. So, pick up your sun gear, swim gear, and pack up some drinks before getting up on the boat. The Pontoon Boat rides can be self-captained or booked with Captainship. Pontoon Boats depart from Destin Harbor, Fort Walton Beach, Crab Island, Okaloosa Island, etc.

Typical restrictions for Pontoon Boat ride are as follows:

People born on or after 01-01-1988, can operate the boat, but after passing a Florida Boaters Test. If you were born before 01-01-1988 you do not need this license. The test is available on the site for $3 (You need to arrive 45 minutes before your appointment to get a boaters license). 

You must be 18 years or older to sign the rental contract. A valid photo ID and a VALID credit card are necessary for proof. Minors will need their parent’ consensual sign for participating in the ride.

Failure to return the boat within the due time will result in a $50 charge for every 15 minutes of delay, which is payable directly to the vendor.

If you are captaining your boat, you must have the experience and skill required for it. 

Persons operating the boat must bring valid ID proof for age verification purposes.

Glass bottles/items are strictly prohibited on the boat.

Towing anything from the rental boat is strictly prohibited.

Boats are strictly prohibited from entering the Gulf of Mexico.

Grills are prohibited on the boat.

Boats cannot be used as a shuttle.

Pets are not allowed.

The activity is not accessible to the disabled.

Occasionally, the boat trip may be rescheduled for another day/time under unfavorable weather conditions.

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6. Go sailing on a Catamaran with Captain Pam

Did you know that the word "catamaran" comes from the Tamil word, kattumaram, meaning "logs bound together". 

Embark on a Catamaran day trip with Captain Pam and enjoy dolphin sightings, swimming, and snorkeling activities as part of the adventurous ride. Standing on the Catamaran, you can:

Watch the sunrise and sunset on the Gulf of Mexico 

Visit the floating restaurant on Crab Island

Snorkel in Captain Pam’s favorite area called ‘Grass Flats’

Go hunting for treasures (Sand dollar hunting), waist-deep in shallow waters

Set free into the ocean, a Hermit crab of your choice, after getting helping the crab participate in a crab race aboard the Catamaran

Book your Catamaran ride right away with ‘Smile N Wave Sailing Adventures Fleet’ on here.

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7. Visit Henderson Beach

Come, get yourself covered in the ivory-white sands of Henderson Beach lying on the scenic emerald coast. The beach is a perfect venue for swimming, fishing, and sunbathing. It is one of the few beaches to provide Lifeguard Support facilities. With ADA compliance, the beach is very disabled-friendly. There are wheelchairs available for use by disabled visitors. 

The Henderson beach state park is a natural attraction and a fantastic venue for soul-filling relaxation. The park is a great picnic spot with scenic boardwalks, sand pines, scrub oaks, and dune rosemary decorating the park. 

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8. Visit Destin Commons

The Destin Commons is an impressive urban shopping mall with the following amenities:

AMC movie theatre

Dine-in restaurants

Ample number of shops to cover all customer’s needs

Destin Commons conducts regular art events, artisan markets, community events to support social causes, and fun events like ‘Smoke on the Coast BBQ & Fireworks Festival’. Kids love the fun rides and splash pads in the mall’s play area.

The mall is open from 10 AM - 8 PM and welcomes pets inside its premises, although using a leash is compulsory. The mall is so distinctly pet-friendly that it has Doggie Hydration Stations. Many patio restaurants, Starbucks, and a few others are so dog-friendly that they offer treats for canine companions. Going a step further, many shops in the mall support Pet Merchandise. You can now clearly see how futuristic and next-generation this little mall truly is.  

The mall is wheelchair accessible, with stroller and wheelchair available for rent. There is ample parking-space availability for visitors. 

On your way out, please don’t forget to drop a coin in the ‘Coins for Cause’ box!

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9. Visit the Village of Baytowne Wharf

Located in the Choctawhatchee Bay in Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is the charming and quaint little seaside town with unique architectural beauty called the Baytowne Wharf. The Baytowne Wharf is affectionately known as the ‘heart and soul’ of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. You can visit this place for a stroll down memory lane any time of the day. Along with a lot of options for the food-lover in you, there are plenty of fun activities for kids and youngsters, including:

An arcade

Live music

A play area

A carousel

Zip lines

An ice-skating rink

A treehouse

A dog-park

Waterfront trails and 

Boardwalks along the water

Lagoon fishing

12 restaurants

15 retail stores and 

Many nightlife venues

Check out all the FREE events in the Events Calendar from Monday Hydroflight Shows, Boomin’ Tuesdays, Wednesday Night Concert Series, Magical Thursday, and Sunday Cinema.

Entrance is completely free and is always open to the public. There is plenty of parking space, and FREE parking is just the icing on the cake for perfect time out shopping!!! Pets are allowed, but canines must be on a leash. Wheelchairs are available to rent on submission of collateral. With all these wonderful features, the place has become a common and frequent meeting spot for locals to gather and socialize. 

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10. Visit Okaloosa Island Boardwalk

The Okaloosa Island Boardwalk is a long stretch of pier with splendid views along the Gulf of Mexico. This a perfect haven for family fun with public beach access, a range of restaurants specializing in seafood, shops that provide adventure sports gear for rent, and fun events happening throughout the summer.  

Live Music, Monday to Sunday

Monday night Pirate shows 

Tuesday night free movie on the beach   

Wednesday night fireworks 

Thursday night ‘Beach Luau and Fire Performance’ 

Get on a ‘Glass Bottom Boat’ ride or sit down and enjoy gazing at the magical sunrise and sunset views! The beach is a favorite destination for swimming and fishing activities. Remember to pack all your beach stuff! Pelicans are a common sight during your walk aboard. There is ample parking space for visitors.

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