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As one of our absolute favorite family vacation destinations, we’ve written this mega guide on the best things to do in Destin with kids!
Located on Florida’s Panhandle along the beautiful Emerald Coast, Destin, FL offers amazing beaches and dozens of family-friendly indoor and outdoor activities.
This little slice of paradise boasts clear, blue-green waters and soft, quartz-like white sand for an overall stunning vacation ambiance.
Beyond its natural attractions, Destin, Florida’s family-friendly activities include watersports, adventure tours, go-karting, pirate cruises, fun oceanside restaurants, and nightly fireworks.
In this post, I’ll cover the very best things to do in Destin with kids, including beach recommendations, tour companies, and fun places to eat.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.
Things to Do in Destin With Kids
If you’re looking for a fantastic place for a family vacation, it’s no wonder you’ve included Destin on your family travel bucket list!
In a city that screams fun in the sun, you’ll find a plethora of fun activities that appeal to all ages.
Here are just a few reasons you’re going to love Destin, FL:
- The beaches: As mentioned above, the beaches here are absolutely stunning. With their white sand and turquoise waters, they look like something straight out of a postcard. And trust us – they’re even more beautiful in person!
- The wildlife: If you’re a nature lover, you’ll be happy to know that Destin is home to a variety of wildlife, including dolphins, sea turtles, and many species of birds.
- The fishing: Destin is known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” so if you’re an angler, this is definitely the place for you. It also means you’ll find amazing, fresh seafood in Destin!
- The variety of things to do: Finally, one of the main reasons Destin is a vacation favorite for many is due to its variety of things to do! As you’ll see from this post, there are literally dozens of both indoor and outdoor things to do in Destin with kids to make for a perfect family vacation!
- The gateway to 30A: The 20-mile stretch of coastline between Destin and Panama City Beach is known as Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A. Use Destin as a starting point and discover the amazing things to do on 30A while there!
Where We Stayed
There are dozens of places to stay in Destin and options include vacation homes, family-friendly hotels, luxury resorts, and condos.
During our most recent Destin family vacation, we chose to stay at the Henderson Beach Resort for its beautiful accommodations and generous hospitality.
Henderson Beach Resort is located 18 miles from the Destin-Fort Walton Beach airport and just across the road from its private, white sand beach on the Gulf of Mexico.
It is a gorgeous, mid-size resort that has a luxurious, yet family-friendly feel.
We love its grand lobby, delicious onsite restaurants and ice cream parlor, huge outdoor fire pit, 2 pools (1 adult-only), and lazy river, as well as the large grassy courtyard for playing lawn games.
There are also bike, kayak, and paddle board rentals (included in the daily resort fee), as well as a kids’ club, yoga classes, and an onsite spa.
Our Gulf View Queen Room with Balcony had a spacious interior, a huge bathroom with a sunken bathtub, classic, elegant decor, and a fabulous balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and the adjacent Henderson Beach State Park nature preserve.
To be honest, we felt like this was the most gorgeous property in the area.
Its secluded feel made us excited to return here each day after our busy days exploring Destin.
Head to our Instagram page and go to the Destin, FL highlight reel that includes our personal vacation photos of Henderson Beach Resort as well as a room tour of our Gulf View Queen Room With Balcony.
Without further ado, here are 33 of the best and most fun things to do in Destin with kids!
Outdoor Things to Do in Destin With Kids
Though Destin, Florida is a great place to visit year-round, most people feel that the best time to visit Destin is during the months of April to May.
From mid-April to the end of May, the sun is shining and the temperatures are comfortable (expect highs in the mid-70s and 80s).
Another popular time to visit Destin, especially if you’re most interested in swimming in the ocean, is during the summer months of June, July, and August.
During the summer months, you can expect higher daily temps in the 80s and low 90s.
My guess is that if you’re visiting during any of these months, you’ll be looking to spend the majority of your time in Destin enjoying the outdoors.
Here are Destin’s outdoor activities and attractions you won’t want to miss!
Oh, and psst…we love Destin, FL so much that we’ve written several other posts to help you plan your trip!
- 13 Best Places to Eat Breakfast in Destin, FL
- A Guide to The 8 Best Destin, Florida Beaches
- Destin Harbor Boardwalk (Best Things to Do + FAQs)
- Things to Do on 30A for Endless Florida Fun!
- How to Stay Cool in the Florida Heat While on Vacation
1. Visit the Destin beaches
When looking for the best things to do in Destin with kids, my first suggestion is to head to the beach!
Florida beaches are hard to beat and for the perfect example of why they’re so beloved, look no further than Destin, Florida!
Destin beaches are extra special because they have vivid, clear, blue-green waters and sugar-white sand that feel amazing below your feet.
(They’re the most beautiful beaches that we’ve ever personally experienced!)
Pack the appropriate Florida beach essentials, and try to fit in a visit to as many beaches as possible during your Destin family vacation.
Each of them offers something special and unique, as well as represents the Emerald Coast’s beauty in different ways.
Our favorite beaches in Destin, Florida include:
Henderson Beach State Park
Henderson Beach is one of the most popular beaches in all of Destin.
This catalog-perfect beach has over 6,000 feet of shoreline to enjoy.
Take a nap on the plush-white sands, splash around in the emerald waters, or sit back and enjoy the view!
Santa Rosa Beach
For a little break from crowds, visit Santa Rosa Beach.
It is much quieter than Henderson Beach, making it perfect for relaxation.
And if you have a little excess energy, there are fantastic hiking opportunities nearby.
The beach has several entry points to Point Washington State Forest, where you can hike, bike ride, or take a stroll through nature.
For a large assortment of various activities, stop by Miramar Beach.
Beyond the beautiful beach, there are plenty of activities to explore such as shaded tennis courts, jet ski rentals, or parasailing!
There are also plenty of beachfront shops and restaurants to go to throughout the day.
Our favorite is Pompano Joe’s Seafood House – an awesome restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating located directly on the beach!
For calm waters and stunning beach fronts, take a visit to Okaloosa Island.
Okaloosa Island is a narrow three-mile island between the cities of Fort Walton Beach and Destin.
The beaches are perfect for relaxing, swimming, kayaking, and more.
Also, be sure to hit up the Okaloosa Island Boardwalk for awesome food, margaritas, and beach apparel stores, as well as take a stroll down Okaloosa Island Pier.
2. Visit the Destin Harbor Boardwalk
The Destin Harbor Boardwalk is a Destin, Florida attraction that should not be missed!
This is a classic boardwalk experience (like you see in the movies!) where there are several shops, activities, vendors, and restaurants grouped together on a lively boardwalk along the ocean.
You can spend hours walking up and down the boardwalk browsing the shops, sipping on drinks, and admiring the ocean views.
The boardwalk itself meets up with dozens of docks, charter boats, and excursion companies positioned in the harbor which makes for a fun sight in itself.
Experiences departing from the Destin Harbor Boardwalk include:
- Dolphins cruises and tours
- Charter fishing trips
- Trips to Crab Island
- Snorkeling expeditions
- Boating adventures
Our favorite restaurants on the Destin Harbor Boardwalk include AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, and Harry T’s.
Additional planning tips: It costs $20 for general, onsite parking in an adjacent lot.
3. Check out the fun at HarborWalk Adventures
Also located at Destin Harbor Broadwalk is an activity hub called HarborWalk Adventures.
HarborWalk Adventures offers several exciting attractions including a giant rock climbing wall, bungee trampolines, aqua spheres, a free-fall attraction, and Destin’s longest and tallest dual zip line.
This dual zip line attraction spans 1,000 feet round-trip between two steel towers that overlook Destin harbor’s turquoise waters and white sand beaches.
It is an experience like no other and is fun for both kids and adults!
Tickets for zip lining and other Harborwalk Adventures activities can be purchased online in advance, or at a ticket booth onsite.
For the best rate, purchase a combo package if you’re looking to do more than one of their many activities.
4. Have fun at The Track
The Track Family Recreation Center is by far, one of the best things to do in Destin with kids!
This outdoor family fun center features five different go-kart tracks, two mini golf courses, blaster boats, bumper cars, kids’ country rides, a high-flying SkyFlyer, the spinning Hurricane 360, and Fat Daddy’s Arcade (indoor).
Our personal favorite activity here is the 3-level Wild Woody family go-kart track that features both single and double go-karts.
The Track operates on a points package system where general admission is free, but all rides and attractions cost an allotted amount of points per person.
5. Go Parasailing
Another one of the best things to do in Destin with kids is to go parasailing!
Parasailing in Destin is a unique and unforgettable way to experience the aerial views of its emerald-green ocean and miles of white sand beach.
If you’ve never been parasailing before, keep in mind that absolutely no prior experience is needed.
Also, parasailing provides a sensation of floating vs. flying, you do not need to know how to swim and do not have to get wet unless desired.
Being that most parasail companies require that parasailers are at least 6 years old and weigh between 50-250 pounds, this is a great activity for families with older children and teens.
6. Visit Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
If you want to get up close and personal with dolphins and other local wildlife, look no further than the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park.
Here, your family will enjoy viewing wildlife exhibits and training demonstrations as well as watching dolphin and sea lion shows that are held under shaded outdoor amphitheaters.
Gulfarium also offers once-in-a-lifetime animal encounters where guests can meet, greet, and photograph their favorite marine creatures!
Animal encounters they currently offer include:
- Sea lions
- Penguin chicks
- Harbor seals
Though outside food and beverage are not allowed in the park, there is an onsite concessions area with picnic tables.
Gulfarium also has free parking and a large gift shop.
Additional planning tip: Advanced registration is needed for the animal encounters, so make sure you plan ahead!
7. Visit The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island
Located adjacent to Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park you’ll find The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island.
Not to be confused with Destin Harbor Boardwalk, this is a separate waterfront shopping and dining complex whose address is actually Fort Walton Beach.
Restaurants here include Al’s Beach Club, The Crab Trap, Floyd’s Shrimp House, and Rockin’ Tacos.
Directly in front of the Boardwalk is an amazing public beach that hosts fireworks every Wednesday night at 9 PM from May 31st – August 9th.
8. Take a Buccaneer Pirate Cruise
For a themed cruise that the kids will love, take a voyage on the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise.
While aboard this replica pirate ship, your family will participate in pirate-themed activities including pirate training, sword fighting, water-fun battles, and a treasure hunt.
There’s also tons of singing, dancing, and pirate humor that kids will love.
Parents are welcome to participate in the fun or sit back and let their kids enjoy themselves.
This 2-hour cruise is a super unique way to sail the Emerald Coast while keeping little ones entertained for the entire voyage.
9. Schedule a sandcastle-building lesson
Learn how to make super impressive sand castles with lessons from Beach Sand Sculptures.
This popular, family-friendly course gives you the tools and teaches you the sculpting tips and techniques to make amazing 3 1/2-foot-tall sand castles.
During this 2-hour experience, your sand castle coach meets you on the beach of your choice in Miramar Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Sandestin, or Destin
Though the sandcastle lessons are a bit expensive, they are by far, one of the most unique things to do in Destin with kids.
Additional planning tip: Children 4 and under can participate for free (with a participating adult).
10. Go to Big Kahuna’s
If you’re looking for more fun in the water, you’ll find plenty of wet and wild activities at Big Kahuna’s in Destin.
Big Kahuna’s is the largest waterpark on the Emerald Coast with over 40 different attractions, including adrenaline-pumping waterslides, mat-racing slides, wave pools, half pipes, and more.
For the youngest tots, they have plenty of kiddie fun in Buccaneer Cove with splash tools, water sprayers, and four waterslides.
Big Kahuna’s is also home to an adventure park with a 54-hole tropical mini golf course and sky coaster.
A combo pass can be purchased to experience both the water park and adventure park, otherwise, tickets for each can be purchased separately.
11. See the gators at Gator Beach
Named the world’s greatest gator park, Gator Beach is an experience like no other.
Located at Fudpucker’s restaurant, admission to Gator Beach and its shows is completely free. (So if you’re looking for a budget-friendly activity, here it is!)
Gator Beach holds live gator shows at 12 PM, 2 PM, 4 PM, & 6 PM, as well as offers alligator-feeding stations, photo ops, baby alligator viewings, and the CROCODILIA Discovery Zone.
Rest assured, these experiences are safe for both you and the gators.
12. Visit the Destin Fishing Rodeo
If you’re looking for a fun event to plan your Destin family vacation around, you should absolutely factor in attending the Destin Fishing Rodeo.
The annual Destin Fishing Rodeo dates back to May of 1948 as an attempt to drum up some tourism.
And wouldn’t you know it, they were successful!
The rodeo is now held between October 1st-31st and is filled with fishing opportunities and activities for all ages.
They even have kid-centered events, including:
- The Kid’s Wagon Boat Parade
- Kid’s Fall Movie Festival
- Larry Hatchett Fishing Foundation Day
- Halloween on the Harbor!
Whether you’re a spectator or participant, make sure you sample some fresh fish nearby at Aj’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.
13. Visit Crab Island
If you’re not up for renting your own boat or pontoon to check out Dentin’s famous, Crab Island, consider booking Destin’s Crab Island Adventure Tour!
Hop aboard a tour boat for a guided tour of Destin Harbor and a fun-filled stop at a water trampoline park before you head to the famous Crab Island sandbar.
Here, your family will have unlimited access to all the fun that Crab Island has to offer!
Activities in this adventure tour include:
- Inflatable water slide
- Water trampoline
14. Go to The Village at Baytowne Wharf
The Village at Baytowne Wharf is yet another hub for family-friendly activities in Destin!
Featuring shops, restaurants, activities, and attractions such as an escape room and laser maze, visiting Baytown Wharf is one of the best things to do in Destin with kids!
There’s a huge nautical-themed, outdoor playground called Adventure Land Playground as well as Baytown Carousel and Baytowne Adventure Zone.
Baytowne Adventure Zone has a ropes course where kids can climb three stories to “walk the plank” and ring the bell at the very top.
You’ll also find Baytowne Zipline, Tower Climb, Bungee Trampoline, and more, each for a separate cost.
Finally, be sure to check out the Baytowne Wharf calendar before visiting, as they host events such as farmers’ markets, outdoor concerts, and fireworks displays.
Additional Outdoor Things to Do in Destin With Kids
15. Visit The Island Pier: Formerly known as Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier, it is $2 to walk and observe on the pier and $5 to fish (rod rentals and concessions available)
16. Visit Henderson Beach State Park: $6 per vehicle, nature trails, a boardwalk, fishing, and camping.
17. Visit Emerald Coast Zoo: Though this is a 45 min drive from Destin, this zoo is awesome and kids love it!
18 Go on a banana boat ride: Destin banana boat rides fit up to 6 people and consist of a 12-14 minute ride gliding across the ocean behind a jet ski or boat.
19. Go on a Seablaster ride: This 73-foot-long speedboat can fit more than 100 passengers and is so fun to ride!
20. Go fishing: Check out this guide to fishing in Destin to find information on charter companies and independent fishing opportunities for things to do in Destin with kids. For all you adventure seekers, they even have shark fishing charter companies in Destin!
21. Go snorkeling: The clear water and white sandy bottom allow for easy viewing of marine life, making Destin a popular place to go snorkeling.
22. Rent a pontoon: Pontoon rentals for cruising, fishing, and spending time at Crab Island are popular activities for both small and large groups in Destin.
23. Go kayaking: Kayaking in Destin is another popular Destin activity for kids whether it be renting your own, or going on a guided clear-bottom kayak trip or nighttime glow kayak ride.
Indoor Things to Do in Destin With Kids
Offseason temperatures in Destin during the months of September through March fluctuate between the low 40s and high 60s which can be quite chilly.
Though some travelers still visit in the offseason when both temps and rates drop, they miss out on the area’s top activities as watersports companies, boat tours, beach services, and even a few restaurants close for some or all of this time.
Regardless of whether it’s too cold, too hot, or if it’s raining in Destin, it’s always helpful to plan for a few indoor activities to keep the kids entertained.
Here are our favorite indoor activities in Destin that always make for a good time!
*Get our Florida Packing List that includes what to pack for all types of weather, here!
24. Go bowling at Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl
One of the best things to do in Destin indoors if it’s raining or cold outside is to go to Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl restaurant and bowling alley!
Uncle Buck’s is not your average bowling alley as the decor literally makes you feel as if you’re ‘under the sea’!
With custom bowling balls that resemble octopus and mermaids, the 12 wooden bowling lanes feature underwater scenery of sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, and other saltwater animals.
There are even handpainted murals and fish hanging from the ceiling.
Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl also has an amazing family-friendly restaurant that serves pizza, tacos, burgers, and lots of other entrees – making it the perfect indoor hangout!
25. Attend at Maximum Magic show
Another fun indoor activity in Destin is the Maximum Magic Show.
Located at the HarborWalk Theater, this magic show features award-winning magicians in a 90-minute, family-friendly performance.
Throughout the show, you’ll experience comedy, illusions, mind-reading, and magic!
There’s also plenty of audience participation for an interactive experience that will thrill kids.
Plan ahead early as most Maximum Magic Shows sell out.
26. Get a donut at The Donut Hole
When considering things to do in Destin, be sure to make a stop at the locally famous, The Donut Hole.
As one of the best places to eat breakfast in Destin, you’ll be able to tell by all of the people lined up at the door, that you’re in the right place!
With dozens of freshly-made varieties, choose from delicious donuts or “breakfast made all day”.
Either way, this is the place to be when the sun rises in Destin!
27. Go to the Destin History & Fishing Museum
If you’re looking for additional things to do in Destin when it rains, check out the Destin History & Fishing Museum.
Here, you’ll learn about the history of Destin, as well as its fishing and tourism industries.
With exhibits featuring the Destin Fishing Rodeo, Diving in Destin, and a Memorial Fish Wall with over 100 mounts, this museum is a highlight for those interested in wildlife and the outdoors.
With an affordable admission price (from $5 – $10) this is a quick indoor activity for both the young and old.
28. Go to Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone
Located in nearby Fort Walton Beach, we include Wild Willy’s on our list of indoor activities in Destin due to its close proximity and high fun factor.
Indoor attractions here include an awesome 4D theater, laser tag, a virtual reality experience, and state of the art arcade.
If you have a chance to enjoy the outdoor attractions at Wild Willy’s you’ll find a dinosaur-themed amusement park complete with mini golf, a ropes course, go-kart race tracks, a bumper boat pool, and a bungee trampoline.
29. Shop at Destin Commons
Destin Commons is an open-air shopping center with dozens of retailers and casual dining venues.
From popular women’s apparel such as H&M, LOFT, and Express, to stores like Bass Pro Shop, Sephora, and specialty boutiques, there’s something here for everyone.
There’s also a huge AMC movie theater here that offers premium sound and stadium seating in all 14 auditoriums.
30. Eat at delicious restaurants
The overall dining experience in Destin is out-of-this-world – and it is all 100% family-friendly.
There are literally so many options and various price points (you can spend a lot or a little), that there is someplace there for everyone to enjoy.
Dining options range from fast food joints to chain restaurants like The Olive Garden and Outback Steakhouse, local bars/grills, specialty dining, and awesome oceanfront venues.
Wait times at popular restaurants during peak touring times are often greater than 1 hour to be seated, and not many places take reservations.
Our favorite family-friendly places to eat in Destin are:
- Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House (oceanfront; amazing food and outdoor patio area and a super fun vibe)
- LuLu’s (waterfront; tropical-colored decor, great outdoor space, live music, good food)
- Dewey Destin’s Seafood (oceanfront; great food, and fresh seafood, a casual, lively vibe)
- Pompano Joe’s Seafood (oceanfront; indoor and outdoor seating, colorful decor, beachy vibe)
Other Indoor Activities in Destin, FL
31. Visit an escape room: If you’re into escape rooms, you’ll find several venues in Destin to pique your interest.
32. Go to Urban Air Adventure Park: Destin’s only large-scale indoor trampoline park, perfect for a rainy day activity in Destin.
33. Go to Fort SK8 Family Fun Center: An indoor roller skating rink and arcade in nearby Fort Walton Beach. Along with being a great indoor activity, SK8 is a great thing to do in Destin at night with family.
Conclusion: Things to Do in Destin With Kids
And that concludes our list of 33 fun things to do in Destin with kids to add to your Destin Florida bucket list!
We hope you get a chance to enjoy the stunning beaches, fun parks, and one-of-a-kind fishing rodeo!
While it may be hard to squeeze all of these Destin attractions into your trip, pick the ones that you and your kids will love best.
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*