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No stretch of sand on the Florida Panhandle is more captivating than the sugar-white beaches and emerald-green waters that meet along the shores of Destin-Fort Walton Beach.

The sands here contain finely ground, rounded quartz crystals that originally washed down from the Appalachian Mountains at the end of the last Ice Age. Those white sands reflect the sun brilliantly back through the shallows of the Gulf of Mexico, creating a stunning emerald cast to the water.

Located in Northwest Florida, Destin-Fort Walton possesses a unique and engaging character that is an attractive alternative to the bustle of Florida’s better-known areas. Not only is it an ideal place to unwind and experience total relaxation along its more than 20-mile stretch of beach, but for kids, and kids at heart, there is an adventurous side just waiting to be uncovered.

Read on to find out more about these and other fun things to do in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida.


Fun Things To Do in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida


Visit During the Destin Fishing Rodeo
Fishing Rodeo Wharfside Leader Board fun things to do in Destin Fort Walton Beach, Florida
The wharfside leaderboard keeps track of the action during the Destin Fishing Rodeo (Photo: James Ross / LuxuryUnitedSsates)

Destin is nicknamed “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” for good reason. Deep sea fishing in Destin is huge. Just 10 miles off the city’s scenic harbour, the catch can be anything from sailfish and marlin to shark and king mackerel.

The entire month of October is dedicated to the Destin Fishing Rodeo, an annual tournament that draws anglers from around the world as over 30,000 participants vie for their share of more than $100,000 in cash and prizes. The rodeo is free to anyone fishing on a registered private or charter boat.

This is a place of character and characters. Bruce Cheve is the official Weigh-Master for the rodeo. Meet Bruce on the wharf on any given afternoon and he will regale you with fishing tales. Like the time he spent a week out fishing in seas so rough that during the weeks that followed, he had a permanent stagger in his gait, thus drawing the attention of the local police. For nearly four decades, Cheves has been the face of the Fishing Rodeo, weighing fish and making people smile.


Explore the Destin History and Fishing Museum

Destin History and Fishing Museum fun things to do in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida

The Destin History and Fishing Museum (Photo: James Ross / LuxuryUnitedStates)

While in Destin, make sure to visit the fascinating Destin History and Fishing Museum. This small and charmingly old-fashioned spot is full of artifacts and photos that bring the area’s piscine legacy to life, from the time of the seine boats to what is available today.

Over 100 fish mounts show the huge variety of locally caught fish, and a Fishing Rodeo board mock-up gives you an idea of the size and type of fish being caught during the annual competition and the prizes involved.


Take a Stroll Through Harbor Walk Village
Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village fun things to do in Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Enjoy a walk through the always bustling HarborWalk Village (Photo: James Ross / LuxuryUnitedStates)

Harbor Walk Village is located in the heart of the Destin Harbor, where paddleboard, kayak, and pontoon rentals are available, as well as parasailing, glass-bottom boat tours, world-class fishing charters, and dolphin cruises.

You can also wander the bustling harborside wharf, feast on fresh oysters at the East Pass Seafood and Oyster House, take the ferry shuttle to the beautiful sandspit beach, pilot a jet-ski out into the protected inner harbour, or join a bunch of scallywags on a sunset pirate-ship adventure.


Take a Charter to Crab Island
tamara-malaniy-Crab Isla boats lounging around fun things to do in Destin d, Fort Walton Beach, Florida
A visit to Crab Island is a must-do for boaters (Photo: Tamara Malaniy / Unsplash

I opt for something slightly less Jolly Roger and a bit more luxurious, hopping aboard a Parrot Head Yacht for a cruise out of the protected harbour past Crab Island. Just off Crab Island is an expansive sandbar, a popular place for locals and visitors to escape the heat.

You can find hundreds of boats anchored off Crab Island during the summer months, many with their passengers cooling off wading in the shallow waters next to them. And if you get hungry while you are hanging out in the water, not to worry, there are floating restaurants or Tiki boats drifting around offering food and refreshments.

Watching so many sun and water worshippers splashing about on the shallow sandbar has me tempted until I remember that Jaws 2 was filmed here in Destin. And “Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the water.”


Enjoy Superb  Seafood Dishes
Dewey Destin's Crabshack
You can’t leave Deston without sampling Dewey Destin’s Crabshack (Photo: James Ross / LuxuryUnitedStates)

With the Gulf of Mexico on its doorstep, it’s not surprising the region has an abundance of seafood eateries such as Dewey Destin’s. Owner Dewey Destin is the great, great, grandson of the Leonard Destin who gave Destin its name.

It was a discovery born from tragedy, when in 1835, after running into a hurricane near Cape Canaveral, Florida, Leonard’s father and brother were lost at sea. Leonard and his boat survived, and continued on, coming upon the beautiful shores of what is now called “Destin.” Just like that, out of some terrible misfortune, the world’s luckiest fishing village was born and the Destin family and Destin, Florida, have been intertwined ever since.

Dewey’s is a popular ramshackle fish shack that attracts crowds to its wharf location. At the same pier where fishing boats used to unload their catch, now delectable seafood is unloaded on the diners, and pelicans and gulls beg for handouts. Dewey also once worked on the fishing boats.

“Fishing was much more fun in the day,” admits Dewey. “But the restaurant makes more money.


Hit the Beach
shutterstock_Jay Beckerich - Destin Beach
Destin’s beaches are some of the best in Florida (Photo: Jay Beckerich / Shutterstock)

Fishing, boating, jet skiing, diving, snorkelling, golfing, dining, and shopping are all on offer, but it is Destin’s famous beachfront, a breathtakingly beautiful stretch of silky sand, that remains the region’s main attraction.

Dotted with windswept dunes, the area’s distinctive quartz sand is blindingly white and soft as flour. Brushing up against the sands are the clear emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico that give this region of Florida its name.

Destin-Fort Walton enjoys warm summers and mild winters, with the comfortable spring and fall shoulder season offering less humidity, fewer visitors, and attractive deals on accommodations, golf, and dining.


If You Go: Fun Things To Do in Destin-Fort Walton Beach…


The Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village is perfect for a family vacation, a romantic getaway, a wedding, or a meeting along the Gulf Coast, or as a base when you go deep-sea fishing in Destin. For the latest news, rates, and to make reservations, visit Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village.

Find out more about other great places to stay in Destin here.


East Pass Seafood & Oyster House – Located within the HarborWalk Village in Destin, this open air harbourfront restaurant specializes in locally caught seafood and freshly shucked oysters. Visit

Harbor Docks – A Destin seafood restaurant tradition since 1979, serving Gulf seafood and sushi. Check out

Dewey’s Bayside – The Destin family honors town founder Leonard’s love of the water by serving fresh, sustainable seafood. Dewey’s is a popular ramshackle fish shack that attracts crowds to its wharf location. Visit for details.


Parrot Head Yachts offer a variety of luxury tours on their private yacht. Visit their website at

The Destin History and Fishing Museum – The museum features the history of the early pioneers from the 1830s onwards. Visit for details.

For More Information

Check out our friends at the following websites for further details about Deep Sea Fishing in Destin-Fort Walton Beach and other fun things to do in Destin-Fort Walton Beach:



Contributing Editor James Ross writes about destinations and travel adventures for various international publications. You can see more of his work at


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