Aquamarine waters flush with fish, miles of white sand beaches, and a touch of kitsch come together on the gulf coast to create the kid-friendly haven of Destin Florida.
From languid boardwalk strolls to setting your sights on a real pirate ship, every moment in the World's Luckiest Fishing Village is pure magic. Follow along to discover the 11 best things to do in Destin Florida with kids.
Whether you are traveling with toddlers or pre-teens, everyone in your brood will appreciate this beach town’s laid-back attitude and dazzling scenery. As soon as you step foot in this Emerald Coast oasis you can smell the saltwater and coconut-scented SPF.
After days of swimming, snorkeling, and sand castle building scrub up and head to Gator Beach to feed live alligators. Feeling peckish? Treat your tiny ones to a creamy ice cream cone at HarborWalk Village, or see who can get the first hole-in-one on the mini golf course.
Ready to kick off your family fun in Destin? Read on…
About Destin FL
Wondering just where to find this Sunshine State paradise? Destin, FL is located in the area of Northwest Florida known as the Panhandle, just east of Pensacola. While there is a local airport in Fort Walton Beach, many families prefer to drive here. Destin Florida is within driving distance of many major U.S. Cities including New Orleans, Tallahassee, Mobile, and Panama City.
Fishermen of all ilks flock here, as the city boasts the largest and most elaborately equipped fishing fleet in the State of Florida. Intrepid anglers will be in heaven as these azure waters are full of redfish, snook, trout, tarpon, snapper, mahi-mahi, tuna, and more.
In addition to fishing, youngsters will be able to try their hand at tons of watersports including snorkeling, swimming, and tubing. Many broods prefer planning family vacations for the Gulf Coast since these waters are calmer and feature fewer waves than the Atlantic.
Where to Stay in Destin with Kids
Before you dive headfirst into your week or weekend of splish-splashing fun you’ll need to lock down some kid-approved lodgings. Ensure your family is sleeping in style when you reserve any of our premier Destin Hotels. Preserve that vacation budget with a well-priced room just moments from the beach, or refresh after a long day of sun with a dunk in your saltwater pool.
Load up on delicious carbs with a complimentary breakfast, or whip up your own meals with a fully equipped kitchen suite. As always, make your bookings without hesitation knowing you are guaranteed our lowest rates online.
Things to Do in Destin with Kids
Henderson Beach State Park
White sugary soft sands are the hallmark of any Destin beach, and Henderson Beach State Park is one of the area’s premier public parks. Pack up that sunhat and slather on the sunscreen, because you and your kids will want to spend a full day exploring this area’s 30-foot sand dunes, nature trails, and warm Gulf waters.
Henderson represents the last remaining coastal scrub area in Destin, making it a go-to for nature enthusiasts. Come here and take advantage of the 60 campsites, or simply make the most out of the park’s fishing, hiking, and beach facilities. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife, as wading shorebirds, sea turtles, dolphins, bobcats, and gopher tortoises all call Henderson home.
Craving some contact with dry land? Head to HarborWalk Village and prime yourself for some first-class retail, entertainment, and restaurant options. If your little guppy can't get enough of the H20, set them up for a paddleboard or pontoon session.
Let the competitive juices flow when you team up for endless rounds of mini golf or see who can worm their way through a laser maze. Real adrenaline junkies can take on ziplining or a 40 ft LED Rockwall, while toddlers will flip over steam train rides with the Cubby Caboose.
Prevent hanger-induced meltdowns with hand-cut french fries, crispy funnel cakes, or a plate of cheesy nachos. Lastly, treat your kiddies to a double scoop from the Ice Cream Truck.
Wild Willy's Adventure Zone
Dino decor, bumper boats, and roller coasters oh my! Whether you’re in need of a rainy-day distraction, or just need a break from the beach, Wild Willy's Adventure Zone features over 17,000 square feet of epic adventure. Located just outside of Destin, Wild Willy’s is considered Northwest Florida's largest family entertainment center.
Youngsters of all ages will be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of attractions and activities housed here. From showing off sharpshooting skills with Urban Assault Laser Tag to playing through an Animatronic Dinosaur-themed 18-hole Mini Golf Course there's no end to wacky Willy’s fun.
Bounce up and down on an epic Bungee Trampoline, swing through a 60-foot Ropes Course, or test out the speed on their brand-new 110-foot slide.
Southern Star Dolphin Cruise
Who knew Flipper called Destin home? Spot pod after pod of these friendly marine mammals when you sign up for a Southern Star Dolphin Cruise. Your 90-minute excursion is the ideal all-ages activity. Known as Destin’s original dolphin cruise, this tour can be taken during the day or at sunset.
Watch in awe as you sail through the sparkling waters of Florida’s Emerald Coast while in search of bottlenose dolphins. Listen up as your gregarious captain entertains your tykes with fun facts, jokes, and insider knowledge. From dolphins to seabirds, your tour will be on the lookout for all manner of aquatic life.
Relax comfortably in the climate-controlled cabin, or take a minute to peruse the gift shop or concessions. The 80-foot glass bottom boat is Destin’s largest dolphin cruise vessel and makes for a smooth journey.
Buccaneer Pirate Cruise
Shiver me timbers! Break out that eye patch and conquer the Emerald Coast when you set forth on a Buccaneer Pirate Cruise. Mini first mates will be in awe as they board a pirate ship headed straight for a swashbuckling adventure. Spend 1.5-2 hours at sea as you scour the coast for hidden treasure.
Your Buccaneer Cruise captain and mates will raise the spirits of your crew with endless activities, tall tales, singing, and dancing. Kids will be encouraged to train like a pirate as they learn the secrets of sword fighting, water fun battles, and more.
Hear the boom of an authentic canon, or simply kick back and soak in the sweeping ocean scenery. Please note that this is an ever-popular cruise with children, so book ahead of time.
Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park
Cowabunga dude! Get ready to hang ten with the best of them when you slip and slide through over forty water attractions at Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park. For over 35 years Kahuna’s has injected the perfect blend of H20-based activity and excitement into every family getaway.
Let the gentle current whisk you down the Lazy River or amp up things with a rollicking ride down the Raging Rhino River. Older sharks who have harnessed the power of their fins will find mountains of amusement conquering the Hammerhead Slide or the Kowabunga Racer.
Scream with glee as you plunge down five stories and brace for that splashing finale. While minnie minnows can work on their strokes in the giant wave pool, or play pirate make-believe in Buccaneer’s Cove.
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
Escape the charming bustle of Destin and discover wonder under the sea,, when you swing by the premier Fort Walton Beach attraction. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is a mecca of marine mammals, exhibits, and interactive wildlife encounters. From waddling penguins to adorable barking seals, budding biologists will be transfixed by the number of diverse species on display.
Make time to take in the dolphin show, or feel the groovy patterned shell of a turtle. Stick your hand into a tide pool and make contact with a starfish or horseshoe crab, or snap an awesome selfie in front of the Dolphin observation window. For an even more in-depth animal experience, reserve a hands-on animal encounter.
The Track Family Recreation Center
Racers: on your mark, get set, go! Trade in those board shorts and bikinis for a helmet and gloves because it’s time to hit the track. Nestled in the heart of Destin, your family will discover a world of motors, mini golf, bumper cars, and more.
The Track Family Recreation Center features an overload of full-speed fun with five different Go-Kart Tracks, two mini golf courses, Blaster Boats, Bumper Cars, Kids Country Rides, and the high-flying SkyFlyer. Test out your skills on the Wild Woody Track, or ease into your racing with a warm-up on the Rookie Track.
Blow off some steam with a few rounds of arcade games, or keep things breezy with a totally friendly carousel or Ferris wheel ride.
See ya later Alligator! Embrace your time in the Sunshine State with a truly Floridian attraction. Gator Beach is ‘The World’s Greatest Alligator Park’ and it’s not hard to see why. Home to hundreds of gators (and a few crocodiles), Gator Beach is the largest alligator park on the Emerald Coast and is completely free.
Become an expert on these wiley reptiles when you strike up a conversation with one of their knowledgeable handlers. Purchase some specially formulated Gator Food and feed some critters hanging out in the large pond, or get a keepsake photo of you holding a real-life gator. Take a peek at the tiny tiny baby gators, or snag a seat to watch the famous live gator show.
Destin History and Fishing Museum
Curious about how Destin came to be? This headquarters of trawling wasn’t always a busy hub of tourism and tan lines. In fact, Destin’s early settlers arrived nearly 200 years ago! Uncover the fascinating history of Destin’s early days through the modernization of the fishing industry when you pay a visit to the Destin History and Fishing Museum.
Exhibits cover everything from the inception of the Rodeo tournament to diving in Destin. Anglers of all ages don't want to miss stopping by the Mike Long Memorial Fish Wall, which showcases over 100 fish mounts.
Muster up your mental acuity, because it’s time to show off your powers of deduction. Unite your family for a slew of real-life riddles, puzzles, and clues when you work together to beat Escapology.* Escapology Destin is a race against the clock as you search for hidden objects within your themed room.
Choose to solve a murder on the Orient Express, or see if you have what it takes to unearth secret treasure in a Lost City in South America. From submarine letdowns to the Cuban Missile Crisis, this is one full-fledged noggin-fueled adventure.
*Escapology is recommended for children ages 7 and older.
A refreshing beach getaway is always enticing. However, when you throw in the tranquil waves of the Gulf Coast and the appeal of a sleepy fishing village you may never want to return from Destin.
Saltwater-scented breezes, charbroiled burgers eaten right on the boardwalk, and lots of aquatic sports are all ingredients to a terrific trip to the Panhandle.
Utilize your balance, agility, and athleticism on Wild Willy’s Treetop Challenge, or sit back and soak in the amazing effects of a 4D movie.
Anchors away for an awe-inspiring sunset Dolphin Cruise, and even capture a photo of your child hamming it up in the Captain’s seat.
Make friends with cuddly otters at the Gulfarium, or watch your mini-me lap the competition on the Go-Kart track.
Thanks to an abundance of kid-friendly entertainment, Destin has more than earned its reputation as a true jewel of the Emerald Coast.
So don't wait, book your Destin vacation today!
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