Top 5 Fun Things for Families in Destin

You want to make the most of your family vacation to Destin, and of course you want it to be fun for the whole family! Hello, I'm Savannah Vasquez, Destin area family photographer. As a local, who once ran a tourism website in the area, I have tried it all and wanted to share my five favorite family activities in the Destin area. Some of these may be off the beaten path, but believe me, during the rush of summer visitors and Destin TRAFFIC, you are going to be glad you knew about these local spots ;)

#1: Grayton Beach State Park

Grayton Beach State Park is my absolute favorite place to spend a beach day in the Destin area. Not only does the park offer plentiful parking, bathrooms and beach real estate, it also boasts one of the area's few dune lakes and the only place on the Florida panhandle to legally hike on a sand dune. Our favorite family activity at Grayton Beach State Park is to paddleboard from the Eastern Lake through the channel to the Western Lake and then set up our beach tent to enjoy the day. The Western Lake is perfect for toddlers and young children and the Gulf is beside the lake if you want to dip in the emerald waters as well!

Local Tip: Get there EARLY! The park often fills up before 10 a.m. Also try renting paddleboards from Adventure30A.

#2: Leonard Destin Park

This brand new park is a local's favorite! Located on Calhoun Drive, the park features a naturalistic playground, splash pad, pavilions, a fishing dock and a swimming area on the Bay. You can even launch a kayak or paddleboard from the park and adventure around the Bay, just be careful for boat traffic and currents.

Local Tip: Bring swim suits, sand toys and snacks for a fun afternoon at the park. If you forgot a sack lunch or want a treat, visit nearby Dewey Destin's Snowballs or Moe's Original BBQ.

#3: Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Dolphins, sea-lions, seals and turtles await at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. This aquarium/interactive animal park features dolphin and sea-lion shows, sea-life encounters, touch tanks and the conservation CARE Center. In addition to spending a day at the park, visitors can book a snorkel with stingrays, learn how to train and interact with dolphins, meet-and-greet with penguins and more!

Local Tip: Several times a year the Gulfarium CARE Center releases rehabilitated sea turtles back into the Gulf. This is always an exciting and free educational event for all ages! Follow their Facebook page to see when the next turtle release will take place!

#4: Rent a Pontoon for a day on the water!

The ultimate local's pastime is spending the day on the water but if you don't own a boat, no sweat there are tons of places to rent a boat, pontoon or Jet Ski in the area. One place that is locally owned and reasonable priced is Power Up Watersports. From guided dolphin Jet Ski tours to a private sunset fireworks cruise, you can find exactly the adventure you are looking for and take home memories for a lifetime!

Local's Tip: Pack a cooler full of water and refreshing cold snacks for the day on the water. Also, don't forget the sunscreen! Bring along your child's favorite floaty and floppy hat as well to make sure they have the best time on the adventure!

#5: For a rainy day...

When it rains, it pours in Destin! It could be a 30-minute downpour or take all day and it really puts a damper on our usually sunny Florida coast. Don't fret though, there are plenty of activities when the weather gets wet. Here are my family's favorite indoor spots that are off the beaten path.

Rock Out Climbing Gym: This indoor free-climbing gym is a great place to build confidence and strength and will add a fun challenge especially if you have teens in your clan.

Urban Air Adventure Park: The kids will LOVE this indoor play area. From ball pits and mazes to zip-lines and ninja-warrior courses, this place is a winner every time!

Rainforest Black Light Golf & Arcade: This mini-golf course will wow the little ones with it's black light jungle features. There is also a small arcade and skee-ball games available for added entertainment.

Local's Tip: Call ahead to book a time at Urban Air to ensure you have a time-slot to play!

Are you a local or vacationing in the Destin area soon? Let me know what questions you have about the Florida Panhandle area or how I can serve you by emailing or DM me on Instagram or Facebook.