How to Choose

Where to Stay in Destin

Destin-Sunset-Where-to-stay-in-destin

If this is your first time visiting Destin, it can be a little challenging deciding where to stay. This blog post will help familiarize you with the area and neighborhoods so you can choose the area that best fits your travel needs. 

Top 4 things to know

Before you book your vacation to Destin, Florida

Destin_Public_Beach_Access_Destin_Beach
    • Many of the condos in Destin are directly on the sand or across the street from the sand with access to a private beach area. If you have small children, crossing a busy street to reach the beach may not be your first choice. Be sure to read the description thoroughly and speak with the management about the facility to better understand the location of the property.
    • If you are staying in a facility without direct beach access, you may have to utilize a nearby public beach in order to reach the water. Several condo facilities allow beach service providers to begin setting up their chairs and umbrellas very close to the water’s edge early in the morning making it nearly impossible for you to be near the water unless you use their equipment. Umbrella rentals can be as high as $40.00+ a day.
    • Oceanview can mean a lot of different things to people. In Destin, you will need to look for rentals with the term “Gulf View.” Make sure you are able to see a picture clearly marked “view from the balcony or patio.” Oftentimes, a peek-a-boo view will be considered a “Gulf view” but will require a visit to the chiropractor to reset your neck after straining to see the Gulf. Failing to clearly understand your view can wreak havoc with your expectations.
  • Public-access friendly 
    • There are five public beach parks and eight public beach access points.  Learn more…

2. Neighborhoods in Destin

For the most part, you will need a car in Destin, unless you plan to spend most of your time at your resort or vacation rental or enjoy an enormous amount of walking. Except for a few restaurants, everything typically requires a short to medium drive from where you are staying. If you choose not to have a car, you will need to budget enough for rideshare services. 

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Harborwalk Village & Crab Island

HarborWalk Village and the Destin Harbor are the departure areas for many Crab Island tours and watercraft rentals for the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay. The Emerald Grande is the largest resort in this area. The resort offers breathtaking views of the Harbor, Destin boardwalk, and the Gulf of Mexico. 

HarborWalk Village is a hub for shopping, restaurants, and year-round entertainment. Of course, McGuire’s Pub, a favorite with travelers and locals alike, is located across the street from HarborWalk Village. This can be a congested area during the busy season.

Nearby Accommodations

Holiday Isle

Holiday Isle-Sandpiper cove

Holiday Isle is just off of Hwy 98 and is a little more secluded than other areas of Destin. It’s home to Destin on The Gulf and Sandpiper Cove. Both are low-rise, gated communities. 

The beaches in this area are mostly private except for O’Steen Beach and Norriego Point BeachBoth beaches are usually great for younger swimmers, snorkeling, and viewing marine life. Be sure to always check the flags before going into the water. Check water clarity and waves here.

Nearby Accommodations

Oceania in Destin Florida

Oceania in Destin

Avoid the crowds. Oceania is a private gated property. Relax on the large private beach and enjoy the sugar-white sand. 🔹Sleeps: 6 🔹Bedrooms: 3 🔹Bathrooms: 3

Destin_on_the_gulf_401

Destin on The Gulf #401

You are directly on the beach and the balcony, living room, and master bedroom's views are amazing! 🔹Sleeps: 8 🔹Bedrooms: 2 🔹Bathrooms: 2

Destin_on_The_Gulf_Destin_Beach-1

Destin on The Gulf #402

Enjoy the view from your balcony for morning coffee, sunrises and sunsets, or to watch the dolphins as they swim by. What else do you need? 🔹Sleeps: 7 🔹Bedrooms: 2 🔹Bathrooms: 2

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Emerald Escape Destin

Wake up to beautiful views in Emerald Escape. Includes 5 pools, tennis courts, a 9-hole par 3 golf course, on-site dining options. 🔹Sleeps: 8 🔹Bedrooms: 2 🔹Bathrooms: 2

Sandpiper cove 8225 Studio vacation Rental in Destin

Sandpiper Cove 8225

Relax and enjoy coastal living at this beautiful, well-equipped, efficiency condo. Perfect for a small family or a romantic getaway for two. 🔹Sleeps: 4 🔹Bedrooms: Studio 🔹Bathrooms: 1

Sandpiper

Sandpiper Cove 9223

1,100 ft of private/gated beachfront, five pools, canal docking and a private marina. On-site fine dining restaurant, and a nine hole par three chip and putt golf course. 🔹Sleeps: 6 🔹Bedrooms: 1 🔹Bathrooms: 1

Henderson Beach State Park

Henderson Beach State Park offers 6000 feet of undeveloped beach with full amenities and plenty of parking.

This is the area most people would refer to as the central or main area of Destin. There are several vacation rentals located east and west of Henderson Beach State Park. There are a few hotels across the street from the park entrance on Hwy 98. This is a busy six-lane road with crosswalks. Note that it is a .3 mile walk from Hwy 98 down to the sand. Beach wagons are highly recommended for toting all of your gear to the beach. 

There are several large resorts or vacation rentals in the heart of Destin on Hwy 98 that include Pelican Beach Resort, Jade East, Silver Dunes, and the Sundestin (not to be confused with the Sandestin in Miramar Beach).

Learn more >

Henderson_Beach_State_Park_Destin_Beach-camping

Nearby Accommodations

Destin_Seafarer_209_Destin_Beach

Destin Seafarer #209

On the Gulf, Private Beach 2 chairs, umbrella March-October Low-rise only 29 units. No crowds 🔹Sleeps: 6 🔹Bedrooms: 2 🔹Bathrooms: 2

Destin-Bleu-beachfront-vacation-rental

Destin Bleu

UNOBSTRUCTED VIEWS and direct beachfront access. Located at Sterling Sands and is very close to all local amenities. 🔹Sleeps: 4 🔹Bedrooms: 2 🔹Bathrooms: 2

Silver Shells-St.-Lucia-Destin

Silver Shells

1,693 sq feet of living space and a spacious balcony with a private elevator that opens directly into the foyer of the condo. 🔹Sleeps: 8 🔹Bedrooms: 3 🔹Bathrooms: 3

Palms of Destin_Destin_Beach_Florida-1-vacation-rentals

Palms of Destin 1617

The resort has multiple pools with waterfall features, and playground. Centrally located with easy access to the beach, attractions, restaurants, & shopping. 🔹Sleeps: 8 🔹Bedrooms: 3 🔹Bathrooms: 2

Sterling Shores-902-vacation-rentals-Destin

Sterling Shores 902

Upscale Resort with a tropical pool, and all the amenities. Close to Destin's main attractions including HarborWalk Village, Big Kahuna's and 🔹Sleeps: 8 🔹Bedrooms: 3 🔹Bathrooms: 2

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Back Porch - On The Sand

Centrally located to the best restaurants, attractions, and sugar white beaches, this lovely home is sure to make your vacation dreams come true. 🔹Sleeps: 8 🔹Bedrooms: 3 🔹Bathrooms: 4

Crystal Beach

Crystal Beach is one of the most sought-after vacation locations in Okaloosa County.  Scenic 98 curves past a unique blend of adorable beach homes, Crystal Beach, and James Lee Beach Park.  The beach seems to be a little whiter and the water a little brighter here. Maybe just a state of mind; a welcomed one at that. 

Destin Commons is located just north of Crystal Beach. There you’ll find several restaurants, boutiques, theaters, and a Bass Pro Shop. 

Learn more > 

Crystal_Beach_where-to-stay-Destin_Florida

Nearby Accommodations

Villages of Crystal Beach

Villages of Crystal Beach

Luxury Vacation Rental. Walk to the beach, restaurants and shopping areas! 🔹Sleeps: 6 🔹Bedrooms: 4 🔹Bathrooms: 4

Villages of Crystal Beach in Destin

Poolside Haven Sleeps 16

Perfect for a family vacation. 3 floors of living space. Gated resort-style pool and tiki bar. 🔹Sleeps: 16 🔹Bedrooms: 6 🔹Bathrooms: 4

Turquoise Waters Vacation Rental

Turquoise Waters Sleeps 10

Enjoy an open floor plan and wrap around balcony. A lagoon-style pool, and close to shops, dining, and entertainment.🔹Sleeps: 10 🔹Bedrooms: 3 🔹Bathrooms: 3

Miramar Beach

Miramar Beach is a favorite destination for families and those looking to be a little removed from the main action of Destin. You will still have plenty of restaurants and shopping within driving distance but not quite as much traffic as Hwy 98. 

Several of the vacation rentals in Miramar Beach have a small two-lane road to cross to reach the water. The speed limit is low and pedestrians are everywhere. However, if you have kids or older adults traveling with you, you may want to look for something on the sand. 

There are a couple of restaurants on the beach close to Miramar. The Surf Hut and The Crab Trap. Both have fantastic views of the water.

Learn more >

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Nearby Accommodations

Mainsail_Cottage_22_Destin_Beach-1-vacation-rental

Mainsail

Private beach with daily beach chair service included with stay. ( 2 chairs with umbrella) 750 feet of private beach. 🔹Sleeps: 6 🔹Bedrooms: 3 🔹Bathrooms: 2

Destin_Beach_Vacation_Rentals_2

Seacove

Beautiful poolside condo, ground level! 1-2 min walk to private beach & walking distance to shops/restaurants. 🔹Sleeps: 6 🔹Bedrooms: 1 🔹Bathrooms: 1

Coral Cabana-400-vacaton-rentals

Coral Cabana

Master suite with king size bed with a gulf view. Bunk room for the kids. Private Beach. 🔹Sleeps: 6 🔹Bedrooms: 2 🔹Bathrooms: 2

Sandestin - Beachside II_Destin_Beach-1

Sandestin Beachside II

Second floor condo offering one of the most convenient locations in all of Sandestin Resort. 🔹Sleeps: 5 🔹Bedrooms: 2 🔹Bathrooms: 1

Majestic_Sun_Miramar_Destin_Beach-where-to-stay

Majestic Sun

This stunning 2-story Penthouse is without a doubt, a vacation dream come true! This home is perfect for families and friends traveling together 🔹Sleeps: 12 🔹Bedrooms: 4 🔹Bathrooms: 3

Sandestin-baypine-betty-Destin-Beach-vacation-rental

Sandestin Baypine Betty

2 master suites, rooftop deck and bunk room. Perfect for multiple families. Walk to shops, pool & restaurants. 🔹Sleeps: 12 🔹Bedrooms: 3 🔹Bathrooms: 3

Ft. Walton Beach/Okaloosa Island

Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island areas are located five miles west of HarborWalk Village and Destin Harbor where many excursions depart from. You are still close enough to Destin to enjoy all of the activities with a few more hotel options.

There are several family family-friendly resorts and attractions such as parks, museums, and aquariums. This area is a great spot for the whole family.

The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island is the hub for several restaurants, shops, entertainment, and has plenty of parking.

If you are looking specifically for a beachfront hotel, Okaloosa Island has more options than Destin. See rates >

Ft. Walton Beach Pier Okaloosa Island

Nearby Accommodations

Waterscape - B501

Waterscape B501

Located just steps from the sugar white sand and emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, shops, restaurant, and entertainment. 🔹Sleeps: 10 🔹Bedrooms: 3 🔹Bathrooms: 3

Coastal_Vibe_Destin_West_Beach_Resort_504-6

Destin West Beach Resort 504

Six pools w/lazy river - On the Beach - 5min beach walk to the FWB Pier and Destin Boardwalk 🔹Sleeps: 8 🔹Bedrooms: 2 🔹Bathrooms: 2

Destin_West_Beach_Resort_Gulfside_510_Destin_Florida_4

Destin West Beach Resort 510

Six pools w/lazy river - On the Beach - 5min beach walk to the FWB Pier and Destin Boardwalk 🔹Sleeps: 8 🔹Bedrooms: 2 🔹Bathrooms: 2


3. Read the Reviews

  • Read several reviews to get a consensus of what the hotel/condo is really like.  
    • One or two bad reviews don’t mean it’s not a good place. Try to gather the context of the review and the person writing the review. For instance, was the guest complaining about not being allowed to party and be loud after hours, or other guests were trying to keep them quiet? If you like to party late at night, this would not be a good place for you.  
    • On the other hand, if there were things broken or not working in the condo and the management failed to address the situation in a timely manner, or at all, maybe you want to keep looking for another place. 
    • When were the worst reviews written? If they are recent, definitely take them into consideration. If they are several months or years old, try to establish if positive changes have been made by reading more recent reviews.
 
White Sand Beach on the Gulf of Mexico near Destin Florida
HarborWalk_Village_Destin_Beach_Florida

This one seems like a no-brainer but here’s something to keep in mind. Most of the watercraft rental companies depart from the Destin Harbor area. With only one main road through Destin, it can’t take thirty minutes or longer to drive a very short distance during the summer months. If you plan on renting boats, jet skis, kayaks, or taking a dolphin tour, etc., be sure and allow enough time to get from your resort to the rental company and get checked in. Note, the state of Florida requires you to take a 10-minute test in order to drive the boat or other watercraft. If you miss your reservation time, there are no refunds. Plan accordingly. See more things to do >

There are several ways to get out on the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico and see the dolphins. Let the captain take you, and up to five of your friends, on a private sailing charter, hop aboard a high-speed boat and make some waves for the dolphins to swim along beside you in, take a jet ski tour, or if you like a little more calm and relaxed way to experience the marine life, take a dolphin tour of crab island and do some snorkeling. Whichever way you choose to experience the marine life in their natural habitat, you will not be disappointed. Learn more…

Mardi-gras in Destin_Florida

Shopping & Entertainment

When visiting Destin, most likely the beach will be your biggest attraction. However, the shopping in Destin and surrounding areas will provide endless hours of fun while exploring a collection of village shops, outlet malls, boutique stores, and more.   

  • Destin Commons, located at 4100 Legendary Dr, Destin, FL 32541, is an award-winning outdoor lifestyle center with nearly 100 retail stores and restaurants offering the finest shopping, dining, and entertainment, including anchor stores such as Bass Pro Shops, Belk, H&M, and Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill. With its elegant fountains, outdoor music, and palm trees draped in lights, Destin Commons is a fantastic place to walk around or let the kids cool off at the Splash Pad and Pirates Play Cove or take a ride around the center on the Mini Choo Choo – Cubby Caboose. The mall also features an AMC movie theater with state-of-the-art digital projection and sound.

     

  • Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, located at 495 Grand Blvd, Miramar Beach, FL 32550, is the closest large shopping area to Hilton Sandestin Beach. Its shops sell beauty products, home furnishings, décor, wine, and men, women, and children’s clothing. Examples include Brooks Brothers, J. Crew-at-the-beach, Chico’s, Tommy Bahama, The Orvis Company, and Billabong. There is also a 10-screen movie theater, art galleries, salons, and a park, all set in a pedestrian-friendly layout. Restaurants include some of near Destin’s fine dining options like P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant & Bar, and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.

     

  • Destin’s Silver Sands Premium Outlets, located at 10562 Emerald Coast Pkwy W, Miramar Beach, FL 32550, is one of the country’s best outlet centers. There are over 100 designer and name-brand outlet stores, as well as several dining options including Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Panera Bread. Some favorite brands, include J. Crew, Polo Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Bradley, Zales, and Brooks Brothers. Guests of Hilton Sandestin Beach have complimentary shuttle service to and from Silver Sands.

     

  • The Village of Baytowne Wharf is more than a shopping center. Located at 9100 Baytowne Blvd. #120 Miramar Beach, FL 32550, you’ll find, restaurants, nightlife, attractions, festivals, parades, concerts, and other special events.  Some of the shops include Aloha Surf Company, American Doll, a Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store, Baytowne Jewelers, The Candymaker, and Toys & Treasures. The charming village is located near the Hilton Sandestin which provides regular shuttle service to and from the resort. The village is also home to Baytowne Adventure Zone’s zip line and ropes course, arcades, a carousel, playground, and 22 restaurants and nightlife venues.

     

  • HarborWalk Village, located at 10 Harbor Blvd. Destin, FL 32541, is where shoppers can enjoy waterfront shopping with a view of the Destin Harbor and Destin’s Fishing Fleet. Stores include Aloha Surf Company, Sunglass World, Kitty Hawk Kites, Life is Good, Sunset Lifestyles, Naples Soap Company, Nautical Treasures, and more. If you want to take a look at everything Harborwalk Village offers, check out their virtual walking tour!