Top Destin Kid-Friendly Activities
Tucked along the emerald shores of the Gulf of Mexico, Destin is a treasure trove of family-friendly adventures. Pristine beaches, fun water sports and exciting attractions make this Emerald Coast gem a great destination for families looking for fun and relaxation. In this guide, we’ll uncover the best kid-friendly activities and restaurants in Destin to help you plan the perfect family vacation.
Kid-Friendly Beach Adventures
Destin's sugar-white sand beaches are the perfect playground for little ones. Build sandcastles, collect seashells, or simply splash in the gentle waves - you really can't go wrong! There are several great beaches located along the Destin coastline, all with unparalleled access to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. To make the beach day even more enjoyable, consider renting beach toys, chairs and boogie boards from a local company before heading out on the sand.
Henderson Beach State Park is one of the top family-friendly beaches in Destin, with a wide beach with gentle waves and 30-foot sand dunes providing a stunning backdrop. A nature trail winds through the coastal scrub environment, providing shade and beautiful views of the park from atop the sand dunes.
James Lee Beach is another popular option for family fun in the sun. This beach has public restrooms and showers, a picnic area, free parking and a playground for the kids. The water tends to be very clear and the sand on this beach is known for being extra soft.
Norriego Point Beach is sandwiched between the harbor and the Gulf, and protective jetties create perfect coves for swimming. This is also a great spot to spot hermit crabs and other marine creatures, as well as watching the boat traffic go by.
The turquoise waters of Destin are perfect for families looking for exciting activities on the water. Thrill seekers may enjoy taking a jet ski out for a spin, or getting a birds eye view on a parasailing excursion. Those looking to ride the waves can sign up for surfing lessons with Ride On Surf School, which offers instruction for all ages and skill levels.
For visitors who want to explore at a slower pace, kayak and paddleboard rentals allow for a relaxing day on the water, whether you are paddling through the clear waters of the Gulf, stopping off at vibrant Crab Island or exploring scenic Choctawhatchee Bay. As you navigate these waterways, be prepared to spot the abundant marine wildlife that calls Destin home. Families can also opt for snorkeling or dolphin-watching tours, both perennial favorites that provide an up-close encounter with these majestic creatures.
For a day filled with fun and excitement, visit Big Kahuna's Water & Adventure Park. This family-friendly amusement park boasts water slides, lazy rivers, and thrilling rides for kids of all ages. Another popular option is The Track, where go-kart racing, mini-golf, and bumper boats provide hours of fun.
Destin Commons is geared towards family-friendly entertainment, with a children’s play structure and splash pad located amidst the shops and restaurants in this outdoor complex. Catch a kid-friendly feature at the IMAX theater, pose with a life-size shark outside of Bass Pro Shop, and hop on the Cubby Caboose mini-train for a delightful trip around the Commons.
Harborwalk Village is a hub for activities in Destin, with restaurants, entertainment, tourist attractions and shopping all in one place. Visitors can admire the catch of the day along the docks, find a fishing charter or dolphin watching tour or rent a watercraft to enjoy the harbor. An adventure zone with a zipline may appeal to more adventurous travelers and a mini-golf course invites friendly family competition. Live concerts, weekly fireworks shows and parades throughout the year make this entertainment complex a must-visit in Destin.
Kids will love the swashbuckling antics onboard the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise, where crew members dressed as pirates engage passengers with tales of treasure hunts and high-seas adventures. Young buccaneers are given maps and encouraged to join the quest for hidden treasure, while the crew stages a lively and entertaining search, complete with dramatic battles and cannon fire. This family-friendly interactive experience includes plenty of photo opportunities, as well as themed snacks and souvenirs.
The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is home to a diverse array of marine life, featuring exciting exhibits with animals from dolphins to sea lions, as well as tropical fish and reptiles. Skilled trainers lead entertaining and educational dolphin and sea lion shows, with a focus on the importance of marine conservation. Visitors also have the opportunity to participate in interactive animal encounters, such as feeding stingrays or interacting with penguins.
Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill is an aquatic-themed restaurant serving up tasty American cuisine, with plenty of options for kids. For after dinner entertainment, hit up the 16-lane bowling alley, which is designed to feel like an underwater world. This quirky spot is a unique experience for all ages and sure to be a fun time.
Fudpucker’s is a Destin institution that has been offering a unique family-friend dining experience since 1982. Families can expect a kid-friendly menu with plenty to please even the pickiest of eaters. Dinner includes admission to the attached Gator Beach, where you can feed, hold and take a photo with a live alligator. Energetic little ones will enjoy the onsite playground to run around after dinner.
Lulu’s is a vibrant spot known for its coastal cuisine and fun atmosphere. Visitors can arrive by land or sea, as there is watercraft parking and access to the restaurant from the water. Kids will love the food options here, and can hit up the Beach Arcade or get a temporary tattoo after dinner.
The Back Porch is a local favorite situated right on the beach in Destin. Seafood is the specialty here, served on the long porch facing the water, with stunning views of the Gulf. The kid-friendly menu and relaxed atmosphere make this a great place to enjoy a family meal.
Destin, with its sun-soaked beaches and abundance of family-friendly activities, is a perfect retreat for those seeking a memorable vacation with their loved ones. From beachfront relaxation to thrilling adventures, this coastal paradise offers something for everyone in the family. Book your Destin vacation rental today, and create lasting memories as you explore this incredible destination with your kids!
Published on Monday, January 15, 2024