Instagram Faves and Raves: Destin, Florida
These days, much of our inspiration for where to travel and what to see and do once we arrive in our destination come from the people we follow on social media. We put a lot of stock in their choices and recommendations, and we can also see what their experiences look like and judge for ourselves. As we scroll through their beautiful photos, we can mentally ‘try on’ the destinations, check out the fit and start making a travel checklist.
Destin, Florida located on the Emerald Coast of the Gulf of Mexico has so much natural coastal beauty going for it and so many fun things to do in and around the beach areas, it can be hard to narrow down the options. So, to help you with your travel planning, we pored over visitor posts on Instagram and rounded up some top faves and raves.
No surprise, the crystal-clear aqua waters and sugar white sands dominate the photos and descriptions, but in around these stunners are plenty of shots and words focused on awesome foods and restaurants, shopping spots, and fishing and other water-based adventures. ‘Course, we can’t possibly include them all. But these eight will get your trip plan off to a good start. More later….
Can’t get enough, won’t get enough of the magical waters around Destin? Then, head over to Boogies and experience them from every possible angle and in every which way. If excitement and speed are your thing, rent a Waverunner and zip along those shimmering waves like an action movie superstar (or take it slow if you want—just you do you). If you opt for a 2-hour guided Waverunner Dolphin Excursion, pods of bottle nosed dolphins and other marine creatures will def come along for the ride. And up close and personal doesn’t been to describe the encounters—just don’t forget to bring a waterproof camera!
If you prefer a lofty perch in the sky, get airborne on a parasail and then gloat about the float (#heaven). Or play captain for the day on one of Boogies’ Harris Kayot Pontoon boats and take your peeps to every hot spot you promised ‘em (read: Norriego Point beaches, Destin Harbor sights, Crab Island…). We gotta say—Boogie’s awesome location comes in super handy when you’re out to do it all. Speaking of all: They also offer 2-hour narrated day and night Glass Bottom Boat cruises. Look what lies beneath, encounter dolphins, feed birds and learn all about shrimping and crab traps.
- @Banandi_93 Best dolphin tour ever! 11.25.2020
- @Kaytay_8274 We did a thing today [parasail emoji] hands down funnest moment in my life so far! 3.16.2020
Destin’s Original Sea Blaster
By all accounts, you’re going to have a blast on Destin’s Original Sea Blaster—so round up the family and hightail it over to their location at the Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village for a ride on one of the Gulf’s largest speedboats (they have two, one seats 119 passengers; the other, 132). The company offers everything from snorkeling and dolphin cruise combo trips to both afternoon beach and sunset dolphin cruises (don’t know about you, but we think you these waters deserve to be experienced at every time of day—the sunsets are fire!).
Insta users give lots of love to Captain Larry and his crew (and the drinks they serve), but even kids can get a chance to captain the boat on these trips (lifeguards come with). Plan on catching some spray during your adventure—the natural, Gulf kind, and, in summer, the water cannon kind (cool, right?). #haveablast
- @Kohlenblakesmom I am ready to be back on board. We had the best time with y’all last month.
- @Tiffanirosebeck happier than a seagull with a saltine
Buccaneer Pirate Cruise
Arrr! That’s just one way you’ll express the excitement you feel when you take a Buccaneer Pirate Cruise. So, read on, me hearties and book a cruise soon We’re officially hoisting a red flag here and please heed our heads up—these adventures are must-dos and the booty that awaits is BIG: Non-stop entertainment and great memories!
On these cruises, you’ll get a hefty dose of pirate-themed activities and fun banter along with singing, dancing and, if you’re willing, pirate training, sword fighting, water gun battling (shiver me timbers!), treasure hunting and even cannon fire (the real deal kind). Insta posters say this is family fun at its best—and Gulf views at their max. But wait, there’s more. … If you prefer the company of the 21+ crowd, there’s a Saturday-night Adults Only Cruise with games for drink tickets, adult pirate speak, dancing, music, a cash bar and more. #adulting
- @Mybeachytribe The kids had so much fun, they scooped up their treasures and sang, “yo ho yo ho a pirates life for me,” the whole way home.
- @Samanthafolse They have swabbed the deck, had water gun and swordfights, found treasure, had a hula hoop contest and their faces painted, learned the”Sea LegStomy” and finished with a swearing in as official pirates and a private dance party. I think their faces say it all. Totally worth every penny!
Just Chute Me! Parasail
Ready for a natural high? A parasailing adventure with Just Chute Me Parasail will be one of the most uplifting (sorry, just had to) experiences you’ll ever have, above some of the most beautiful waters you’ll ever see. So, channel your inner seagull and get soaring with one or two sidekicks up to 400 feet above the water (you’ll be tethered to the boat with an 800-foot-long tow line.)
Just Chute Me also offers snorkeling and dolphin tours—a 2.5-hour combo snorkel/dolphin excursion with two stops (the fish species you’ll see around the rocks at the East Jetty in Destin’s East Pass will blow you away and you’ll count the shells you collect along the Gulf Shores National Seashore among your best trip souvenirs); a 1.5-hour hour dolphin trip; and a combo dolphin-seeking/sunset viewing trip. Just Chute Me uses state-of-the-art safety-certified equipment, employs U.S. Coast Guard Certified Captains and boats, and applies the strictest safety practices to all outings. #naturalhigh
- @Badgerin_ak Would definitely recommend this place for those seeking adventure.
- @Karentelj The boys had some extra dunking! Great time with the kids!
In Destin, where the weather for much of the year is spectacular, the natural scenery is breathtaking and you come to spend tons of time outdoors, you’re going to love shopping, dining and just generally having an all-around good time in an open-air mall with a powerful vacay spirit. Whatever goodies you’re in the market for (men’s, women’s and children’s fashion; jewelry; shoes; accessories; foods, you’ll find it at Destin Commons—sure, they’ve got the anchor stores you can’t live without, but they also have lots of specialty boutiques with one-of-a-kind items you won’t find anywhere else.
And there’s no shortage of great eats either, from quick bites to fine dining restaurants to yum treats you won’t want to have just one of—indulge freely; they’re righteous fuel for your adventures in the sun. Destin Commons also stages events, both inside the stores and out, like Mardi Gras Masquerade, Smoke on the Coast BBQ & Fireworks Festival, Halloween Haunt, and Santa’s Arrival, to name just a few.
While you’re here, let the kids burn some energy in the Center Plaza playground and take a ride on the mini train. Or, create a stuffed pal at Build-A-Bear, catch a movie at AMC Theatres and bowl among sharks and other underwater creatures at ocean-themed Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill.
Oh, and don’t leave Destin Commons without seeing its nine outdoor murals. Do it for the art and the grams.
- @Hollybytheshore Had the best day roaming around Destinwith my sweetMama! We had delicious shrimp tacos while overlooking the beach @surfhutfl, shopped till we dropped @thedestincommons
Fudpucker’s Beachside Bar & Grill Gator Beach
Anyone who comes to Fudpucker’s Beachside Bar & Grill might find themselves muttering a string of ‘f’ words—of the positive ilk: food, fun, family, fabulous… This place is not just a restaurant; it’s an all-around entertainment destination for people of every age where you’ll find everything from delicious eats and drinks to live alligators and fun souvenirs. Kids can romp through a playground, play arcade games, scrawl on walls made for that very purpose and eat from a menu designed just for them.
For great food, don’t miss the Hot Crab Dip and the best-selling Fried Shrimp A La Fud, Bacon & Cheddar Burger and Shrimp Pucker sandwich filled with fried popcorn shrimp.
For super fun, head to Gator Beach, Fudpucker’s’ free alligator park (we repeat: FREE!)—the largest one on the Emerald Coast where you can safely see and feed more alligators up close that anywhere else. And speaking of feed: You’ll want to flesh out your Insta with at least one shot of alligators chowing down on the special food Gator Beach lets you serve them AND (drumroll) one of you holding a live gator; they’ll take and let you buy the latter photo. (Just tell us holding an alligator isn’t on your Bucket List.) Gator shows, which are held throughout the day, and the Crocodilia Discovery Zone, which features numerous alligator exhibits, are the park’s must-see crowning touches (the baby alligators and Pearl, the rare albino, reap raves).
For memorable mementos, visit the shop and scoop up Fudpucker’s themed merch—e.g., T-shirts and silicone cups that are famous for their standout graphics, gator mugs and magnets, spices and lots more.
- @Shunnimcannon Happy Hour somewhere… Why not with the alligators
- @Throughtealeyes Beach bar & grill. Great food and atmosphere!
Pompano Joe’s Seafood House
Featured on the Travel Channel as the ultimate beach shack and one of the world’s best beach restaurants, Pompano Joe’s dishes up delicious Gulf seafood with Caribbean-style flair and flavor. And that location….well, you just can’t beat it! Picture a broad, weathered-wood structure with a neighborhood vibe, colorful windows and decks lined with umbrella tables and a perch right at the edge of a white-sand beach peppered with more tables. The views are great, but the food is just as good. Gulf eats on Gulf waters. Try the Coconut Shrimp, Garlic Crusted Grouper, Seafood Gumbo (they’re famous for it) and Reggae Rolls. #ridiculouslygood
- @mimitorias this restaurant has the most delightful outdoor dining and umbrellas. We ate dinner on Sunday and my salmon, garlic mashed potatoes and spinach was fabulous. It would be a beautiful place to watch the sun setting or even watch the many surfers from the restaurant.
The Back Porch
The Back Porch is an old-school seafood and oyster house serving classic super-fresh Gulf seafood favorites like smoked tuna dip and chargrilled Amberjack (these guys invented the Amberjack sandwich!). Ice-cold Appalachicola oysters and cold ones you sip make for a perfect Happy Hour. People don’t just come for the food though—the authentic beachy style of the place and the incredible Gulf views will make you hang out waaay longer than you ever imagined you would. Yep—you won’t want to leave, but you can add to your Insta from the oversized Adirondack Chair here.
- @mamasean83 Y’all should have seen my happy food dance when I bit into the scallops.
- @seagrovebeachgirl I love the color and the views!