Best Things to Do with Kids in Destin: 12 Family-Friendly Destin Activities

by Jen
Best Things to Do with Kids in Destin
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Are you searching for the best things to do in Destin with kids? Here are some of the coolest and most exciting activities to do with kids in Destin. Get ready for a fun-filled family day out in FL!

Destin, Florida, the crown jewel of the Emerald Coast, is a dream destination for families. Its allure goes beyond the pristine beaches and shimmering waters that first catch the eye. Here, every sunrise paints a new day of adventure, and every sunset wraps up memories that last a lifetime.

For the young explorers, Destin is a playground where sandcastles rise and laughter fills the air. And for parents? It’s the sheer joy of seeing their children’s eyes light up at the sight of dolphins or their triumphant cheer after catching their first fish.

Despite popular belief, Destin isn’t just about the beach – it’s a mosaic of experiences. From the bustling HarborWalk Village, with its shops and eateries, to the tranquil beauty of the state parks, there’s something for everyone. And if you’re wondering where to go in Destin with kids, you’re in for a treat. There are tons of family-friendly attractions that promise to make your vacation unforgettable.

As you plan your trip, you might feel spoilt for choice, given Destin’s rich offerings. That’s why this guide is crafted – to spotlight the best, the hidden, and the unmissable. So, let’s dive deep into the heart of Destin and uncover the treasures that await. Here’s everything you need to know about the best things to do with kids in Destin.

The top places to visit with kids in Destin right now
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Best Things to Do with Kids in Destin: 12 Exciting Family-Friendly Attractions in Destin

Are you ready to explore all the coolest activities in Destin for families? As previously noted, there’s a wide selection of things to do in Destin with kids. All you’ve gotta do is stay in a nice Destin beach house rental, and you’ll see what makes this destination so special. Keep reading to find out where to go in Destin for a memorable day out!

Are you looking for a relaxing day on one of Destin’s best beaches? Or would you rather explore the city’s vibrant attractions? Whatever you’re planning, there are exciting places to go in Destin with kids that can accommodate your needs. Here are all the best things to do with kids in Destin that you should know about.

1. Princess Beach

There’s a certain magic in the simplicity of a day at the beach. The soft, white sands of Princess Beach invite families to lay down their blankets, set up their umbrellas, and dive into a world of relaxation and fun. Children can be seen building sandcastles, collecting seashells, or chasing the waves. Their laughter echoes with the rhythm of the ocean. Parents, on the other hand, find solace in the gentle lull of the waves and the warmth of the sun. They also find joy in watching their little ones play. It’s no surprise that Princess Beach is among the best beaches in Destin for families.

The calm Gulf Coast waters make it ideal for a refreshing swim or a leisurely float. For those looking to explore, the shoreline offers a chance to spot marine life. You can see everything from tiny crabs scuttling across the sand to colorful fish darting in the shallows. As the day progresses, families often gather for a picnic. They share meals and stories against the backdrop of the vast ocean.

As the day winds down, many families light up bonfires, roasting marshmallows and sharing stories under the starlit sky. It’s moments like these, simple yet profound, that make a trip to Destin unforgettable. And while there are numerous fun things to do in Destin with kids, sometimes the best memories are made just lounging by the sea.

Visiting Princess Beach is one of the best things to do with kids in Destin.
Visit Princess Beach, where the magic of a simple beach day unfolds for families with soft sands, playful kids, and soothing waves.

2. The Track Family Recreation Center

Adventure awaits at every corner of The Track Family Recreation Center, coined by many as one of the top Destin things to do for families. This expansive entertainment hub is a paradise for kids and adults alike. It offers a diverse range of activities that promise hours of fun and laughter.

From the thrill of go-karting on winding tracks to the challenge of mini-golf amidst beautifully landscaped courses, there’s something for every age group. Younger kids can dive into the fun of the Kiddie & Family Go-Kart Tracks, while the older ones can test their skills on the Wild Woody, a three-tiered go-kart track. And if that’s not enough, the Bumper Ride offers a delightful twist, allowing families to bump and dodge their way to giggles.

The center also boasts a serene Ferris wheel. This offers panoramic views of Destin’s skyline and the shimmering coastline. As the wheel slowly ascends, the breathtaking vistas create a moment of calm amidst the bustling activities below.

After a day of excitement, families can wind down at the arcade, trying their hand at classic games or grabbing a bite at the on-site eateries. With its blend of adrenaline-pumping rides and relaxed attractions, The Track ensures every family member leaves with cherished memories and a desire to return.

Discover The Track Family Recreation Center, where kids can delight in a diverse range of activities for hours of fun and laughter.
Discover The Track Family Recreation Center, where kids can delight in a diverse range of activities for hours of fun and laughter.

3. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Dive into a world of marine wonders at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. Situated right on the beach, this attraction stands out as one of the premier family-friendly activities in Destin, FL. It offers families a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with a diverse range of marine life, from playful sea lions and majestic dolphins to graceful rays and turtles.

The park is designed to be both entertaining and educational. Daily shows captivate audiences with dolphins showcasing their intelligence and agility, while sea lion sessions are filled with antics and laughter. For those looking to delve deeper, the park offers animal encounters, allowing visitors to touch, feed, and even swim with some of their favorite marine creatures.

Beyond the shows and encounters, the park is dotted with exhibits that provide insights into the marine ecosystem. The touch tanks are a favorite among kids, allowing them to feel the texture of starfish and other marine invertebrates. The underwater viewing tunnels, on the other hand, transport visitors to the depths of the ocean. This offers a mesmerizing view of sharks, rays, and colorful fish.

With its commitment to conservation and education, the Gulfarium also runs programs aimed at rehabilitating injured marine animals, giving families a glimpse into the efforts to preserve the marine world. A day at the Gulfarium promises a blend of fun, learning, and unforgettable memories.

Experience Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, where you can get up close with sea lions, dolphins, rays, and turtles.
Experience Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, where you can get up close with sea lions, dolphins, rays, and turtles.

4. HarborWalk Village

Nestled along Destin’s scenic harbor, HarborWalk Village pulsates with energy. This offers a plethora of activities, dining options, and entertainment. Recognized as one of the best places to go in Destin for families, this vibrant village is an experience that promises memories at every turn.

Upon entering, families are greeted with a kaleidoscope of colors and sounds. Street performers showcase their talents, from musicians strumming coastal tunes to magicians captivating audiences with their tricks. The air is filled with the tantalizing aroma of fresh seafood, beckoning visitors to the array of restaurants lining the waterfront. Whether it’s a casual bite at a food truck or a fine dining experience with views of the sunset, the culinary delights here cater to every palate.

For adventure seekers, HarborWalk Village doesn’t disappoint. Families can embark on deep-sea fishing expeditions, set sail on pirate-themed cruises, or soar high with parasailing adventures. The village also boasts a range of shops, perfect for picking up souvenirs or indulging in a bit of retail therapy.

As the sun dips below the horizon, the village transforms into a hub of nightlife. Live music fills the air, and the weekly fireworks display paints the sky with vibrant hues. It’s a fitting end to a day filled with exploration, laughter, and cherished moments.

HarborWalk Village brims with activities, dining, and entertainment, celebrated as a top family destination promising vibrant memories.
HarborWalk Village brims with activities, dining, and entertainment, celebrated as a top family destination promising vibrant memories.

5. Hydrojet Dolphin Cruise

Embarking on the Hydrojet Dolphin Cruise is like stepping into a marine wonderland. As families set sail on this exhilarating journey, the azure waters of Destin come alive with playful dolphins gracefully leaping and dancing alongside the boat. It’s a sight that captures hearts, especially the young ones. This makes it a top pick for family-friendly attractions in Destin, FL.

Observing dolphins in their natural habitat, with the backdrop of Destin’s picturesque coastline, is an experience that stays etched in memory. And as the boat glides, the panoramic views of sandy beaches and shimmering waters amplify the visual delight.

Beyond the dolphins, the cruise offers glimpses of other marine life, from the occasional sea turtle to schools of colorful fish darting below. The knowledgeable crew often shares fascinating tidbits about the local marine ecosystem, ensuring the journey is both entertaining and educational.

For families seeking a blend of adventure and awe-inspiring natural beauty, this dolphin cruise is a perfect choice. So, gear up for a maritime adventure that promises laughter, wonder, and countless photo opportunities. It’s absolutely one of the best things to do in Destin with kids.

Experience the Hydrojet Dolphin Cruise as azure waters come alive with playful dolphins dancing alongside the boat.
Experience the Hydrojet Dolphin Cruise as azure waters come alive with playful dolphins dancing alongside the boat.

6. Henderson Beach State Park

Nature has a way of rejuvenating the soul, and a stroll through Henderson Beach State Park offers families just that. This natural oasis, with its sprawling dunes and coastal vegetation, is a serene escape from the bustling tourist attractions in Destin. The well-marked trails invite visitors of all ages to explore the diverse landscapes, from sandy pathways to shaded groves.

Children are often seen with curious eyes, spotting butterflies, listening to the songs of local birds, or simply feeling the textures of different plants. The park’s boardwalks provide an elevated view, allowing families to gaze upon the vast expanse of the Gulf and the undulating dunes, a testament to nature’s artistry.

For those carrying picnic baskets, the park offers designated spots where families can settle down, enjoy a meal, and bask in the beauty of their surroundings. The gentle breeze, the sound of rustling leaves, and the distant murmur of the ocean create a symphony that’s both calming and invigorating.

Henderson Beach State Park is a place where families can bond, learn, and create memories. Amidst the hustle and bustle of vacation activities, taking a moment to connect with nature can be one of the most rewarding family-friendly attractions in Destin, FL.

Exploring Henderson Beach State Park is one of the best things to do with kids in Destin.
Henderson Beach State Park is a serene natural escape, inviting families to rejuvenate amidst dunes, trails, and coastal beauty.

7. Destin History & Fishing Museum

If you’re looking for where to go in Destin with kids on a rainy day, look no further than the Destin History & Fishing Museum. This cultural gem offers families a chance to journey through time, uncovering the town’s transformation from a small fishing village to the renowned vacation spot it is today. It’s a captivating detour from the beach, providing insights into the heritage and traditions of the local community.

The museum boasts an impressive collection of artifacts, photographs, and exhibits. One of the highlights is the array of vintage fishing equipment. It showcases the evolution of the fishing industry and its significance to Destin. Children are often fascinated by the large fish mounts, representing species found in the Gulf of Mexico.

Interactive displays peppered throughout the museum engage young minds. They allow them to touch and feel various exhibits, from antique fishing rods to traditional fishing nets. The stories of early settlers, their challenges, and triumphs breathe life into the artifacts, making history come alive.

For families looking to enrich their Destin experience, a visit to this museum offers a blend of education and entertainment. It’s a reminder that Destin’s charm lies not just in its natural beauty. It also lies in its rich history and the tales of the people who shaped it. Exploring this museum is undoubtedly one of the unique activities in Destin for kids that goes beyond the beach.

The Destin History & Fishing Museum offers families a journey through the town's evolution from a fishing village to a vacation hub.
The Destin History & Fishing Museum offers families a journey through the town’s evolution from a fishing village to a vacation hub.

8. Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park

When it’s time to take a break from the beach but the family is still craving some aquatic fun, Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park is the place to be. This sprawling park, located in the heart of Destin, is a haven of slides, pools, and water features. It ensures hours of excitement for visitors of all ages.

The park boasts a diverse range of attractions. These include adrenaline-pumping slides like the Cobra Twister and the more relaxed Lazy River, where families can float along and soak in the sun. For the little ones, the Kiddie Area offers a safe and fun environment. It has mini slides, splash pads, and interactive water features.

The Adventure Park section challenges visitors with its tropical mini-golf courses, sky-high rope courses, and thrilling go-kart tracks. Whether you’re racing against time in the Grand Prix or testing your balance on the Sky Coaster, there’s never a dull moment.

With its blend of wet and dry attractions, Big Kahuna’s offers a comprehensive entertainment package. It’s the perfect spot for families to let loose, have fun, and create lasting memories. And while Destin is renowned for its beaches, a day at this park proves that there are plenty of fun places in Destin to visit with children beyond the sandy shores.

Explore Big Kahuna's Water & Adventure Park, a sprawling haven of slides, pools, and water features offering hours of excitement.
Explore Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park, a sprawling haven of slides, pools, and water features.

9. Destin Commons

Shopping, dining, and entertainment come together in a vibrant blend at Destin Commons. This open-air shopping center has beautifully landscaped walkways and a unique architectural design. It offers families a delightful break from the typical beach activities. Recognized as one of the top places for families to go in Destin, it’s a hub of excitement for both locals and tourists.

With a diverse range of stores, from popular brands to local boutiques, shoppers can indulge in some retail therapy. Children, meanwhile, can revel in the interactive play fountains. They can also take a ride on the mini train that chugs its way around the center. The central plaza often hosts live performances, events, and seasonal festivities, adding to the lively atmosphere.

When hunger strikes, Destin Commons doesn’t disappoint. A plethora of eateries, ranging from casual cafes to upscale restaurants, cater to every palate. Whether it’s a quick snack or a leisurely meal, the culinary delights here promise to satiate all cravings.

As the evening sets in, families can head to the on-site movie theater, showcasing the latest blockbusters in a state-of-the-art setting. With its mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment options, Destin Commons ensures a day filled with fun, laughter, and memorable moments. This makes it a must-visit family-friendly attraction in Destin, FL.

Destin Commons is a lively blend of shopping, dining, and entertainment, offering families a vibrant break from the beach scene.
Destin Commons is a lively blend of shopping, dining, and entertainment. It offers families a vibrant break from the beach scene.

10. Crab Island Adventure

Imagine a submerged sandbar, crystal-clear waters, and a lively atmosphere – that’s Crab Island for you. Once a hidden gem, this underwater playground has now become one of the most sought-after Destin things to do for families. Accessible only by boat, it’s an adventure from the get-go.

As you approach, the shallow waters reveal a vibrant scene. Families can be seen anchored in their boats, floating on inflatables, or simply wading in the waist-deep waters. Children delight in spotting small marine creatures, from hermit crabs to tiny fish. Meanwhile, adults relish the chance to relax and soak up the sun.

Vendors float around on pontoons, offering everything from snacks and beverages to water toys, adding to the festive vibe. Live music often fills the air, with impromptu dance parties breaking out on larger boats. It’s a unique blend of relaxation and revelry, which makes it a top pick for fun places in Destin to visit with kids.

While Crab Island offers a day of unadulterated fun, it’s essential to come prepared. Sunscreen, snacks, and plenty of water are a must. And as the day winds down, the journey back offers breathtaking views of the Destin Harbor, capping off an unforgettable adventure.

Explore Picture Crab Island, a submerged sandbar, clear waters, and a vibrant vibe.
Explore Picture Crab Island, a submerged sandbar, clear waters, and a vibrant vibe.

11. Gator Beach at Fudpucker’s

For a unique and educational experience, families should head to Gator Beach at Fudpucker’s. Touted as the most visited alligator attraction in Destin, Florida, this venue offers visitors a chance to see over 100 live alligators up close. But it’s not just about viewing; it’s about interaction and learning.

Children’s eyes light up with wonder as they hold a baby alligator, feeling its textured skin and marveling at its tiny teeth. The daily live shows are both entertaining and informative, teaching visitors about the life, habits, and conservation efforts surrounding these fascinating reptiles.

For the brave at heart, there’s the opportunity to feed the gators. Under the watchful eyes of trained staff, families can dangle food from a fishing pole, watching as the alligators leap and snap it up. It’s a thrilling experience, to say the least.

Beyond the gators, Fudpucker’s itself is a treat. The on-site restaurant offers a range of delicious meals, from seafood to Southern classics. And for those looking to commemorate their visit, the gift shop boasts a range of gator-themed souvenirs.

Combining education with entertainment, Gator Beach ensures a day of fun-filled learning. It highlights the diverse range of activities in Destin for kids and showcases the region’s dedication to wildlife and conservation.

Visit Gator Beach at Fudpucker's, the top alligator attraction offering close encounters, combining viewing with interactive learning.
Visit Gator Beach at Fudpucker’s, the top alligator attraction. It offers close encounters, combining viewing with interactive learning.

12. Destin Harbor Boardwalk

A visit to Destin would be incomplete without a stroll along the iconic Destin Harbor Boardwalk. Stretching nearly a quarter of a mile along the beautiful Destin Harbor, the boardwalk is a bustling hub of activity, which makes it one of the best things to do in Destin with kids.

As families meander along, they’re treated to a visual feast of boats setting sail, fishermen showcasing their catch of the day, and street performers adding a touch of entertainment. The numerous shops and kiosks lining the boardwalk offer a range of souvenirs, from handcrafted jewelry to beach-themed trinkets.

The boardwalk’s restaurants and cafes serve up local delicacies, fresh seafood, and international cuisines. The aroma of grilled fish, sizzling steaks, and sweet treats fills the air, promising a culinary adventure.

The boardwalk also offers various water-based activities in Destin for kids and adults alike. From dolphin cruises and snorkeling trips to paddleboarding and jet-ski rentals, adventures await.

As the day ends, families often gather to witness the spectacular sunset, with the sky painted in shades of gold and crimson. It’s a serene end to a day filled with exploration, shopping, and delightful experiences.

Exploring the iconic Destin Harbor Boardwalk is one of the best things to do with kids in Destin.
Explore the iconic Destin Harbor Boardwalk, a lively quarter-mile stretch along the beautiful harbor, a top kid-friendly activity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Best Things to Do with Kids in Destin:

Are you looking for more content on what to do in Destin with kids? Here are some common questions (and answers) I get asked a lot about the most fun places in Destin to go as a family.

Is Destin a good place to vacation with kids?

Absolutely! Destin is renowned for its family-friendly attractions, beautiful beaches, and a plethora of activities suitable for all ages. From water parks and adventure centers to serene nature walks and interactive museums, there’s something for every child to enjoy. The city’s safe environment and welcoming locals further enhance the experience. This makes it a top destination for family vacations.

What is there to do in Destin FL for toddlers?

Destin, FL offers numerous activities and attractions suitable for toddlers. If you’re planning a visit with a little one in tow, consider these toddler-friendly options:

  1. Shallow Beach Play: The beautiful white sand beaches of Destin are perfect for toddlers to play in. The calm, clear waters allow for safe wading and splashing.
  2. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park: Watch dolphin and sea lion shows, and see marine animals up close. The park has interactive exhibits that are engaging for young children.
  3. Kids’ Pirate Cruise: “Buccaneer Pirate Cruise” offers a fun-filled adventure where kids can dress up as pirates, engage in water gun battles, and search for treasure.
  4. Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park: Though it has big slides for older kids, it also features kiddie areas and splash zones perfect for toddlers.
  5. Henderson Beach State Park: A quiet alternative to the bustling beaches, this park provides a serene environment for families. The gentle waves and nature trails are ideal for young children.
  6. The Track: While this recreation center offers go-karts and mini-golf, it also has a designated “Kids Country” with a carousel, mini Ferris wheel, and other toddler-friendly rides.
  7. Playgrounds: Destin boasts several playgrounds, such as the Morgan Sports Center, which features playground equipment suitable for toddlers.

What are some free fun things to do in Destin with kids?

Destin offers several free activities for families. The pristine beaches are perfect for a day of relaxation, sandcastle building, and water play. Nature walks at places like Henderson Beach State Park provide an opportunity to explore the local flora and fauna. Additionally, the Destin Harbor Boardwalk is great for strolls, witnessing sunsets, and occasionally enjoying street performances.

The pristine beaches in Destin provide a perfect backdrop for a day of sandcastle building.
The pristine beaches in Destin provide a perfect backdrop for a day of sandcastle building.

Where to go in Destin with kids during rainy days?

While Destin is known for its sunny weather, there are plenty of indoor activities to enjoy on the occasional rainy day. Destin Commons offers shopping, dining, and a movie theater. There are also indoor trampoline parks, arcades, and bowling alleys that promise hours of entertainment.

Is Destin Florida good for kids?

Yes, Destin, Florida is a great destination for kids and families. The city offers a range of activities and attractions that are child-friendly and enjoyable for all ages. Here are some reasons why Destin is good for kids:

  1. Beautiful Beaches: Destin is renowned for its white-sand beaches and clear turquoise waters. Kids can play in the sand, swim, or hunt for seashells.
  2. Water Sports: Families can engage in various water sports, including paddleboarding, kayaking, parasailing, and jet skiing.
  3. Fishing: Destin is known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” There are kid-friendly fishing excursions and boat rentals available.
  4. Destin Harbor Boardwalk: A bustling area with restaurants, shops, and various attractions. Kids might enjoy watching the boats, feeding the fish, or trying out some of the local eateries.
  5. Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park: This water park features numerous slides, lazy rivers, wave pools, and kiddie areas.
  6. Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park: Here, kids can watch dolphin and sea lion shows, interact with rays, and learn about marine conservation.
  7. Pirate Cruises: There are themed cruises where kids can dress up as pirates, participate in treasure hunts, and enjoy pirate-themed activities.
  8. Mini-Golf and Go-Karts: Destin offers several family-friendly mini-golf courses and go-kart tracks.
  9. Nature Trails: Families can explore nature trails like those in Henderson Beach State Park, offering a chance to experience local flora and fauna.

Are there any educational activities in Destin for kids?

Yes, Destin offers a mix of fun and learning. The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, for instance, is both entertaining and educational, teaching kids about marine life and conservation efforts. Gator Beach at Fudpucker’s allows children to learn about alligators in an interactive setting.

How safe is it for families to go to Destin for vacation?

Destin is considered one of the safer vacation destinations in Florida. The local community is welcoming, and there’s a strong emphasis on ensuring tourist areas are secure. However, like any popular tourist spot, it’s always advisable for families to be aware of their surroundings and follow basic safety precautions.

Concluding the Best Things to Do with Kids in Destin, FL

Destin, with its sun-kissed beaches, vibrant attractions, and heartwarming hospitality, has firmly established itself as a family favorite. Whether it’s the thrill of water adventures, the allure of shopping hubs, or the simple joys of nature walks, this Floridian gem offers a diverse palette of experiences. The top Destin activities for kids range from educational excursions to pure, unadulterated fun, ensuring that every day spent here is a new adventure.

While the city boasts numerous attractions, it’s the moments in between that truly stand out: the laughter shared over a meal, the wonder in a child’s eyes at a new discovery, or the serene moments watching the waves crash ashore. It’s these memories, both big and small, that families carry with them, long after the vacation ends.

If you’re deciding what to do in Destin with kids, rest assured, the city promises not just activities but cherished moments that will be etched in your hearts forever. Here’s to sun, sand, and splendid memories in Destin!

The top things to do with kids in Destin for all types of travelers
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