The Top Things to See and Do in Destin, Florida

Located on Florida’s Emerald Coast, Destin, originated as a small fishing town, and is the principal city of the Fort Walton Beach-Crestview-Destin, Florida Metropolitan Statistical area. It has become a very popular tourist destination and is known for its white sand beaches and emerald green waters. The city touts itself as “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” and claims to have the largest fishing vessel fleet in the state of Florida. The city has a lot to offer for visitors. There are numerous pristine beaches, public parks and recreational areas and of course…many tourist attractions. Some of the things you’ll definitely want to check out include Big Kahuna’s Lost Paradise, Henderson Beach State Park, one or more of the museums, Destin Commons and The Track. Don’t forget while you’re there, you can go enjoy some great fishing, go snorkeling or scuba diving in the beautiful waters or take a sightseeing tour and learn more about the area.

1. Big Kahuna’s

Opened in 1986, Big Kahuna’s Lost Paradise is a water park located in Destin, Florida. It features over forty water attractions, several thrilling rides and a miniature golf course. Though it’s mainly a water park, there is plenty of fun and excitement to go around rivalling any other family amusement park and for a fraction of the usual price. There are often special events scheduled in the summer which are included in your admission ticket price. Some of the attractions in the park include: water rides and slides like the Kowabunga Racer, Bombs Away Bay, Hammerhead, Cobra Twister, and Jumanji; waves, rivers and pools like Humunga River, Lazy River and Wave Pool; Kiddie rides like Crocodile Flats, Pleasure Island, Fun Fountains and Kid’s Slides; and the adventure park featuring rides like the Cyclone and Sky Coaster as well as Tropical Mini Golf. It promises fun for all ages. You can even stay there in one of their elegant cabanas and enjoy a meal right in the park.

Paul Hakimata Photography / Shutterstock.com
Paul Hakimata Photography / Shutterstock.com

2. Henderson Beach State Park

Henderson Beach State Park is a Florida State Park and recreational area located at 17000 Emerald Coast Parkway near Destin. It was sold to the state in 1983 for $13.1 million by Burney M. Henderson, a businessman from Pensacola. The park offers beaches, bicycling, bird watching, fishing, hiking, picnicking, swimming and camping facilities.  With over 6,000 feet of shoreline along the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the pristine white sugar sand beaches are beautifully welcoming. Some other natural features found in the park include sand pines, scrub oaks, and dune rosemary. There are boardwalks throughout the park making access to swimming, sunbathing and fishing very enjoyable. For picnicking and barbecuing, there are four large and two small pavilions for your use. For the young or young at heart, there is a playground available as well. It is pet friendly and the nature trails provide an exquisite view of the coastal dune ecosystem and abundant wildlife. The camping area provides many amenities including water and electrical hook-ups, access to air conditioned and heated bathhouse facilities and outdoor showers. It’s a great place for a family vacation in a naturally breath-taking setting.

Photo by: Ebyable via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Ebyable via Wikimedia Commons

3. Sightseeing Tours

There are many different tours available to tourists visiting Destin. Depending on your preference, you can between a self-guided tour on the water or on shore. Whether you are looking for some family fun or a romantic ride, you can also choose different modes of transportation, like buses, cruises or fishing tours. Boat tours include a ‘Buccaneer Pirate Cruise’ that the kids will go crazy over. It offers so many things, you may not even see what’s around you because of the activities going on right on board the ship. They have face painting for the kids, use pirate lingo, swab the decks, have sword fighting, water gun fights, dancing, treasure hunting and more. What a great way to spend a couple of hours. There are just too many options to list here for water tours or land tours, but if you’re going to a place like Destin, a water tour is probably the way you want to go.

Pirate Boat Cruise

4. Destin Commons

If you’re in the mood to do some premier shopping while vacationing, there is a great place right in the heart of Destin. Destin Commons is a shopping mall located at 4100 Legendary Drive. It’s less than a half mile from the Regatta Bay Golf and Country Club, the emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Choctawhatchee Bay and the boating center of Florida’s Great Northwest. It’s also close to executive housing like Kelly Plantation, Crystal Beach, Indian Bayou and Destiny with upscale grocery shopping, food and hotel establishments. The center itself is full of great shops like Abercrombie & Fitch, H&M, Bath & Body Works, Talbots, Guess, Aldo, Zoes Kitchen, Swim ‘n Sport, Francesca’s Collections, Private Gallery, Apricot Lane Boutique, Charming Charlie and more. You can also plan a meal there at one of the several eateries located in the mall which include Red Brick Pizza, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill, Starbucks and others. There is no lack of variety in this mall. Whether you have a modest budget or if you want to indulge a little, you’ll find it at Destin Commons.

Photo by: Radoslav Radoslavov via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Radoslav Radoslavov via Wikimedia Commons

5. Destin History & Fishing Museum

Located at 108 Stahlman Avenue, the Destin History & Fishing Museum showcases exhibits depicting the history of the town and its relation to the fishing industry. The displays are set up in such a way that you have the feeling of being under the sea and seeing the different species of fish in their natural environment on a 100 feet of wall space imitating the Gulf floor with its colorful sponges and other underwater plant life. Part of the exhibit also contains a large collection of antique fishing rods, reels and includes a rod once owned by Ernest Hemingway. The original post office is located directly adjacent to the museum and you can see the oldest seine fishing boat still in existence…The Primrose, built in 1925. To further enhance the collection, there are vintage photographs of early settlers, captains and their boats, beaches, businesses and more. It’s a very valuable source of information on the Destin area and admission is very inexpensive. Young and old will enjoy a tour of the facilities.

Photo by: Ebyable via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Ebyable via Wikimedia Commons

6. The Track

The Track Family Recreation Center in Destin offers all kinds of fun for all ages. It is located at 1125 US Highway 98 and is a great place to go for some recreation. With its location being conveniently within one hour of just about any beach destination in Destin, it is a wonderful stop after some swimming or other water activity. It offers go karts, mini golf, bumper boats, and other kiddie rides. Unlike many places you take your children, the really young ones aren’t overlooked here. There are 8 rides included in their selection that are made just for toddler aged children. Kiddie rides include Kiddie Karts, The Rio Grande Train, The Carousel, The Red Baron Plane Ride, Spin Tops, Swings, Ferris Wheel, The Jungle Jumper and Rookie Karts. They don’t forget the other extreme in age either. There are adult thrill rides like bungee jumping and the Sky Flyer – the thrill of skydiving. They also have a family arcade for a little video game challenge; kids against the adults? If you like bumper rides, they have Blaster Boats and Bumper Cars and the mini golf isn’t your average hit-it-thru-the-windmill kind of course.

Photo by: Sunny Destin Vacation Rentals
Photo by: Sunny Destin Vacation Rentals

7. Scuba Diving & Snorkeling

With the inviting emerald waters around Destin, no trip would be complete without a little underwater adventure. There are numerous places where you can rent scuba or snorkeling equipment and many offer guides and tours of the waters so you see some of the most beautiful undersea terrain and marine life. The 100-fathom Curve which stretches very close to the coastline is a must-see for divers and snorkelers. There are artificial reefs, underwater wreckage, a mishmash of marine life and a limestone shelf for divers to explore and enjoy. You can get your diver’s certification after taking lessons at one of the many dive shops located along the coast. They offer a wide variety of excursions for your adventurous side. For people who don’t live close to a large body of water, this is an experience not to be missed. If you’re feeling a little adventurous and want a once-in-a-lifetime trip, make sure to go diving and/or snorkeling.

Snorkelling

8. Jolee Island Nature Park

Jolee Island Nature Park is a 5 acre nature park located near the Baytowne Marina at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort. The park can be accessed either on foot or bicycle after crossing a wooden footbridge overlooking a salt marsh. The sidewalks span the entire way there. You can also access the island by canoe or kayak across Horseshoe Bayou and Choctawhatchee Bay. Jolee Island is an exquisite place for a picnic or barbecue with the family. A pirate ship shaped playground overlooks the island landscape as well giving your children a fun and safe place to play. While your children burn off their excess energy, you can relax in one of the porch swings. The day promises many adventures for the family with the many picturesque trails with secret hideaways and pirate adventures. If you like bird watching, this island provides a plethora of species for you to watch and photograph while enjoying their melodic calls. After visiting the island, you can return to the resort for mazes, slides, bridges and swings for the fun to continue.

Chatchouwee Bay

9. Boathouse Oyster Bar & Grill

The Boathouse Oyster Bar & Grill touts themselves as “Destin’s Best Kept Secret!”. From its modest beginnings in 1986 when they were about half the size they are today. Previously, hamburgers, fish sandwiches and other dishes were prepared on a gas grill much like the ones people have at home. They served their craw fish and beer in the boathouse and out on decks and on Fridays, people would gather to watch the craw fish being purged and boiled while enjoying a cold brew. Since it was originally a boathouse, the wooden walls have always provided a place for visitors to sign their names on a dollar bill and then staple it up onto the walls. Many people return every year to see their dollar still up on the wall which are never removed. In 1995, Hurricane Opal flattened the boathouse and customers gathered together to help rebuild it back as it is today with the restaurant only being closed for about a month after being obliterated. Their award-winning Crab and Shrimp Gumbo along with their Apalachicola Oysters, and Louisiana craw fish are popular dishes and something you don’t want to miss.

Shrimp Gumbo

10. Fort Walton Mound

Fort Walton Mound is an archaeological site located in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Built in about 850 CE, the site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964. The mound, still being reduced by time, is 12 feet (3.7m) high and 223 feet (68m) wide at the base. Built by the labor of many workers, with about 200,000 basket loads of earth, the mound was used for ceremonial, political and religious purposes. Because of its location at the center of the village, it served as the platform for the temple and residence of the chief. Leaders who came after, were buried in the mound and layers were added over the years. It is one of only three surviving mound complexes in the panhandle with the other two being Letchworth Mounds and Lake Jackson Mounds. Located on museum grounds, the prehistoric temple mound is an outstanding artifact left by early peoples of the area. It is thought to be the largest on salt water and possibly the largest prehistoric earthwork on the Gulf Coast. While visiting the mound and learning about the heritage of the community, visit the museums and Civil War Exhibits as well to make a day of it.

Photo by: Infrogmation via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Infrogmation via Wikimedia Commons

10 Best Places to Take Your RV in 2015

The thrill of traveling on the open road combined with the feel of home makes traveling in an RV the perfect vacation getaway. The biggest question in terms of RV travel is often where to stay; as the possibilities are seemingly endless. From budget rustic campgrounds that offer no hook ups in the middle of a grassy field to luxury high end resorts with swanky clubhouses and private pools; the choices can be overwhelming. Whether you choose to stay in a private family run park or a large chain run campground the amenities will vary; as will the scenery and price. Budget minded travelers and those looking for a little luxury will want to take a look at this top ten list of places to take your trailer in 2015. From the beachfront property on the Gulf of Mexico to the red sandstone hills of Utah to the prestigious parks of California we explore the best of the best in the RV world.

10. Hershey Park Camping Resort, Hummelstown, Pennsylvania

One of the official resorts of HersheyPark; this RV camping resort is the perfect place to call home for a few days while you explore the town of Hershey. Offering partial or full hookup sites with picnic tables and a fire ring at each site and surrounded by creeks and woods this is a beautiful and large site bustling with enough activities for the whole family. On-site amenities include two swimming pools plus a kids-only pool, multiple playgrounds, horseshoe pits and volleyball courts. Special activities include movie nights and live entertainment and are offered on a weekly basis.

While staying here, guests will get the best priced tickets for the HersheyPark, discounts on admission to Hershey Gardens and The Hershey Story’s Museum Experience as well as complimentary shuttle service to the park. With so many local attractions nearby and enough activities to keep you busy on the resort; Hershey Park Camping Resort offers reasonable rates, a clean and safe atmosphere and the perfect landing place in this area of Pennsylvania.

Photo by: Hershey Park
Photo by: Hershey Park

9. River’s Edge Resort, Fairbanks, Alaska

Located in the interior of Alaska; this RV resort is big on nature and relaxation. Offering over 170 sites ranging from wide pull through, basic and full hook ups there is a place for every traveler in this park. If you’re lucky enough to grab a space on the banks of the lazy Chena River prepare to bask in the sun while listening to the sounds of the water as it slowly drifts by. The midnight sun along with the rustling of the birch leaves sets the tone for the numerous walking and biking trails that are available on-site.

Amenities that make this resort great include free showers, large laundry facilities, private sites and a gift shop that will fulfill all your needs. The on-site restaurant offers huge portions at reasonable prices on the banks of the river with outdoor seating. Visiting the sites from the resort is a breeze and there is no need to unhook the RV as the shuttle service will run you to nearby attractions. The knowledgeable staff on hand will help you to arrange any tours and tickets. Find a slice of wilderness with genuine hospitality on this resort located in beautiful Alaska.

Photo by: River's Edge RV Park
Photo by: River’s Edge RV Park

8. The Springs at Borrego, California

This beautiful family owned luxury RV resort located in Borrego Springs is full of life, recreational activities and excellent hospitality. One of only eight International Dark Sky Communities in the world; Borrego Springs has taken extreme measures to preserving the natural night. Star Parties are a frequent event at this resort with dinner, dancing and speakers. Make sure to check out the astronomy park where stargazers can check out the Milky Way, glittering stars and stunning views of the moon.

This resort offers over 90 spacious sites that offer full hook ups, Wi-Fi, sewer and water. Amenities here are endless and include a saltwater swimming pool, golf course, state of the art fitness center, tennis court, catch and release fishing areas and two dog parks for those furry friends. The Springs also boasts hot healing mineral baths that soothe, relax and heal after a long day of activities. With reasonable rates, ongoing daily activities hosted by staff, top rated cleanliness and gorgeous scenery we suggest putting this resort at the top of your list for places to visit with your trailer in 2015.

Photo by: The Springs at Borrego
Photo by: The Springs at Borrego

7. Mill Creek Ranch Resort, Texas

This upscale Texas RV park is located just 60 miles east of Dallas and offers visitors first class amenities and genuine southern hospitality. The location is stunning; 2000 acres amongst rolling hills, shady trees, streams and lakes. With nature trails running throughout and stocked ponds on-site you will truly feel one with nature here. With a variety of sites ranging from lengthy pull-through to premium lakeside spots; no matter where you stay the rates are reasonable all year around.

As an added bonus this RV Park is located directly across the street from the world-famous First Monday Trade Days, a market with hundreds of vendors selling everything from antiques to furniture to jewelry to home décor.  We recommend planning your visit around one of these market weeks as it’s truly something to experience. Amenities at this first class park include a hot tub, horseshoe pits, catch and release fishing, volleyball courts, bikes and so many other activities you won’t know what to do first. A beautiful park set in a great location; make sure to visit Mill Creek Ranch Resort in Texas with your trailer in 2015.

Photo by: Mill Creek Ranch Resort
Photo by: Mill Creek Ranch Resort

6. Zion River Resort, Virgin, Utah

This resort is located just 13 miles from the entrance of Zion National Park; Utah’s first national park full of red sandstone cliffs. Nestled in the green valley amongst dramatic painted mountains this resort offers first class service and amenities to all types of travelers. Sites range from smaller back-in sites that sit on the river with gravel, shade and full hookups to large pull-through concrete pad sites with shade, fire ring and full hookups. All sites come with free Wi-Fi, cable television and a picnic table.

Amenities include a heated swimming pool and spa, children’s playground complete with rock climbing walls and private restrooms with complimentary showers. From March to October a shuttle bus runs from the park to Zion National Park for the cost of $7 a person round trip; allowing guests a simple way to see the beautiful landscape. With very reasonable nightly rates the Zion River Resort is your perfect gateway to discover the breathtaking beauty of Utah and is one of our favorite places to take your trailer in 2015.

Zion national park

5. Camp Gulf, Destin, Florida

This RV and camping site seems to be on the list of top places to take your RV year after year and with every site in walking distance to the clear colors of the Gulf; it’s really no surprise. This Destin area park offers the choice of beachfront sites or those tucked amongst the shady trees. Two solar heated pools, laundry facilities, cable television, Wi-Fi and family style bathhouses are just a few of the amazing amenities here. There is no shortage of activities to do here including basketball, an exercise room, billiards, pool volleyball and segway rentals.

The sites range from beachfront where only electrical and hydro hook ups are available but put you face to face with the white sands and sparking waters, or full hook up sites more suited for big rigs and those with pets. The fishing village turned vacation town of Destin offers more opportunities to explore with lots to offer within walking distance including four grocery stores. Silky white sand, clear emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico on your doorstep and a clean and safe atmosphere, which all makes Camp Gulf an excellent choice of trailer destinations for 2015.

Beach Destin Florida

4. Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California

Located right on the Sacramento River offering 174 sites is the Durango RV Resort. This higher end RV resort caters to big rig travelers with its paved roads, concrete pads and wide pull through sites. With round the clock gated security, Wi-Fi and cable television hook ups expect to want to spend more than just a couple nights here. If you are lucky enough to get one of the 11 riverfront spots the views will be unforgettable.

With two clubhouses on site, a lap pool, hot tub, putting green, basketball hoop and other sporting activities there is no time to be bored here. The outdoor fireplaces, water fountains and dog park offers meeting grounds for fellow travelers. The large clean showers and restrooms are a treat as well as the convenience of being so close to grocery stores and restaurants (all within walking distance). This new RV resort is certainly making a good name for itself and it is no surprise everyone that goes loves it and wants to return.

Photo by: Durango RV Resort
Photo by: Durango RV Resort

3. Newport Dunes RV Park, California

A luxury RV resort located in Southern California is up next on our list. With over a mile of beachfront property this resort is hard to beat in terms of scenery and luxury. The RV sites surround the beach and depending how close you want to be to the water adjusts the price you will pay. Ranging from small sites to super sites there is a variety of choices for everyone. This beautiful landscaped park offers more than just RV sites and a waveless beach to swim at though; along with the superior location comes a superior fitness room, game center, laundry facilities and marketplace. These amenities are all located in the Village Square; along with a swimming pool and spa.

Newport Dunes also offers a variety of activities for both adults and kids. Movies on the beach are offered all summer long for guests of the park and the public. Water sport rentals such as kayaks, stand up paddleboats, and electric boats are available to rent from Newport Dunes Waterpark and guests of the RV Park are subject to discounts. Free Wi-Fi service offered throughout the resort, an on-site restaurant serving up delicious food and a beach playground for the kids is just a few reasons why Newport Dunes RV Park should be on your list of places to take your trailer to in 2015.

Photo by: Newport Dunes
Photo by: Newport Dunes

2. Timber Wolf Resort, Montana

Located just a few miles from Glacier National Park this family-owned resort is the perfect place to take your trailer in 2015. Full hook-up RV sites along with tent sites and cabins make up this 20 some odd acres of beautiful woods and landscapes. Views of the neighboring snow-capped peaks of Glacier Park along with glimpses of deer, elk and birds are just a few things that await you here. All RV sites offer free Wi-Fi, picnic table and charcoal grill. A gazebo with gas grills and numerous picnic tables along with a children’s playground are located nearby.

This resort is the perfect gateway to Glacier National Park where visitors can discover over 700 miles of hiking trails, 50 glaciers and over 200 lakes and waterfalls. Whether you are looking to swim, boat, whitewater raft, golf or fish you will find it here.  After a busy day exploring the ever-changing and surprising landscapes of Glacier National Park, the resort offers the perfect amenities for a relaxing evening. Shop in the general store for some groceries, head to the book exchange for a good read or curl up around the fire. An excellent location, breathtaking mountain views and incredible access to Glacier National Park puts Timber Wolf Resort in our top 10 places to take your trailer to in 2015.

Photo by: Timber Wolf Resort
Photo by: Timber Wolf Resort

1. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

Located in the heart of Walt Disney World Resort in Florida; this campground offers over 750 acres to explore. This backcountry retreat is full of wildlife, woodland trails and plenty of entertainment for the whole family. With a choice of four types of fully equipped campsites that can accommodate trailers up to 45 feet and hold a maximum of 10 adults per site; staying here is a breeze with a large family or group of friends. Amenities include water, cable and electrical hook ups, picnic table and a charcoal grill.

Disney World has made it easy for visitors that are staying here to reach the parks. Disney bus transportation is available to bring you around the campground and to the different theme parks or hop onboard the Disney water transportation service to reach Magic Kingdom. At the campground there are plenty of activities for the whole family including your choice of pools, the beach, campfire sing-alongs, kayak and canoe rentals and much more. A highly affordable way to experience Disney World while enjoying one of the most spectacular campsites in North America awaits you at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.

Photo by: Disney Wilderness Resort
Photo by: Disney Wilderness Resort