There really isn’t what you might consider a “bad” time to visit Destin, Florida but there are definitely things to consider in each of the primary seasons.
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We’re going to cover the main seasons as they “feel” in Destin to give you some things to consider for your visit, depending on what month of the year you can actually come.
Visiting in the spring is very common for the spring break sessions all over the Southwest. For quite a few different weeks, crowd levels will surge to near-summer levels with the influx of families and people here taking advantage of spring break.
The average high temperature is pleasant from March to May and ranges anywhere from mid-70s to low 80s, meaning shorts and t-shirts are on deck. Nights are very comfortable with a light jacket possibly needed, depending on where you hail from.
Water temperatures are climbing, but can still be cooler than you might like until late spring into early summer. For Destin locals, they often aren’t getting into the water in earnest until late April or even May.
Some attractions like parasailing, jet skiing and fishing might be running reduced schedules, although they likely will still run while you’re here.
Overall, spring is a great time to visit, factoring in the crowd surges depending on each school’s break schedule and cooler water temperatures.
It’s fairly obvious that summer time is the optimal time to come to Destin. From June until about September, the days will be very hot, the daylight long, and the water temperatures warm. It really doesn’t get any better than this.
The things to consider are the crowd levels are typically their highest in June and July, so if you haven’t booked accommodations at least 30 days in advance you likely will struggle to find anything at all, and you certainly won’t find anything near the beach.
You’ll also wait to eat pretty much anywhere you go, whether it be fast food joints or full sit down restaurants. Crowds are just so high that you need to be prepared for that.
Some visitors tend to consider the Gulf of Mexico’s water temperature to be akin to bath water in the height of summer, but us Destin locals love it that way. It’s totally pleasant to get into and feels unbelievably refreshing when the daytime temperatures are in the high 80s with 70%+ humidity.
Pretty much any attraction you’ll want to do is open all day long ranging from deep sea fishing and boat rentals to family friendly attractions like bowling allies.
Rain is extremely common in summer (really in any month rainfall is common). It will rain pretty much every single day in the early to mid-afternoon so the level of rainfall really shouldn’t even be a factor in your decision as to when to come.
You also need to consider the implications of possible tropical storms or hurricanes in summer and fall, but don’t let this stop you from coming in either season. It’s very unlikely you’ll encounter a significant storm, but it’s worth bearing in mind.
Overall, summer is the optimal time on paper to come considering all factors, but you may prefer the early fall.
A lot of Destin locals hunker down in the summertime and stay away from popular restaurants and go to the beach late in the day to beat the crowds.
That’s where the relief kicks in during Fall, after the summer surge has died down. The days are still very warm and the water temperature is still totally pleasant.
There absolutely will still be crowds during September and October, but not nearly to the degree that you’ll find just a month or so prior in the summertime.
In terms of what attractions and things to do are open during this time, most thing will still be open but you run the risk of reduced schedules for water based attractions like boat rentals, parasailing, and so on.
Many locals recommend to friends and family that they come in fall because prices are lower, crowds are fewer, and the beaches are still a fantastic way to spend the day.
In terms of a proper Winter, Destin gets just a few weeks a year that require you to bundle up, but by this point the water is far too cold to enjoy swimming and the beaches are best enjoyed as a walk with jacket and pants on.
It’s very common for snowbirds and others to come to beat the cold up north because our winters are so mild, even if us locals can barely handle it when the temperatures hit the 40s!
Visit Destin in Winter is really about just enjoying the views and hitting the popular restaurants since crowds have died down.
It’s very likely you’ll run into closed businesses like boat rentals, fishing charters that are running significantly reduced schedules or not running at all.
The thing is though, Destin never really quiets down anywhere after the pandemic. There were true seasons in Destin where the roads would be completely dead and it felt like a ghost town. That is really no longer the case and the city is active year-round.
So, when is the best time to visit Destin?
It comes down to what you consider as the optimal time.
For us, the rankings of when to come baring in mind all factors we shared in this article are:
Fall being #1 because water temperatures are still great, the days are warm but not scalding hot, crowds are manageable, and it’s possible to find great accommodations without too much hassle.
You might change around some factors like crowd levels or water temps depending on your priority, but this guide should help you weigh the pros and cons.