Free Things to Do in Destin

Destin, Florida is known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant coastal culture. While there are plenty of paid attractions and activities in the area, there are also many free things to do that allow visitors to experience the natural beauty and local culture without breaking the bank. From strolling along the boardwalk at the Destin Harbor to searching for ghost crabs, there are plenty of free activities to enjoy in Destin. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best free things to do in Destin, Florida, so you can make the most of your visit without spending a dime.

Destin Harbor

The Destin Harbor Boardwalk is definitely a must-visit for anyone traveling to Destin, Florida. Not only is it a great way to soak in the local atmosphere, but it also offers plenty of opportunities for free entertainment and activities.

The boardwalk starts at the Emerald Grande and stretches nearly half a mile all the way down pas the Destin fishing fleet towards The Boathouse Oyster Bar. Along the way, visitors can enjoy stunning views of the harbor and watch as fishermen unload their catch of the day or prepare for their next excursion.

In addition to the fishing fleet, the boardwalk is home to a variety of restaurants and waterfront bars that offer a range of cuisines and atmospheres. Visitors can stop for a drink or a bite to eat while taking in the sights and sounds of the harbor, or keep it totally free and just soak up the sights and sounds. There’s plenty of free seating along the boardwalk.

Overall, the Destin Harbor Boardwalk is a great way to spend a few hours or an entire day exploring the local culture and soaking in the beauty of the Florida coast.

Walk The Destin Bridge

Walking out onto the Destin bridge is another great free activity to enjoy while in the area of the harbor boardwalk. The Destin bridge, also known as the Marler bridge, spans the East Pass and connects the mainland of Destin to the barrier island of Okaloosa Island. It offers stunning views of the surrounding waterways and coastline.

Walking across the bridge is a popular activity for both tourists and locals alike. It’s a great way to get some exercise and take in the beauty of the area. There is a designated, separated walkway on the south side of the bridge, so it’s safe and easy to walk across. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water, as it can get quite hot on the bridge during the summer months.

In addition to the views, walking across the Destin bridge also offers a unique perspective on the local marine life. Visitors can often spot dolphins, sea turtles, and other sea creatures swimming in the waters below.

Overall, walking across the Destin bridge is a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area and get some fresh air and exercise at the same time. It’s definitely worth adding to your list of free things to do while in Destin, Florida.

Fireworks Shows

Firework shows are a popular attraction in Destin, especially during major holidays and on Thursday nights in the summertime.

One of the biggest firework shows in the area takes place on the Fourth of July. The Destin Harbor Boardwalk is a popular spot to watch the fireworks display, which typically lasts for around 20 minutes and features a variety of colorful explosions and effects.

In addition to the Fourth of July, there are also firework shows on other major holidays such as Memorial Day and Labor Day. These shows are typically held at various locations throughout the Destin area, including the harbor and Sandestin. 

Another popular firework event in Destin is the Thursday night summer fireworks show. These shows take place every Thursday evening during the summer months around 9:00pm and are a great way to kick off the weekend early. The fireworks are launched from the Destin East Pass and can be seen from various spots along the harbor boardwalk or by walking out onto the Destin bridge.

Overall, the firework shows in Destin are a great way to enjoy some free entertainment and take in the stunning natural beauty of the area. Whether you’re watching the Fourth of July display from the harbor or catching the Thursday night show from the beach, you’re sure to be amazed by the spectacle of the fireworks.

Spend Time at The Beach

One of the more obvious things to do for free in Destin is to enjoy the beaches! Walking the beach in Destin is one of the most popular free activities for visitors to the area. There are several public access points to the beach throughout the Destin area, so visitors can easily find a spot to start their walk. The beaches are long and wide, providing plenty of space for visitors to spread out and enjoy the scenery.

Check out our guide to public beach access locations in Destin

One of the best times to walk the beach is during sunrise or sunset. The colors of the sky and the water are truly breathtaking during these times, and it’s a great way to start or end your day. Walking the beach during the day also provides opportunities for beachcombing, wildlife spotting, and people watching.

It’s important to note that there are rules and regulations for beachgoers in Destin, such as no glass containers and no pets on the beach in Okaloosa county. Visitors should also be mindful of their impact on the local environment and practice Leave No Trace principles, such as packing out their trash and avoiding disturbing wildlife.

Overall, walking the beach in Destin is a wonderful way to experience the natural beauty of the area and get some exercise at the same time. Whether you’re watching the sunrise, searching for seashells, or just enjoying the sights and sounds of the ocean, a walk on the beach in Destin is an experience you won’t forget.

Ghost Crab Spotting

Ghost crab spotting at night is a fun and exciting activity to do with kids during a visit to Destin. Ghost crabs are small, nocturnal crabs that come out at night to scavenge for food and play in the sand. They are typically found on the beaches and dunes of the Gulf of Mexico, including in Destin.

To go ghost crab spotting, all you need is a flashlight and a keen eye. It’s best to go well after dark when the crabs are most active. Walking along the beach with your flashlight, you’ll see the ghost crabs scurrying across the sand and into their burrows. Kids will love trying to spot the crabs and watching them as they play in the sand.

It’s important to note that ghost crabs are sensitive to light and movement, so it’s best to approach them slowly and quietly to avoid scaring them off. It’s also important to be mindful of your impact on the local environment and avoid disturbing any natural habitats or nesting sites.

Ghost crab spotting is a great way to introduce kids to the wonders of nature and the importance of conservation. It’s a fun and educational activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family during a visit to Destin. So grab your flashlight and head to the beach for an unforgettable evening of ghost crab spotting!

Stroll Down Old 98

A stroll down Old Highway 98 in Destin is a fantastic way to get some exercise and take in some breathtaking views of the beach. Old Highway 98 runs parallel to the Gulf of Mexico, and the stretch of road between Destin and Miramar Beach offers some of the most stunning coastal scenery in the area.

What makes Old Highway 98 a great place for a stroll is its wide, paved path for walking, running, and biking. The path is separated from the main road, making it safe for pedestrians and cyclists. The low speed limit of the road also ensures that cars are moving at a slow pace, making it a comfortable and relaxing place for a walk.

As you stroll along the path, you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the Gulf of Mexico and the sugar-white sand beaches that make Destin famous. The path also winds through some of the most scenic areas of the city, passing by popular restaurants like The Crab Trap and Pompano Joes.

In addition to the views, there are plenty of beach access locations and amenities along the path to make your stroll more comfortable. There are restrooms, picnic areas, and benches along the way, as well as shops and restaurants in case you need a break or a bite to eat.

Overall, a stroll down Old Highway 98 is a wonderful way to get some exercise, take in the beauty of the area, and experience the local culture. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just looking for a leisurely walk, the path has something to offer for everyone.

Visit the Local Parks

Destin is home to several parks and public spaces, each with its own unique offerings for visitors. Two popular parks in the area are Clement Taylor Park and Morgan Sports Center.

Clement Taylor Park is a great place to spend a day outdoors with family and friends. The park features picnic tables and pavilions, a playground, and a small public beach for access to the bay. Visitors can also take a stroll along the boardwalk and enjoy the natural beauty of the area and excellent views of Crab Island.

The playground at Morgan Sports Center, located within the park, is a particularly popular attraction for families with young children. The playground features a variety of equipment, including swings, slides, and climbing structures, as well as plenty of space for kids to run and play. There are also several sports fields and courts at the Morgan Sports Center, including baseball fields, soccer fields, and basketball courts.

Captain Leonard Destin Park is another popular park in the Destin area that offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation. The park is located on the harbor, making it a great spot to take in the sights and sounds of the local boating and fishing culture.

One of the main attractions at Captain Leonard Destin Park is the fishing pier, which extends out into the harbor and offers great views of the water and surrounding area. Visitors can fish off the pier or simply take a stroll along its length and enjoy the scenery.

The park also features a picnic area and several benches and tables, providing plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy a meal or a snack with friends and family. There’s also a playground for kids, offering a safe and fun place for them to play while parents enjoy the harbor views.

In addition to the pier and playground, Captain Leonard Destin Park allows plenty of access to the water and yet more stunning views of Crab Island. The park is also conveniently located near several restaurants and shops, making it a great place to stop for a break during a day of exploring Destin.

Overall, the parks in Destin are great places to enjoy some outdoor recreation and take in the natural beauty of Destin. Whether you’re enjoying a picnic in the shade, playing a game of soccer with friends, or watching your kids play on the playground, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at these local parks.

Okaloosa Island Pier

The Okaloosa Island Pier is a popular destination for both visitors and locals in the Destin area, although it’s technically located near Fort Walton Beach. The pier extends 1262 feet out into the Gulf of Mexico, providing stunning views of the coastline and the crystal-clear waters below.

The pier is a great spot for fishing, with a variety of fish commonly caught from its deck, including redfish, snapper, and mackerel. There are also several bait and tackle shops nearby where visitors can purchase supplies and equipment.

In addition to fishing, the Okaloosa Island Pier offers several other activities for visitors to enjoy. There is a large observation deck at the end of the pier, providing panoramic views of the Gulf and the surrounding area. The pier also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including fishing tournaments and music festivals.

For those who don’t want to fish, the pier is still a great place to visit for a leisurely stroll or to take in the views. There are several benches and shaded areas along the pier, providing plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Admission to the pier is free, but for those anglers in your group there is a small per person fee for fishing. The pier is open year-round, although hours of operation may vary depending on the season.

Overall, the Okaloosa Island Pier is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Destin area. With its stunning views and variety of activities, it’s a great place to experience the natural beauty of the Gulf of Mexico and the local fishing culture.