While the beach is always a popular attraction on a warm day in Destin, there are many other activities that are great alternatives when you feel like trying out a new adventure with your family. The next time that you are looking for things to do in Destin Florida with your children that doesn’t involve relaxing on the beach, check out this list for some great ideas. From interacting with wildlife at the Gulfarium to catching the big one on a deep sea charter fishing boat, you are sure to find unique activities in Destin that are family friendly and affordable.
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Dolphin Cruise & Glass Bottom Boat
If your children love nature, one option for a beach alternative is a boat ride. There are a few types of specialty boat cruises in Destin Florida, but two great options are dolphin cruises or glass bottom boats. The dolphin cruises leisurely take you along a short cruise along the Destin Harbor and into the Gulf of Mexico. Once dolphins are spotted in the water, the boat operators then educate the guests on dolphin behavior and give you ample time to watch the dolphins play in the water.
You may be able to spot other wildlife along your cruise as well, depending on the time of day and weather conditions. If you are looking for something a little different, some dolphin cruise boats offer a glass bottom which is another great way to enjoy the marine life. The lower deck of the boat has a viewing room with a large glass pane so you can see firsthand the dolphins and other marine life swimming right alongside the boat and really see first hand what beautiful creatures dolphins are.
Both types of boats offer educational opportunities for your children to learn about science and nature. Whichever boat option you choose, it is sure to be a day your kids will remember for years to come.
Deep Sea Charter Fishing
If your family likes to fish, why not try your luck at deep sea fishing? There are many charter fishing companies available to take your family out on the ocean to fish. You can choose to do a half day or full day of deep sea fishing, depending on your budget and time constraints. Generally, families with smaller children prefer the shorter trips, while the longer day trips are more suited for older children and adults.
Don’t worry about purchasing fishing equipment because these charter fishing boats supply everything, the rods, bait, tackle, licenses, life jackets, etc. You just need to bring a cooler full of your favorite food and drinks and supply the willingness to have an amazing new adventure! The guides on these charter fishing trips can assist you in catching many types of fish unique to our area, which will vary depending on the time of year.
Even if you are new at this sport, deep sea fishing is fun for everyone and a unique experience for your family. Just remember to take some dramamine the night before and the day of the trip if you have any fear of becoming seasick.
Visit Crab Island
Accessible only by boat, the incredibly gorgeous Crab Island is located near the Destin bridge and is a shallow underwater sandbar where you can relax and enjoy some family fun. After the short boat ride from the mainland, anchor your boat in the shallow water and soak up the sun. Kids can play on the inflatable obstacle course or splash around in the clear water.
There is also an area where they play live music on weekends and holidays, and many weekdays in the height of the summer season. When you need a bite to eat, visit one of the floating restaurants that are abundant on Crab Island. This is a great option when you want to be on the water having a great time but are looking for something a bit different than sitting along the shoreline.
Like we mentioned, Crab Island is really only accessibly by watercraft. Do not try to swim out or think you can get there without a boat because the tides can change quickly and even the most experienced swimmers can get caught out. Take advantage of one of the numerous boat rental facilities all along the Destin Harbor. These companies offer pontoon boats, jet skis, kayaks, and paddleboards on half day and full day rentals.
Regardless if you go as a family or invite friends to join you, you are sure to have a blast at Crab Island.
If you are looking for something a bit more high-energy and adrenaline pumping, you should definitely check out the AJ’s Seablaster. This over-sized speed boat ride brings guests around the Destin area to look for dolphins and enjoy the warm weather on the water. This boat is a significantly faster ride than pretty much anything else you’ll find around the harbor, which is perfect for people who feel the need for speed on the water.
Even people who are not fans of high speeds enjoy this ride, as it is very safe and the employees do their best to make everyone feel at ease while on the Seablaster. Your entire family will love this boat ride and talk about it for years. The kids even have the opportunity to drive the boat!
Relax on a Sunset Dinner Cruise
After a hot day exploring, you might want end the day with a relaxing sunset dinner cruise. You will enjoy delicious food as your boat meanders around the area, giving you a view of Destin that you would not be able to see from shore. As the sun sets on the ocean, you will be treated to a wonderful sunset as you enjoy the musical entertainment on the boat. Perfect for relaxing at the end of the day, the sunset dinner cruises are available from many companies in the Destin area.
Spend Some Time Shopping
When you are looking for a day on land in Destin, why not spend some time in the local shops looking for gifts or clothing? There are many world class shopping destinations areas nearby, such as Destin Commons and Silver Sands Outlets. You will find a variety of stores to browse in, making it a great family friendly outing for everyone. When you have had your fill of shopping at Destin Commons, catch a favorite movie at the theater located onsite, or grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants.
Sign Up for a Tee Time at a Golf Course
Golfing is another hugely popular activity in Destin because of the numerous world class golf courses and wonderful weather. Regatta Bay, Emerald Bay, and Kelly Plantation are just a few of the high quality golf courses in the area. The Kelly Plantation Golf Course is located in the aptly named neighborhood of Kelly Plantation on the Choctawhatchee Bay and has consistently been voted one of the top golf courses in North America. Golf enthusiasts will find this course challenging and enjoyable. Read more on our article about the best Golf Courses in Destin.
Regatta Bay is suitable for all golfing skill levels as well, and you will enjoy fabulous views while you try to get a hole in one. Another great option is Emerald Bay Golf Club and all three of these golf courses we just mentioned are within just a few miles of each other.
Have a Blast at Big Kahunas Waterpark
As you continue your search for things to do in Destin, beat the heat on any summer day with an activity that both you and your kids are sure to love: Big Kahunas Waterpark. With over 40 water slides to thrill kids of all ages, this place really makes any day memorable and is a great way to get away from the sand of the beaches. If you need a break from the thrill of the water slides, relax on their lazy river or challenge yourself in the wave pool. You can even see amazing views of Destin and little snippets of the water from the tops of some of the slides thanks in part to the elevation the park sits on.
At Big Kahunas Waterpark, there are plenty of spots to relax in a lounge chair as you watch your children enjoy the water. For younger children, there is an area where they can safely enjoy smaller water features. If you get hungry, there are many options to purchase food on-site. Before you leave, consider playing a round of tropical mini golf with your family. The mini-golf course is fun and a perfect way to end your visit to the waterpark.
Visit The Track
Another popular destination that doesn’t include water would be The Track. The Track is an amusement park that has an elevated, winding track for go-karts called the Wild Woody and another track offering both single and dual rider go karts. In addition to the elevated track, there are a variety of courses depending on the level of thrills you are seeking. If you are looking for an adrenaline rush, check out the slick track which offers plenty of thrills for those who want to push the edge of adhesion in their go kart. For family friendly racing, have some family fun on the classic family track or the rookie track.
In addition to go-karts, The Track has other attractions such as bumper cars and blaster boats. They even have an area of thrill rides such as giant elevated swings and more. Before you leave The Track, make sure you spend some time in the large arcade. Don’t be afraid spend a large portion of the day here, as your children will want to go on each ride multiple times. The Track is open until after dark so you’ll have plenty of time to take it all in.
Laser Tag & Blacklight Mini Golf
An activity that is truly exciting and fun for anyone, adults and kids alike, is the local laser tag and black light mini golf facility. The 4,000 square foot maze provides hours of entertainment where families can battle each other in an intense game of laser tag. You will definitely break a sweat and laugh like you never have before. Because the facility is so large, it can support team battles up to 30 players at one time!
They also have an indoor 18 hole black light mini golf course, perfect for rainy or extremely hot days. Your children will love the novelty of playing mini-golf in the black lights. When you need to take a break, relax and grab some refreshments at Destin Laser Tag or host a party in one of the dedicated party areas.
Instead of a regular beach day, you might want to break out of your comfort zone and try something new. Parasailing will fit this requirement perfectly! There are many companies that offer parasailing in Destin that can fit any budget. As you sail high above the beach on a warm summer day, you will see the gorgeous Emerald Coast from a perspective not many people get to enjoy. Who knows, perhaps parasailing will be your favorite part of summer! Parasailing can generally be done by anyone ages 6 and up, making this a great activity to do with your family.
Visit The Gulfarium
Located on nearby Okaloosa Island, the Gulfarium provides hours of entertainment for families.
They have many exhibits of marine life, such as dolphins, alligators, and stingrays. Watch the Dolphin Show where the trained Dolphins execute some amazing flips, spins, and acrobatic stunts that will leave kids and parents both amazed and impressed. Plan to spend an entire day here so you have time to take in all of the animals and listen to the trainers talk about each species as you move from exhibit to exhibit.
For a special treat, you can also purchase additional tickets for animal encounters where you can get up close and personal with the wild animals. For instance, Discover Sea Lions is geared towards children ages eight and up, and gives children a chance to interact with sea lions. They have a wide variety of experiences like this at the Gulfarium, making it a great choice to personalize your visit there. When it comes to meals, you can eat at the Gulfarium or leave to eat lunch off-site and return to the Gulfarium after your meal.
The next time you are wondering what you should do in Destin besides go to the beach, try one of these suggestions because you definitely won’t be disappointed. Whether you are looking for a low-budget activity such as mini-golf or something extravagant such as parasailing, you are sure to find the perfect activity for your family to create wonderful memories in Destin.