2. Snorkel in Destin’s Artificial Reefs
There are more than 100 man-made reefs in the greater Destin area, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. The Destin jetties, located next to the HarborWalk Village shopping center, is perhaps the city’s most famous location. Visitors have reported seeing sea turtles, crabs, and even an occasional manatee here. Visibility is always best at high tide.
Unleash your inner pirate on the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise. Argh! Photo courtesy of the cruise
3. Ride on a Pirate Ship
Ahoy, matey! The Buccaneer Pirate Cruise is sure to delight your little swashbucklers. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) Expect plenty of lively entertainment aboard the 100-foot vessel, from pirate stories and face painting to treasure hunts and water-gun battles. Cruises last about an hour and 45 minutes. If your family is more into sea life than scallywags, Destin offers plenty of dolphin-watching excursions and glass-bottom boat tours as well.
4. Big Kahuna’s Water Park
Open March through Labor Day, Big Kahuna’s is a Tiki-themed water park with 40 different rides, slides, and pools. Older kids love the Kowabunga Racer, a 4-lane drag strip plunging five stories downhill. Little ones enjoy Buccaneer Cove, a giant splash pad with a pirate motif. There’s also a lazy river, a wave pool, and a mini golf course.
Soar above the Village of Baytowne Wharf on a zip line.
5. The Village of Baytowne Wharf
Without a doubt, my daughters’ favorite thing to do in Destin is visit the Village at Baytowne Wharf. This outdoor mall has got it all. The Baytowne Adventure Zone has a ropes course where brave kids (and parents!) can climb three stories to “walk the plank” and ring the bell at the very top. Kids also flip for the Euro Bungy trampolines and the Baytowne zip line, which soars 300 feet above a lagoon in the middle of the shopping center. And speaking of shopping, my kids are semi-obsessed with Dolls & Friends, a store that sells clothing and accessories for—you guessed it—dolls. Pro tip: Be sure to check the Baytowne Wharf calendar before visiting, as the village hosts regular fun events such as concerts, Mardi Gras parades, magic shows, and a pop-up ice skating rink in the winter.
6. The Track
A family can easily spend hours at The Track, a Destin amusement park with attractions for kids of all ages. For teens and tweens, there’s Hurricane 360, a spinning, swinging thrill ride 40 feet in the air. For the little ones, there’s a carousel, flying airplanes, and a small Ferris wheel. Did I mention there are also bumper cars, blaster boats, a large arcade, and a mini golf course? Whew! (Note to parents: Like many Destin points of interest, The Track scales down its operations significantly during the winter. Be sure to call ahead to find out which rides are open.)
7. Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone
Wild Willy’s is a dinosaur-themed amusement park with a treetop ropes course, a giant arcade, laser tag, and three go-kart race tracks. The real highlight here, though, is the park’s 18-hole “T-Rex Island” mini golf course, featuring animatronic dinosaurs that move and roar as you practice your short game.