Hang out on a Perfect Beach
While each of the 12 beach access points on Destin's coastline will bring you to a beautiful stretch of sand, the 1.5-mile Henderson Beach State Park is a singularly impeccable waterfront paradise where you might spy dolphins, sea turtles, or migratory birds. (17000 Emerald Coast Pkwy)
Stroll on the Boardwalk
No trip to Destin is complete without a stroll along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk. You can watch the charter boats bring in their catches, discover great restaurants and ice-cream shops, and go people-watching. This is also ground-zero for a multitude of water activities, from day cruises and parasailing to jetski and kayak rentals.
Get a Power Course in Sandcastle Building
Take a two-hour sandcastle-building lesson from Beach Sand Sculptures, and learn professional sand-sculpting tips and techniques (including exactly how much water to add to the sand to create a perfect mixture). In the end, your family will have an amazing sandcastle that makes for a perfect photo op to commemorate your vacation.
Slip and Slide
When your kids clamor for a waterslide, take them to Big Kahuna's. You'll find over 40 splashy attractions, including raft rides, body slides, surf simulators, pipeline slides, and a lazy river, as well as a kiddie section with a pool and slides just for younger kids and a mini-golf course. (1007 US Hwy. 98)
Catch a Fish
Living up to its title of "the world's luckiest fishing village," Destin offers many different ways to catch a fish, be it from a charter boat, pier, kayak, or beach. One of the easiest and least expensive options in the area is the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier, where you can rent poles, bait, and tackle for a pittance. Kids 5 and under can fish for free. (1030 Miracle Strip Pkwy. E; Fort Walton Beach)
Go on a Dolphin Cruise
To see dolphins frolicking in the waves of the Gulf of Mexico, the Sea Blaster offers two-hour dolphin cruises and three-hour combination cruises that include 90 minutes of snorkeling. Free beverages are served and kids can take a turn driving the boat. (60 Harbor Blvd)
Feed a Gator
For free alligator shows on the weekends and the chance to safely feed a gator with a bait pole, head to Gator Beach at Fudpucker's, an iconic kid-friendly restaurant that's a must-stop when in Destin. (20001 Emerald Coast Pkwy)
Pet a Stingray
Nearby in Fort Walton Beach, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is a small aquarium with seal and dolphin shows, touch pools, and animal feedings, as well as a variety of animal encounters that bring kids up close to sea lions and other flippered friends. Encounters should be booked in advance. (1010 Miracle Strip Pkwy. SE, Fort Walton Beach; 850-243-9046)
Drive a Go-Kart
If you need a break from the beach, head to The Track Family Recreation Center for go-karting, mini golf, bumper boats, bungee jumping, and more. There's also an arcade and a kiddie section with a mini train, carousel, and other tame rides for little ones.
Fly Like Ironman
For adults and teens 16 and up looking for an adrenaline rush, Power Up Watersports offers the latest craze of flyboarding, where you soar through the air thanks to jet-pack-equipped boots. Looking for something tamer? You can also rent aqua trikes, kayaks, and paddleboards.