Free Fun Along the Emerald Coast
Stepping into Destin, you are immediately overcome with the feeling that it's a perfect beach town—laid-back and just right for relaxing with your family. The more time you spend walking around town, listening to free live music in the background and casting your gaze at the glistening ocean all around you, the happier you'll be that you came. And you'll be even happier that there's so much to do for free. Make unforgettable memories as you leave your footprint on every beach in Destin—and leave your wallet in your pocket.
Take a Dip at Henderson Beach State Park
Press your toes into the pristine white sand at Henderson Beach State Park (17000 Emerald Coast Parkway, Destin, FL) which borders the striking emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Keep your eyes peeled while walking along the beach because, depending on the season, there may be playful dolphins frolicking offshore. In addition to enjoying the close proximity to the shoreline, you and your family can take in the natural beauty that Florida has to offer by hiking the nature trail. As you make your way along the three-quarter-mile path, you'll be surrounded by tons of greenery—in the form of the local coastal scrub plant. Stand atop the high dunes along the trail for a beautiful view of the park. Multiple boardwalks are spread throughout the park, leading to the beach for swimming, relaxing and fishing or to pavilions where your family can enjoy a picnic lunch.
Do the Boardwalk at Destin Harbor
The City of Destin's Harbor Boardwalk (102 Harbor Blvd., Destin, FL) gives access to the waterfront stretching nearly a quarter mile along the Destin Harbor itself. The boardwalk features beautiful landscaping, lighting and seating in addition to a number of local restaurants and businesses. Walk its length, getting an eyeful of boats in the harbor, fishing boats coming in with their daily catch and people partaking in all kinds of water sports, from parasailing to kayaking to jet skiing. Experiencing the harbor may wind up being what you think of first when you remember Destin.
Village of Baytowne Wharf
Despite its name, the Village of Baytowne Wharf (244 Fisherman's Cove, Miramar Beach, FL) is not a neighborhood. Rather, it is a gathering place for visitors and Florida natives alike that gives you and your family the chance to feel like you spent the day by the water without getting wet. Your reflection will stare back at you as you look out at the mirror-like waters of the wharf where you can sometimes catch breathtaking views of the sunrise and sunset. Kids can take to the seas as they climb the nautical themed playground—Adventure Landing Playground. Join them on the Baytowne Carousel to feel like a kid again yourself as you sit atop a race car, dragon or zebra. And don't miss Baytowne LIVE. On a weekly basis, the wharf has a packed schedule of festivals and concerts that are free for the whole family.
Unwind at Crystal Beach
Just off the Gulf of Mexico, Crystal Beach's white sands offer a place for families to take a dip or just relax. It's known for its surrounding view of pastel-colored beach cottages. Take a calming stroll along the beach, then stop for a picnic lunch at one of the many pavilions or picnic tables. Enjoy free concerts at the Waterfront Park in Crystal Beach, and visit nearby Destin Commons, an outdoor lifestyle center.
Journey Around Jolee Island Nature Park
Covering over five acres of land, Jolee Island Nature Park (9300 Emerald Coast Parkway, W. Miramar Beach, FL) offers beautiful scenery. Look past the masses of pine and magnolia trees for a glimpse of the coast and, sticking to the sea theme, take children to the pirate-themed playground. As children look at the view from the lookout tower on the play structure, parents can take a walk along the nature trail that surrounds the playground before sitting to rest their feet in one of the trail's many porch-type swings that face the Choctawhatchee Bay and Horseshoe Bayou.