Memories From Destin Florida
Destin Florida is such a beautiful, quaint seaside town and one that my family and I had never before visited. A beach town where the opportunity to do a little salt water fishing and enjoy some of the best seafood found on the east coast sounded like the perfect plan for our family to spend a week on vacation. And when Official Destin-Fort Walton Beach reached out about teaming up with us on a stay and introducing us to Adventure Packs, I knew it would be a dream come true!
A lot of our friends make annual trips to Destin and have raved about how family friendly, fun and welcoming their stays were at all the places they’ve been there.
If you’re looking for a kid friendly vacation on the beach with a lot of opportunity for adventure, I highly recommend adding Destin Florida to your list, no matter what the season or occasion.
Here’s our recommended itinerary.
This is by far our family’s favorite vacation resort in Destin. The Emerald Grande is surrounded by HarborWalk Village where you can find a variety of local Destin restaurants, activities and entertainment to please each and every taste in your family. Dive in and make memories that will last a lifetime. Your Destin vacation would not be complete without a little snorkeling, fishing, kayaks, jet skis, pontoon, parasailing, pirate ship excursions, dolphin cruises, free concerts, fireworks, parades, and so much more.
All the rooms at the Emerald Grande have spacious balconies with panoramic views of the emerald coast. With four different resort residence categories to accommodate families of all sizes, you’ll enjoy luxurious accommodations that include custom-crafted furnishings and lavish baths, with a level of service that sets the standard for all other family resorts. Amenities include a full service spa and fitness center, indoor and outdoor heated pools overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, full-time concierge, numerous restaurants to choose from as well as in-room dining, state-of-the-art business center, garage parking and 24 hour security.
For more of our room tour, check it out on my Instagram under Highlights.
There’s a bit of something for everyone at the Emerald Grande Resort. For those feeling social, there’s a boat shuttle that takes you to the private beach where only guests of the Emerald Grande Resort can enjoy. For those feeling very private and romantic, you can find respite within your room and at different hours at the hot tub and outside pool bar.
The Emerald Grande made all the sanitation and safety precautions that you’d hope to see in practice at any hotel in 2020’s and we were very satisfied with the level of service provided.
Get the Adventure Packs For the Whole Family. The Adventure Packs were specifically designed for families by moms and local business owners who are lifelong residents of the area. These locals know the best spots and how to create an experience where everyone has a great time. The Adventure Pack is an adventure on the water combined with a local dining experience. These experiences are ideal for families visiting the Destin – Fort Walton Beach area.
Adventure Pack Options Include:
4-hour charter fishing trip for beginners plus a cook-your-catch meal from East Pass Seafood & Oyster House.
6-hour private charter fishing trip plus a Harbor Docks cook-your-catch meal.
Private dolphin sail plus fresh- made Local Market lunch.
Guided family paddleboard tour plus a Gulf-to-Table meal at LuLu’s.
Sunset pontoon rental plus a Rick’s on the Island picnic delivered straight to your boat.
Fishing instruction at The Island Pier plus a Rockin’ Tacos lunch.
Private, after-hours access to Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, Penguin Encounter and dinner at Al’s Beach Club.
Can you guess which of the Adventure Packs we chose for our family?
We went with the Tackle & Tacos Package. Our family has been fly fishing for a little over 2 years now and we’ve always wanted to try salt water fishing as a family. We decided to suit up against the windy and rainy forecast and hit the Gulf of Mexico for a traditional spin rod fishing excursion.
Fishing the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier
The pier spans 1,262 feet into the Gulf’s temperate waters. We were very excited for our day on the water. We had warmer temperatures, but it was a bit windy and had rain in the forecast. We arrived to the pier a little early and met up with the very friendly staff to get a quick lesson on how to best use the fishing rods and tackle we were given.
In less than 30 minutes from meeting their “fishing instructor”, anglers can cast their lines from the pier and begin fishing right away. There’s an enormous amount of fish that can be caught here from this pier including: tarpon, tuna, king mackerel, cobia, redfish, bonito, and jack crevalle. With luck, you could even reel in a very rare sailfish.
Pier fishers can usually catch Spanish mackerel, whiting, or bluefish on an average day. Some pier fishing is specialized, with anglers focusing exclusively on the pompano, a fish beloved by chefs for its flavor, flaked texture, and versatility. Even if you did not bring your rod and tackle box, the pier supplies rods, cut bait, and tackle rentals at an additional charge—but is completely included with the Little Adventure Packs.
We didn’t land any of the fish we caught. My husband caught a huge jack crevalle, but after almost a 20 minute fight—the beautiful large fish broke off and escaped into the beautiful crashing waves.
We spent four hours in the morning fishing with no luck due to the wind and the rain. We did manage to build up a very nice appetite and was more than happy the restaurant was walking distance from the Pier.
Lunch at Rockin’ Tacos
One of the reasons our family chose the Tackle & Tacos Adventure Package was because of the restaurant partner, Rockin’ Tacos! This restaurant was featured on the Travel Channel, HGTV, and Forbes Magazine. Rockin’ Tacos features tequila flights from 75 varieties, avocado fries, and gigantic 12-inch blackened shrimp burritos. We love ourselves some Mexican food, especially the tacos here! The vibe at the restaurant was bustling and electrifying! The service and food lived up to all of the reviews and expectations!
Pro Tip: Sit outside for the ocean view. Every seat in the restaurant is good for outdoor dining.
The cuisine is definitely considered a favorite among locals and I understand why. It’s a blend of gulf seafood meets American-Mexican food with amazing panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.
Following lunch, we took a nice stroll around the HarborWalk and ducked in and out of the shops before hopping on the private boat to the exclusive and private Emerald Grande Resort beach.
The smooth quartz white sand is so soft and beautiful. It was unlike any other beach we’ve ever visited.
Our plan to have a second fishing day was a bust due to the weather. However, we were able to shift our focus on a more relaxing boat ride. We selected the Glass Bottom Dolphin Sunset Cruise. If you’re looking to see dolphins and an enjoyable fun, yet relaxing boat ride, book with these awesome folks! There is a bar and small concession stand on the boat. The frozen drinks can be made with or without alcohol for a happy hour the entire family can enjoy!
The Destin Glass Bottom Boat dolphin cruise features a 2 hour narrated bay, harbor, and gulf cruise.
While aboard you can get educated with a special sea school which includes underwater viewing, dolphin encounters, bird feedings, sightseeing, crab trap discussions, and shrimp net operations where everyone can check out and identify our catch.
This was such a nice and relaxing addition to our vacation. While the kids have a ton of energy, it was nice to let them listen and learn a few new things about dolphins and crabs at the mini sea school while we were able to just chill and take in the scenery.
We were able to see at least a dozen dolphins and one even came super close to our boat giving everyone a beautiful surprise. I would recommend this cruise if you are interested in a chill vibe and just to get out on the water for a relaxing boat ride. The boat was nice, lots of room and it was covered in case there’s rain or gets windy. This is an activity for all ages.
Post Sunset Walk Around Norriego Point Beach Access & Park
My daughter loves to look for nocturnal creatures Norriego Point is a public beach and is actually a peninsula which has a tip sitting between the Destin Harbor and the east pass, which connects the bay to the Gulf of Mexico. The point sits across from the Emerald Grande and Harborwalk, with a great view of the bridge connecting Destin to Okaloosa Island.
There are jetties providing swim areas with little nooks and crannies for lots of sea life creatures. It’s common to see hermit crabs, sand crabs, blue crabs and small bait fish at Norriego Point Beach. These smaller fish bring in sea gulls, herons, and pelicans.
Norriego Point is a cool type of beach experience for visitors because it’s unlike most other beaches. It feels almost private. It has the excitement of the harbor on one side with a sandy semi-protected beach for boaters, with protected sea pools on the other side and a jetty point swimming area connecting it all together.
We were happy to see the city skyline from the beach at night and soak in the view of the stars while soaking our feet in the tide pools. This was such a beautiful way to spend our last evening in Destin.
Brunch at Lulu’s
We tried our best to chill and relax in the present and not take that many photos of our food while we were here. But, let me assure you–it was some of the best food on the Gulf of Mexico. I would highly recommend eating here if you find yourself in Destin, it was one of the freshest meals I’ve ever had in my life. Located on Choctawhatchee Bay, next to Legendary Marina & the Mid-Bay Bridge, LuLu’s Destin is home to live music every day. It also has an extensive Allergy Menu, a large Sandy Beach with Fountain for Youth, and the best kids menu I’ve ever seen!
Destin History & Fish Museum
This museum was packed with information on the origins of Destin, Florida. We were lucky and honored to get a private tour with Kathy, the grand-daughter of the man whom Destin is named after. This museum is small, charming and interesting. It’s very full of local history, fish facts, vintage household items, and black and white photographs reminiscent of the last 130 years. The entire staff of docents are enthusiastic and hospitable with a passion for their jobs that makes you feel happy to learn about everything they’re sharing. The $5 admission provided two hours of solid education, exploration and adventure. This place is perfect for all ages, but is especially suited for teenagers and history buffs.
This may have been our very first time on the Emerald Coast of Florida, but we are already have plans to make this an annual tradition!
Thank-you to Destin-Fort Beach for a wonderful travel partnership! Head over to www.destinfwb.com for more information and ideas for your trip to Destin, Florida. Chat with a local mom for all the best recommendations! Feel free to email me or leave a comment if you’d like more tips on your next visit to Destin!
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