Living and vacationing along the Emerald Coast guarantees you won’t be far from some incredible beaches! But with so many options around, what’s the best one for your family? Some of our favorites are well-known, while others may be new to you. Either way, we hope you find a few great options for your next family beach trip. Some have public access points with limited parking, while others have a small access fee and ample parking – take a look and let us know which one you’re looking forward to visiting next!
Destin Family-Friendly Beaches
June White Decker Park – Located behind the Back Porch restaurant, June White Decker Park is a great family option. Ample parking either in the lot or on the street makes it easy to access the shoreline – and it runs up to Henderson State Park.
Henderson State Park – There is a small fee to access, but it is well worth it for the family-friendly environment. They have day use and overnight options, both of which give you access to the park amenities like a small playground, restrooms, showers, and more.
Eglin Beach Park – Active duty military or veteran in your group? Show your veteran ID and pay $5 for access to the military beach located at the foot of the Marler Bridge. Crab Island can be seen on the Northside of the bridge and there’s plenty of shorelines to explore near the jetties.
Norriego Point – A little different from the other beach accesses listed here, Norriego Point is located at the end of Gulf Shore Drive on Holiday Isle. It is not directly on the Gulf of Mexico, but one side of it sits on the Destin harbor and the other side sits on the East Pass that leads out to the Gulf. This white sand peninsula has beautiful scenery, well-known for when the tide is going out!
Crystal Beach – You can easily access Crystal Beach by heading towards the Crab Trap restaurant. There is free public parking (though it can fill up quickly!) and beach access to the bar if you’re looking for a refreshing beverage!
30A Family-Friendly Beaches
Gulf Green – Considered a more luxurious resort destination, Alys Beach is a charming community that’s known for its architecture. Just about everything in the Alys Beach area is a short walking distance from public beach accesses. Gulf Green is a private beach – accessible to you if you are staying in Alys Beach – with a central access point to the shoreline and definitely worthy of a visit!
Grayton Beach – Their unofficial slogan says it all: “Nice Dogs, Strange People!” Known as a historic vacation destination, Grayton Beach has several public access points including one at Grayton Beach State Park (for a small parking fee). Park at the free lot on Highway 283 across from the Shops of Grayton and take a free shuttle to the beach if you prefer. You can even arrange for a family beach bonfire set up by a local service! Fair warning – You may see some vehicles out on the beach, but they are only allowed with a proper permit!
Van Ness Butler Jr. Regional Beach – Headed to Seaside or WaterColor? Access the beach from Van Ness for a walkable experience, not far from all the famous vintage airstreams, gourmet food trucks, and more!
St. Andrews State Park – Erica and her friends recently visited St. Andrews State Park and loved it! It’s near Panama City Beach and you can take a quick shuttle boat ride to Shell Island for a more secluded, serene beach experience. No condos or highrises along the view and plenty to explore!
Inlet Beach Access – Inlet Beach Access is the largest county access location and has plenty of parking available. You can enjoy three dune walkovers and even have bonfires on the beach! Livewell 30A offers great service that we’ve used before!
A friendly reminder, whichever beach you choose – pay attention to the flags! Flags are the main way our local officials notify us of water conditions. Lifeguards are on many beaches, but not all of them. It’s up to you to keep your family informed and safe. Do you know the meaning of all of the flag colors? Here’s a quick recap:
Double Red Flag – Water Closed
Red Flag – High Hazard
Yellow Flag – Moderate Surf/Currents
Green Flag – Calm Conditions
Purple Flag – Marine Pests Present
We hope you enjoy your beach trip and remember, pack out everything you bring with you to keep our beaches beautiful and enjoyable to visit for years to come!
Let us know – which of these family-favorite beaches is your favorite? Do you have another to add to the list? Leave a comment – we’d love to hear about it!