*Big thanks to our guest contributor, Cory from Neat Beach for this post highlighting a few fan-favorite family-friendly beaches in Destin in this post!*
Florida’s Emerald Coast is one of the most charming and delightful corners of this wonderful state. For beach-lovers it is absolute paradise, filled with wide-open, toes-in-the-sand beaches covered in pristine, sugar-soft white sand.
There are plenty of delightful spots all along this stretch of the Panhandle, but the Destin and 30A area is really something special. Although Destin is most famous as a fishing destination, its unbelievably gorgeous beaches fly under the radar – these are some of the most beautiful stretches of sand worldwide!
Picture-perfect beaches, fringed by the emerald-green waters that give this part of the world its name. It’s a tourists’ paradise and a wonderful option for your next vacation.
So if you are looking for a new beach destination for your next trip, or planning on departing from Florida by cruise and are in the market for somewhere beautiful to stay first, check out the best five beaches to visit in Destin!
Family-Friendly Beaches in Destin
Henderson Beach State Park
Henderson Beach State Park is a real stand-out, even in such impressive company. A 6,000 foot beach of fine white sand backed by magnificent 30-foot sand dunes, it’s no wonder this is one of the most popular beaches in the area. As a state park, it’s one of the best spots for wildlife watching, and the marine life in the emerald-green waters offshore is spectacular, with dolphins, tropical fish, and both loggerhead and green sea turtles all to be found. If you tire of the beach, there are a wealth of excellent hiking trails through the park and with views of the coastal dunes.
A short way down the coast from the city of Destin, Miramar Beach in South Walton is one of the most picturesque spots on the Emerald Coast. Not only is it gorgeous – a wide, ebony-white stretch of sand gently caressed by blue-green waves – but it is one of the best places in Destin for watersports, with jet skis and parasailing particularly popular.
James Lee Beach
James Lee Beach is one of the most convenient family-friendly beaches in Destin, and absolutely perfect for a relaxed afternoon at the seaside. It is a stone’s throw from Destin Commons, and conveniently located near the Crab Trap restaurant, as well as having a public parking lot, some picnic areas with covered pavilions, and excellent bathroom facilities. It is also a great place for families with young kids, as there’s a playground when it’s time for a break from the water.
An exquisite sandbar found a short distance south of Marler Bridge in Destin, Crab Island can only be reached by boat, and as a result is one of the most popular hangouts in Destin. Crab Island is actually not an island at all, but a sandbar that is fully submerged and has knee deep water where you can anchor and hop in. It’s a great place just to hang out on your boat or paddle board and soak up the sun, enjoy a spot of volleyball, or just float and enjoy the view! There are plenty of boat charters who will take you and your friends or family to Crab Island (and stay with you for part of the day!) or you can rent your own boat for total flexibility. Off season, you wouldn’t even know it was there – but in season, get there early as boats pack the entire area!
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
With more than three miles of sand overlooked by glorious coastal dunes, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park lets you feel far away from the real world, even though it is located in Santa Rosa Beach, just off Highway 30A. It is one of the most remote-feeling beaches in Destin and has a unique, special atmosphere which makes it a wonderful spot to visit!