If you’re lucky enough to be planning a vacation to the Destin area, you’re probably searching for the top beaches to visit while there. The city of Destin sits on the Florida panhandle between Pensacola and Panama City Beach.
Since it boasts crystal clear water and sugar-white sands, Destin is the perfect place for a family beach vacation. Visitors not only get to enjoy the beautiful beaches in Destin Florida, but they can also find plenty of great dining and entertainment options in the area.
The combination of fun activities, live entertainment, amazing dining, and beautiful beaches makes Destin Florida one of the best beaches in the south for families. Once visitors experience the emerald waters and soft sand in Destin, they are hard pressed to find another destination with beaches that are equally appealing.
Plus, Destin FL provides numerous beaches that are completely FREE for the public to enjoy. So, if you’re looking for the top Destin Florida beaches, check out our list below of the absolute best beaches in Destin Florida!
1. Calhoun Beach
Destin’s beaches aren’t just beautiful, they are also affordable for families as most of them are free to the public. Many of the public beaches in Destin offer several amenities in addition to the clear water and white sand. Visitors can easily find free beaches in Destin Florida that feature things like outdoor showers, restrooms, picnic areas, and more.
Calhoun Beach sits in a great location on Scenic Highway 98 near The Back Porch restaurant. In addition to being free for the public, Calhoun Beach provides parking, restrooms, and outdoor showers.
2. Miramar Beach
Miramar Beach is located toward the eastern side of Destin near the Sandestin resort area. This location is a popular spot for those looking to spend time at the Silver Sands outlet mall or at Grand Boulevard Town Center. The public beach access for Miramar Beach sits next to the Pampano Joe restaurant. This dining option is one of the best places in Destin to enjoy seafood right on the beach.
Guests can dine inside or outside on the patio all while enjoying amazing views of the Gulf of Mexico. The Miramar Beach public access point offers several amenities for visitors, including free parking and restrooms. It also features beach wheelchairs.
Miramar Beach offers easy access to Destin area restaurants and attractions since it’s within an easy drive to Silver Sands Outlet Mall, Grand Boulevard Town Center, and the Village of Baytowne Wharf. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Miramar Beach, we recommend checking out the VRBO website. This popular vacation rental site is full of condos and beach houses to rent for families of all sizes.
3. Crystal Beach
Crystal Beach is located west of Miramar Beach and near the Destin Commons shopping area. Destin Commons is a popular place since it features multiple stores, restaurants, and entertainment options for visitors to enjoy.
The public beach access at Crystal Beach is free to the public. and it offers both parking and restrooms for visitors. Additionally, visitors to Crystal Beach will be glad to know it features extra amenities like picnic tables and outdoor showers.
4. James Lee Beach
James Lee Beach is located between Henderson Beach State Park and Miramar Beach. This free beach in Destin features a parking lot and public restrooms.
Visitors who work up an appetite during their day at the beach can check out the nearby popular restaurant, Crab Trap, for amazing food and atmosphere. Guests at James Lee Beach can also enjoy additional amenities like a playground, showers, and changing rooms.
5. June White Decker Park
June White Decker Park is located near The Back Porch restaurant and Calhoun Beach. This free beach offers bike racks, restrooms, outdoor showers, and parking. It’s important to note that June White Decker beach is on the smaller side, so it can get crowded during peak season.
6. Silver Shells
Like June White Decker beach, Silver Shells Beach sits near Calhoun Beach in Destin. Admission is free to the public, and Silver Shells Beach is open from dawn until dusk.
7. O’steen Public Beach
O’steen Beach in Destin is located on the western side of the city near Norriego Point Beach. Although it does not have restrooms, visitors will find showers available.
Guests should note that parking is available at O’steen Beach, but the walk down to the water is a bit long. O’Steen Beach features jetties (or large rocks) in the water, which allows for calm, shallow waters
8. Norriego Point
Norriego Point sits near Destin Harbor and offers parking for guests. This public beach is great because it features calm waters, and it is great for snorkeling and kayaking. Visitors looking for fun things to do in Destin should also check out Crab Island near Norriego Point.
9. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
In addition to the free beaches in Destin mentioned above, the Destin area offers family friendly state parks. These Destin state parks are great places to enjoy the soft sand and clear water for a small fee per vehicle. If you’re looking for public beach access with amenities like nature trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, and campsites, each of the state parks below is a great option.
Similar to Henderson Beach State Park, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park charges a small fee for each vehicle. This state park features a coastline that’s roughly 3 miles long and offers hiking trails and sand dunes. Nature enthusiasts will love that Topsail is also a great spot for bird watching.
10. Henderson Beach State Park
Henderson Beach State Park in Destin is open year round from 8:00 to sundown. As mentioned above, visitors can pay a small price per vehicle to access the park. Henderson Beach State Park features large coastal dunes and miles of pet-friendly nature trails.
Guests will find a parking lot with ample parking spaces, grills, campsites, picnic tables, outdoor showers, and a playground. Just make sure you pay attention to the posted beach flag upon your arrival as the color of the flag denotes swimming safety levels. Depending on the color of the flag posted, visitors could experience strong rip currents, marine life, or perfectly safe waters.
Destin Vacation Rentals
If you’re planning a vacation to the Destin area, you can find all sorts of vacation rentals for your trip. Whether you’re looking for beachfront condos or rental houses, Destin offers multiple options that will meet your needs. If you’re looking to book a condo rental or vacation home, we highly recommend using the VRBO website. VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) allows you to choose the number of bedrooms and bathrooms that meet your needs.
You can also easily filter your results by location and amenities, including pools. We love that VRBO properties include in-depth reviews, so we know exactly what we’re getting before we visit. Check out VRBO for their full list of vacation rentals available for your travel dates!
Best Beaches Close to Destin Florida
Florida’s gulf coast is full of beautiful beach towns that are perfect for family vacations. Just west of Destin, visitors will find Santa Rosa Island. This community sits on the Gulf of Mexico and is home to popular towns like Okaloosa Island, Navarre Beach, and Fort Walton Beach. Since this area is a short drive from Destin, visitors can easily venture over to these gulf coast communities to experience attractions like John Beasley Park and Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park.
If you’re interested in expanding your vacation destination to other nearby cities, Destin is conveniently located near more beautiful beach communities. Visitors can find adorably quaint beach towns along Highway 30A on the Florida Panhandle, just east of the Destin area.
The towns of Santa Rosa Beach, WaterColor, Seaside, and Rosemary Beach are just a few examples of some of our favorite spots along the Emerald Coast. These towns all offer soft sand and emerald waters just like the beaches in Destin Florida.
Destin Beach FAQ’s
Below, we have included some of the most frequently asked questions about Destin Florida beaches:
Are Destin Florida beaches dog friendly?
If you’re planning a trip to Destin, Florida with your pets in tow, it’s important to note that dogs are not allowed on the beaches. The beaches in all of Okaloosa County where Destin is located DO NOT allow dogs.
Does Destin Florida have nice beaches?
Destin, FL beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. With soft, white sand and clear waters, the beaches in Destin rival the ones you would find in the Caribbean.
When is the best time to visit Destin Florida?
Destin is a great city to visit year-round. However, beachgoers may prefer to visit during the months of May-October when the weather and water temperature are typically warmer. Rain and/or thunderstorms are also common in the afternoons during June-August in Destin, but these are typically short-lived.
Also, hurricane season runs June-October, so visitors may want to keep an eye on the forecast prior to their trip during these months. If you’re looking for low crowds and warm weather on your Destin vacation, we recommend visiting in early to mid-May, August, or September.
Are Destin Florida beaches safe?
Destin Florida beaches are completely safe for families. The waves are perfect for boogie boarding, but they aren’t ideal for surfing. As long as you pay attention to the beach flags, which warn visitors about rip currents and sea life, you should be perfectly safe to swim in the ocean.
Final Thoughts on Destin Florida Beaches
Overall, Destin Florida offers some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The Emerald Coast of Florida features both crystal clear waters and soft-white sand. The water is great for toddlers as it tends to be shallow and calm. Bigger kids enjoy boogie boarding and playing in the small waves in the Gulf of Mexico.
Visitors to the Destin area may also be interested in these posts:
Additionally, if you’re looking for help organizing your upcoming beach vacation, check out our printable beach planner on Etsy! This 30-page beach planner can be downloaded and used multiple times a year!
Grab your copy of the planner that includes outfit organization tips, packing lists, and comparison guides. Readers of Mom’s Plan-it Vacation Blog receive 50% off the planner on Etsy when using code: Beach31. Did we forget to include your favorite Destin beach? Let us know below! What is the best beach in Destin? Share your thoughts below!