Sandestin FL: Guide to Beach and Fun Things to Do

Sandestin FL

If you’re looking for a vacation destination with beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants, and loads of activities, Sandestin FL is for you! This exclusive community in Florida has so much to offer families, couples, and singles looking for a beach getaway. Whether you’re looking to enjoy fabulous cuisine, relax on a white sand beach, or shop til you drop, Sandestin, FL is full of great options.

My family and I have been visiting this resort community since I was a kid, and it continues to impress my own children each time we vacation here. If you’re looking for all the tips and information you need to plan a Sandestin vacation, we’ve got you covered.

In this post, we’ll discuss all that Sandestin has to offer, including the best places to stay, most fun things to do, and great restaurants to enjoy during your trip. So, continue reading below for our ultimate guide to the Sandestin, Florida community!

Where is Sandestin, FL?

The community of Sandestin is located on the Florida panhandle between Pensacola and Panama City Beach. Since this resort area sits right on the Emerald Coast, it draws in millions of visitors each year.

condos and hotels on golf course at Sandestin
Condos in Sandestin

If you’re looking to fly into Florida for your vacation, you have several options for airports. The Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport is the nearest airport to Sandestin as it’s located just around 40 minutes away from the resort community.

The next closest airport is the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, which sits in Panama City at just under an hour away. Finally, the Pensacola International Airport is located the furthest away at just over an hour and a half drive.

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

The Sandestin community as a whole is referred to as the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. This large resort includes different neighborhoods in two distinct areas: beach side and bay side.

sandestin beach
Beach in Sandestin

The beach side of the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort features a golf course, beachfront condos, a hotel, and single family houses. This is also the area where Sandestin guests can access the amazing beaches with clear water and white sand.

golf course in Sandestin
Golf Course on Bay Side of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

Just across from Sandestin’s beachside, you’ll find the bay side area of the resort. Here, visitors will find additional golf courses, hotels, condos, and single family homes. The bayside is also home to the popular entertainment district, The Village of Baytowne Wharf.

Additionally, Grand Boulevard is conveniently located to the bay side of Sandestin and features lots of shops, restaurants, and hotels for visitors. There’s also a Publix grocery store in this area.

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort photo with text Ultimate Guide to Sandestin Florida

In addition to the dining and entertainment options available in the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, my family and I love the access to the resort shuttle. You can essentially park your vehicle at the beginning of your trip and not use it again until you leave.

The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort offers a free tram for resort guests to move easily to and from each neighborhood and district of the resort. You’re also able to easily get around the resort by golf cart, bicycle, or on foot, depending on where you’re wanting to go.

25 Fun Things to Do in Sandestin

trampolines at Village of Baytowne Wharf
Trampolines at The Village of Baytowne Wharf

As mentioned above, Sandestin, FL is full of so many fun things to do. We will include our top picks for the best Sandestin activities below:

  1. Go golfing. Reserve a tee time at one of the championship golf courses, including Raven Golf Club, The Links Golf Course, Burnt Pine Golf Club, and Baytowne Golf Course.
  2. Shop. Visit Grand Boulevard to browse through popular stores like Lilly Pulitzer, Lululemon, Pottery Barn, and more!
  3. Cool off with dessert. Grab ice cream, gelato, or snowballs at one of the many dessert shops in Baytowne Wharf.
  4. Enjoy nightly entertainment. See fireworks, magic shows, live music, movies, and more outdoors on the lawn at Baytowne Wharf.
  5. Visit the rooftop at Hotel Effie. Take in the stunning views of the Sandestin resort while sipping on a cocktail at the full bar or while playing MegaChess on the lawn.
  6. Watch a movie. Spend time at the AMC Theater to escape the hot temperatures or the rainy weather.
  7. Play on a playground. Kids love to run, slide, swing, and play at the large playground in Baytowne Wharf.
  8. Work out. Join a group class or train solo at the Sandestin fitness center.
  9. Try the Escape Room. Attempt to break free at the escape room in Baytowne Wharf.
  10. Have brunch. Visit Another Broken Egg Cafe for some amazing brunch options.
  11. Play tennis. Pick up a game at one of the many tennis courts on site.
  12. Get a massage. Book a spa appointment at the Hilton’s spa to fully relax on vacation.
  13. Order a charcuterie board. Dine at Vin’tij Food and Wine for an amazing meal with an enormous wine selection.
  14. Take in a theater performance. Check the events page for the Emerald Coast Theatre Company to see what shows are available during your visit.
  15. Build a sandcastle. Create sand sculptures in the sugar-white sand in Sandestin.
  16. Play in the arcade. Play games at the arcade in Baytowne Wharf.
  17. Find local fare. Visit the Baytowne Wharf Farmer’s Market on Sundays.
  18. Play Pickleball. Enjoy a game of Pickleball at one of the many courts.
  19. Channel your adventurous side. Baytowne Wharf offers a zipline, ropes course, tower climb, and more for visitors looking for adventure while on vacation.
  20. Ride the carousel. Little (and big) kids love to take a spin on the carousel at Baytowne Wharf.
  21. Attend an event. Throughout the year, the Sandestin area hosts special events for the holidays and other occasions. 
  22. Enjoy water sports. Take advantage of some of the recreational activities like stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking on the stunning emerald waters.
  23. Book a dinner cruise. Get away on a romantic escape onboard the Solaris Dinner Cruise.
  24. Rent a water vessel. Visit the marina to rent a pontoon boat or a wave runner.
  25. Go fishing. Book a fishing expedition at the marina.

The Village of Baytowne Wharf is one of our favorite places to spend time while in Sandestin. You can read more about this fun filled entertainment and dining district in our post on The Village of Baytowne Wharf.

Places to Stay in Sandestin

Sandestin is full of all styles of accommodations. Whether you’re looking for hotels, condos, cottages, or large estates, you’ll find it in Sandestin. 

Hotels

If you’re looking for a hotel in the Sandestin community, my family and I have three different ones that we recommend. The Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa is the beachfront hotel in Sandestin, which sits right on the Gulf of Mexico. This large resort features multiple styles of rooms, including balconies and suites with bunk beds that my kids love.

Hilton Sandestin
Hilton Sandestin

In addition to the easy access to the Hilton’s beach, guests can use the multiple resort style pools that are located on site. We especially appreciate the indoor pool on rainy or colder days. The Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa also offers several restaurants, depending on the time of year you visit. These conveniences make the hotel feel like you’re at an all-inclusive resort since everything is easily accessible.

rooftop pool with lounge chairs at Hotel Effie
Hotel Effie Rooftop Pool

If you would rather stay on the bay side of Sandestin, we recommend Hotel Effie. This newer resort features modern rooms and is located just a short walk away from The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Finally, visitors looking for a budget friendly option on their trip to Sandestin should check out the Hyatt Place at Grand Boulevard. This hotel features a convenient location with a less expensive price tag.

You can read more about our favorite hotels in Sandestin in our post on the Best Destin Resorts. In that article, we review our experiences at each of the top hotels in the area!

VRBO

If you would rather rent a condo or a vacation house on your trip, we highly recommend using the VRBO website. Here, you can narrow down your search results based on your desired number of bedrooms and bathrooms. You can also filter amenities like pools, bicycles, etc.

If you’re looking for a condo on the beach side of Sandestin, we really like Westwinds. The Westwinds high-rise condo complex features more space than a hotel while still providing beachfront views and a resort style pool. We also find the beach in front of Westwinds to be less crowded than the main Sandestin beach area.

15 Best Restaurants in Sandestin

round table in restaurant with leather chairs and large artwork on wall
Ovide at Hotel Effie

The Sandestin community offers all different styles of restaurants for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Some of the most popular options include the following:

  1. Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood – Upscale restaurant located inside the Hilton Resort
  2. Cantina Laredo – Mexican restaurant with patio overlooking the spray fountains at Grand Boulevard
  3. Another Broken Egg – Popular brunch spot at Grand Boulevard
  4. Rum Runners – Restaurant and dueling piano bar in Baytowne Wharf
  5. Vin’tij – Dining spot with excellent menu options and wine list
  6. Tommy Bahama – Island themed restaurant with patio seating and happy hour
  7. Emeril’s Coastal – Restaurant from the famous chef, Emeril Lagasse, that specializes in seafood
  8. Charlie’s Cafe – Popular donut shop in Baytowne Wharf
  9. P.F. Chang’s – Chain restaurant with unique options in Grand Blvd
  10. Dude and Meatballs – Italian restaurant in Baytowne Wharf
  11. Black Bear Bread Company – Local bakery serving breakfast and lunch
  12. Ruby Slipper Cafe – Brunch spot in The Village of Baytowne Wharf
  13. Yaki – Asian restaurant in The Village of Baytowne Wharf
  14. Slick Lips Seafood and Oyster House – Seafood restaurant in Baytowne Wharf
  15. Ovide – Restaurant in Hotel Effie with indoor and outdoor seating

Sandestin FAQ

Is Sandestin in Destin?

While the two communities are just a few miles apart from each other, they are very different. Sandestin is an exclusive resort community that sits just east of Destin, Florida and Miramar Beach.

Sandestin vs Destin: Which is better?

When comparing Sandestin vs Destin, you’ll notice several similarities and differences. They both feature beautiful beaches with crystal clear water and white sandy beaches. Additionally, both communities offer plenty of fun things to do and great places to eat. A main difference would be that you would need a vehicle to drive to various shopping, dining, and entertainment options in Destin.

Do I need a car in Sandestin?

Once you arrive in the Sandestin community, you do not need a car to get around. Resort guests can utilize the tram that makes stops at the residential areas, beach, and entertainment districts discussed above.
You can also ride bikes or walk on the sidewalks to get from one area of the resort to the other; although, the walk could be far depending on where you are going.

What places are like Sandestin?

If you’re looking for areas in Florida similar to Sandestin, we recommend checking out the town of Seaside on 30A. This coastal community offers lots of restaurants and entertainment that are easily accessible by foot via the Timpoochee Trail. Additionally, nearby South Walton towns are just a short bike or golf cart ride away.

Final Thoughts on Sandestin, FL

Overall, Sandestin Fl is an amazing place to spend a family vacation. You really can’t beat the beautiful beaches in the community; although, they can get quite crowded during peak season.

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beach travel planner

Sandestin features so many fun things to do that kids and adults will be entertained throughout the whole trip. Whether you want to spend time in the pools, at the spa, on the playground, or at the piano bar, you’re sure to have a fun-filled time in the resort.

We hope you enjoy your time in Sandestin, Florida as it’s the prime location for a relaxing, yet fun beach vacation! What are your favorite things to do in Sandestin? Comment below to share with us!

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