How to Spring Break at Any Age in Destin, Florida

Find out what makes the charming town of Destin the ultimate spring break getaway for children, teens and adults alike.

In the heart of Florida's Panhandle lies Destin, a lively town that over the decades has morphed from a quiet fishing village to a bustling beach town and favored spring break getaway. Destin is tucked into Florida's Emerald Coast, a region that earned its name thanks to the emerald-green Gulf of Mexico waters that gently lap the coastline's sugar-white sandy shores.

From families with small children and teens to adults seeking the ultimate beach getaway, visitors find themselves smitten with Destin’s charms. It's impossible to resist the expansive resorts, friendly small-town vibe and world-class outdoor activities such as swimming, golfing and fishing. Whether you book a dolphin cruise, dig into fresh seafood dinners or sample the vibrant nightlife, Destin is sure to dazzle.

Spring Break With Young Children

Families with small children will find ample kid-friendly activities and accommodations in Destin. Folks seeking amenity-rich accommodations can book a stay at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, which claims to be the region's largest full-service, beachfront resort. Kids can build sandcastles on the sprawling beach, or splash in one of four heated pools (including one for toddlers). If mom and dad need a break, they can sign children up for the daily Kids Krew and Kids Night Out programs, which feature activities such as flying kites and roasting marshmallows over bonfires at the beach. With their kids occupied, parents can join a yoga class or book a couples' massage at the Serenity by the Sea Spa.

When hunger strikes, drive to a local, iconic favorite, the Donut Hole on Harbor Boulevard. This beloved bakery and cafe dishes out more than just donuts; it serves breakfast platters heaped with eggs, pancakes, sausages and home fries all day. Save room for a slice of glorious Key lime pie or a decadent red velvet donut.

With full bellies, drive about a mile west on Harbor Boulevard to HarborWalk Village, home to a marina, restaurants, shops and amusements. Parents can organize daytime dolphin cruises and interactive pirate ship excursions at the marina while kids fly high on bungee trampolines and run wild in giant, inflatable human hamster balls. After dark, keep eyes and ears open for nightly performances, including concerts and fireworks displays.

Young Children

Spring Break With Teens

Teenagers have high standards when it comes to entertainment. Thankfully, Destin exceeds even the most exacting adolescent's expectations. By day, your teens can sunbathe on Destin's wide velvety sands, or burn off energy while stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking or simply swimming in the turquoise water of the Gulf of Mexico.

After dark and just 20 minutes east of Destin in Miramar Beach, the Village of Baytowne Wharf transforms into a shopping and nightlife destination chock-full of teen-friendly activities. For thrill seekers, the Baytowne Adventure Zone grants teens the chance to zip line over Baytowne and its lagoon, scramble across an aerial ropes course, or scale a nearly 40-foot climbing wall. Shoppers can channel their inner beach bum at stores like Aloha Surf Shop and Island Clothiers. Before leaving, grab a sweet treat at Moo La-La Ice Cream & Desserts.

For a sit-down meal, head to Fudpucker's Beachside Bar & Grill. When they're not tucking into a bowl of alligator gumbo or a half-pound Fudburger, teens can visit the restaurant's Gator Beach to feed live alligators and watch a free interactive gator show, where professional handlers teach the crowd about the lives of alligators. Plus, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays from mid-March to early April, Fudpucker's hosts Teen Night, for 14- to 17-year-olds. DJs spin tunes and give away prizes at this well-patrolled event, and free soft drinks and water are served.

Teens Wharf

Adults-Only Spring Break

Of course, spring break travel isn't just for families. Destin's beachfront locale, luxe resorts and colorful nightlife make it a prime destination for adults-only vacations, as well. Ladies can book a girlfriend getaway at a resort, like the previously mentioned Sandestin, that offers package deals with perks like spa treatments, shopping vouchers and Champagne. Anglers will be thrilled to discover Destin is the self-proclaimed “World's Luckiest Fishing Village," and they can book a private trip through outfitters like HarborWalk Charters.

Travelers seeking absolute relaxation can drive to one of the area's protected beaches, like Grayton Beach State Park, a sprawling nearly 2,000-acre park that is also home to a winding 4.5-mile hiking and bicycling trail. Though Destin's claim to fame is its beaches, equally notable are its golf courses. Tee off at one of Sandestin's four championship, 18-hole courses.  

After dark, dive into a hearty meal of fried oysters and boiled crab legs at Stinky's Fish Camp, slurp down a plate of fresh oysters at the waterfront Boathouse Oyster Bar and Grill, or jam to nightly live music atThe Red Bar.

Adults Golf

Destin delivers the goods for a memory-making spring break getaway for all ages.

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About the Author

Valerie Conners is a Florida-based travel writer whose expertise includes outdoors and adventure travel, beach vacations, food and drink, and romantic getaways. Her work has been featured by Condé Nast Traveler, BBC Travel, Travel Channel and Frommer's travel guides.