Tucked away in the Florida Panhandle on a peninsula separating the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay lies Destin, otherwise known as “the world’s luckiest fishing village.” If you’re Destin-ation bound (heehee), Destin’s white sands and emerald green waters are sure to please. Here are our notes from our weekend in Destin. Have fun!
Getting There and Around
The closest airport to Destin is Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS), followed by Pensacola (PNS) and Panama City (ECP). VPS is approximately 20 minutes away from Destin, while PNS and ECP are approximately 1 hour away. You’ll need a car to get around; I didn’t see much by the way of public transportation.
We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson for 28,000 Club Carlson points. The hotel was no-frills, but it had free Internet and breakfast, so for 28k points you can’t really complain. It is located across from Henderson Beach State Park and right in the middle of Destin, so location was ideal. The hotel also had free fresh-baked Otis Spunkmeyer cookies nightly!
The Pancakery– Pancakes and omelets twice the size of your face. Need I say more? Expect a wait on weekends.
Vintij Wine Boutique– A nicer sit down with a broad selection of wines. Pricey during dinner, but the lunch menu is quite reasonable. Flights of wine (four glasses) for around $12. Try the crab cakes and shrimp and grits- you will not be disappointed.
Back Porch– Raw oysters $7.95/dozen during happy hour, $2 domestics and $3 house wine. The oysters are probably not the greatest (I tasted a few bites of sand here and there), but for the price you can’t really complain. Great ocean view, super quick service – the oysters came out in the blink of an eye. Try the seafood nachos for $11.95- they do not stint on the seafood!
Boathouse Oyster Bar– Raw oysters $7.95/dozen all the time. Oysters are slightly smaller than those at the Back Porch, but also cleaner. Gumbo is hearty, but beware of the crab claws. Gator bites taste like juicy chicken nuggets. Self-seating. The front of the bar has more townies and locals; the back is slightly quieter and family friendly. Service is friendly and efficient. If you dislike dives, you’re better off elsewhere.
Shakes Frozen Custard– Any of the Concretes (their version of a DQ Blizzard) will have you drooling for days to come. Custard is smooth, creamy, and all things heavenly. Finding chunks of brownie in your Concrete is only an added bonus.
Check out Darren’s sunscreen stripe tan. Giggle.
Henderson Beach State Park– Entrance is $6 a car (up to 8 passengers), but well worth the small charge. The beach is exceedingly clean, as are the roofed pavilions and restrooms. Noticeably quieter than the public beaches, with more families and less drunken riffraff.
Crystal Sands Beach– A public beach that has equally clear water and powder-fine sand. I thought it was slightly noisier than Henderson, but by most standards still an extremely pleasant place to hangout for the day.
Silver Sands Premium Outlets– An excellent rainy day activity, as 95% of the storefronts are connected under the same roof. Retailers include: J.Crew, Saks Off 5th, Sperry Top-Sider, Ann Taylor, and the usual suspects. Florida sales tax is 7.5%, by the way…cringe.
Destin Commons– An open air shopping mall with most major retailers along with some cute local boutiques. The anchor department store is Bealls, although you might argue that Bass Pro Shops sees more traffic. Check out Lux Apothetique for unique beauty and fashion finds.
As you probably noticed, the only pictures I have from the weekend are of us on the beach. Oops…I was too busy you know, vacationing. If you happen to take pictures of any of the above on your trip to Destin, please share- we’d love to see!