Guest Post: This post, written by Destin resident Lori Saczynski, originally appeared on Andy’s Saczynski’s web site in July 2014 and was revised in February 2017. Andy was the 2013 South Walton Artist of the Year, and was voted Best Local Artist multiple times. His art gallery is located in Grayton Beach.
I’ve called the Emerald Coast home since 1990, so I’m very familiar with the area. I have five kids ranging in age from 3 to 17. Below are my top 10 things to do with kids in Destin, South Walton, and on 30A. These activities are listed in no particular order.
#1 The Beach
My favorite public beach access is James Lee Park (at the Crab Trap) because they have a playground, restrooms, showers, plenty of free parking, and an option to buy food if you’re too lazy to pack snacks.
These are my favorite playgrounds and why: The Village of Baytowne Wharf (built of wood and the most interesting), James Lee Park (on the beach), Morgan Sports Center (surrounded by a tall fence to prevent little ones from escaping), Destin Commons (has a splash pad), and Clement Taylor Park (shaded with bay access).
During the summer, you can see fireworks every Tuesday night at The Village of Baytowne Wharf, and every Thursday night at HarborWalk Village. Arrive early to both or parking will be a nightmare.
#4 Outdoor Movies
Throughout the summer, you can enjoy family-friendly movie night in the Seaside amphitheater every Friday night.
#5 Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
The Gulfarium gives you an opportunity to see dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, otters, sharks, alligators, tropical fish, and more!
#6 Big Kahuna’s
My kids love water parks, especially Big Kahuna’s. I hate to say it, but sometimes the beach is too hot to enjoy in the summer.
#7 Surf or Paddle Board Lessons
My kids have never taken surf or paddle board lessons because their dad teaches them. I know there are a few companies in town that rent boards and offer lessons, but since I haven’t personally used them, I’m not sure who to recommend.
#8 E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center
The Biophilia is a great place to learn about northwest Florida’s natural habitat and see a lot of cool animals.
#10 Gator Beach
Gator Beach at Fudpucker’s in Destin offers free interactive gator shows every day at noon, 2pm, 4pm, and 6pm. You can even hold a gator and get your photo taken with one.
The fun doesn’t stop there, but this is a good start. And if you’re on vacation, this should at least keep your kids occupied for a week. If you’re looking for things to do that don’t necessarily cater to kids, check out this post.