Fishermen call Destin, Florida, the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Town” because, in 1950, Florida Governor Leroy Collins caught a 30-pound king mackerel within only minutes of wetting his line here. However, most of us know it as one of the most popular beach destinations in the Sunshine State.
Located on the Florida Panhandle in a region appropriately named “The Emerald Coast,” Destin has become one of the top five most-visited beach vacation spots in Florida. Even though the town’s population swells to over 25,000 in the summer, Destin still maintains its cozy, friendly seaside atmosphere.
When planning a Destin vacation, you will need a place to stay; someplace where you can simply unpack, unwind, and let the sea breezes and sound of the surf take you away. The town offers many different resort destinations suited for every taste and budget. Here are nine of the best resorts you will find in Destin suitable for whatever vacation experience you are looking for.
Beach Life At Its Finest
When in Destin, you’ll want to spend most of your time right on those brilliant white beaches, taking in the expansive views of the emerald gulf waters. Destin offers many resort options where you will be only steps away from the surf.
1. Compass Resorts At Silver Beach
The two splendid towers of Silver Beach offer over 90 luxury vacation condos on 600 feet of private beach. There are plenty of options to choose from ranging from cozy two-bedroom/two-bath units to grand five-bedroom/3.5-bath units. Each unit comes fully furnished and the resort has all of the amenities you could possibly want: two beachfront pools, a tennis court, barbecue grills, a hot tub, covered parking, and free wireless internet. Each rental also includes two beach umbrellas and chairs for you to use during your stay.
2. Crystal Sands
Crystal Sands provides an intimate and quiet getaway for both couples and families. Each unit in this three-story resort has a balcony that is perfect for relaxing with a cup of coffee in the morning to catch a brilliant sunrise before hitting the beach. Units also include fully equipped kitchens, a washer/dryer, and a whirlpool bath. The resort also offers an onsite tennis court and seasonally heated pools.
3. Destin Holiday Beach Resort
At the Destin Holiday Beach Resort, the only thing standing between you and the emerald-green gulf waters is 500 feet of pristine white beach. Choose from a cozy one-bedroom unit or a more spacious three-bedroom unit that sleeps eight. Each unit has a fully equipped kitchen. The resort also has a full line of amenities including fitness rooms, swimming pools, and tennis courts.
4. Pelican Beach Resort
With 340 condominium units, the 19-story Pelican Beach resort is truly a tropical beach paradise. Pelican Beach offers one-, two-, and three-bedroom units that include gulf-facing condos with spectacular views from the balcony. The resort is decked out with all of the amenities you could ask for — two adult pools and a kiddie pool for the young ones, an arcade, fitness room, tennis courts, and a beach and poolside bar. When you’re hungry, grab a bite at the Pelican Beach Café.
Spending Some Quality Family Time
While some of these resorts are not located directly on Destin’s glorious white beaches, these inviting resorts are affordable for family vacations and are close to all of the area’s many family-friendly attractions and restaurants.
5. Emerald Grande At HarborWalk Village
While not directly on the Gulf of Mexico (actually on an inlet that connects Choctawhatchee Bay with the gulf), the Emerald Grande at HarborWalk offers an amazing family-friendly vacation destination. It’s renowned for its proximity to great dining options like McGuire’s Irish Pub and Dewey Destin’s Seafood, history at the Destin History and Fishing Museum, and plenty of water activities including dolphin cruises, snorkeling, jet skiing, and more at the Destin Harbor Boardwalk and Village.
There are four different condo-style rooms at the Emerald with full kitchens and plenty of onsite services including a spa, fitness center, onsite dining rooms, and a heated pool. Every room has spacious balconies with views and vacationers can avail themselves of the complimentary boat shuttle to the hotel’s own private gulf beach.
6. Sterling Shores
Another great option for family gatherings is Sterling Shores with accommodations ranging from one-bedroom suites to the Grand Amelia Room with over 2,300 square feet of living space consisting of four bedrooms and three baths. Each room comes with a full-sized, fully equipped kitchen, washer/dryer, and balconies with views. Guests have access to a 4,300-square-foot lagoon pool as well as a beachfront pool and family fitness center. Sterling Shores is only a short walk from shopping centers and what is touted as the “World’s Greatest Alligator Park,” Gator Beach.
A Romantic Getaway
7. Henderson Park Inn
If you are looking for a romantic getaway for just the two of you, then make reservations at the Henderson Park Inn. This adults-only resort is regularly voted as one of the best destinations on the Panhandle, and with good reason. When you arrive, you are greeted with complimentary Florida citrus, wine, and chocolate.
Henderson Park Inn has 36 spacious, elegantly decorated, and well-appointed rooms, each with ensuite bathrooms. Many also have kitchenettes, whirlpool tubs, fireplaces, and balconies with gulf views. The resort is named after the state park that is only a mile to the east on U.S. Highway 98 and boasts having one of Florida’s best beaches.
A Golfer’s Paradise
Next to the stunning gulf beaches, Destin is world-renowned for its many golf courses. There are many world-class courses in Destin with several found at these standout resorts that golfers will love.
8. Sandestin Golf And Beach Resort
This 2,400-acre golf resort has 1,250 rental units available ranging from simple studio apartments to spacious villas, condos, and penthouses. There are even detached homes within four separate properties: beachside and beachfront directly on the gulf, bayside on Choctawhatchee Bay, the woodsy natural cottages of Lakeside, and the grand accommodations of the Village, which is located near the property’s entertainment complex.
The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort has four pristinely manicured 18-hole courses that offer challenging play over rolling hills (the only elevation change in the area) and breathtaking scenery among the area’s marshes, wetlands, and Choctawhatchee Bay.
Sandestin also offers 20 dining options as well as kayaking, biking, paddleboarding, and tennis.
9. Hilton Sandestin Beach, Golf Resort And Spa
Located next to Destin in the town of South Walton, the four-star-rated Hilton Sandestin Beach, Golf Resort and Spa is the largest resort on the Florida Panhandle. Every room at the Hilton has full, spacious balconies, many of which offer full or partial views of the gulf.
For golfers, it doesn’t get much better than the four courses found here, all of which were designed by world-famous golf course architects like Robert Trent Jones. Each has been listed as one of Conde Nast Traveler’s Top 20 Florida Golf Courses. Your stay at Sandestin includes free private cabanas, complimentary beach chairs, use of beach volleyball gear as well as kayaks and paddleboards. It also has two outdoor pools and one indoor swimming pool, a full-service spa, and it is located right next door to the beautiful tall sand dunes of Topsail State Park.