I want to point out right away that we booked our stay with Coastal Vibe Vacations and stayed at the Azure Beach Resort on the Gulf of Mexico. It was only about 10 miles to Destin. The drive wasn’t bad at all to Destin, unless of course you hit your trip at a busy time – just keep in mind that the traffic does move slow of an evening! Most of the restaurants and activities I’m going to share are in Destin. If you’re unsure of what to bring on a beach trip check out my beach guide here!
We had an Amazing trip! We drove from ILLINOIS, which was about 12.5 hours. We left our home at 3 am on a Friday and made it to Montgomery, AL by late afternoon . On the way we took advantage of rest stops! There are some great ones with walking trails and parks. Here are some items to bring for the kids in the car and eating out!
It was super handy to pack a snack tub with our families favorite car approved treats and cooler with fruit, cheese sticks, uncrustables and deli sandwiches for my husband and I. And of course drinks! If you have a long trip and don’t want to spend money at a gas station I highly recommend doing this!
We chose to stay in Montgomery (about 3.5 hours from our final destination) because we couldn’t check in on Saturday until 4 pm. I booked our hotel a couple of weeks in advance ( I recommend doing this as availability can be difficult to find). The hotels are much cheaper the further you stay out from the beach!
Saturday morning we took our time and …. Drove through a Tropical Storm! Soo by the time we reached Fort Walton Beach it was time to check -in!!!
We planned a Walmart pick-up for groceries ahead of our trip. If we didn’t have small children we would’ve planned to eat out more! The accommodations at our condo were so nice, it made cooking a breeze!
The Azure Beach Resort was family friendly, the pools and beaches weren’t overcrowded and from check-in to check-out our stay was seamless. The resort is close to a gas station , surf shops and a Publix grocery store. Another resort you can book through Coastal Vibe Vacations is Waterscape. The pool area looks like a dream! It was just a few resorts down from ours.
Here’s a guide of places we ate and a few things we did!
Pirate Cruise// This cruise is perfect for kids! I’d say 10 and under. It rained the day we went, but as the adventure continued the sun came out! It’s very interactive. The kids were involved in cleaning the deck, a squirt gun fight, sword fighting, face painting and tattoos, pulling in treasure and much more! They have a bathroom on board and gift shop along with concessions. The kids each got to pick two prizes from the treasure chest at the end. Parents are welcome to participate and there was a lot of adult humor. Pirates, right!?
*I went into it thinking there would be singing and dancing and a bunch of pirates climbing things and walking a plank. That wasn’t the case! “Think” it’s all about the kids and being involved. We took our 5 year old and she loved it!
The Boardwalk// This Boardwalk wasn’t very far from where we stayed. This area offers so many things for the family to do! Several restaurant choices, beach volleyball and a playground, ice cream and more! The great thing is there are evening activities too! Some include movie night, a luau and fireworks. For the full schedule be sure to check out their website! We took the kids on the Pier one evening. You have to pay to walk out on it. It was only a couple of dollars and I believe 6 and under are free. We walked out of an evening, but I think it would be fun to go during the day to see all of the fisherman! It was definitely a hot spot!
Urban Air Adventure Park // This place was AMAZING! It was the most perfect indoor activity for our kids to do on a rainy day. It’s like a Ninja Warrior course for kids! They had ball bits, obstacle courses, multiple trampolines, virtual reality, a jungle gym, laser tag, climbing wall, sky rider and the list goes on! Our twins are two and there were many things they could participate in as well! Be sure to check out their website for height requirements for the different obstacles!
Harborwalk Village // I begin to count how many activities there are to do here, along with fantastic restaurants! This is where we boarded our Pirate Cruise. It’s also where a family member of ours boarded their boat to go on a fishing trip. If you’re looking to do anything boat related check this out! They also have tons of small shops and activities for the kids!
Crab Island // While we didn’t do this, I’ve seen lots of advertisement for it. It looks like so much fun! Crab Island is a a very popular tourist attraction. Grab your friends and family, cooler and snacks for a fun filled day on the Island!
Go Karts, Arcade, Mini Golf, Recommendations:
Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone // Go -Karts, Mini Golf, Bumper Boats, Laser Tag and more!
The Track // Features five Go-Kart Tracks, two Mini Golf Courses, Blaster Boats, Bumper Cars, Kids Country Rides, the High Flying SkyFlyer, the Spinning Hurricane 360, and Fat Daddy’s Arcade.
The Gulfarium // We didn’t make it here, but drove by a lot! This would be great for a rainy day.
Big Kahuna’s Water Park // We drove by this several times and it looked like so much fun! It’s for sure on the list for next time!
The Donut Hole // This is a super popular place in Destin! We didn’t eat there on this trip, but I have eaten here before and it’s amazing!! It’s a sure stop if you have time to wait in line!! They also have homemade Key Lime Pie.
Anglers // This is right on the beach and has reasonable prices. Another recommendation from the owner of the condo.
Tailfins Waterfront Grill // The food here was delicious! We didn’t realize it when choosing, but this is definitely more of a bar atmosphere. There were other kids and we went early, but keep that in mind. They played great music and have seating with a bar outside on the docks. We had the Tailfin Stack and tried their Sushi! Everything was great! I was too busy corralling our children so I didn’t get any photos of our food!
Harry T’s // This was my second time eating here! The view is perfect! It’s so fun to sit and watch the boats come in and out. We ate here for lunch. It is pricier, but the Seafood Nachos were soo good! We just had an appetizer after our pirate cruise!
A few other recommendations we got are:
Stewby’s // The seafood is fresh and comes straight off of the dock! Another one that we didn’t get a chance to eat at, but was a recommendation.
The Gulf // This is a must per the condo owners place we stayed in! We didn’t make it, but there’s always next time! There is waterfront bay seating.
Marina Cafe // Top Notch seafood.
Boshamps // Located on Destins Harbor. Casual dining – very popular so you may want to plan ahead.
Louisiana Lagniappe // Fine Louisiana Seafood
Bruster’s // It wouldn’t be a beach vacation without some ice cream! This place was poppin’ when we went. I had the raspberry chocolate in a waffle cone and my husband had a turtle sundae in a waffle bowl. Mine was delicious and he couldn’t stop raving about the pecans! Next trip, this will for sure be on our list of places to go!
I highly recommend the area we stayed in and booking through https://www.coastalvibevacations.com/. They’re so easy to work with and very accommodating!
If you vacation in Destin or the surrounding area what are some of your families favorite things to do!? Please share in the comments below!