If you are planning a vacation to Destin, the “Gem” of the Emerald Coast, then you can’t miss the iconic Destin Harbor Boardwalk.
This charming boardwalk that stretches nearly a mile along the Emerald green waters of the Gulf is bustling with life with spectacular views of the harbor and the surrounding beaches.
This is the place to people watch, as locals and tourists alike come to soak up the sun and enjoy the fresh air.
From amazing seafood restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs, and malls to boutique shops, there is plenty of fun that lines the area.
With so much to do from the early rays of the sun to the wee hours of the morning, you are sure to be overwhelmed by the things you get to enjoy at the Harbor.
Here’s my detailed guide to help you make the most of your visit to the Destin Harbor Boardwalk.
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Destin Harbor Boardwalk: Best Things, Restaurants, Shops, and Places to Stay on your Vacation
Table of Contents
Best Things to do at Day in Destin Harbor Boardwalk
Check out the spectacular views of the Gulf
What better way to spend a day at the Harbor than to enjoy the beauty of the Gulf?
Whether you’re a fishing enthusiast or not, the Harbor is a great place to feel the cool breeze on your skin, and enjoy the spectacular views of the sunrise/sunset, and being the “Luckiest Fishing Village”, it’s simply fun to watch fishing fleets bringing in the abundant daily catch.
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Treat yo’ self to amazing Seafood
Would a trip to the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” even be complete without savoring some of the delicious freshly caught seafood?
The Harbor is home to plenty of restaurants that cater to every whim from kids to adults, and from seafood connoisseurs to Mexican food lovers.
Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or an amazing fine-dining experience of freshly-caught seafood, the boardwalk is home to plenty of places that will leave you craving for more.
And as for the best restaurants we’ll talk about that later.
Go on a Dolphin cruise
Hands down one of the best activities to enjoy at the Harbor for kids and adults alike.
There are many fishing charters and ferries that run all day with each offering unique experiences.
Most of these cruises depart early in the morning or late in the afternoon, to make sure you get a glimpse of these intelligent and majestic creatures.
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Feed the ducks at the Clement Taylor Park
If you are traveling to Destin, then this is definitely a must-do activity on the boardwalk.
The Clement Taylor Park is located right next to the boardwalk and is home to several ducks who love to be fed!
Just make sure to clean up after yourself when you’re done feeding the ducks.
Take a pontoon boat to Crab Island
If there’s one place tourists and locals love to spend their time at, it is the pristine Crab Island.
Crab Island is a beautiful sandbar located just a few miles from the Harbor and is easily accessible by a pontoon boat.
The shallow and crystal clear waters of Crab Island make an excellent spot to enjoy water sports like water volleyball, swimming, floating, sunbathing, and taking a pontoon boat ride and exploring the gorgeous views of the surroundings.
Best Things to Do at night on the Destin Harbor Boardwalk
After spending the day on the beach, doing water activities, or shopping, you’ll want to unwind. These places are perfect if you want a sit-down place, live entertainment or if you still have energy from your day, go dancing.
This is one of the most popular places that tourists love coming to! You can drink and dance here and have a good time.
It has Caribbean-inspired decor that includes bamboo chairs and make-believe palm trees. Check out their drinking deck and enjoy one of the many customized drinks such as lemon-topped margaritas and spiced moonshine drinks.
If you want to have drinks with a view, this is the place to be. They make tasty cocktails and the perfect ambiance to unwind after a long day at the beach. The breeze here feels pretty good too which is always refreshing at nighttime.
Are you into live music on the water? AJ’s is the perfect place to check out some live entertainment with some drinks.
Catch the fireworks
The Destin Harbor fireworks play for 10 mins long every Thursday throughout the summer. There are many spots on the boardwalk where you can watch the fireworks. Whether you prefer to watch it from the Emerald or at one of the patio bars on the boardwalk, you’re in for a spectacular show.
These are just some things that you can do at nighttime while visiting the Destin Harbor Boardwalk.
Shopping at Destin Harbor Boardwalk
Destin Harbor Boardwalk is known for many specialty shops, so it makes an excellent choice for shopping.
It’s in HarborWalk Village which boasts a beautiful view of the harbor.
Even if you prefer to stick to designer brands, there are outlets here as well. Let’s look into some of the best stores on the boardwalk that are worth going to!
Life is Good
Yes, that is the name of the specialty store on the boardwalk. Their goal is to spread positivity and they sell their own branded stuff such as T-shirts, knickknacks, and more.
A Christmas to Remember
No, it’s not a hallmark movie. It is a real live Christmas store located right on the boardwalk. So if you want to go shopping for Christmas early, this is the perfect store for you!
Kitty Hawk Kites
It’s beautiful in the Destin harbor area, so why not grab a kite from here and fly one over the beautiful harbor?
True Colors Studio-Kelly Pierre
If you are into art, you may enjoy the live painting on-site. From here, you can buy some original art that is on canvas, metal, or paper to take home with you.
These are just some shops that you can visit on the boardwalk. Of course, there are many more specialty shops, but we think that these are worth checking out when you visit Destin Harbor Boardwalk.
Best events at Destin Harbor Boardwalk
If you do not know already, Destin has a lot of events going on. That includes the Harbor Boardwalk.
You will not find a shortage of activities to do and in fact, you’ll still be wishing you had stayed longer because there’s just so much to do.
Let’s check out some things you can do here!
There’s something for everyone in the family to have fun with. From the Aqua Spheres to the trampoline park, you’ll be burning a lot of energy here!
Memorial Day Celebrations
Every Memorial day weekend, there are celebrations all weekend. It starts at 7:00 P.M and ends at 9:00 P.M.
There is free music on the stage you can go listen to or if you go earlier in the day you’ll catch the vintage air show!
Monday Shrimp Boil on Pool Deck
Does seafood and pool party sound like fun to you? Then you’ll enjoy heading over to the Grand Vista Pool Deck to enjoy shrimp and go play in the water.
This runs every Monday from Memorial Day to early August.
Fat Tuesday Parade
If you are in the area on a Tuesday, you’ll want to check out the Fat Tuesday Parade. It runs from 6:30 to 8:30 P.M. every Tuesday.
You can catch all the beads that are thrown out and enjoy the fire-spinning night show when the parade is over!
All American Thursday
Every Thursday from the last weekend of May to mid-August, there is an epic airshow, fireworks, and fire spinning show that goes on.
It’d be really cool to get some pictures of those jets and then check out the fireworks and show later, right? It’s also a good day to wear red, white and blue too!
Rock the Docks
Every Saturday from 6:30 to 9:30 P.M there is free music on the main stage. It features many local musicians, and you’ll be dancing to music under the stars with the pleasant breeze. Musicians include 18-mile road, Flash Flood, Superfaced, and more.
Rocktober Concert Series
We’ve dived into fall and there’s a lot of good music going on, especially at the Rocktober Concert Series! It runs every Saturday in October from 7:00 to 9:00 P.M. Before the show, you can watch the daily fishing weigh-ins from 10:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.
Arts & Drafts
Every September, you can sample seasonal local craft beers while enjoying the arts. You can also talk to local artists to get how they got the inspiration for their work. It is on the boardwalk, so it’s not hard to miss when it’s time to hit this place up.
Silent Disco Party
When you go dancing, you sometimes request a song from the DJ. But sometimes the DJ ignores you.
So, this is where the fun comes in because, at the Silent Disco Party, you can listen to your own tunes while dancing. Headphones are provided.
Gather all your closest friends and dance the night away starting at 7:00 P.M.
The 5 Best Restaurants at the Destin Harbor Boardwalk
No visit to Destin would be complete without stopping by one of the many seafood restaurants that line the Harbor. Whether you’re in the mood for fried calamari or freshly-caught shrimp, you are sure to find something that will satisfy your taste buds.
Here are 5 Best Restaurants that you must try on the Destin Harbor Boardwalk
If you are looking for an amazing casual seafood restaurant for a fun family outing then you must go to Pompano Joe’s.
Pompano Joe’s offers an extensive menu, from freshly-caught seafood to classic American foods like burgers, salads, and pasta dishes. Simply put there’s something for everyone, even those who are tired of seafood or don’t like it at all.
And yes, don’t forget to save some room for dessert! Make sure you don’t miss out on their Key Lime Pie and Hurricane Cake, as these are specialties of Pompano Joe’s.
If you are lucky, you can also be part of their special events like music on the patio and All-You-Can-Eat Crab Leg Nights, I promise you would love it.
Harbor Docks is the place to be if you are looking for the best seafood in Destin. This award-winning seafood restaurant has been serving Destin locals and tourists alike since 1979 with its impressive menu, from raw oysters, and grilled Mahi Mahi to Tuna Nachos.
Harbor Docks also features a market where you can buy freshly-caught fish to cook at home.
Crab Island Cantina
How about savoring delicious food with spectacular views of the ocean?
The Crab Island Cantina with its extensive menu of all your favorite Mexican dishes like Enchiladas, Tacos, Quesadillas, and Burritos, makes for the best place in Destin for enjoying Mexican food with a view.
The restaurant also has a full bar if you’re in the mood for margaritas or mojitos.
And of course, no visit to the Crab Island Cantina would be complete without trying their namesake dish- crab nachos! which comes topped with fresh mango salsa, jalapeños, and sour cream. Yum!
Boathouse Oyster Bar
You might have already guessed from its name what this place is about, but wait, there’s more to it.
Part restaurant, part bar, part music venue, and part outdoor garden the Boathouse Oyster Bar has something for everyone.
From delicious food, cold drinks, and live music every night of the week to of course, how can we forget the variety of beer on offer?
If you’re looking for a fun and lively place to eat and drink with friends, then this is the place to be.
AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar
Last but not least on our list is Destin’s beloved seafood restaurant AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar. This amazing and iconic restaurant has been locals’ and tourists’ favorite and is serving delicious seafood cuisines since 1983.
AJ’s offers all the seafood cuisines you could ask for and more including steaks, chicken, and burgers for the landlubbers in your group.
Wait there’s more, AJ’s also boasts one of the best happy hours in the town with 5$ martinis and 6$ appetizers from 4-7 pm every day except Sunday.