Top Five Destin Beaches and a Beignet

Top 5 Beaches Destin, FL

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Spring Break 2018

Our spring break trip this year took us on the road! I was determined to relax on the beach, make great memories, and discover new things (even in “old” places). We decided to head to Destin, Florida, with a stop in Pensacola on the way. Such a great trip! Continue reading to see how our beach trip evolved to include yummy, hot, sugary-covered goodness. I’m calling this adventure Top Five Destin Beaches and a Beignet.

Destin, Florida beaches

White sand, crystal clear water of various shades of blue, beach umbrellas, sunscreen, flip flops, and sand castles all perfectly describe our trip last week. In my mind, I’m still there! I had not been to this particular area of Florida in well over 15 years. It was almost as if this was my first time. I had completely forgotten how glorious the beaches were. Straight from a postcard. I was determined to explore a new beach every day, and that is exactly what we did! Just for clarification purposes, I did not plan out exactly what beaches we would visit during this trip. I had a plan in mind, but allowed myself the mental freedom to change those plans daily. And I did. Perfection.

Beach #1 – Pensacola Beach

Our drive from Texas took us straight to Pensacola Beach. We were beyond exited to reach our destination after 10 hours in the car. I had been driving since 4am, but my energy was completely renewed upon our arrival. We parked close to the boardwalk, grabbed our gear, and headed straight for the water. Sad to say the water was too cold to truly enjoy the experience, but that didn’t stop us. The sand was pretty and the water was too. That’s all that mattered.

Pensacola, Florida

The kids splashed around and I took lots of pictures. There were baby stingrays swimming right near the shore. We were super excited to see them, but in hindsight, was this a good thing? Luckily all went well. There were a few groups of college-aged spring breakers doing what they do at that age, but my kids were not too bothered by it. All-in-all, we enjoyed an exciting afternoon in Pensacola, headed for our room, and caught up on sleep in preparation for the Destin adventures ahead!

Beach #2 – Mirimar Beach

First day in Destin and I was on a mission! A beach exploring mission! First stop, Mirimar Beach. Breath. Taken. Away. I was in shock at my first look at the coast line. I had completely forgotten how magnificent the water and beaches were in Destin. What in the world had taken me so long to get back here??? I mean, W-I-T-W? I was like a kid on Christmas morning and I could not get down the pier stairs fast enough to unwrap my “beachy” gift…

Mirimar Beach Destin, Florida beaches 

Mirimar Beach Destin, Florida beaches

You will notice a recurring theme throughout this post. Clear, blue water and soft, white sand. Words and pictures cannot do justice here. It was ridiculous (in a magnificently, beautiful, stuff-dreams-are-made-of kind of way). This area was a nice mix of hotels, condos, and beach homes. Plenty of people, but not overly crowded. We staked our claim on our beach real estate for the day, and headed into the water. Again, a bit colder than we hoped for, but that didn’t stop us.

Beach #3 – South Walton Beach

Second day in Destin and I couldn’t wait to see another beach. We drove east about 15-20 minutes to discover a totally different vibe at South Walton Beach. This area was completely residential. I did not see any hotels, resorts, or anything of the sort. There were far fewer people on the beach, and the vibe was SUPER laid back. Not secluded, but very chill. This is the perfect area for those looking to get away from all of the hustle and bustle of Destin.

The water, sand, and sun again took my breath away. I could seriously imagine waking up to this every day. Every. Single. Day. This beach was peaceful, even though there were several families with kiddos running around and playing on the beach. I feel relaxed just remembering this area. I should have taken a nap here, but we played in the water and sand instead. This area was a little secluded for my kids liking, but that didn’t stop us.

Beach #4 – Calhoun Beach

Third day in Destin could only mean a new beach! Where would we go today? Driving down the main road that morning, I see a sign that says “beach access”, so that means turn here and explore. Right? Right. And that is what we did. We found an empty parking space near several large condo buildings and a couple of restaurants and followed the signs to the beach. Calhoun Beach, that is.

Stop. This area immediately felt a bit different. I picked up on a vibe quickly. The water and sand were beautiful, but this area was packed. Lots of seaweed in the water here too. Probably because of the proximity to the marina area. Because of all of the very large condo buildings surrounding this beach, every few hundred feet of the beach was blocked off for “private access only”, which meant the areas that were not blocked off were packed. Like sardines. We had to share small spaces with lots of people. However, it was finally warm outside and we couldn’t wait to get in the water. So we did.

From this area you could go parasailing, ride a banana boat, or rent jet skis right on the beach (for a fee, of course). Definitely convenient, and I would only return to this beach for that very reason. Outside of those activities, nope. Calhoun Beach was way too crowded for me, but that didn’t stop us.

Beach #5 – Henderson Beach

After a couple of hours at the “other” beach named above, we headed exactly 1 mile to the east to Henderson State Park and Beach. Because it’s a state park, we had to pay $6 for parking and the area was gated, guarded, and undeveloped. Mind you, we are literally a stone’s throw from the “other” beach. I could easily see where we had just come from by simply turning my head to the right. However, it felt like we were worlds apart. At Henderson Beach, we were surrounded by tall grass to the back , clear and open beach to the front, and just a few people to each side. Yay.

Henderson Beach State Park Destin, Florida beaches

Again, this beach felt a little peaceful, but still lively enough. Clear, blue water and soft, white sand. You already knew that. The kids played frisbee, volleyball, and frolicked away. Unfortunately, it wasn’t too long before the showers rolled in. Our last day at the beach was cut short. We had to pack up and head out after only being there an hour. Bummer. Mother nature tried to slow our roll with the rain, but that didn’t stop us.

Bonus Beach – Crystal Beach

Bonus? We love bonuses. We love bonus beaches even more! What I haven’t mentioned just yet is that we were blessed enough to have some really good friends in Destin for spring break that we did not know about until we got there. The power of social media helped us quickly realize we were all in the same location, so we made sure to connect at the beach (of course!).

Crystal beach Destin, Florida beaches

On days two and three, after spending the first part of the day at Mirimar and South Walton beaches, we met our friends at Crystal beach for the remainder of those afternoons. Crystal Beach rocks! We posted up on the beach area directly in front of The Crab Trap restaurant. The kids played to their hearts content, and the parents relaxed and enjoyed the scenery. We all made promises to return to the area and talked about plans for a summer visit. Those afternoons were windy and down right chilly, but you KNOW that didn’t stop us!

Crystal beach Destin, Florida beaches

Other Destin Shenanigans

Destin is not just about the beaches, even though it could be and that would be JUST FINE! However, because Destin is such a big draw for tourists, there are plenty of activities to do outside of the beach to keep everyone occupied at all times.

Destin, Florida activities 

Having been to Destin one other time in my life, I knew I had to take the kids to The Track. With my two kiddos in tow, and two friends along for the ride, I had four pre-teen/teenagers to entertain for the night. Oh. Em. Gee. It was crazy fun. Stupid fun. Memories-we-will-talk-about-for-years fun. We rode several go karts, including the Wild Woody, and we all stepped WAY out of our comfort zones and rode…The SkyFlyer. There is no way to put this level of entertainment into words. You must check out the video here. Freaking hi-lar-i-ous!

Another memory-making adventure was the Dolphin Sunset Cruise we did on our last night in Destin. I will say, there are plenty of options when it comes to boat excursions here, but we are glad we chose the one we did. We boarded the Sea Blaster just before 5pm, and it was non-stop fun until we rolled back in the harbor at 7pm. We saw dolphins – we drove the boat – we had a blast. This was an evening we will not soon forget. Check out the dolphins here!

So, where does the beignet come in?

After a ridiculous amount of fun in Destin, we were supposed to spend a day in Mobile, AL checking out the beach. For research and comparison purposes, of course. However, considering it was St. Patrick’s Day, and we would be headed from Florida back to Texas, I decided we would add to the adventures and spend the day in New Orleans! Yeah baby! Granted, it was just me and our twins, so we were going to keep this experience family friendly. And what’s more family friendly than deep fried, fritter-type-pastries, covered in mounds of powdered sugar? Well, not much. #yummy

We arrive in NOLA, we park outside of the French Quarter, and we make a bee line for Café du Monde. Arguably, home of the most famous beignets in the world. The lines here are always longer than I am willing to wait in. So, even though I have been to NOLA several times (and ate my way through an actual beignet festival), this was my first time at CDM. Yay! It did not disappoint. The beignets were fresh, hot, soft, and devour-worthy. We were good though. We each had only one and decided to stop there. I bought an extra order to-go though, just in case. You know, emergency stash.

cafe du mondecafe du monde

The rest of our day in NOLA consisted of checking out a few local sights, local street performers, and local food. We stayed through the evening and waited patiently for the parade. Oh, the parade! Lots of beads, lots of music, lots of flowers, and even more beads. We met several super nice people and had a GREAT time. This was a fabulous way to end a fabulous trip and we were thankful. And tired.

Top Five Destin Beaches and a Beignet

So, that is our Spring Break 2018 road trip in a nutshell. You can check out several Facebook Live videos of each of the beaches and NOLA fun here, and more travel fun here! Until next time!

Where to next?

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  • Christin

    Sounds like a great time. Destin is on our short list of things to do for our next road trip. I don’t like that it seems rather overcrowded, but the dolphin tour sounds pretty amazing. I’ll go through your post again before we head out should we pick Destin. We normally make the trip to Tybee Island every few years, but Detin is closer so we’ve been considering it, although we LOVE Tybee. If you get the chance you should go there and do a post 🙂

    March 26, 2018 at 9:41 am
    • lifewithjessi

      Tybee Island looks great! Thanks for the suggestion. I have the east coast beaches on my to-do list, as I have only been to Emerald Isle thus far (and LOVED it!).

      Destin is, by far, one of the most beautiful beach areas in the US. Hands down. The sand is whiter than white, and the water is no less than 15 shades of blue. Unbelievable. Please visit when you can and let me know if you have any questions on the beaches, where to stay, things to do, etc. Also, let me know when you fall in love with it, as I am sure this is inevitable! 🙂

      March 26, 2018 at 10:14 am
  • Sam

    Sam @ Thiswaymommy
    This trip looks like it was amazing! Reading your post, being here in the cold northeast, brought bit of warmth to me!

    Thank you for sharing such great family adventures, duly noted for our own planned trips!

    March 26, 2018 at 11:02 am
  • Skaiste

    Such a resourceful read! I want to pack my luggage right now and jump into that divine blue sea!

    March 26, 2018 at 5:13 pm
    • lifewithjessi

      I can’t wait to go back! Hoping for a return trip in June, or at least before the summer is over!

      March 30, 2018 at 11:27 am
  • Jessica

    Looks beautiful. I’m going to have to add go to Florida to my lists of things to do, maybe for vacation next year. Haven’t been there since 2009 so it’s definitely time!

    March 26, 2018 at 7:34 pm
  • Wendy Dyes

    Wow! Great read. I will be adding Destin to my have to visit in Florida list.

    April 2, 2018 at 8:20 am
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