Summer is when Destin is at its busiest, as families making the most of their three months off of school flock to the city’s blindingly white beaches. The 90-degree temperatures are only problematic if you’re away from the beach, though. The Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival in nearby Fort Walton Beach, kicks off summer with five days of costume parades, pirate re-enactments, and, well, more pirate parades. It’s campy, but kids love it.
Fall offers a completely different experience as the city reverts from a beachy hot spot back into a sleepy fishing village. From Labor Day until the middle of October, the temperatures hold in the high 70s. The Destin Fishing Rodeo dominates the social calendar throughout the month of October as 30,000 anglers compete for their share of $200,000 in cash and prizes. It’s fun for spectators, too, with daily weigh-ins at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar. The Destin Seafood Festival in early October, on the Destin Harbor, highlights local Gulf seafood with a hint of live music.
Winter can be sleepy, since most tourists looking for beach time head farther south. But with temps in the 50s and abundant sunshine, it’s perfect for beachcombing, particularly if you like your beaches with more shells than people.
Families may want to avoid March and the first half of April (Destin has become a popular spring-break destination for college kids), but late April and May is a choice time to visit. The mercury hasn’t hit its peak, and the summer vacation crowds haven’t descended yet either.