Located on the Florida Panhandle, Destin is one of the Emerald Coast’s most beautiful tourist spots. But with its popularity and abundance of hotels spread over several different towns, areas, and neighborhoods, choosing where to stay in Destin can be challenging for visitors.
Famed for its professional golf courses and pristine beaches, Destin is a wondrous paradise for solo, couples, or family getaways in North Florida. The best hotels in Destin offer a wide range of lodgings, stretching between the bustle of Downtown Destin to the Gulf breezes of Crystal Beach.
Looking for the top accommodation options in Destin? Make your Florida beach vacation one to remember with this complete guide to the best places to stay in Destin, FL.
Best places to stay in Destin, FL
Blessed with natural wildlife and a breathtaking Gulf of Mexico coastline, it’s easy to see why Destin is one of the most popular destinations for a Florida Panhandle beach vacation. The biggest challenge comes with sorting through the most popular areas and hotels in Destin.
For first-time travelers, Downtown is the top place to stay in Destin. In Downtown Destin, you’ll be close to the city’s main attractions including the Destin Harbor Boardwalk and HarborWalk Village.
Looking to soak in Destin’s most beautiful beaches? Miramar Beach and Crystal Beach are superb alternatives to the city center. Sitting along the emerald & turquoise water of the Emerald Coast, these two neighborhoods put Destin’s seaside front and center.
If you’re traveling to Destin as a family, set your sights on Fort Walton Beach & Okaloosa Island. Located on Santa Rosa Island west of Destin, Fort Walton Beach teems with family-friendly attractions like Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park.
Alternatively, golfers and luxury travelers will love laying their heads down in Sandestin. A 20-minute drive west of Destin, Sandestin is loaded with mid-range & luxury resorts, sprinkled among some of the most popular golf courses on the Emerald Coast.
The best areas to stay in Destin, Florida, are:
✓ Best area to stay in Destin for first-time visitors
Visiting Destin for the first time? Launch your vacation from Downtown Destin. One of the city’s most popular spots for travelers, Downtown boasts some of the top tourist attractions in Destin.
Throughout the year, Downtown Destin hosts various parties and events, including the Destin Fishing Rodeo. It’s also the center of the city’s nightlife scene year-round, boasting Destin’s most popular restaurants, bars, and clubs.
If daytime activities are more your jam, there’s plenty, too. Cool down in the area’s water parks or hit the waterways to go fishing. You can stroll along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk and watch the fishing fleets come in or head inland to the Destin History and Fishing Museum.
In the evening, stop by the friendly welcoming bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops around the HarborWalk Village, and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
Not far from Downtown Destin, you’ll meander along the Holiday Isle where miles of pristine white-sand beaches and gorgeous sunsets await. If you’re with your family or in a group, don’t forget to visit Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park. Have a full day trip splashing, sliding, or just basking in the sun.
From Downtown, it’s also a quick boat trip to spend a day at Crab Island. Sprawl out on the sandbar, get an ice cream or roasted peanuts served by motorboat vendors, or eat at a floating restaurant.
Although it’s home to many of the city’s top points of interest, lodgings are limited in Downtown. For more accommodation options, head east along the Emerald Coast Pkwy towards Henderson State Park and Crystal Beach.
Recommended hotels in Downtown Destin
Located just 90 meters away from the public beach, Hampton Inn & Suites offers quality service and an excellent location that’s ideal for couples on vacation. All rooms come equipped with a mini-fridge, flat-screen TV, and a microwave. Guests will love lazing by the outdoor pool or working off a few calories at the fully-equipped fitness center.
Looking to unwind completely and get a good night’s sleep? Home2 Suites by Hilton is known for its excellent service and welcoming attitude. Beautifully decorated rooms and classy suites add to the charm for guests as does the business center, pool, and gym.
If you’d like a whole apartment to yourself and want to wake up to a view of the sea, Sterling Shores is the place to stay. Each suite boasts a fully equipped kitchen, with a lounge and dining area. On-site activities include a children’s playground and cycling. You can also visit their casino, or enjoy a day of fishing. But, it’s really those beachfront views from both the bedroom and lounge that make Sterling Shores a top-notch Destin accommodation choice.
✓ Best neighborhood to stay in Destin for families and beach bums
Miramar Beach is a charming blend of diversity that’s the perfect place to stay in Destin for family-friendly beach vibes. Modern rest houses and tasteful condos dot this picturesque beach.
Around Miramar Beach, you can stroll along the 3-mile Scenic Highway 98 Trail, soaking in nature. Or hit the beach itself to rent jet skis or try your hand parasailing over the emerald water.
Besides playing volleyball or shopping at Silver Sands Premium Outlets, there’s plenty more to do in Miramar Beach. Sports enthusiasts will love playing a round of golf at the Links Golf Club or the Golf Garden or smashing aces at Hidden Dunes, an award-winning tennis facility with six championship clay courts.
Alongside the beautiful sandy beaches are some fantastic beachside bars and dining restaurants. Miramar Beach is known for its excellence in cuisine and a wide variety of fresh seafood.
There’s a wide selection of accommodations around Miramar Beach, focused mostly around Scenic Gulf Dr. and the Emerald Coast Pkwy. You’ll also spot plenty of Airbnb-style vacation rentals wedged in town between the beach and the highway.
Recommended hotels in Miramar Beach
Who doesn’t adore a gorgeous coastal view and the chance to play a little tennis? Ariel Dunes is a luxurious hotel boasting 1- to 3-bedroom condo units. Each condo is fully equipped with a kitchen, separate seating area, and zero-depth entry pools. With its fountains everywhere and plenty of space for the whole family to unwind, it’s a superb choice for enjoying the perfect Miramar Beach vacation.
With private beach access, Embassy Suites offers the luxury of seclusion. For more privacy, the hotel offers a fitness gym, business center, and on-site meeting facilities. Yet, it’s only a 10-minute walk from Silver Sands and a 20-minute drive to Baytown Wharf. From the hotel, you can also visit Big Kahuna’s Water Park or The Track in a jiffy.
The Hilton Destin Garden Inn is located 300 meters from Miramar Beach. Rooms offer breathtaking views of Scenic Gulf Drive or serene pool views. The staff at this Hilton beach hotel is professional and trained to make your vacation comfortable. For fun, you can enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant or take a dip in the outdoor pool. There’s a fitness center and a fully equipped bar, too.
✓ Top district to stay in Destin for nature lovers & shopping
Among the best family vacation spots in Florida, Crystal Beach charms travelers with beautiful views, gorgeous beaches, and clear green water. Add to that the majestic sun shining down on your winter or summer vacation, and you’ve entered paradise on the Florida Panhandle.
Nature-loving guests can either get a condo with private balconies at a fair price or find beach hotels with direct beach access to maximize their stay at Crystal Beach.
Unwind at a beach bar, grab some beach chairs, or stop by a beach resort for some hot breakfast. Because of its convenient location, places like Henderson Beach State Park and James Lee Park are just a short commute away. The beachfront parks are ideal for spending a few hours reconnecting with nature or sightseeing.
Also close by is Destin Commons, an outdoor shopping mall catering to fine food, plenty of shopping, and a multiplex to get away from it all.
Recommended hotels in Crystal Beach
Start your Emerald Coast vacation in style by staying at the Holiday Inn Express Destin East. It’s centrally located so that you’re close to Crystal Sands Beach, Henderson Beach State Park, and local markets. This charming hotel is all about making your stay in Destin a pleasant one.
Just a 3-minute walk from Henderson Beach State Park lies the Fairfield Inn & Suites Destin. This charming family-friendly hotel wins over guests with its helpful & friendly staff and breadth of amenities. The rooms are spacious and the plush bedding is perfect for a rest after a swim in their outdoor or indoor heated pool.
Experience luxury and class at the Henderson Beach Resort. The resort offers its own private beach for guests to escape the crowds, and a wide range of fun activities and beach services to enjoy. You’ll find superb service throughout the beach resort, so prepare to be thoroughly pampered. Dine on the freshest catch at their first-class restaurant, with an octagonal bar and a panoramic view of the Gulf.
Fort Walton Beach & Okaloosa Island
✓ Top area to stay in Destin for families
Although known for their rich fishing opportunities, Fort Walton Beach & Okaloosa Island are among the top family-friendly vacation spots in the Florida Panhandle. The town, just west of Destin, boasts five beautiful beachfront parks complete with twelve beach access points. There are tons of picnic tables, changing rooms, and pavilions everywhere to just stop and enjoy your day.
Positioned along Florida’s Gulf Coast between Pensacola and Panama City Beach, Fort Walton Beach & Okaloosa Island teems with sugar-white beaches, emerald waters, and family-friendly attractions.
Spend time exploring seaside parks along the Gulf Islands National Seashore or having family fun at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park or Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone. In the evening, you’ll enjoy dining at top-notch restaurants among friendly locals.
Although not as well-known as other areas around Destin, Fort Walton Beach & Okaloosa Island offer a surprising selection of top-notch accommodations. Prices in the neighborhood tend to be among the most budget-friendly in the Destin-Fort Walton Beach area.
Recommended hotels in Fort Walton Beach & Okaloosa Island
Just a mile from Okaloosa Island and close to the Beltway Shopping Centre, Holiday Inn Express is ideally located for your stay on the Emerald Coast. Fully equipped rooms, a spacious outdoor pool, and a professional fitness center are just a few of the amenities the Holiday Inn Express offers to guests.
Take a step out of the Hilton Garden Inn and directly onto the white sandy beaches of Okaloosa Island. Featuring a beachfront pool and indoor and outdoor bars, these lodgings unleash the Emerald Coast’s picturesque views and vibrant waters. It’s an excellent location for travelers looking to surf and soak up the sunshine.
A flawless gem in West Destin’s crown of hotels, this Courtyard by Marriott hotel is ideally located on Fort Walton Beach. The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is less than a mile away, and the Shalimar Pointe Golf Club is a 15-minute drive away. The hotel also features a lovely walkway with beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding area.
✓ Recommended place to stay in Destin for golf enthusiasts
Now hosting millions of visitors a year, Sandestin is a stunning village to the east of Destin. Home to some of the most beautiful beaches and absolutely crystal clear water, Sandestin offers a variety of water- and land-based activities. Choctawhatchee Bay is close by and is a fun and relaxing place to take a day trip when in Sandestin.
Located in South Walton, the charming town of Sandestin has a welcoming vibe. The Baytowne Wharf is the epicenter for Sandestin’s fun events. Spend the day enjoying street performances, outdoor movies, and quaint cafes. Or focus on family fun by indulging in some laser tag or a game at the wharf’s giant checkerboard.
Sandestin is also the perfect stop for golfers. Golf is taken seriously around Sandestin. Round-robins and exhibition matches happen all year round. If you’re into golfing, grab a room at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort for access to a fantastic private course.
Recommended hotels in Sandestin
Comfortably located in the Grand Boulevard Town Center, Hyatt Place Sandestin suitably places you a few minutes from, well, everything. In the area, you’ll find first-class shopping, dining, and tons of entertainment. It’s close to Miramar Beach, too. With well-maintained, spacious rooms and great staff to see to your every need, a stay at the Hyatt Place Sandestin is always memorable.
The Hilton Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and Spa is a full-service hotel that offers a range of activities and services. With its 15 tennis courts, three swimming pools, five restaurants, a spa, a mini-market, full-service bar, and coffee shops, there’s no reason to leave. Traveling with kids is no issue here, too. You’ll enjoy paddleboards, kayaks, and facilitated children’s programs at this family-friendly luxury resort.
Your home away from home, Residence Inn Sandestin lets you enjoy all the requisite comforts for a stress-free vacation. Book one of its spacious suites and studios, replete with living and dining areas. The kitchens are equipped with stove-tops and refrigerators. Live a luxurious life by relaxing in the outdoor hot tub or catching up with loved ones at the picturesque outdoor patio. Enjoy a complimentary breakfast after a morning dip in the outdoor pool.
Experience Southern elegance and charm at its best at Hotel Effie Sandestin. The precise attention to detail, level of care, and small personal touches stand out to make your vacation a dream come true. Dazzle at the panoramic view of the Emerald Coast while sipping cocktails at the rooftop pool. The location is ideal, too. Miramar Beach, Sun Quest Cruises, and the Village of Baytowne Wharf are all in close proximity to Hotel Effie.