Oh, Destin. I’m sure you have seen pictures of the breathtaking crystal water and snow white sand beaches. The city and its surrounding areas are very popular vacation destinations and rightfully so. But.. is it affordable?
Especially when you are on a budget or if you’re traveling with kids, the most important part of planning a trip is the cost. It can also be the most stressful. Don’t let budgeting for a trip to Destin stress you out. I’m here to help! I’m here to answer the question, how much does a trip to Destin, Florida actually cost?
This section of the breakdown is going to be different for everyone. Back when I would frequent Destin, it was around an 8 hour drive for me. I probably spent $100 in gas one way to get from Kentucky to Florida. Not too bad. However, you are obviously going to pay way more if you live further away or fly into the city. If you are flying, you really should rent a car while you are there. Destin has far too much to offer to rely solely on Uber or other similar services.
I love a good deal! I’m always looking for ways to stretch my dollar. Typically, I would grab a free breakfast from my hotel or something quick that I brought with me. For lunch I would eat something that I packed myself, then stop for some sort of frozen or sweet treat. Then, for dinner I always eat out. Of all the places I have ate in Destin, three stand out above the rest. The Back Porch, Tailfins, and Fud Puckers. All three of these restaurants are in the moderate price range. You can expect to spend about $20 per adult + any alcoholic drinks you order.
For a restaurant right on the beach I recommend The Back Porch. They have delicious gumbo! Tailfins has large windows giving gorgeous views of the crystal water. Don’t tell the others, but Tailfins food is my favorite of them all! Lastly, Fud Puckers is a unique, brightly decorated place with live alligators that you can feed! If you have children or want to spend a long time at a restaurant, I recommend Fud Puckers. While you are there you can try some of my favorite eats. I loveee the fried gator and the hushpuppies with their homemade dipping sauce. So good.
Pictures from Tailfins
If you are visiting Destin in the summer, be prepared to shell out some cash for a hotel. You will be lucky to find a hotel that’s right on the beach for under $200/ night. If you aren’t picky on your location you can find a decent hotel for around $150/ night. Again, these are summer prices. In the off season you can find hotels for around $100/night, sometimes even less. I usually travel in the off season when I can. Not just in Destin, but everywhere. I feel like you get a more realistic feel of the town…. PLUS everything is almost always cheaper.
One of the most popular things to do in Destin is to visit Crab Island. The island isn’t actually an island. It’s a sand bar in the bay where people anchor their boats to swim and snorkel. It’s also popular amongst partiers. If you want to rent a pontoon for a half-day or full day, you can expect to spend between $275 and $500. If you have a larger group of people and don’t want to spend hours on end in a boat, you can take a shorter Crab Island Pontoon Tour for around $125/ hour.
A personal favorite in Destin is paddle boarding. The waters are calmer in Destin than at most Florida beaches and I take advantage of that! I usually pay around $25/ hour for a paddle board. In addition to paddle board rentals, Destin also has several places where you can rent surf boards, kayaks, and jet skis. If you are looking for a place to walk around the city, head to the Destin Harbor Boardwalk. You’ll find tons of shops and restaurants as well as great nightlife. They play live music for free on stage during most of the peak season, everyone dances on the boardwalk and makes fools of themselves. It’s wonderful.
Now, should you pay for beach access while in Destin? Short answer… No. However, you may want to in order to avoid crowds. With water as gorgeous as it is, you really can’t go wrong when choosing a beach. I have visited the free public access beaches and I have also visited the beaches of Henderson Beach State Park. The public access beaches are great, but can get very crowded in the summer. Not that Henderson doesn’t… but I’ve noticed that the park tends to be less crowded. It’s also where a lot of locals go to paddle board and kayak. To get into the state park, it will cost you $5/ 2-8 person vehicle.
Lastly, here’s a little insider secret for you. The best beach in Destin is at Norriego Point. You will find the whitest sand, the most serene waters, and the best views in all of Destin, hands down. It’s a perfect place to get deep into the water without being pushed down by the waves, swim with fish, snorkel, and sunbathe.
So, how much does a trip to Destin, Florida cost? This is what a typical three day trip to Destin looks like for me.
After spending $300 on accommodations, $30 on activities, $80 on food, and $300 getting to and from Destin as well as getting around the city… that’s a total of $710 for a 3-day trip. This may be on the cheap end for some and on the expensive end for others. Considering that I only ate one meal out once a day, my food budget costs could have been quite higher. Activity wise, I also spent very little. It all depends on how you like to spend and save your money when you are traveling.
So, what do you think? Ready to take a trip to Destin? Hit me up in the comments with any questions you have. Happy traveling!
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