A beautiful photo from Destin, FL

December in Destin

There’s something for everyone this festive season – so many things to do in Destin, Florida! Here’s several events that will help you get into the holiday spirit:

  • A Rockin’ Holiday Concert –  “A Rockin’ Holiday with Mary Wilson of the Supremes” at 7:30 p.m., Friday,  Dec. 15 at Destiny Worship Center in Miramar Beach. Sinfonia’s full orchestra will accompany Ms. Wilson. Tickets available at Sinfoniagulfcoast.org.

 

  • Kids Christmas Crafts – Children (ages 4-12) along with their parents, are invited to stop by the Destin Library from 1-4 p.m., Saturday,  Dec. 16 and create Christmas ornaments. The event is free.
  • Santa Cause Pub Crawl – Deck the halls dressed in your Christmas best (tacky sweaters, Santa outfits, elves, etc.) to spread holiday cheer through HarborWalk Village with jolly drink specials at each of the stops beginning at 6 p.m., Saturday,  Dec. 16. Proceeds will go to the Junior League of the Emerald Coast toward restocking their clothing closets for children in the community. Stops include FishHeads, Margaritaville, Jackacudas, Harry T’s, Jester’s, Crab Island Cantina, and Coyote Ugly.

 

  • 12 Nights of Lights – Enjoy a festive light show every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday through Dec. 30 at The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Shows at 6, 7 and 8 p.m.

 

  • Visit with Santa – Santa will be ready to for all Christmas wish lists each weekend at HarborWalk Village. The big man is available every Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 17. Event is free.

 

  • Festival of Trees – The Festival of Trees display will be up until Christmas at Grand Boulevard with 12 trees decorated by area non-profit organizations.

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Movies to Boost Your Holiday Spirit

Not only will you watch dazzling sunsets during your Destin vacation, you’ll also enjoy memorable entertainment options at one of Destin’s premier movie theaters. Of course, this time of year, who doesn’t love a flick with holiday flare? Whether you want animation or a gorgeous cinematography (did someone say IMAX), we have your holiday playlist cued up.

Family Movie Day at Destin Commons

If the whole group is ready for an outing, what better place than Destin Commons in the heart of Destin? With boutiques, retailers, and dining options, there’s something for everyone. After frequenting your favorite shops, meet up for a movie at AMC Destin Commons 14. This holiday season, catch family flicks like Wonder, the story of a child who learns to accept himself as he is, despite his differences–an important reminder to be kindhearted all year round. For little ones, check out The Star, an animated film about the first Christmas celebration, narrated by the animals in the manger. Voiced by Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Patricia Heaton and Kristen Chenowith, you’ll recognize some of your favorite actors.

A Cinematic Experience at New Vision Boulevard 10

Located in Grand Boulevard, the New Vision theater offers the Ovation dining experience. In an Art Deco style venue with coupled chairs and plenty of leg room, enjoy appetizers, entrees, and even cocktails with your movie. There’s one movie not to be missed in all its cinematic splendor: The Greatest Showman. Starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum, embark on an adventure of imagination and hope. While not Christmas-themed, it certainly captures the spirit of the season.

Create Your Own Entertainment

With so much natural beauty in the area don’t do everything indoors! Be sure to take some time and stroll along the beach or visit a local park. The holidays are a wonderful time to spend with family in the warm Florida weather creating family memories.

 

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Our Travel Christmas Wish List

Here’s our 2017 Christmas Wish List:

  • Suitcase (checked) – Eagle Creek’s Tarmac AWD Spinner 26 or Eagle Creek’s Adventure 4-Wheeled Upright 25 are my favorite suitcases for travel. Tested on domestic and international trips. Stay within the 25-inch to 26-inch range to avoid going over the airline weight limits. Perfect size for 5-10 day vacations. Spinner wheels always. Eagle Creek also offers a “no matter what” warranty. eBags is my go-to luggage site. They are always running 20-30% off deals. Sign up for emails and accumulate reward points for future purchases.

 

  • Suitcase (carry-on) – Eagle Creek is also my favorite brand here. I purchased this carry-on, the Expanse AWD Carry-on, as a gift. I love the styling and it’s very lightweight. I’m also planning to try this new one, the TLS Hybrid Spinner Carry-on, just released by eBags. Due to customer requests, they’ve added spinner wheels to their popular carry-on. The 2-wheeled version holds an amazing amount of stuff so really interested in trying this one. It is currently the “steal of the day” at $139.99 on the website.

 

  • Packing cubes – These are great for packing and keeping you very organized while traveling. Pick a color for each child and teach them early how to pack efficiently. I’ve tried various brands and prefer the Eagle Creek and eBag brands. eBags offers the most colors.

 

  • Toiletry case – The eBags Pack-It Flat Toiletry Kit is a favorite. Toiletry bags are usually the last item added to a suitcase so it lays flat or slides into the suitcase front pocket with ease. eBags now offers a large version, but I’ve found this one to have enough space. Currently priced on sale at $22.49 in several fun colors.

 

  • Foldable duffle bag – This foldable duffle bag is perfect to add to your suitcase for souvenir purchases. Wish I had this on my last trip!

 

  • Photo luggage tags – These personalized photo luggage tags would be a fun gift, maybe using a photo from your last trip to the beach. Currently on sale at Shutterfly.

 

  • Artifact Uprising Photo Block – Artifact Uprising is my new favorite app. I can upload my vacation photos straight from my phone. They offer books, prints, and my favorite gift – the wood block & prints. You receive 12 prints that are 5 X 5.75. I love the quality of paper (stylish matte finish) used in printing. A truly special gift at $25. Also take a look at the brass easel with calendar. A little more pricey but a stunning gift.

 

  • Artifact Uprising Photo Book – I’ve also had the 8×8 Instagram-friendly photo books printed with vacation photos and I’m so impressed with the quality. All photos uploaded directly from my phone!

 

  • Travel Games – We loved playing games when we are huddled in our condo in Destin, Fl. Two current favorites my whole crew can recommend are Code Names (for 4 players) and One NIght Ultimate Werewolf (for bigger crowds.)

 

  • National Park Passport – This park passport would make a great stocking stuffer. The passport can be stamped at visits to each of the national parks and stamps sets are also available.

 

  • Destin map pendant necklace – For a pretty reminder of our favorite beach, this handcrafted pendant uses vintage maps to show your favorite location. Found on Etsy at Paper Towns Vintage.

 

  • Week at the Beach! – Saving the best for last. How about surprising your loved ones with a beach vacation?! We can help with this link. Order one of our iLoveDestin t-shirts here, create a gift certificate for your dream beach vacation, wrap it all together, and hide under the Christmas tree!

Happy Shopping & Merry Christmas!

Kendra Veach

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Local Ways To Give Back This Holiday Season

Alright, folks, the turkey has had its day; now, bring on the reindeer. It’s officially the season of jolliness, generosity, and cheer. The holidays have a way of reconnecting us with out inner child. They make us giddy, excited, and alright, we admit it, they even make us believe in magic a bit. Because during the holidays, there is a sense of magic. It may not be in the fictitious characters created to celebrate the season, but rather in the real-life moments of community and selflessness we witness.

Here, we love giving back to the community we call home. The Emerald Coast is a special slice of paradise, as anyone who’s ever been on a Destin vacation can verify. Part of what makes this area so magical is the number of people who help keep it beautiful. During the holiday season, it’s especially easy to find ways to volunteer.

Harvest House

Harvest House is a thrift shop and food pantry. A faith-based organization, Harvest House’s mission is to provide necessities, including food, clothing, and shelter to those in need. As temperatures drop, even here in Florida, Harvest House welcomes more donations and volunteers. In November and December, Harvest House provides holiday meals for nearly 200 families, as well as gifts for more than 70 kids. Help by donating toys, new or gently used clothing, and non-perishable food items. Give the gift of hope this season with a local, Destin charity.

Adopt A Park

In addition to giving to charities, you can also volunteer with the city’s Adopt a Park program. Preserve the environment by reducing waste, recycling litter, and beautifying the great outdoors. With more than a dozen local parks, including athletic complexes, boat launches, and dog parks, you are sure to find one that suits your passion (and probably one you already frequent).

The holiday spirit of generosity starts with each one of us, and we can’t wait to do our part to spread a little cheer this year!

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The Best Ways to Spend Black Friday

What’s on your must-have list this Black Friday?

Black Friday is nearly a holiday unto itself. Whether you’re a devoted bargain-hunter, or planning a stay-under-the-covers and slumber party, there’s something magnetic about the day after Thanksgiving. That’s why we’ve found the best way to spend Black Friday for the shoppers, and those who are ready to jump into the Christmas spirit.

For the Shoppers

Ok shoppers, this is your Superbowl. No other day compares to the rush, the savings, the madness. The stakes are high, the discounts are higher. On Thanksgiving Day, Belk in Destin Commons opens its doors from 6 p.m. to midnight. Then, at 6 a.m., all you door busters can hit the 90 retail shops of the Commons. For those super early birds, Bass Pro Shops opens at 5 a.m., and serves hot chocolate and cookies to those waiting in line.

Nearby, Silver Sands offers deals and steals. Get 50% off everything at Tommy Hilfiger;  at Converse, get your second pair 75% off. In fact, you’ll enjoy deals from 25% off to 75% off all day at Silver Sands.

For the Christmas Lovers

For some, Black Friday is more of a red and green tradition. It’s time to switch over from turkey and stuffing to santa and elves. Put up the tree, play carols, bake cookies. For those who have been waiting 334 days for everyone else to catch the Christmas spirit, this is your moment. Start the day by touring the Festival of Trees in Grand Boulevard. This dazzling display of lights and decor will having you longing for Old Saint Nick in no time (he just so happens to be at HarborWalk Village tomorrow, Saturday, November 25). Then, swing by Baytowne for a little ice-skating. Lace up, attempt some figure eights, then warm up with hot chocolate and take a walking tour of the Village of Baytowne Wharf illuminated in Christmas lights.

For some, Black Friday means ushering in the season of Santa.

Finally, you have to make the tough decision; which holiday movie will it be: Polar Express in Baytowne or Elf at the Seaside Amphitheater?

We’ll let you settle that debate. Happy Holidays, all!

 

 

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Rock Around the Rink: Ice Skate in Destin

You know those standby holiday montages, the ones with cute, mitten-clad couples twirling around on the ice, making figure-eights? There’s something about ice skating that brings to mind the cheer of the holiday season. Perhaps it’s the brisk air, the thrill of seasonal recreation, or the longing for a fire and hot chocolate afterward. Whatever it is, you’ll want to create your own memories on the ice this winter at Baytowne on Ice.

Until February 3, the ice skating rink at the Village of Baytowne Wharf offers everyone the chance to don some blades and try their luck on the ice. Located next to the village green, this is the perfect location for family fun. Don’t worry, little ones are given a walker to hold on to so they can avoid beginners’ bumps and bruises. (Adults, you can ask for a walker too).

Tweens and teens take turns twirling about in pairs and groups, as the occasional speed racer makes laps around the rink. For the most part though, Baytowne on Ice is warmed by family fun and the holiday spirit. Speaking of, if your ankles start to feel a bit weak, relax; you’re in the midst of a Florida winter wonderland. Take a break from skating to explore the boutiques and shops of Baytowne. Check out Uniquely Chic, Island Clothiers, and Paradise Found.

Of course, all that skating and shopping will build an appetite. Luckily, Baytowne is home to some of the best dining on the Emerald Coast. For a romantic dinner, make reservations at Marlin Grill, or kick the heat up a notch at Agave Azul Mexican Cuisine. If it’s fast bite you want, pop over to Baytowne Melt–the official grilled cheese diner of your dreams.

Fuel up, then make your way back onto the ice. After all, the holidays always seem to pass too quickly, so this year, make the most of them. Start your Destin holiday on ice!

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Veterans Day Ceremonies in Destin

Things to do in Destin for Memorial Day

On any given day in Destin, you’ll run into a hero. Chances are, you won’t know it unless they’re in uniform. Of course, our heroes don’t wear capes and masks. They don’t sneak into phone booths to change, and secret logos don’t appear in the sky when they’re needed. They wear BDUs (battle dress uniforms) and walk among us–their presence a reminder of their dedication and our security. Along the Gulf Coast, we’re lucky enough to be the place the men and women of the United States Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy often call home.

The locals and businesses here are proud of our soldiers. As much as we’re known for blue skies and white sands, we’re also known for the massive support of our red, white, and blue. This Veterans Day, here are the local events you can attend to honor the men and women of the United States military:

The  Destin Chamber will host a Veterans Day Ceremony at the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center at 10 a.m. Join them at the flag pole for a keynote address from retired United States Air Force Officer Nathan Nelson.

The Destin Library hosts “A Salute to Veterans” at 2 p.m. on November 10. United States Air Force Major Ken Beaird, a Vietnam Veteran and fighter pilot, will speak. According to the Northwest Florida Daily News, Beaird is a member of the Crispy Warriors, “an eclectic local group of World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans and patriotic citizens representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.”

Then, on Saturday, November 11, at Legendary Marine, you can participate in the Emerald Coast Honor Games. This annual event benefits veterans and incorporates competition and family fun. Begin with the Ruck 22 event at 5:30 a.m., which honors the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day. Following that event, enjoy fitness competitions, guest speakers, live music, and food.

No matter where you are this Veterans Day, be sure to take pause to honor the men and women who serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pirate Adventure in Destin

The Buccaneer Pirate Cruise is a wonderful interactive family cruise that takes passengers on a pirate adventure in search of treasure.

Extra cruises have been added during the Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks so it’s a great activity to plan for the holiday breaks.

  • Cruises offer up to two hours of family fun as children are entertained from beginning to end as the crew engages them in sword fighting, water gun battles, pirate stories, treasure hunts, and much more.
  • The adults on board are free to unleash their inner pirate and join in the fun or simply kick back, relax, and watch the children have the time of their lives.
  • “Our priority is create an exciting, family-fun adventure that is like no other as we encourage our passengers to “Unlock the Treasures of Your Heart and Let Your Dreams Come True,” according to the head pirate.
  • The pirate cruises leave out of HarborWalk Village, left of Margaritaville.
  • The pirate cruise continues to be a top selection on TripAdvisor for Destin family entertainment.

This is from a recent review: “This was a super fun experience!! The pirates and the captain are amazing! Super funny and really interacted with the kids. The kids had so much fun swabbing the deck, sword fighting, shooting each other with water guns. The crew was really fun and never broke character. I would highly recommend this for your kids. They do offer free water – which is super awesome on really hot days. Bring a little cash for snacks and don’t forget to tip the pirates – they deserve every penny!! Don’t miss your opportunity to become a Buccaneer Pirate! Arrrrgh!”

Reservations can only be made two weeks in advance. Log on to the Buccaneer Pirate Ship website to secure your family reservation.

In addition, if you are using Southern Vacation Rentals to your condo in Destin, FL, you qualify for their Destin discount program, Southern Perks. Southern customers qualify for discounted pirate cruise ticket rates. Go here to find a listing of Southern Perks partners.

 

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A New Kind of BBQ

Each region of the United States has its own spin on bar-b-que.

South Carolina is famous for coleslaw on the bun and yellow mustard sauce.

When it comes to ribs, there’s St. Louis style and Memphis style.

Alabama even has its own take with a white BBQ sauce.

All are tasty for their own reasons and now you can experience a new kind of BBQ.

On November 4th HarborWalk Village is hosting Blues, Brews, & BBQ: a BBQ culinary competition, from 11am until 4pm.

Area restaurants will offer samples of creative BBQ styles, not necessarily the traditional pork, beef, or ribs, and signature coastal food. Prizes will be awarded to the top winners in each category, including “Best Traditional BBQ,” “Best Seafood BBQ,” and “Most Original BBQ.”

Savor award-winning BBQ, sway to live blues entertainment, and sip on craft beers and bourbon.

There will be great BBQ selections to choose from with the following participants below:

Margaritaville, Destin
Harry T’s Lighthouse
Crab Island Cantina
Jim ‘N Nick’s – Florida
The Surf Hut
Caribbean Jerk On Wheels
Bamboo’s Jamaican Restaurant
Po Wiggs BBQ
Riptides
Grande Vista Bar & Grill
Ye Olde Brothers Brewery
Chicken Salad Chick
Landsharks Pizza Company
Jackacuda’s Seafood & Sushi
Carlito’s Deli
Timber Creek Distillery
Idyll Hounds Brewing Company
Props Brewery & Grill
Destin Brewery
Samuel Adams
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company
Abita Brewing Company

Book your vacation rental in Destin so you can come for the food and check out everything there is to do in the area.

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Three Quiet Spots for Reading on Vacation

Cottages by the Bay

The Destin Library is just moments away from The Cottages by the Bay.

Few things outweigh the simple pleasure of reading a book outdoors. After all, one of the best moments of a Destin beach vacation is sitting in the sand and flipping the pages of a bestseller, as the waves gently serenade you. Yet, one thing gives summertime reading some stiff competition: reading outdoors in the fall on the Gulf Coast.

While visitors flock to Destin in the summer, locals will tell you autumn is often their favorite season. Cool morning temps still give way to the 70s at mid-day, yet there’s a cool breeze. It’s the perfect outdoor weather for a blanket and a book. Here are three places to cop a squat and get lost in a great novel:

1. The Lawn of the Destin Library

While you may not think of visiting a local library on vacation, chances are, you haven’t seen one quite as picturesque as the Destin Library. Tucked away on Sibert Avenue, near The Cottages by the Bay, the lush green lawn is shaded by oak trees and magnolias. Plenty of benches line the walkway, but why not indulge in the comfort of a blanket in the grass?

2. The Mattie Kelley Park & Nature Walk

Isaac Newton wrote, “Nature is pleased with simplicity.” Thus, why not be pleased with the simple pleasure of being in nature and ruminating on the pages of your favorite book? There’s no better place than the Mattie Kelley Park & Nature Walk on Beach Drive. A swath cut through the original landscape of the Emerald Coast, this is as close to the original Destin wilderness as you can get. Pack a picnic lunch and make an afternoon of it.

3. Norriego Point

Ask the locals where they go to the beach and you’ll likely hear, Norriego Point. Hidden at the end of Gulf Shore Drive, this quiet stretch of beach leads to the Destin jetties. Framing the Destin Pass, the jetties are something of a siren, calling to both nature lovers and bibliophiles alike. Explore the jetties, find the perfect nook, and then let the pages of a book lure you in.

Explore Destin for yourself and share your favorite secluded spots for reading outdoors!

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