A beautiful photo from Destin, FL

Labor Day & Beyond

Our lodging partners are reporting Destin vacation rentals still available for the Labor Day weekend and week, with specials underway. One offer gives you 25% off your rental with a 3-night reservation. Check with Southern Rentals and Real Estate here for details.

 It’s also a great time to lock-in a rate for the beautiful months of October, November, and December.  With beautiful weather and smaller crowds, the Destin, Florida area has become a popular fall & holiday destination. There’s also an abundance of festivals and events all ages will enjoy.

 Here is a sampling of some of the fun events on the calendar in the months ahead.

If you are planning to fish in the Destin fishing rodeo, we can help you line up a day trip with the experts.  We have partnered with several charter boat captains to bring you a fishing trip of a lifetime. Our favorites can be found here.


Kendra Veach

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Vacation Rental Rates Just Dropped!

Now that school is back in session, are you suffering from summer remorse—regretting all the things you didn’t do this summer? Sure, we all start the summer with great intentions and a bucket list full of sandcastles. But by the time August rolls around, somehow, we didn’t build a single one!

It’s not too late, however. In fact, it may be the best time yet to visit the Emerald Coast. Destin vacation rental rates  just dropped. Now, you can enjoy the 90-degree temps, less crowded beaches, and even lower rates! For those who prefer the summer weather and atmosphere, just with less traffic, August is ideal for a Destin vacation.

Book your Destin vacation rental today and make up for lost time this summer. While you’re here, don’t miss out on these Destin staples:

  1. Dewey’s on the Bay

If you go to the Destin Harbor, you’ll see a beautiful two-story building overlooking the Gulf. That’s Dewey’s on the Harbor, and hey, we love it. But if you want the original Destin favorite, you have to go to the original Dewey’s on the bay. It’s nothing fancy, just a little shack with amazing views and amazing food. Always go with the fresh catch of the day.

  1. Destin Commons Destin vacation rentals for August

What’s a trip to the Emerald Coast without visiting Destin Commons. Even if you’ve been before, you want to go again to see all the stores added in its recent expansion. You’ll find H&M, Tervis, Smashburger, and one of only two Southern Living stores in the United States.

  1. Crab Island

Of course, you have to round out your trip with a day at Crab Island. Rent a pontoon boat and enjoy the floating obstacle course, zip line, or burger bar. When you finish, anchor at the nearby shoreline and explore the Destin jetties. Here you will find some of the best snorkeling in Destin.

Even though summer is gone, it lives on in Destin. Reclaim your summer plans and book your stay in Destin today!


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Paddle at the Porch for Kids & Adults

Registration is open now for a popular paddle sport event, Paddle at the Porch, scheduled for Saturday, August 19.

The 6th annual event features something for everyone – a kids’ fun paddle, a one-mile beginner ride, 3-mile recreational race, and a 6-mile elite race. Races will start at the Back Porch Seafood & Oyster House, beginning at 9 a.m. with the award ceremony to follow.

Paddle boarding continues to grow in popularity. We are fortunate to have GUSU (Get Up, Stand Up) Paddlesports to assist you with all your paddle boarding needs, including supplies and lessons.

Paddle boarding delivers a full-body workout, helping it to become a popular cross-training activity. And since you stand at your full height, you can enjoy unique views of everything from sea creatures to what’s on the horizon.

Interested in learning? Get in touch with GUSU here. Interested in visiting Destin? Get in touch with vacation specialists here. Enjoy!

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Cottages by The Bay

Cottages by the Bay

Be one of the first to stay in these newly renovated historic cottages for rent in Destin. They are absolutely charming and will quickly become the popular choice for visitors that want to stay within walking distance to downtown Destin, the Harbor, and Bay, just across the street.

Did we say charming? Oh man are they! Even their names are. Humble & Kind, Love letter and Peace are just a few. Here at the Cottages by the Bay, guests will get a glimpse of nostalgia while enjoying completely new, modern finishes. Old Destin ushers in a new era while preserving the past. New furniture, delightful fixtures, local art, and upscale finishes await. Even with new saltwater pool and modern fire pit, the rest of the setting is reminiscent of days gone by. Old oak trees, fruit trees and meandering paths highlight the atmosphere. Take a photo tour for yourself to see just what we mean.

The perfect accommodations for guests enjoying an event at the Destin Bayhouse, the Cottages are now open and ready for guests. They can be rented daily and weekly through Southern Vacation Rentals. There are one to four bedroom cottages, sleeping four to twelve people.  Or, if you have a large group (which they are perfect for), you can rent them all to accommodate up to 48 guests. Be sure to check them out for your next stay-cation, weekend getaway, family reunion or wedding! They are on Facebook, too.

Thanks Cottages by the Bay. Destin just got that much cooler!

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Emerald Coast to Host Largest Summer Poker Run

Boat Week kicks off next week with several events including the largest summer poker run in the nation. It’s the 25th anniversary of poker run. There are two levels of registration based on the horsepower and size of the boat. It’s all quite a sight to see as the boats travel from stop-to-stop collecting their poker cards.

The Emerald Coast Foundation will kick off festivities with a boat parade at HarborWalk Village on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 7 p.m.

Other events include:

  • Blues, Brews, & BBQ, AJ’s on the Bayou, (Wed/Aug 9, 6 pm)
  • Miss Boat Week Bikini Contest, The Block, Ft. Walton Beach, (Thu/Aug 10)
  • Rockin’ the Docks Captains Party, AJ’s Destin, (Fri/Aug 11)
  • The Famous Emerald Coast Poker Run (Sat/Aug. 12, 9 am)

The festivities will conclude Saturday night with the Emerald Coast Poker Run Party at Emerald Coast Convention Center. The event will include casino games (poker & black jack), a silent auction, and buffet.

Proceeds from the events will be used by the Emerald Coast Foundation to support children’s charities and youth organizations in the area. Proceeds in the past have topped $150,000. Need more information about boating in Destin, Fl? Check out all the many activities here.

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Three “Touristy” Things To Do in Destin That Are Totally Worth It

HarborWalk MarinaThe Hydrojet at HarborWalk Village

In a nutshell, the Hydrojet is “the world’s largest jet ski.” That means you’ll be jumping  waves and shaking salt as you (and two dozen others) jet into the Gulf of Mexico.

Faster than your average sunset cruise, you’ll need to bring a towel and maybe a change of dry clothes for the Hydrojet.  Prepare to be splashed. While the thrill of the ride and waves is the Hydrojet experience, don’t be surprised if you happen to see a dolphin or two. Tickets run $20 for adults and $12 for children. Plus, the sights, sounds, and smells of walking along the Destin Harbor are worthwhile in themselves.

Henderson Beach State Park

Why would you pay $6 to go to Henderson Beach State Park when you can go to any of Destin’s other beaches free? Because Henderson Beach is one of the most gorgeous stretches of white sand and emerald water, even for Destin. It’s far less crowded because it isn’t a public beach, so you won’t have to scramble for a prime spot near the water. Not to mention, the picnic pavilion is the perfect place for family meals, without all the sand.

Scuba Diving

If you would have given anything to trade places with Disney’s Ariel (or hey, even Sebastian), then you need to try Emerald Coast Scuba or Scuba Tech. With Destin’s clear, warm water, abundant marine life, and several shipwrecks off the coast, it is the perfect place to earn your wetsuit and fins. If you’re a scuba novice, professional divers provide training beforehand to ensure safety and comfort in the water. Once you’re ready to dive, Destin offers several limestone outcroppings, corals, and shipwreck sites.

Don’t mistake these unique Destin offerings for just another tourist trap. These are the things to do in Destin you don’t want to miss! Book your stay in Destin today and start planning your adventures.


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Cheers to August! Tour These Destin Tasting Rooms

 Wine TastingWe could say August is one of the best times of year in Destin, and it would be true, but even more true is there isn’t a bad time of year to be on the Emerald Coast. What makes August so great, however, is the temperatures still sing of summertime, but the wide open beaches remind us kids have gone back to school.

That’s why August is the perfect time for a couples’ escape or friends’ getaway to Destin. Call the best friends or in-laws and tell them you’re going to Esencia in Destin. This five bedroom, six bathroom vacation home in Destin is ideal for an adults-only getaway. Esencia is outfitted with luxurious accents including stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, a wet bar, and a private pool.

After you spend time at your private pool, or on the white sand beaches, cool off with a tour of the area’s craft brewery and winery.

At the foot of the Destin Bridge, McGuire’s Irish Pub emits a neon green glow, beckoning beach goers to come in for a frosty pint. McGuire’s brews its own beer to complement their thick, hand-cut steaks and famous boxtys (deep fried clouds from heaven masquerading as fried mashed potatoes cakes). To quench your thirst, McGuire’s brews an Old Fashioned Ale, Irish Pale Ale, Irish Red, Porter, Irish Stout, and even their own Root Beer.

If your palate is more inclined toward the grape than the hop, check out the Emerald Coast Wine Cellars in Miramar Beach. Located on Scenic Gulf Drive, the winery sources grapes from local Muscadine vineyards. The Carlos and Noble varieties are used to create fruity, aromatic wines, one of which, the Florida Carlos White Muscadine, was recognized by Martha Stewart Living Magazine. Other wines include a Noble Red, Sunset Red, Merlot, American Port, Sugar Sands White Wine, Chardonnay, Wildflower Honey Wine, Sherry Wine, Winter Berry Wine, Beach Berry Wine, Blackberry Wine, Blueberry Wine, Chocolate Port, and Vanilla Sherry Wine.

Book your stay in Destin today and explore the area’s artisan brewers and vintners.

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Watch A Live Sea Turtle Release in Destin

The Gulfarium Team helped rehabilitate and release five sea turtles in Destin.

In Destin, we’re used to seeing all manner of marine life at the beach. As much as our beaches draw crowds from all around the world, ultimately, they belong to the creatures who call the Gulf home. On any given day, you can spot the original Destin locals: dolphins, jellyfish, stingrays, sea turtles, and, yes, even sharks.

That’s why it’s so important to preserve the marine ecosystem and protect our local wildlife. The team at Gulfarium’s C.A.R.E. Center is doing just that. In an effort to conserve, act, rehabilitate, and educate (C.A.R.E.), the Gulfarium team rehabilitated and released five sea turtles: Parsley, Serrano, Basil, Celery and Phyll. Watch the video here.

Each of the sea turtles suffered trauma due to fishing hooks, lines, or nets. Parsley was the most severely injured of the five, with a fishing line wrapped around one flipper and a hook in the other. Later radiographs revealed two internal hooks in Parsley’s esophagus that had to be surgically removed. Serrano endured similar injuries, with hook injuries to the flipper and esophagus. Basil, Celery, and Phyll suffered shell and flipper wounds, but luckily did not have to undergo surgery.

Sea turtle releaseThe five turtles were released in a public ceremony at Henderson Beach State Park in Destin on July 19. Hundreds of people gathered around as the turtles were placed in the water and escorted beyond the surf. Cheers and applause erupted as each turtle made its way deeper into the Gulf.

Not only does Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park help preserve and protect marine life, it brings the magic of marine life to the public. Families can visit the Gulfarium on Okaloosa Island to see stingrays, dolphins, seals, sea lions, alligators, sea turtles, and more!

Start planning your next trip to Destin today, and experience the magic of the Gulf and the Gulfarium!




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Vacation Rentals Are 20% Off in August

August Rush

This August, you can enjoy a Destin vacation at up to 20% off! Our favorite lodging partner, Southern Rentals & Real Estate, is hosting its August Rush sale. During the month of August, take 20% off Destin vacation homes and condos.

Plus, with Southern, you get so much more than just a discount on your Destin vacation rental. You get outstanding customer service from the most caring company on the Gulf Coast. Their friendly vacation planners and guest services team are all locals. They live right here on the Emerald Coast, so they can give local insight on the best restaurants, shopping, and activities.

Not to mention, when you stay with Southern, you get exclusive access to the Southern Perks program. Enjoy deals on all kinds of watersports, including paddle boarding, fishing charters, sailing, kayaking and even parasailing. The discounts don’t stop there though. Enjoy golf, snorkeling, biking tours, dolphin cruises and more at unbeatable prices.

During your Destin vacation, you’ll have access to some of the best shopping anywhere. Destin Commons is home to retailers including H&M, Williams-Sonoma, J. Crew, and now one of only two Southern Living stores in the United States.  Grand Boulevard, Destin’s newest resort shopping experience, features retailers including Anthropologie and Vineyard Vines, and this summer, welcomes the grand opening of Emeril Lagasse’s newest restaurant, Emeril’s Coastal Italian.

Of course, you need a great home base for all the activities you’ll enjoy once you arrive. Check out Camelot, a five bedroom, six bathroom Gulf-front home with a private pool. Or, Sandcastle Dreams, a stunning villa with a carriage house and space to sleep 20.  For something less expansive, but equally as luxurious and on the Gulf, explore Crescent 108, a three bedroom, three bath condo.

Don’t miss Southern’s 20% off sale, rush to the beach this August.

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Five Rescued Sea Turtles Released Today

It’s a big day for Parsley, Basil, Celery, Serrano, and Phyll. The juvenile green sea turtles are returning home, after some love and care at the Gulfarium‘s C.A.R.E. center.  All five sea turtles were hooked at local fishing piers and needed rescue. Dr. Rebecca Wells, the Gulfarium’s veterinarian, performed all the necessary surgeries and oversaw the follow-up rehabilitation. The turtles were released today at Henderson Beach State Park.

It’s a perfect time to remind beach goers – LEAVE NO TRACE! South Walton Turtle Watch promotes #cleandarkflat. They are calling on all beach goers to remove everything from the beach at the end of the day. Sea turtles can’t back up, so if they move forward and become entangled in chairs, tent frames, volleyball nets, or fishing nets, they will carry it to the water and eventually drown.

It’s hatching season all over Florida. Specially-trained turtle nest spotters are combing the area beaches each morning, looking for signs of a new nest. By law, only certified members are allowed  to interact with endangered sea turtles. The neon orange tape helps signify a nesting site.

To help the turtle babies come into this world, you can help make a difference. Please be sure to fill in your holes on the beach every day after building sandcastles.

We are fortunate to have two volunteer organizations, the South Walton Turtle Watch and the Emerald Coast Turtle Watch, to monitor known nesting sites. Follow both on Facebook to receive updates on the turtle nesting season.

If you are planning a beach vacation, the Gulfarium is a wonderful place to visit during your vacation in Destin, Fl. For more things to do or places to stay, check out additional pages here.

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