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15 Best Scenic Outdoor Open Spaces in Destin and 30A - with a Map!

Looking for Outdoor Emerald Coast Activities?

One of my favorite things about this area is the abundance of outdoor activities in the area.

After living here for 20 years, I know how important it is experiencing all that this piece of paradise has to offer.

Especially in the world of real estate, if you are buying or renting, knowing the best locations and outdoor events spaces a place has to offer can drastically influence where you want to live or stay.

With all the preservation initiatives in the area, the Emerald Coast has maximized their ability to not only enjoy their natural wonders, but also preserve them for future generations.

We've compiled a list of the best scenic outdoor spaces in Destin and 30A, complete with a map!

From parks and nature preserves to beaches and golf courses, Destin has something for everyone. So pack your sunscreen and get ready to explore some of the most beautiful scenery in the area.

There are also many other places to eat, drink and golf in the area so make sure you don't miss out on those as well!

For other Emerald Coast lifestyle, and real estate articles you can find me here.

Henderson Beach State Park

This beachfront park is a must-see for anyone visiting Destin. Located in the heart of Destin, Henderson Beach State Park is a park that allows you to step back into time and see the beaches as they once were.

With over 3 miles of white sand beaches and crystal clear water, Henderson Beach State Park is the perfect place to relax and take in the stunning coastal scenery. The park offers plenty of outdoor activities as well, including fishing, swimming, kayaking, and bird watching.

For a spectacular sunset view, check out the Henderson rooftop bar. A little hidden gem among locals that might just steal your heart away.

Henderson Beach State Park is accessible from either the east or west, but has no dedicated parking lot so make sure you properly strategize before heading this way. This biggest parking lot for this park is probably on the west near The Back Porch restaurant.

Grayton Beach State Park

Located just a few miles East of Destin, Grayton Beach State Park is another great option for enjoying the outdoors. This park features over two miles of pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, making it a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. The park also offers plenty of outdoor rentals, including biking, hiking, and kayaking.

Going to these Beach Parks are a treat if you can be there during an uncrowded season.

Often, marine life will go away from the chaotic beaches with lots of people and head to these quiet spots. You have a greater chance of seeing local wildlife like stingrays, manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles here.

Additionally, 30A is full of 500 of miles of running trails that zig-zag the coast and protected forests. To learn more, or to see their list of upcoming trail races visit

Crystal Beach Access

East of the Henderson in Destin, you will find this nicely tucked away public beach access point. With Camille's just on the north side to get coffee and a pastry in the morning, or a post-sunset bite of sushi, you have a sneaky good spot to spend time with the kids or a loved one.

Also take advantage of the picnic tables, public bathrooms and water clean off stations after you are done hanging out on the white sandy beaches.

Destin Commons

Shopping? I got you, babe. The Destin Commons is the centerpiece of Destin shopping. With 88 shops located within, as well as food and entertainment located on site you and your whole family can easily spend a day (or two) here.

Destin Harbor Boardwalk

The Harborwalk Village is a great place to people watch, grab some lunch, or do a little shopping. The harborwalk runs along the Destin harbor and has many great restaurants and shops to enjoy.

Anchored on the west side by the Emerald Grande, this behemoth of a beach resort has dozens of family friendly attractions at its base and is the host to local events through the season.

Make sure you check out the fireworks every Thursday here as well!

There is so much to do in this area and you can find yourself at the best restaurants in the area all within a short walk. The Harbor is also home to the largest fishing fleet in the gulf coast and if you are taking off on a deep sea fishing excursion, dolphin cruises, snorkeling tours, you will find some of the best captains in the area here.

The fresh seafood in this area cannot be understated either, literally 10 steps from hook to your plate at Dewey Destin's.

The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island

My furthest west recommendation before you get to Fort Walton Beach, is full of attractions for the whole family. A very casual hangout spot that features beach bars, live music, a sand volleyball court, and the largest pier in the area.

You also have the option to rent beach chairs and spend the day here.

Wild Willy's Adventure Zone is located just north of the Boardwalk and has a T-Rex Mini Golf Course, an Arcade and more!

But possibly my favorite part about this area is taking the stroll east. Once you get to John Beasley Park, you get to see Destin as it once was before human influence.

This was the beach that I grew up going to and if you don't mind a five, ten or thirty minute walk, you can find yourself on your own nature walk in the areas most secluded and natural state parks. Year round breathtaking views of the Emerald Coast.

Crab Island

You know about the Emerald Coast and its beautiful beaches. But what about spending a day on the water with your friends and family?

Nested between the Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexice, Crab Island is the place to go. Back in the early 1950's, Crab Island was literally an Island, but only stood at a height of a few inches above the water and would often get consumed by the changing tides. Currently, Crab Island is a mecca for all day boat parties and waist deep socializing between friends, families, and strangers!

In the summertime you will see Crab Island easily filled with hundreds of pontoon boats, jet skis and paddleboarders. Rentals for all those can be found at the Destin Harbor or even Baytowne.

The Track

Looking for more of a dry land activity? The Track is a local hotspot for Go-Kart racing, Putt Putt Golf, Bumper Cars, Bumper Boats and Arcade Games, among many other activities for adults and kids of all ages.

My favorite two parts of The Track are the Slick Track where the course has significant changes in elevation and tight turns, and the Skyflyer ride. Now, I have never done the Skyflyer but the screams from its unfortunate passengers can be heard by all that drive by.

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

If you grew up loving saltwater and all that comes with it, The Gulfarium is for you. Now, this is not a Seaworld derivative, even though they do have dolphins and other larger marine life. The larger marine life that they do have on site are often rescues and they are part of their rehabilitation program before they get released back into the Gulf of Mexico.

Their aquarium, however is more extensive and features thousands of fish, crustaceans and stingrays. Year round fun for all ages.

Baytowne Wharf in Destin Florida

A little known fact about Destin, is that it was once a sleepy fishing village. But as development grew in the area, so did the number of people who wanted to live here and visit here on vacation.

The Village of Baytowne Wharf is an example of that growth. A few dozen shops, restaurants and bars all in one place, it is the perfect stop for a day or night of fun.

From Hartell's Village Diner to Hammerheads, there is a wide variety of places to eat and drink here. And if you are looking for some entertainment, Baytowne has that too!

Make sure to check out John Wehner's Village Door Nightclub and Rum Runners!

From free concerts happen all the time so make sure to check out their website to see the upcoming events schedule.


Gulfplace is one of my favorite places in Destin. It is a great place to watch the sunset, listen to live music and grab a bite to eat.

You can even find local E-Bike and Paddleboard vendor Yolo Board and Bike nestled in within the stores and shops here.

There are several restaurants here, like Sunrise Coffee and Cafe, as well as shops and apartments. But my favorite part about Gulfplace is that it is right on the beach!

You can sit on the balcony of top ranked Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar, eat fresh seafood, and watch the waves crash against the shore. Or you can walk down to the beach and build a sandcastle with your kids.

Either way, Gulfplace is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening.

30A Trails

The 30A trails are a local favorite for runners, cyclists and nature enthusiasts. These trails offer beautiful scenery as they wind through the natural habitats of South Walton.

The 30A trails are a great way to spend an afternoon and they offer something for everyone.

There is the Longleaf Pine, which features a three-mile nature trail, as well as the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park that has over six miles of hiking trails.


If you are looking for a more lively town to spend your day, Seaside is the place for you. This town was one of the first in 30A to be developed and it has since been restored to its original glory.

With plenty of coffee shops, restaurants and activities for all ages, this town is perfect for a day spent with family.

Farmers Market can be seen on Saturdays and is a bustling local event with only the best that this area has to offer. I couldn't recommend stopping by if you have the opportunity!

Don't forget to stop by the Seaside Amphitheater for a concert or movie under the stars. This is a perfect way to end your day in Seaside.

Eden Gardens State Park

Eden Gardens is a beautiful state park that offers visitors a chance to see what Florida looked like before it was developed.

This place is a literal Eden and not many locals or tourists even know this place exists, but the few that make the journey boast about its beauty.

With its massive oak trees and picturesque views, this state park is a must-see when you are in the Destin area.

163 acres of mostly untouched land is home to the Wesley House one of the earliest and wealthiest families back in the late 1800's.

This public park features restroom facilities, picnic pavilions and a paddleboard / kayak launch spot. This is a great place to spend an afternoon with family or friends.

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