Destin, Florida

Destin, Florida

Destin is a small city located in Okaloosa County in the Florida Panhandle in the northwestern portion of Florida, United States. Situated on the Emerald Coast, Destin is the main city of the “Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, Florida, Metropolitan Statistical Area.” Destin serves as a popular tourist destination and is well-known for its spectacular white sandy beaches and clear green waters. Widely known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” the city’s large fish population attracts thousands of anglers, who make up a large portion of visitors that visit Destin every year. The city also claims to have the most extensive and elaborately equipped fishing fleet in Florida. 

Geography Of Destin

Aerial view of Destin, Florida
Aerial view of Destin, Florida. 

Destin covers a total area of 21 sq. km, of which 19 sq. km is occupied by land, and 1.6 sq. km is occupied by water. The city sits on a peninsula that sets apart the Choctawhatchee Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. It is believed that the peninsula was initially a barrier island, but it gradually connected with the mainland due to hurricanes and changes in the sea levels. Destin is located close to several other major cities in the region. Situated to the west of Destin is the city of Fort Walton Beach, while the city of Niceville is located to the north of Destin across the Choctawhatchee Bay. The 5.8km long Mid-Bay Bridge links Destin’s U.S. Route 98 with Niceville’s State Road 20. The U.S. Route 98 also leads eastwards about 90km to Panama City and 77km westwards to Pensacola. Also referred to as the “Destin Pass,” the East Pass located at the western edge of the peninsula separates it from Santa Rosa Island.


According to the Köppen climate classification, Destin experiences a humid subtropical climate with long, hot summers and cool, windy winters. The summer season lasts from the end of May to September, where July being the hottest month, has an average high temperature of 31.1°C and a low temperature of 25°C. The winter season lasts from the beginning of December to March, with January being the coolest having an average low temperature of 7.7°C and a high temperature of 16.1°C. The city receives an average precipitation of 55.35 inches per year. An environmental study conducted in 2013 identified Destin as one of the cities in Florida that is at the highest risk of inundation. The Department of Environmental Protection of Florida in 2019 listed some parts of the beach as “critically eroded.” 

The Population And Economy Of Destin

Harborwalk Village in Destin, Florida
People walk and shop at the Harborwalk Village in Destin, Florida. Editorial credit: Andriy Blokhin /

Destin is home to a population of 13,702 inhabitants with a median age of 42.3. The population of Destin has increased from the 2010 U.S. census, which reported that the city was home to 12,305 inhabitants. About 1390 people (10.1% of the residents) of Destin were born outside the United States. The most common hometown of the foreign-born residents of Florida as of 2019 is Cuba, followed by Haiti and Colombia. The largest ethnic groups in Destin are the Non-Hispanic White representing 83% of the city’s population, followed by other races at 5.42%, Hispanic White at 3.63%, two and more races at 2.88%, and African Americans at 2.39%. All households in Destin speak English as their primary language, and 93.6% of the residents of Destin are citizens of the United States. 

As of 2019, the median household income in Destin is $79,000, and the median property value is $332,000. The majority of the residents of Destin drove alone to work, and the average car ownership in Destin was two cars per household. The economy of Destin employs 7110 people in the city’s high-paying industries, including Accommodation & Food Services, Retail Trade, Health Care & Social Assistance, Professional, Scientific & Technical Services. 

Tourist Attractions In Destin

Emerald Grande Hotel at Harborwalk Village in Destin, Florida
Emerald Grande Hotel at Harborwalk Village in Destin, Florida. Editorial credit: All Stock Photos /

Destin serves as a popular tourist destination and is well-known for its white sandy beaches and emerald waters. It is believed that the sand found on the shores of Destin is the whitest in the world and is composed of finely ground quartz crystals that the Apalachicola River has washed down from the Appalachian Mountains. There are about 12 beach access points in Destin, of which the Henderson Beach State Recreation Area is most prominent. As per an estimate made by the Department of Environmental Protection of Florida, over 80% of the total 4.5 million visitors of the Emerald Coast visit Destin every year. The Destin Fishing Rodeo is an annual fishing tournament held in Destin during October that attracts thousands of anglers. The Destin Seafood Festival is also held on a weekend in October. Besides fishing, the other recreational opportunities include watersports, golf, and tennis. 

Big Kahuna's Water and Adventure Park in Destin, Florida
Big Kahuna Water Theme Park with slides and attractions in Destin, Florida. Editorial credit: Paul Hakimata Photography /

Tourism plays a crucial role in the city’s economy, and during the tourist season, the city’s population swells to about 40,000. Several hotels, beach homes, motels, bungalows, and condominiums have been built to cater to this large number of tourists. The Henderson Park Inn is an award-winning beachfront hotel with luxury amenities in Destin that offers beautiful views of the white sand beaches of the Emerald Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. There are more than 40 water attractions, thrill ride attractions, and a miniature golf course in Destin’s Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park. 

Brief History Of Destin

Destin has a rich historical heritage that dates back to the early 7th century. In 1538, the Spanish explorers surveyed Florida, and in 1693, the first known map of the East Pass and its shores was drawn by Don Francisco Tapia, who explored the Florida coast. Between 1845 and 1850, the area was settled by a New London-based fishing captain named Leonard Destin. Captain Destin and his descendants practiced fishing in the area for several decades. In due course, Destin grew rapidly from a small fishing village to a popular destination for tourists. During the 1970s, condominiums were built in the city for the first time. The city of Destin was officially incorporated as a municipality in 1984. 

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