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13 Incredible Day Trips From Destin Florida

Florida Day Trips From Destin

Destin is such an attractive and active place in Florida. It’s hard to imagine going somewhere else. But that wanderlust exists to different degrees in all of us and occasionally drives us for new adventures. We are sharing our best day trips from Destin Florida.

All of the destinations we have traveled are within a tankful of Destin. Many are about an hour or less away. We do include some slightly longer trips that could be made into overnight road trips.

Most of our day trips from Destin include unusual things to see. Florida’s natural beauty is everywhere. At the same time, there are some quirky things that Florida is known for that we run into on our many trips.

Destin’s location, in the panhandle of Florida, allows day trippers to access some of the most beautiful landscapes in Florida. From coastal water views, islands and the plantation-style farms in north Florida, there is a lot to see.

Types of Day Trips in Florida

Florida is a large state. Hundreds of miles can be traveled from one end of the state to the other. You can go from the coastal islands of the Florida Keys to the magnificent horse farms in central Florida and move on to the dense forests. All of these are memorable experiences.

In addition to being large, Florida has more natural history that any other state in the union. Florida’s size, beauty and history come together in hundreds of towns and attractions we love to visit.

It would be easy to take a day trip to a Civil War battle site just a couple miles from some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. That is the magic of what Florida day trips have to offer.

day trips from Destin Florida - Pensacola
Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola Florida is an exceptional experience.

Day Trips From Destin Florida

Florida is known for its diverse range of attractions and destinations that make for fantastic day trips. If you’re in Destin and looking to explore more of what Florida has to offer, here are ten incredible day trip options:

  • **Pensacola** Just an hour’s drive west of Destin, Pensacola offers beautiful beaches, historic sites like Fort Pickens, and the National Naval Aviation Museum. The Naval Aviation Museum is our favorite. The interactive exhibits and aircraft make it educational and fun.

Distance – 48 Miles easy travel west on Rt. 98.

  • **Seaside and Grayton Beach** Head east along the coast to visit the charming town of Seaside and the pristine shores of Grayton Beach State Park. While the community of Seaside is colorful and unique, Grayson Beach Park is the star of this day trip from Destin. The park has a white sand beach on the Gulf of Mexico and a calm fun lake to kayak, canoe or use your paddleboard.

Distance is 23 miles east on Rt. 98.

day trips from destin florida seaside
The very colorful town of Seaside is near Grayton Beach. Colorful shops and fun restaurants.
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  • **Panama City Beach** About an hour’s drive east, Panama City Beach boasts stunning beaches, water sports, and attractions like Gulf World Marine Park and Shipwreck Island Waterpark. While Panama City Beach is known as the spring break capital of Florida, it is also known as a fun place for kids with several water parks and big beaches.                   

 Distance is 47 miles east on Rt. 98.

  • **Apalachicola** A little over an hour and a half away, this historic town is famous for its oysters and seafood. Explore its quaint streets, enjoy fresh seafood, and take a boat tour. Apalachicola is one of our favorite destinations in the panhandle. There are the oyster restaurants on the waterfront, the quirky shops in town and even a haunted hotel! The is something for everyone.

Distance is 115 miles on Rt. 98 east.

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  • **Tallahassee** Florida’s capital city is around a 2.5-hour drive northeast of Destin. Discover history, culture, and attractions like the Florida State Capitol and the Tallahassee Museum. This museum is not your standard indoor facility. There are boardwalks and wildlife displays also. The stature of the government buildings and the hilly nature of the city make it hard to believe you are in the same state.            Distance is about 160 miles, part on the expressway I-10.
capitol building Tallahassee Florida day trip
This photo doesn’t give a good perspective, but Tallahassee sits on higher ground than most of the state. The Capitol is a neat building.
  • **Ponce de Leon Springs State Park** About an hour’s drive from Destin, this state park features a natural spring where you can swim and relax in the cool waters. Ponce de Leon State Park gets its name from one of the earliest Spanish explorers. One of de Leon’s goals was to find what he thought was the Fountain of Youth. Certainly this amazing state park and crystal clear spring may have fooled de Leon into believing he had found it.

Distance 55 miles northeast via I-10.

  • **Mobile, Alabama** If you’re up for a slightly longer drive (around 2.5 hours), you can visit the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, explore the historic downtown area, and enjoy the Mobile Museum of Art. No one says you have to make only Florida day trips! Mobile is a great town with a lot of history. Take a stroll downtown for a view of the past.

Distance is about 115 miles via I-10.

florida day trip from destin uss alabama
Step aboard the mighty USS Alabama. See what our sailors endured.
  • **Gulf Breeze** Just over an hour away, Gulf Breeze Florida is home to Gulf Islands National Seashore, offering blistering white beaches, hiking trails, and opportunities for birdwatching. The stunning views on the way to this day trip from Destin is unbelievable. You have waterfront on both sides of route 98 east along the northern Gulf shores.

Distance 42 miles west on Rt. 98.

  • **Blackwater River State Forest** Head north for about an hour to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, canoeing, and tubing in the scenic Blackwater River State Forest. This river flows through the untouched Blackwater State Forest. The last time we were in this scenic park the cost was $4 per vehicle for the day. I you are watching your budget on your Florida day trip, you can’t go wrong here.

Distance is 53 miles due north.

  • **Tate’s Hell State Forest** Located east of Destin, this forest offers hiking trails, fishing spots, and opportunities to observe local wildlife in a natural setting. Tate’s Hell Forest has quite a story about how the name “Tate’s Hell” came about. We won’t spoil the story here, but you are going into one of the densest wooded areas in the state. Another cool thing about visiting Tate’s Hell is the drive. You should take one of the most scenic coastal highways in Florida, Rt. 98. Lots to see, eat and do on the way.

Distance 156 Miles southeast.

  • **St. George Island** Of the many places we would recommend for a day trip from Destin, St. George Island is a must-do and must-see. The Island is near Apalachicola and could be seen in the same Apalachicola day trip. However, the island is so relaxing on a pristine beach full of coastal birds. You can go into the village for a little lunch or visit the lighthouse that used to guide mariners in the Gulf of Mexico. We love this place and it’s just a 4-mile-long bridge from Rt. 98.

Distance 127 miles southeast.

day trips in Florida destin st. george island
The lighthouse at St. George Island is worth visiting, but the real star are the beaches on the east end of the island.
  • **Topsail Hill Preserve State Park** Just a short drive east of Destin, this park boasts beautiful beaches, sand dunes, and hiking trails for nature enthusiasts. When we first visited this state park it was a very interesting change of scenery from the tourist district that surrounds it. This is one of those day trips from Destin that you could include with another one for a long day. You could also combine with one of our back road trips on Rt. 30A, a scenic designated highway in Florida.

Distance 14 miles.

  • **Chautauqua Vineyards and Winery and DeFuniak Springs** If you’re a wine enthusiast, take a drive north to DeFuniak Springs to enjoy tastings and tours at this charming winery. Chautauqua Winery is one of the top vineyards in Florida for tours and education about wine. DeFuniak Springs is a charming town in the north central part of Florida’s panhandle. It has a rich history easily seen with a tour of the town.

Distance 45 miles northeast.

Planning For One of the Day Trips from Destin Florida

Florida has a lot to offer the traveler even if it is just a short Destin trip. However, we recommend you just take a minute to make sure your Florida day trip from Destin is as much fun as possible.

Florida Travel Blog suggests you have a small backpack, bag or suitcase that you can leave in your vehicle for future travel. The things we recommend you take include;

  • Very small first aid kit – even a small cut on the foot from walking a beach can quickly be soothed.
  • Sunscreen – It’s Florida! You will be going through some highly-traveled tourist areas. It will be cheaper to buy it at Walmart before you leave, than in a beach shop.
  • Old paper map – We know, everything is on your phone. Directions, maps and information. Except – there are dozens of places in Florida that have no cell tower service. If you are lost, no cell service, not much around, that old paper map can be pretty comforting. If you travel enough in Florida, it will happen!
  • Insect repellent – Again, this is Florida. Should you be in south Florida or the Everglades, day or night, you will be glad you have something that keeps the mosquitoes away.

These four items you may never need. However, when you need one of them they are collectively worth their weight in gold.

weekend getaways in Florida st. george beach
This is a beach at St. George Island. Long, lonesome and awesome.

Florida Day Trips Can Become Weekend Getaways in Florida

Remember, you can combine many of these suggested day trips from Destin into weekend getaways in Florida. The small towns that many of these attractions are near have quaint hotels. Many have big resorts.

The key is to plan your Destin trip and fun things to do on a day trip in Florida well in advance of your travel. Everything from restaurants, entertainment, hotels, beaches and other activities can be scheduled in advance. You are assured you won’t be disappointed with reservations.

Check Florida Travel Blog for many other attractions in Florida that you can add to your trip.

Final Thought on Day Trips from Destin

Each of these Florida day trips offers a distinct experience, whether you’re interested in nature, history, outdoor activities, or simply enjoying the coastal beauty of Florida.  Make the most of your time exploring these wonderful destinations!

Remember to check for any travel advisories, opening hours, and availability before embarking on your day trips. Enjoy your explorations of Florida’s diverse offerings from the base of Destin Florida!

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