As one of the nation's most popular beach destinations, Destin attracts scores of travelers, from kid-filled families to young couples and retirees. These visitors share one common goal: to enjoy the Emerald Coast's perfect stretch of sugar-white sands and the warm, turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. What better way to experience the Florida Panhandle's finest than with a stay at a beachfront hotel? Destin's accommodations tend toward condo and house rentals, but there are plenty of full-service hotels to be found, and many with top-notch beachfront locations.
Grab your beach chairs and umbrellas, and check out our picks for the best beachfront hotels in Destin, FL.
The behemoth Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort sprawls across 2,400 acres and offers travelers multiple types of accommodation in a variety of property locations. But hey, you're at the beach, so you want to stay by the beachfront, right? Sounds straightforward, but at Sandestin, you actually have a choice of beachfront locales -- the property is so massive, there are accommodations along the Gulf of Mexico, Choctawhatchee Bay and a sizable lake. Whichever suits your fancy, you'll be given access to Sandestin's endless amenities and attractions. Head to the resort's beach to rent beach chairs, umbrellas and cabanas, or enjoy complimentary boogie-board and kayak rentals. Guests also have access to 4 award-winning golf courses, as well as the Village at Baytowne Wharf, a spread of shops, kid- and teen-friendly activities, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Exhausted by all your options? Unwind with a spa treatment, like the De-Stress Express Massage at the luxurious Spa Sandestin.
At times Destin's beautiful coastline can feel overrun with high-rise condominiums. Enter Henderson Park Inn. This charming inn grants visitors comfortable, high-end lodging with character -- and an unbeatable beachfront location adjacent to the natural beauty of Henderson Beach State Park. Destin's only beachfront bed and breakfast has a distinct architectural style compared to the pastel properties of Destin, with a green mansard roof, wooden shingles and rich mahogany undertones and furnishings. Spacious guest rooms offer terraces overlooking the beach, and some include romantic fireplaces and whirlpool tubs. Some of the property's exceptional perks include wine, fresh grapes and flowers upon arrival, full breakfast and lunch, and beach service including towels and chairs. Henderson Park even woos guests with afternoon lemonade and cookies, and a complimentary sunset happy hour. Roll from happy hour to dinner at the Inn's Beach Walk Cafe, a fine-dining restaurant where the only thing better than beachfront views are tasty menu items like smoked duck salad, New Zealand venison and grilled local grouper.
WaterColor Inn may well be the Florida Panhandle's ultimate beach retreat. Located just east of Destin, this boutique inn marries a pitch-perfect blend of luxurious amenities with a cozy atmosphere. Setting foot on WaterColor's 499-acre property is like stepping into a true beachfront haven, complete with steep sand dunes scattered with shrubs, a stellar 1,400-foot-long beach and the emerald-green sea that makes the Gulf Coast so well loved. WaterColor's upscale rooms feature private balconies that overlook the beachfront and are furnished with Adirondack chairs -- perfect for enjoying the sunset. The inn is part of a larger resort complex of vacation rentals, and guests at WaterColor are privy to amenities such as canoe, kayak and bicycle rentals; beach-towel service; 6 resort pools; kids-camp activities and seasonal events like beach bonfires. The resort property is also home to multiple dining options, including a beachfront grill and the signature Fish Out of Water, a high-end eatery featuring fresh seafood.
Valerie Conners is a freelance writer, editor and producer who has worked with the Travel Channel for more than 14 years, specializing in travel topics including the world's best beaches, outdoor travel and romantic getaways. Her work also appears in many online and print publications including, Aol Travel, Discovery Channel, World Hum, Frommer's Travel Guides, the Boston Globe, Baltimore Sun and Philadelphia Inquirer. She's happiest when eating spicy Thai food, snorkeling with sea turtles in Indonesia and bargaining for bangles in Indian markets. She blogs about her travels at PassengerConners.com.