Destin’s Best Condos and Beach-House Rentals

A majority of travelers visiting family-friendly Destin, FL, opt to stay in condos and beach-house vacation rentals situated along the Emerald Coast's golden shores. The town meets this demand with a vast number of options, from high-rise condos to low-rise apartment buildings and private communities of beach-house rentals. Before booking a trip, decide what kind of experience you're seeking. Will your children be with you and require kid-friendly amenities? Are you traveling with multiple families and want to stay in proximity to each other? Do you prefer to stay adjacent to downtown Destin or along one of the stunning, quieter beaches nearby?

The seemingly endless accommodation options can be more than a bit daunting, but will be easier to sift through once you've determined whether a condo or beach house better suits your needs. We've sorted through the masses of rental options to offer you our picks for Destin's top condos and beach-house rentals.

1. Seascape Golf, Beach & Tennis Resort

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Seascape Resorts Inc.
Seascape has conquered an enormous stretch of beachfront alongside Miramar Beach, just east of downtown Destin. The resort's condo and beach-house rental options are vast. Guests have the choice to stay in Seascape's high-rise condominium complexes, Ariel Dunes and Majestic Sun; as well as in-house rentals at the property's Lakefront Villas, Tennis Village, Boardwalk Villas and Golf Course Villas. All units run from 1 to 3 bedrooms and include access to the property's pools, tennis courts, golf course and bicycle rentals. The sprawling complex lies directly across from a stunning stretch of beach, though which vacation rental you choose will determine your distance from it -- Majestic Sun is the closest to the shore.

Take advantage of the resort's amenities program, which includes daily beach service (2 chairs and 1 umbrella), as well as discounts on local activities including charter fishing and dolphin cruises. The property is also home to the beachfront Whale's Tale Bar & Grill, as well as the Cabana Cafe, located in the Ariel Dunes apartment towers.

2. Mediterranea

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Wyndham Vacation Rentals
One of Destin's best-situated and stylish condominium complexes, Mediterranea sits directly across from the powder-soft sands and turquoise waters that make the Emerald Coast so beloved. The 2- and 3-bedroom condos in this modern, 4-story complex all offer breathtaking beachfront views with private, furnished balconies; a master-bath Jacuzzi; contemporary decor, and washer and dryer. The complex features a beautifully manicured property where guests can access a heated pool and hot tub, fitness center and tennis courts. Across the street you have private-beach access.

Mediterranea also offers guests a number of amenities, including babysitting services, daily and mid-week housekeeping (for a fee) and bicycle rentals. One of Mediterranea's greatest perks may well be its proximity to Pompano Joe's, the area's most popular haunt for seafood and sunset happy-hour cocktails. Pop across the street to Pompano's in the early evening to enjoy the nightly live music and sip a discount beer -- life is good.

3. Destiny by the Sea

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Five Star Beach Properties
When money is no object -- and trust us, upscale Destin is where much of the "other half" vacations -- a simple beach house with basic amenities simply won't do. For families seeking the absolute in extravagance, a stay in the private, gated community of Destiny by the Sea is a must. Once you pick your jaw off the perfectly manicured ground, take a gander at Destiny's massive beachfront estates, which sleep anywhere from 8 to 20 people -- perfect for multi-family groups. While each property differs, guests can guarantee no expense has been spared in the design and decoration of the houses. Common details include granite counters in the kitchen, multiple expansive balconies with waterfront views, private pools and hot tubs, and sweeping staircases that put Gone With the Wind's "Tara" to shame.

If you're looking to meet the neighbors, spend some time in the community spaces, including a clubhouse, heated pool and hot tub. Guests also have access to 2 private-beach access boardwalks that lead to a splendid stretch of Emerald Coast.

4. Seaside

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Daniel Spiess, flickr
Is it a resort? Is it a town? These are the questions that boggle the minds of visitors to the beachfront enclave of Seaside, one of the Panhandle's most picture-perfect areas to stay while visiting Destin. Seaside is, in many ways, equal parts village and resort, having been designed to emulate a classic American small town. Indeed, Seaside is chock full of charming vacation rental houses, and boasts a tiny town square complete with boutique shops, restaurants, a post office and even a smattering of adorable Airstream trailer food trucks serving up delicious barbecue and shaved ice.

Just how lovely and charming is Seaside? The setting is so picturesque that the movie The Truman Show was primarily filmed here. Charming setting aside, Seaside offers visitors hundreds of colorful vacation rentals to choose from in a variety of architectural styles (imagine everything from postmodern to Victorian). The rentals range from 1-bedroom cottages to 6-bedroom waterfront homes. Visitors staying here are also privy to a community theater and a summer concert series, as well as movies under the stars in the town square.

Seaside also offers all the typical amenities of a beach resort: 6 tennis courts, 3 swimming pools, croquet, walking trails, a fitness center and watersport equipment rentals. Send the little ones to Seaside's Surf and Skim Skool, where they can learn surfing, kayaking, snorkeling and more.

5. Dunes of Destin

A majority of Destin's vacation rentals can be found tucked into high-rise buildings that spring from behind the Emerald Coast's shores. That said, a condo doesn't always suit the needs of large families or multi-family parties. Dunes of Destin provides travelers with an excellent alternative: a small, beachfront community of upscale houses. All the homes in Dunes of Destin are located either directly on the Gulf or just a short walk away. Guests are privy to private-beach access, a community pool, a small scenic lake and gazebos. Homes range from 3 to 7 bedrooms and can sleep from 10 to 28 people.

Each property is unique in its details, and some even feature private pools. Other amenities guests can expect include a washer and dryer, kitchens with updated stainless-steel appliances and granite countertops, balconies with Gulf or lake views, outdoor barbecue grills and outdoor showers. The neighborhood is ideally located a short drive from Destin's Harborwalk, the heart of the town, where you'll find the marina, restaurants, bars, shops and amusements for children.
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