As one of the nation's most popular beach destinations, Destin, FL, 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. Grab your beach chairs and umbrellas, and check out our picks for the best beachfront hotels in Destin.
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort
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 and Resort
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.
Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa
(c) 2013 Hilton Hotels & Resorts
Families rule Destin's beachfront hotels. The beach town's silky, sandy beachfront is cluttered with families soaking up the sea and sun, and the 2 adjacent towers of the Hilton Sandestin Beach have rightfully earned a soft spot in their hearts. Located along one of Destin's prettiest beachfront stretches, guests enjoy beach services like chair and umbrella set-up and access to 2 outdoor pools, as well as 4 golf courses, 15 tennis courts and mini golf. The resort also offers the Kids Krew program with activities like arts and crafts, games and sandcastle building for children ages 5 to 12. Guest rooms range from standard to "Parlor" rooms to "Presidential" suites, which offer separate bedrooms and fully equipped kitchens. Hungry? Check out one of the resort's 4 restaurants -- including a sushi spot, steakhouse, coffee shop, beach bar and market. Truly, guests barely have to leave the Hilton property during their Destin vacation.
Emerald Grande at Harborwalk Village
Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village
The heart of downtown Destin lies in Harborwalk Village, a stretch that includes the town's marina, shops, restaurants and bars, as well as kid-friendly attractions like a zip line and climbing wall. The Emerald Grande suits visitors looking to stay in the midst of Destin's action, while still in proximity to the beach. Though not technically beachfront (the hotel is right on Destin Harbor), the beach lies just across the narrow harbor inlet from the hotel. A boat departs every 30 minutes from the hotel's dock to take guests on the quick ride to the beach. All Emerald Grande accommodations feature balconies with sweeping views of the coast in addition to condo-style hotel rooms with fully equipped kitchens and up to 4 bedrooms. Amenities include indoor and outdoor heated pools, a fitness center and a luxury spa. Of course, Emerald Grande's greatest benefit is its proximity to Harborwalk Village -- guests are mere footsteps away from the town's hottest restaurants, fishing charters, and watersports rentals like jet skis and pontoon boats.