Where to Stay in Destin – Your Area Guide with TOP Hotels

When you think about Florida, I bet the first destination that comes to your mind is Miami and right after the Keys Islands, but there’s another place where you can go for a real Caribbean-style retreat… Destin!

Destin is a picturesque city nestled on the Florida Emerald Coast, in a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay. Featuring white beaches, crystal clear waters, and its iconic fishing vessel fleet (the largest in all of Florida), there’s plenty to enjoy.

Thanks to its tropical landscapes, its great nightlife, and perfect weather all year long (hot summers and fairly mild winters) Destin attracts millions of visitors each year and has become one of the best beach holiday destinations.

For this reason, here you’ll find any kind of accommodation, from luxury resorts and boutique hotels to budget and family-friendly options… you’ll just be spoiled of choice! So now it’s just time to decide where to stay in Destin for an amazing holiday, and good news: I’ve already done the job for you, researching through all the best booking websites!

In this article you will find a full guide with all the best areas in Destin with hotel options divided by price category, to satisfy the tastes of any traveler and budget. So let’s stop talking and start checking them out! but before starting, let me remind you to book your accommodation choice at least 5 months in advance, in this destination rooms sell out super fast!

Let’s start!

If you are in a hurry

If you want to book now, then waste no more time, check out this quick list with the best hotels in the heart of Destin, from luxury to budget:

luxury hotel

Henderson Beach Resort

Best luxury hotel

airbnb

Ocean View

An Airbnb with amazing reviews

mid-range hotel

Hampton Inn & Suites Destin

Best value for money

budget hotel

SummerPlace Inn

Best affordable accommodation in the center

Here’s a map with the 4 best areas to stay in Destin that I will be talking about in this post, so you can visualize them:

Downtown Destin
for first-timers
Crystal Beach
for couples
South Walton
for nature
Miramar Beach
for family

1. Downtown Destin – where to stay in Destin for the first time

Downtown Destin is the heart of the city located on the west of the Peninsula and is definitely where to stay in Destin if it’s your first time here! This area is lively from day to night and has something to offer literally for any taste and age, exactly like its neighbor Panama City Beach!

This is where you’ll find countless and diverse restaurants, a big shopping area along the Boardwalk, a crazy nightlife after the sun goes down in its many clubs and bars, but also seasonal activities, and fabulous festivals! Most Downtown Destin action happens around the Harborwalk Village, overlooking Destin harbor at the Destin Bridge, with waterfront restaurants and bars.

But if I were you, I would take advantage of the many cool activities that the downtown area has to offer, from watersports and water rentals to dolphin cruises, sunset excursions along the Emerald Coast, fishing charters, and trips to Crab Island! This area is a favorite for families and friends looking for boat parties!

And if you feel like exploring the other neighborhoods nearby, from Downtown Destin there are plenty of shuttles that take you almost everywhere!

Luxury hotel

If you want to have all the comforts of a luxurious property, choose this great hotel, literally a 10-minute walk from Destin beach! Here you can relax and take some sun in the great outdoor pool, keep yourself active in the fitness center and enjoy the spacious rooms with fully equipped kitchens! Another plus? The Harborwalk Village is only 3 miles away!

Other accommodation options in Downtown Destin

Mid-Range

Destin Hampton Inn and Suites is a 3-stars, pet-friendly hotel with access to an outdoor pool!

Budget

Stay on a budget in Summerplace Inn, with a great location 0.5 miles from Big Kahuna’s Water Park!

Airbnb

Beachfront studio, beautifully furnished, a few minutes from Destin harbor and the Harborwalk village

Things to do in Downtown Destin

  • Go shopping at Harborwalk Village
  • Get some adrenaline at Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park
  • Grab a drink and hop on this night cruise on the Destin Harbor
  • Try the delicious food of Dewey Destin’s Seafood Restaurant
  • Swim, snorkel or relax in this cruise from Destin to Crab Island
  • Have a fun banana boat ride in the gulf waters
  • See dolphins playing in the warm gulf waters with this tour
  • Explore Destin like a local with your private captain

2. Crystal Beach – best area to stay in Destin for couples

Right between Downtown Destin and Miramar Beach, Crystal Beach is one of the most exclusive areas in the city, taking the name from the beautiful crystalline shore, making it the perfect setting for a romantic getaway!

This upscale residential community brims with luxurious hotels and beachfront mansions along the scenic highway between Destin and the big Henderson Beach State Park on the west.

Crystal Beach’s convenient location will also allow you to easily reach the Destin Commons retail complex, located a little more inland, aka the best shopping destination in the whole city! And to end your days in the best way, Crystal Beach is home to many gulf front bars and restaurants from where you can have the best romantic views of the sunset!

Luxury hotel

Do you want to take your stay to the next level? Then this luxury 5 stars resort is definitely what you’re looking for! Located 6 minutes walk from the beach, the hotel will give you access to a fabulous outdoor pool and full-service spa where you can dip in full relaxation! On top of that, it offers many restaurants and activities including paddle boarding, biking, and kayaking!

Other accommodation options in Crystal Beach

Mid-Range

A lovely hotel in Destin Florida, with beachfront rooms and access to a hot tub with Gulf views!

Budget

Save some money in this hotel with spacious rooms and access to a great continental breakfast!

Airbnb

This charming beachfront condo is only steps away from Crystal Beach, hosting up to 6 guests!

Things to do in Crystal Beach

  • Go shopping in the Destin Commons Shopping Centre
  • Go for a stroll through Henderson Beach State Park
  • Have a romantic date at Beachwalk Café
  • Try cajun seafood at 790, an excellent restaurant on the Gulf
  • Bike along the beautiful Scenic Gulf Drive
  • Enjoy happy hour with live music at Camille’s Sidewalk Café
  • Have a drink with sunset views on the Rooftop Bar at Henderson Resort

3. South Walton – where to stay in Destin for nature

South Walton is technically a separate city from Destin but it is so good I couldn’t not recommend it too. Located west of Destin South Walton includes 16 acclaimed beach neighborhoods, each with its own personality! One of these is Mirabar Beach (I will talk about it below), but you’ll find many other popular Ocean Reef Resorts destinations, like Dune Allen, Santa Rosa Beach, Blue Mountain Beach, and Grayton Beach.

With eighteen miles of white shore overlooking the shining gulf, exotic wooded coastal dunes, natural wildlife, protected state forests, and award-winning beach parks, South Walton is the right place to reconnect with nature and find your serenity again! Sounds like a dream doesn’t it?

But with the many galleries, boutiques, restaurants, beach bars, and concerts in town, you will find something to do at any time of the day here! Did I convince you? Let’s check the area best hotels and Airbnb’s:

Luxury hotel

Treat yourself to this lovely hotel, located just a few minutes’ walks from the beach! In WaterColor Inn & Resort you will have easy access to Grayton Beach State Par and its nature trails for hiking and bicycling as well as a Western Lake, where you can swim, fish, canoe, paddleboard, and kayak. Guests particularly love the location and friendly staff!

Other accommodation options in South Walton

Mid-Range

Great location and spacious rooms with balconies, providing the best views!

Budget

Relax on the dock and watch the wildlife from the rooms of this super quiet property!

Airbnb

Enjoy an entire condo with 2 bedrooms and 2 private bathrooms in Sandestin!

Things to do in South Walton

  • Explore the coastal dune lakes in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
  • Just relax and soak up some sun at Santa Rosa Beach
  • Sample fresh seafood from the Gulf Of Mexico at Fish Out of Water
  • Soak in the gulf breezes while relaxing on pristine Grayton Beach
  • Try stand up paddling on the Gulf crystal waters
  • Find your inner peace with a yoga class on the beach

4. Miramar Beach – where to stay in Destin with the family

Miramar Beach is one of the most fun beach areas of South Walton, a small city only a 15-minute drive east of the action of Downtown Destin.

This is definitely a great alternative for families looking for the relaxation and tranquility of the beach while also having countless things to do and great activities to have fun with the kids! Golf, beach volley, swimming, water rentals, running, or biking along the 3-mile scenic Highway 98 Trail… you have plenty of options to keep your kids entertained!

And as a respectable beach holiday destination, it of course has plenty of restaurants, most of them concentrated in renowned Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, one of the most popular attractions in Miramar Beach. Sandestin is a golf and beach resort area brimming with luxury resorts, hotels, fine dining options, bars, and family amusements at the Village of Baytowne Wharf!

And if one day you get tired of turquoise waters and lying on white sand, you can always go shopping you can check the Silver Sands discount outlets or take the shuttle to Downtown Destin, so you don’t even need the car here!

If you feel like this is the right area for your vacation, don’t waste more time and book immediately one of these hotels, places in Miramar Beach sell very fast!

Luxury hotel

Get spoiled in this beautiful 4 stars hotel featuring a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, and a rooftop bar. At Hotel Effie Sandestin you can relax in the heated pool, stay active playing at the hotel’s tennis courts, or take advantage of the business center… basically, everything you need!

Other accommodation options in Miramar Beach

Mid-Range

Embassy Suites in a great beachfront hotel with access to an outdoor pool and 3 golf courses for a fun family vacation!

Budget

Nice, clean rooms and great location walking distance from Miramar Beach Destin, for a great value for the price!

Airbnb

Majestic Sun Condo offers beachfront spacious apartments with breathtaking Gulf views!

Things to do in Miramar Beach

👑 Luxury price:$200
💵 Mid Range:$130
🛏️ Budget:$85
🏠 Airbnb:$250
💰 Accommodation prices:Medium
📍 Best area:Downtown Destin
👪 Best area for families:Miramar Beach
🛎️ Best luxury hotel:Henderson Beach Resort
🧳 Best mid-range hotel:Hampton Inn & Suites Destin
👛 Best budget hotel:SummerPlace Inn

Frequently Asked Questions about Hotels in Destin

📍What is the best area to stay in Destin Florida?

The best area to stay in Destin, a city on Florida’s Emerald Coast, is Downtown Destin, offering access to beaches, restaurants, and watersports! Stay at Hampton Inn & Suites Destin for great value or at the more affordable SummerPlace Inn.

👪 Where to stay in Destin Florida for a family vacation?

The best place where to stay in Destin with the family is Miramar Beach, a beautiful area offering many activities for everyone! Stay in a hotel like the luxurious Hilton Garden Inn or take one of the great vacation rentals like Majestic Sun Condo!

🏖️ What are the best beachfront hotels in Destin Florida?

The best beachfront hotels in Destin are Beachside Inn, one of the best mid-range options in Crystal Beach, or the great Embassy Suites Destin, on Miramar Beach! 

❓Is Destin or Panama City Beach Better?

They both have beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear water. However, Destin, on the Emerald Coast, is a more exclusive and expensive city, while Panama Beach is more laid back and offers more condos as accommodation!

💑 Where to stay in Destin for couples?

The best place to stay in Destin for couples is Crystal Beach, one of the most exclusive areas in the city! Choose Henderson Beach Resort for a luxurious stay or Steps to the sand for complete privacy and Gulf views!

Conclusion

You made it! You got to the end of this full accommodation guide with the best hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals in sunny Destin, a beach destination on the Emerald Coast, Florida.

Depending on the neighborhood you’ll choose, you’ll have access to white beaches, romantic experiences, adventurous water cruises, and activities, or family-friendly attractions! Watching dolphins, snorkeling, shopping, dining in great restaurants… I am sure you are already in love with this place, you just need accommodation!

Since we went through tons of options, I will give you my 2 favorite hotels with great locations and reviews, to help you in choosing where to stay in Destin for a great holiday:

I really hope you had fun reading my guide and that it will help you have a dreamy stay!

Have I missed anything? If you have any questions or if you want to give me a tip regarding this destination, please leave a comment below. I’m looking forward to reading them and answering all your doubts!

Have an amazing trip,

Elena

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links on this page might be affiliate links, which means that at absolutely no extra cost for you we will earn a small commission for a sale generated through the website. We only recommend the things we actually use ourselves and never accept useless sponsored crap. Thank you so much for supporting this project!

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow @misstourist on Instagram!