Are you craving sand between your toes? If so, it’s time to plan a trip to the Sunshine State. The shores of Florida will be ideal for a family adventure or a romantic getaway. This Sandestin Travel Guide will introduce you to a part of Florida you might not be familiar with. In this northwestern section of the state, there is a rustic Sandestin beach cottage just waiting to relax all your worries away.

What to Do in Sandestin

sandestin beach vacation

Fun in the Sun

Sandestin is a favorite among the beaches of South Walton. This area of Florida’s Gulf Coast is known for kayaking, fishing, and simply soaking up the sunshine. A popular pastime during Sandestin vacations is building sand castles, so be sure to bring along some equipment to create your sand masterpiece!

Many visitors to Sandestin are so tempted by all of the adventure activities that they find themselves having to schedule time to relax. The white sand beach here is ideal for an afternoon of reading a juicy novel or snoozing under the shade of an umbrella. If you prefer to keep your vacations packed with activities, more things to do in Sandestin include eco tours, chartering a yacht, or bike rentals.

Family-Friendly Activities

If you’re looking for a place where the whole family can sink their teeth into outdoor activities under the sun, you’ve come to the right place. Sandestin has something for every type of family. Whether you want to fly kites on the beach, get competitive with a game of football, or splash around on a half-day kayak tour, you won’t be stuck for options on how to keep the kids entertained.

sandestin golfMany activities will make the day speed right on by, but part of the appeal of Sandestin is its ability to slow things down. In the kitchen of your private rental, prepare a family picnic to enjoy on the beach. To enjoy the sunset, rent some bikes and go for a ride. Keep your eye on local events that are often family-friendly including crafts and games for kids.

The Sophisticated Side of Sandestin

No Sandestin travel guide would be complete without discussing temptations for adults. Days can be spent lazing on the beach or playing 18 holes on one of the local championship courses. Before heading out to a gourmet meal, unwind with a spa treatment for two at one of the local upscale spas.

A few special activities can elevate Sandestin vacations to new heights. Why not surprise your partner with a boat charter, complete with gourmet picnic lunch? All boat tours, from fishing excursions to sunset sails, are a romantic way to experience the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. When choosing your vacation rental, look for one with romantic amenities such as an outdoor shower, ocean views, or a soaking tub for two.

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What to See in Sandestin

Explore Nature in Sandestin

There are plenty of opportunities to learn about nature and local habitats during your trip. Join an eco tour and let a knowledgeable guide teach you about this delicate ecosystem and its incredible creatures. Check out Blue Sky Kayak Tours for details on nature focused kayaking tours. Island Winds Sailing offers tours include dolphin watching and sailing. If you’re really interested in the local wildlife, be sure to investigate Wetland Wilderness Adventures, where your family could encounter turtles, alligators, and birds of prey.


Sandestin is one of many beaches along a spectacular coastline. Adventurous travelers will want to rent a car, roll the windows down, and go for a drive. There are several destinations to plan a road trip around including state parks and forests. Deer Lake State Park, Eden Gardens State Park, and Topsail Hill Preserve State Park are all worth exploring.

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Where to Shop and Eat in

sandestin shopping

Shop Until You Drop in Sandestin

There’s no better break from the sun than a morning spent shopping. While there is an incredible range of shopping in the beaches of South Walton, Sandestin is home to its own tempting choices as well. Most shoppers start at the Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. This pedestrian-friendly town center offers shops, restaurants, and galleries.

If you love unique boutiques, don’t miss the 25 options at The Market Shops at Sandestin. This relaxing shopping destination offers jewelry, clothing, and just about anything you could possibly need to enjoy a trip to the beach. Bargain shoppers won’t want to miss the Silver Sands Factory Stores where over 100 designer outlets are located.

Local Flavors of Sandestin

After all of that golf, shopping, and beach activities you might be inclined to spend a quiet evening in the vacation rental. Be sure to take advantage of having your own kitchen facilities, but don’t miss out on the incredible local dining scene. Expect fresh flavors, the daily catch, and simple preparations of seafood.

No Sandestin travel guide would be complete without mentioning where to eat oysters. The Acme Oyster House is a local favorite. Here you can sample the freshest oysters in the area. Other great dining options include Mitchell’s Fish Market, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, Marlin Grill, and Bistro Bijoux.

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When to Visit Sandestin

When planning vacations using a Sandestin travel guide, a little research into the weather is essential. This northwestern section of the state has drastically different weather than southern Florida, so don’t expect to plan a trip here in January and find beach weather. If you’re looking to work on your tan, the best time to visit Sandestin is between April and October. The summer months can be hot, but the Gulf of Mexico will cool you right down.

Travelers should beware that this area of Florida can be affected by hurricane season. This occurs when the water is warmest, starting in late August. Some travelers choose to avoid trips to Florida until the end of September when the greatest danger of hurricanes has subsided.

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Local Services in Sandestin

One of the main attractions of Sandestin and the beaches of South Walton is local services. On a basic level, the beaches are safe and clean. Travelers will find everything they need or desire to complete their trip to Sandestin. Whether you’re looking for a grocery store, ATM, post office, or pharmacy, you will find what you need in Sandestin. Upscale services make this Gulf Coast beach a leisure destination, including a range of golf courses, spas, and shopping.

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What to Know About Sandestin

As Sandestin travel guides often point out, there's more than shopping, dining and the beach. Sandestin is also home to a variety of annual events that are worth planning a trip around. The Sandestin Wine Festival takes place every April and attracts wine connoisseurs and novices alike. Over 100 winemakers flock to Sandestin for this event, and many tastings and dinners are planned to make the most of the celebrations.

Another event foodies won’t want to miss is the Great Southern Gumbo Cookoff. Taking place in January, this annual event brings together local restaurants to crown a gumbo king. There are plenty of events for kids and families too including the Children’s Art Festival, the Back to Nature Festival, the Playwright Festival, and a variety of summer activities including concerts, movies, and plays.

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What to Bring to Sandestin

This section of the Gulf Coast of Florida is known for its laid-back atmosphere. Unlike the glitz and glamour of southern Florida, nothing too fancy is required to enjoy a trip to Sandestin. Your packing list should begin with beach basics including a bathing suit, sunscreen, flip flops, and beach entertainment like a book, iPod, or magazines. Remember a beach cover up or two and a couple outfits for heading out to restaurants or beach bars in the evening. If you forget anything at home, there are lots of opportunities to go shopping and pick up something new!

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Getting to Sandestin

Beyond choosing an ideal vacation rental, there are a few practical details to take care of when planning Sandestin vacations. Many visitors choose to drive from home, but arriving via air is also popular. There are a few airports in the region to choose from including Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (served by Delta and Southwest) and Pensacola Airport (served by many more airlines including AirTrain, American Airlines, Continental, US Airways, etc).

Many visitors choose to rent a car; the coastline here is also so gorgeous that it warrants at least one afternoon of sunny cruising along the Gulf of Mexico. Sandestin is one of the beaches of South Walton. Some of the other beaches include Miramar Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, and Seagrove.

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Why Sandestin vacation rentals?

The blissful beaches of Sandestin are sure to leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Take that relaxation one step further by choosing vacation rentals instead of cramped hotel rooms. An oceanfront cottage will provide that home-away-from-home feeling that is so important on vacation. Whether you want to indulge in the local dining scene or take it easy at "home," vacation rentals allow you to indulge your every whim. This is exactly how vacations should be.

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