Destin Florida is known for it’s amazing beaches with snow white sand and crystal clear blue-green water that makes you feel like you are lost in the Caribbean.
It is also an extremely family friendly destination full amazing experiences that you can experience together . Take it from me, we are local and have done it all, and today I am sharing some of our favorites with you!
This post is created in partnership with Destin Ft Walton Beach and the tour showcased was provided free of charge. All advices and opinions are straight from our family’s experience.
What to do in Destin with Kids
Whether you are local to the gulf coast, or visiting for a few days or more, Destin Ft Walton Beach has so much to offer that will not only keep your kids entertained, but have your family making memories together that will last a lifetime!
One of the best and easiest ways to experience a fun family day on the water is through the Destin Ft Walton Beach Venture Out packages. These pair an adventure on the water with food from a local eatery, so you get to experience the BEST of the area through food and fun. For example, we were able to book a Deep Sea Fishing trip where they cleaned our fish and we got to eat it immediately at a wonderful local restaurant.
They give you the inside ticket on the adventures that are REALLY worth it, that take you to see, do, and eat the things that the locals do!
Sometimes the hardest part of getting out is just knowing where to find a vendor, or which one to pick. After all, when you have kids in tow, it isn’t always so simple, especially if you are out on the water! You need something that:
- Meets and exceeds safety standards
- Can guide you through what to do if you aren’t familiar with the process (like with driving a boat, or fishing)
- Is good with kids and understands the need for snacks, potty breaks, and lots of patience
- Can maximize the experience in the time you have
All of the partners in the Venture Out program have been vetted to ensure they not only do all of these things, but have everything in place to make sure you have the time of your life on your adventure! Make sure and read through our experience below to show you how each and every one of these were exceeded on our recent Fish and Feast family trip!
Water Adventures for Toddlers to Teens
The Venture Out packages offer an amazing value for visitors, but also a unique opportunity for locals to take advantage of all our Gulf Coast has to offer!
There are so many opportunities to get out and try something new with your kids for a daytime excursion, or part of a vacation or staycation in Destin Ft Walton Beach.
One of the things I love most is that these are NOT huge group tours where you are lumped in with crowds of people, but adventures you can take just with your family so that you can live your best life, all while staying safe!
A few of my favorites adventures from the Venture Out program are:
- Fish & Feast – Set course for an adventurous afternoon of private charter fishing with Hey Baby, and then let Harbor Docks cook your catch to perfection and serve it in style with sides to be enjoyed dockside or poolside back at your hotel. This is great for older kids who can be out on the water longer.
This is the adventure we chose, and I am sharing below all about how the adventure went and what to expect on this type of family outing below.
- Float & Feast – In this adventure, you will rent a pontoon with Island Watersports Company to explore the harbor and National Seashore of Destin-Fort Walton Beach, and enjoy a to-go lunch of fresh local seafood prepared by Rick’s on the Island.
Perfect for families with kids of all ages, from toddlers to teens since you can choose your own pace, from exploring, to anchoring to swim or lounge in the sun!
- Sand Pails & Picnic – Build a castle you’ll never forget with expert guidance from a certified Sandcastle Coach from Beach Sand Sculptures. Take a 2-hour Sandcastle Lesson with your coach and receive a sand sculpting kit to take home. Then enjoy a boxed lunch from Fudpucker’s for a beach picnic in the natural beauty of Henderson Beach State Park.
This adventure works well for families with kids of all ages, as even the littlest ones can be set up to comfortably lounge while the lesson takes place for older siblings or mom and dad.
- Catch & Cook – Spend the afternoon aboard the Fifth Day then have Destin Harbor’s newest dining spot, East Pass Seafood & Oyster House cook your catch!
This fishing trip is spent in the bay which makes it wonderful for smaller kids who want to learn to fish since the bay generally boasts calmer waters and easy access to land if needed.
There are even more adventures to choose, including paddle boarding, camping, and surf fishing. You can explore all of the ways to venture out here!
What is a Deep Sea Fishing Charter like?
To show you exactly the kind of memories you will make with your family, and how perfectly planned these are for your family, I want to share the details from our Deep Sea Fishing Trip with Captain Kevin as a part of the Fish and Feast Venture Out package.
Planning the Trip
Most of the details are are already handled for the trip, leaving you to just schedule the trip. After choosing the date, I worked with Captain Kevin directly to confirm the time we would depart.
Fishing trips generally depart early, as it is when the fish are biting! It was an early morning for the kids, but so worth it, because watching the sun rise over the Destin Harbor as we took off on our trip was really magical.
Captain Kevin has been fishing in these waters since he was 12 years old, so he has several secret fishing spots he travels to for the best fishing. He went over the plan with me on where he wanted to take us based on the weather that day and asked if there was anything special we wanted to do.
How long is a deep sea fishing trip
Our fishing trip was 6 hours in length, which sounds long, but we had so much fun, that we couldn’t believe the time had already come when we were heading back.
Our itinerary looked something like this:
- 6:30 am – Depart on the Hey Baby from Destin Harbor
- 7:00 am – Bait fishing (my kids loved this!)
- 7:45 am – Head to our first fishing spot
- 8:30 am – Start fishing, move between spots
- 11:30 am – Start heading back, while trolling for mackerel
- 1:00 pm – Arrive back at Harbor Docks to clean and enjoy our fish
What to Bring on a Deep Sea Fishing Trip
Most of the things you will need on a deep sea fishing trip will be provided by your fishing charter, however, make sure to pack personal items you will need for the trip.
- Appropriate clothing
- If it is warm, you may want a light long sleeved shirt to protect you from long hours in the sun
- If it is cold, bring lots of layers so that you can add or remove them as the day warms up, or the weather changes.
- We wore tennis shoes to keep our feet warm in the cold morning, but brought flip flops to change into if our shoes get wet
- Drinks and snacks
- We packed water bottles for each of us, although there was water available on the charter
- We ate a big breakfast before we left, but also packed granola bars, and fruit to eat on the boat since it would be a long day. Pack things that are easy to eat, just in case sea sickness strikes.
- Towel – This is handy if you get splashed with water from a wave, sea spray, or when you are reeling the fish in.
- Hand sanitizer – my kids liked to use this because they wanted to hold the fish they caught and were a little slimy afterward.
- Book/game- If you think your kids will need entertainment while driving for 30-60 min to fishing spots, you may want to bring something extra to do.
- Remedies for sea sickness – If you are prone to sea sickness talk to your doctor about medicines you might could take, or grab over the counter solutions like sea bands.
What do Kids do on a Deep Sea Fishing Trip?
My kids were 10,8, and 5 when we took this trip and they all came home asking to do it again.
The first thing they enjoyed was watching the sun rise as we left through the Harbor. As we pulled out of Destin Pass, we also spotted pods of dolphins, and schools of fish jumping.
We went up the beach to bait fish. And this was really fun for the kids. They cast a fishing pole baited with six hooks out into the waters and almost immediately reel it in with 2-6 fish hanging off it! The kids couldn’t get enough and the immediate gratification of seeing all those fish on one line was so rewarding for them.
These fish are dropped in a tank behind the boat until we need them. My littlest thought this was really cool, since it was a little like our own personal aquarium.
Finding a Fishing Spot
After we caught the bait, we headed out to sea to catch the good stuff!
Captain Kevin has a book where he jots down the coordinates of great fishing spots he finds. We headed to a place where there was wreckage under the water and the fish like to congregate.
There are periods of down time from 45 minutes to an hour, when you are traveling to get to your fishing spots where you will be fishing. This is the biggest consideration to me as a parent for if your kids are ready for a deep sea fishing trip.
There is not any entertainment, other than the boat ride and beautiful scenery, so if you think your kids might be bored, you can bring a small toy or game for them to play.
This was also a great time for them to ask questions and learn more about the boat and fishing. We chatted about what kind of fish we would catch, the laws that prevent over-fishing, what types of bait and lures you use for different kinds of fishing, and at our request heard some of the adventures and amazing catches that Captain Kevin and Cade our deck hand had over the year.
Captain Kevin happened to have three kids of his own, all around the ages of ours, so he was patient, kind, and willing to show and tell them about everything their inquisitive minds asked!
Deep Sea Fishing
Once we pulled up in our spot, Captain Kevin gave us a quick lesson on how to use the fishing poles and then baited them up and let us get to work.
I have only been fishing a handful of times in my life, and I remember it as lots of sitting and waiting. This fishing trip wasn’t like that at all!
As soon as we would drop the line, we got a bite and started to reel it in.
The kids loved this most of all. They were entranced in getting the fish in, guessing what kind it would be, talking about how big it felt, and bragging about how fast they caught it.
Not only was the thrill of the catch magical for the kids, but the fun didn’t end. They were able to catch fish, after fish, after fish!
Cade, the deck hand, worked tirelessly to take them off the hooks and either throw them back if they weren’t suitable for keeping, or get them on ice for us to take home.
We traveled between a few spots in the area that Captain Kevin took us, and were able to catch several different kinds of fish including Red Snapper and Trigger fish.
Trolling for Fish
When it was time to head back, the fun wasn’t over. Captain Kevin then set up the boat to troll, so that we had three baited fishing rods off the back of the boat. He explained to us that this is how you catch Mackerel at this time of year.
This was a fun and relaxing way to fish after the excitement of before. We slowly made our way back to shore while we got to watch for marine life. We hit the jack pot and ended up seeing not only dolphins on the way home, but also a GIANT sea turtle!
Kevin knew how excited we were to see it, so he turned the boat and went out of the way so we could get a closer look.
Cleaning the Fish
For me the best part of the day was getting to have all the joy of fishing, and seeing the kids love it, but without having to get my hands dirty.
Once we got back, they started cleaning the fish, which was both interesting and educational to watch.
We left with two huge bags of fish filets! One for the restaurant to cook us, and another to take home and enjoy.
Eating Fresh Seafood on the Water
We pulled back into Destin Harbor and Captain Kevin was kind enough to have saved three fish for the kids to all hold up so we could get a picture of them on the boat with their fish.
Once those were cleaned and unloaded, Captain Kevin walked us in to Harbor Docks, and handed them the fish we would be eating.
They asked us how we would like it prepared and seated us on the water to wait for our feast.
Harbor Docks is a local place, right on the water that both locals and tourists love. They have everything on their menu from local in season fish, to sushi, and a few land bound entrees for those who may prefer them.
Over 90% of the seafood in Florida is actually imported, BUT at Harbor Docks they use fresh local seafood, and none was going to be more fresh than our lunch that day!
You have a choice of ordering your fish prepared in 3 ways:
We chose all three! They serve it with all of their side dishes, including:
- French fries
- Hush puppies
- Collard Greens
- Black eyed peas
As you can see, we had a FEAST and thoroughly enjoyed it!
Life Lessons from Fishing
Our day was magical and I would venture to say, that our kids will all remember this day for the rest of their lives.
Not only was the experience one-of-a-kind, but we had a really unique lesson of working to catch a fish, bringing it in, seeing it cleaned, cooked, and then getting to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
In a world where sometimes kids don’t even realize that a hamburger was once a cow, it was amazing to take our kids on an experience that was not only fun, but taught them a lot about the world around them.
Being local made it even that much better because both fishing and tourism are a huge part of our economy here as well. My daughter had even studied tourism a couple weeks before in social studies and made the connection herself while we were out on the boat. Those kinds of things are just priceless!
Where to Book Deep Sea Fishing
If you are interested in doing a similar adventure with your family, visit the Destin Ft Walton Venture Out website to get more details and book your deep sea fishing or other family adventure on the water!