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Things to Do in Destin

Venture off-property to explore the many attractions in Destin and the surrounding area, most of which are exceptionally family-friendly, while others easily qualify as some of the state’s most naturally beautiful. For help planning an off-property excursion, call the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa’s Activities Desk at 850-267-9500, ext 41.

Destin Florida Attractions

Hurricane Lanes, Destin. Twenty-six bowling lanes, Cabana Café, 12 pool tables, an arcade and ping-pong are the offerings here. The place also houses Rupert’s Billiards & Blues Sports Bar. www.HurricaneLanesDestin.com

The Track Family Recreation Center, Destin. Here you can ride a variety of go-karts, play mini-golf, or ride in bumper cars and boats. There’s an arcade and “Kids Country,” which includes kiddie karts, a train, a ferris wheel, swings and a carousel. Big thrills include a bungee jump with a 75-foot plunge and SkyFlyer, which allows visitors to experience the thrill of skydiving. www.DestinTrack.com

Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park, Destin. Any Destin family vacation should include a trip to this place, voted one of America’s best waterparks by the Travel Channel. Big Kahuna’s features more than 40 water attractions – water slides, pools, waterfalls and a wave pool – plus dry fun in the Adventure Park, home to mini golf, a race track and Sky Coaster. There are thrills here for every member of the family, from the smallest children to adults. “Kiddie Areas” include smaller slides, fountains and a low-depth pool. www.BigKahunas.com

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, Fort Walton Beach. The huge draw at this aquarium is its various marina animal encounters. You can feed fish and penguins, and get up-close and personal with dolphins, harbor seals, sea lions and sea turtles. You can also snorkel with stingrays and swim with dolphins (age restrictions apply). www.Gulfarium.com

City of Fort Walton Beach Heritage Park & Cultural Center Fort Walton Beach. This is an educational and cultural center that aims to preserve, interpret and present the prehistory and history of the Fort Walton Beach community and the Northwest Florida area from 14,000 B.C. through the 1950′s. The Center encompasses the Indian Temple Mound Museum, Camp Walton Schoolhouse Museum, Garnier Post Office Museum, Fort Walton Temple Mound and the Civil War Exhibit Building. FWB.org/Museums

Air Force Armament Museum, Eglin Air Force Base. View weaponry and interactive displays from World War I to present-day, including vintage military aircraft. Bonus: Admission is free. www.AFArmamentMuseum.com

Ebro Greyhound Park & Poker Room, Ebro. Watch live greyhound races, try your hand in a poker tournament, or relax in the bar and restaurant. This is Washington County’s only gaming facility. www.GoEbro.com

Shopping, Dining and Entertainment Centers

The Village of Baytowne Wharf, Destin. Here you’ll find shops, restaurants, nightlife offerings, festivals, parades, concerts and other special events. The charming village, located on the banks of the Choctawhatchee Bay, is close to Hilton Sandestin Beach, and shuttles run there regularly from our resort. The village is also home to Baytowne Adventure Zone’s zip line and ropes course, arcades, a carousel and a playground. www.BaytowneWharf.com

Grand Boulevard at Sandestin This shopping and dining center also includes a 10-screen movie theater, art galleries, salons and a park, all set in a pedestrian friendly layout. Restaurants include some of Destin’s finer dining options like P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant & Bar and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. www.GrandBoulevard.com

Boulevard 10. This 10-screen movie theater is located within the Grand Boulevard at Sandestin shopping and dining center. It features the BigD Digital Experience, as well as the Ovation Dining Club. www.GrandBoulevard.com

Destin Commons, Destin. Called a “lifestyle center,” this open air shopping, dining and entertainment hub is home to more than 75 stores and restaurants, including Bass Pro Shops, a 14-screen stadium-style movie theatre and family-friendly offerings that include a soft play area for kids, splash fountains, train rides, concerts and events. The plan is to add another 100,000 square feet to the center in the summer of 2014, and one of the new tenants will be “Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill,” which is a concept by Bass Pro Shops. Uncle Buck’s will offer casual dining and an island-themed bar, 16 lanes of bowling and a billiards rooms. www.DestinCommons.com

AMC Destin Commons 14, Destin. This is the area’s only digital theater offering IMAX and REAL D 3D, plus stadium seating in all 14 auditoriums, innovative digital sound systems and tons of leg room between each row. www.AMCTheatres.com/movie-theatres/amc-destin-commons-14

Seaside Come for the seasonal farmers’ market and summer concert series, or to shop this New Urban community’s galleries, clothing and specialty stores. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, too, such as the popular beachfront Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant and Rooftop Bar. www.SeasideFL.com

Natural Attractions

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, Santa Rosa Beach. Rent a canoe to paddle one of the parks three (very rare) coastal dune lakes. You can also rent a bike or hike to explore, and you’ll see why Topsail is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. Here you can also find 3.2 miles of secluded beaches and 25-foot dunes. www.FloridaStateParks.org/TopsailHill

Henderson Beach State Park, Destin. The pristine sugar sand beach is the major draw here, with boardwalks providing beach access. Pavilions are available for picnicking and grilling, and there’s also a playground and a nature trail. www.FloridaStateParks.org/HendersonBeach

Destin Pass Jetties, Destin. For adventurous anglers, the jetties are boulder piles from which you can fish throughout the year. A fishing license is required. The jetties also make for terrific snorkeling. FishingDestinGuide.com/JettyFishing.html

Eden Gardens State Park, Santa Rosa Beach. Here you can picnic on the grounds of the historic Wesley mansion, a beautifully renovated two-story house with elegant white columns and a wrap-around porch. The house is surrounded by live oaks and gardens for heritage roses, butterflies and, in season, camellias and azaleas. There’s also a one-mile hiking trail. www.FloridaStateParks.org/EdenGardens

Grayton Beach State Park, Santa Rosa Beach. Hike the nature trail to glimpse sand dunes, pine forests and scrub environments, or while away the day on the pristine beach, which consistently ranks among the country’s most beautiful. Activities here also include surf fishing, as well as freshwater and saltwater fishing, canoeing and kayaking on Western Lake. www.FloridaStateParks.org/GraytonBeach

Vortex Spring, Ponce De Leon. Located a bit inland from Destin, Vortex Spring produces 28 million gallons of crystal clear water daily, at a year-round temperature of 68 degrees. It claims the title of the largest diving facility in the state. It is also one of the best and safest diving destinations in the country. It offers SCUBA diving, equipment rental and diving training at any level, as well as snorkeling and swimming. There are two high-jump platforms, a diving board, zip line, two swimming pool-sized slides and a rope swing. www.VortexSpring.com