Love the idea of clear ocean water and sugary soft beaches, but don’t want to dig out your passport? Never fear, I’m here to tell you all about a special spot along Florida’s Emerald Coast, Sandestin! There’s a reason so many love vacationing in this part of the Florida coast, and I’m excited to share my Sandestin, Florida travel guide. It’s easy to get to, the emerald-hued water is warm and the sugary, white sand beaches stretch on for miles.
I’m a huge beach gal, but had never made it to Florida’s Emerald Coast until recently. At times I had to remind myself I was still within the continental US; the beach is so breathtakingly beautiful, it reminded of our honeymoon in the Caribbean.
But the best part, is Sandestin is a quick two hour, non-stop, flight from Houston. Meaning you’ll be on the beach by lunchtime, where you can enjoy the sunshine and ocean breeze, with a Bushwacker or Pina Colada in hand.
Whether you’re looking to plan a trip for your family or a long-weekend getaway, hopefully my Sandestin, Florida travel guide will help you aptly plan your travels. There truly is something for everyone in this charming beach town – you won’t be disappointed!
Where to Stay
Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa // Situated on prime beachfront property, the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa is truly the perfect vacation destination for families, business travelers or couples. The largest full-service beachfront resort in Northwest Florida, all guest rooms have either full or partial gulf views. Whether you’re looking to relax beachside, hit the links or make sure your kiddos are entertained, the Hilton offers it. We stayed in the Emerald Tower, and while we don’t have children, we were thoroughly impressed with how kid-friendly the room setup is. The rooms are really spacious and when you walk in there is a set of bunkbeds built into the wall. Perfect for kids, and even better for parents! Plus, there are plenty of amenities including three swimming pools (one is indoor), two whirlpools and a toddler pool. There’s also a kid’s club! Whether it’s for your family or just you as a couple, you can request a beach setup at sunset complete with a bonfire and s’mores. Be sure to speak with Darell at the concierge for assistance with this or anything else you might need. He is so kind and beyond helpful! Lastly, the resort offers a great shuttle service which loops around the property and drops off throughout the entire Sandestin resort area. Not only convenient, but helpful when you might not have a vehicle on property!
Where to Eat
Barefoot’s Beachside bar & grill // Outside on the deck of the Hilton Sandestin, in prime location of the pool and beach, Barefoot’s is the perfect spot to grab a bite and some tasty tropical beverages. Complete with large tvs for those who are sports lovers, and tons of open tables for the entire family. Barefoot’s also does the food for beachside dining. Grab a waitress roaming on the beach or order some eats via their app.
Donut Hole // A Destin staple, the original locale is located just down the highway from the Sandestin resort-area in Santa Rosa beach. Pop in for a diner-style breakfast, complete with tasty donuts. Might I suggest the powdered sugar or chocolate with sprinkles. The wait can be long, but check out the counter, sometimes you can grab a seat or two there to avoid waiting.
Hadashi Sushi // Traditional sushi that’s also delicious, is hard to come by. Whether it’s traditional sushi rolls or the more unique kind, there’s something for everyone at Hadashi.
Sandcastles // If you’re staying at the Hilton Sandestin resort, stop by Sandcastles for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Seagar’s // The epitome of a tasty steakhouse, Seagar’s offers an intimate setting with delicious seafood and steak offerings. Check out their extensive wine list, some 600 labels are on it. Be sure to order a Prime USDA filet along with a chocolate soufflé for dessert, yum!
Tommy Bahama Restaurant // Located in the Grand Boulevard at Sandestin shopping center, Tommy Bahama is the perfect spot for coastal eats. The coconut shrimp are some of my favorite and you can’t go wrong with the fresh fish options! When you receive the bill, make sure to fill out the postcard, it’ll be sent to an address of your choice.
Vintij Food & Wine // The perfect neighborhood eatery and wine bar. Vintij offers a variety of bites, including brunch, and a huge wine list. Whether you’re simply stopping in for a meal or looking to indulge in a glass of wine, Vintij is the perfect spot to add to your must-visit list.
What to Do
Beach setups // Take advantage of the hotel offered beach setups while you’re staying at the Hilton. Rent two seats and an umbrella from morning until 5pm. This was one of my favorite parts of our stay at the resort. I loved being able to have a dedicated spot to enjoy the waves and ocean breeze.
Serenity by the Sea Spa // Take a few hours or a full-day to unwind at the Serenity by the Sea Spa located in the Hilton Sandestin Beach resort. Offering a variety of services, no matter what your needs, the spa is spacious and tranquil. Book a service and you’re able to utilize the spa’s facilities for the entire day – whirlpool, sauna, zero gravity chairs, fitness center and more. The fitness center within the spa is state of the art and open 24 hours a day! Looking for a workout class? Check out the class schedule here – I personally took the Beach Fit class. It was a great way to walk the sugar soft beach, while also getting in a killer workout.
The Shard Shop // Book a class at this unique and fun make-your-own-art boutique! Perfect for a girl’s gathering, birthday party or kids group, spend a few hours creating one-of-a-kind shard art with pieces of recycled glass. You’ll leave with a canvas of your own making ready to be hung or displayed at home, and the perfect memory of your trip to Destin!
Shopping // There are a variety of shopping options located around the South Walton area, including Grand Boulevard at Sandestin or Destin’s Silver Sands Premium Outlets. Venture out a bit farther to Destin Commons for some other shopping options. Right across the highway, and just a quick shuttle away form the resort, is the Village of Baytowne Wharf with a variety of offerings for everyone. Albeit, I found it to be a bit touristy, there is shopping, restaurants and tons of nightlife and life music on the weekends, plus the sunset isn’t to be missed from the boardwalk.
Helpful tips: If you’re flying, there are a few different airport options to consider. We personally flew into Pensacola and then flew out of Destin-Fort Walton. Pensacola is a bit of a drive, but easy when you rent or car or utilize a driver (the Hilton concierge can help set this up). Both airports service jets which makes it easy to find a variety of flight options!