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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Destin Florida in 2023

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Destin Florida in 2023

Florida’s beaches are one of the favorite travel destinations for vacationers looking for a taste of the tropical in the U.S.

Destin is one of the best spots for anyone who loves the beach, good food, endless activities, and sunshine, but when you plan your trip will determine the weather and what activities are available. 

See the best time to visit Destin Florida along with the cheapest, least busy, and worst time to go in our quick travel guide. We’ll share helpful tips to make the most of your Destin trip and more things to consider before you pack your bags for paradise! 

Why You Should Visit Destin, Florida

Aerial shot of the gorgeous sandy beach during the best time to visit Destin Florida

Rotorhead 30A Productions/Shutterstock

Destin is one of Florida’s most-loved beaches and features pure-white sandy beaches, shimmering emerald green waters, and more things to do than you’ll ever be able to pack into one trip.

Right on the Gulf of Mexico, the waters of Destin’s beaches are warm and inviting almost year-round. This family-friendly subtropical beach destination belongs on your travel list – here are a few reasons why. 

Destin’s sugar white sands make it stand out from other beaches. It’s pure white and made of super-fine quartz. So fine, in fact, that it makes a characteristic squeaking sound when you walk on it!

With turquoise to emerald green water bordering the sands, Destin’s beaches are an absolutely gorgeous sight. Hang out on the beach relaxing all day (make sure to pack snacks, water, and sunscreen) or take advantage of the many waterfront activities waiting for you here.

Parasailing, rides on banana boats, jet skis, and kayaks, shuttle boats, snorkeling and scuba diving, swimming with dolphins, and more are available to adventurous tourists. 

There are tons of captains offering their boats for deep sea fishing in Destin. Head out to the ocean with bait, rods, and expertise supplied to help you reel in amazing catches you can cook up for dinner.

Kids will love taking a pirate ship cruise complete with water cannons to battle with other ships in the cruise fleet! Head out on a glass-bottomed boat for a dolphin or sunset cruise.

It’s awesome to see playful pods of dolphins swimming alongside the boat and showing off for everyone. You might even be able to hop in the water and swim with nature’s friendliest ocean mammals while you’re out! 

Aerial image of boats on the teal water of Crab Island for a piece on the best time to visit Destin Florida

Rotorhead 30A Productions/Shutterstock

Crab Island is one of Destin’s most famous attractions, just a shuttle or chartered boat ride away from the beach! It was once an island, but now, it’s a massive sandbar where thousands come to float and lounge on the shallow water (which is about 1′-4′ deep).

There are floating food vendors and bars on certain days. Come at high tide (around 9:00-10:00 a.m.) for deeper water that’s best for boating. 

Gator Beach is a great way to learn about Florida’s famously ferocious alligators and see them up close for free. Hailed as “The World’s Greatest Alligator Park,” there’s no charge for admission or the daily alligator shows.

See hundreds of live gators, get them into a feeding frenzy by dangling special gator food into the gator pond, and take photos holding a gator if you dare. There are educational exhibits in the Discovery Zone as well.  

HarborWalk Village is a major draw for couples, groups, and families visiting Destin. This colorful waterfront village has tons of activities, live music, shops, food, and games right on the water.

From an interactive 7D movie theater and zip line to a laser maze and free fall ride, HarborWalk is a guaranteed fun way to spend a day or evening by the water with lots to do. Come during the summer to catch free fireworks, concerts, and gorgeous sunsets. 

People walk under the Sign for Harborwalk Village in Emerald Grande during the best time to visit Destin Florida

Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock

Destin’s Henderson Beach State Park attracts lots of visitors annually, too. With well-worn trails through the subtropical wilderness and plenty of campsites for overnight stays, you can appreciate the natural side of this northwest Florida city on or away from the shore.

Henderson Beach is home to some of the most pristine beaches for shelling, relaxing on the sand, surf fishing, and playing in the water. 

There are lots of golf courses around Destin for those looking to hit the links, massive water parks and pools to cool off in, and tons of restaurants, bars, and kid-friendly activities to check out.

From waterfront seafood shacks with the freshest local catches (fish, oysters, clams, scallops, and more) to tasty pizza shops and breakfast places, the whole family will enjoy the eats in Destin. 

With so many things to do and see in Destin, the only thing you need to know is when to go!

See the best time to visit Destin Florida below, along with the cheapest and least busy times to visit. We’ll show you the worst time of year to vacation in Destin and share some helpful tips for your trip, too. 

Overall Best Time to Visit Destin Florida

Waves lapping the white sand beach during the best time to visit Destin Florida

Snapshots by Sandy/Shutterstock

  • April-June is the best time to visit Destin Florida
  • Warm weather, sunny skies, and little rainfall
  • Crowds and prices peak, but more activities available

The overall best time to visit Destin Florida is from April to June, which covers spring and summer months. You’ll get perfect weather, warm water temperatures for swimming, and the most options for activities on and off the water at this time of year.

It’s the best time to plan your trip and you’re not likely to see a lot of rain during these months. Prices are higher in the late spring and early summer than you’ll find in the less-busy fall and winter months.

But if you go from April to June, you’ll skip the peak prices and crowds of late summertime in July and August. Pay a little less for your hotel room, flight, and rental car by visiting in April or May.

Temperatures hover around the 70s and low 80s during these late spring months. Come in June to experience a more lively Destin with lots of people on the beaches and hanging out at your hotel pool. Temperatures are a little higher in June, with daily highs reaching the upper 80s and low 90s.

That’s hot for outdoor activities, but perfect for anything involving water and indoor fun. Prices are a little higher in June than in the late spring, but haven’t yet reached their late summer peak.

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Cheapest Time to Visit Destin Florida

Bridge to downtown pictured during the cheapest time to visit Destin, Florida, the winter


  • December-March is the cheapest time to visit Destin
  • Lower prices for airfare, accommodations, and attractions
  • Little rain, great deals, and fewer crowds make it worth it

The best time to visit Destin Florida on a budget is from December to March, when prices are at their lowest of the year and fewer tourists are arriving to spend time in Destin. If rock-bottom pricing is what you’re after, there’s no better time to go! 

You’ll find that the cool temperatures in winter (highs in the low 60s and lows in the mid 40s) make swimming in the ocean a little unpleasant, and non-heated pools won’t be open from October-April.

At least there’s little rainfall and mostly sunny skies – and of course, those much cheaper rates on flights and hotels – during the winter!

There’s plenty to keep you occupied here in the winter months, from the Destin Lighted Boat Parade and New Year’s Fireworks at HarborWalk Village to the Mardi Gras Pub Crawl in February/March.

Golf courses are open year-round, and places like Gator Beach Alligator Park are fun any time of year. You’ll have time to check out Destin’s many restaurants and indoor activities like museums, aquariums, and theaters during the chilly months. 

Least Busy Time to Visit Destin Florida

Beautiful view of a wooden bridge leading to a sandy beach on a sunny day during the best time to visit Destin Florida

Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock

  • December-March, September-October is the least busy time to go
  • Winter and fall see the fewest visitors with cooler weather
  • More rain/fewer activities but lower prices 

The best time to visit Destin Florida without huge crowds is during December-March (least busy overall) and September-October (off-season, but busier than winter).

Pick the right time for you according to the level of calm and quiet you want, the weather, and the activities available. If you go in fall around September or October, you’ll experience ideal weather in the 70s and 80s during the day with the less-desirable catch of increased rainfall.

Hotel and flight deals are common during the fall season, but you won’t find rock bottom prices until winter hits. From December through March, Destin is at its least busy with the fewest tourists in town due to the chilly temperatures.

There’s a lot less rainfall than in the late summer and fall, however. Note that you won’t find the wide range of waterfront activities going on with the colder temperatures

On the bright side, it’s less rainy in winter than in late summer and fall (with the exception of March). Hot spots in the spring and summer (like Destin’s many golf courses, HarborWalk Village, waterfront restaurants, and Crab Island) won’t be hopping with people like in the peak months.

Prices are slashed considerably for hotels and flights during the winter season, so it’s a great time to go for smaller crowds and cheap prices. 

Worst Time to Visit Destin Florida

Aerial view looking down of people sitting on a beach during the best time to visit Destin

Ivan Vasilev/Shutterstock

  • July-August is the worst time to visit Destin
  • Highest prices, biggest crowds
  • Warmest temps + peak rainfall

You’ve seen the best time to visit Destin Florida – now, let’s look at the worst time to go. That honor goes to the months of July and August, which are the hottest, rainiest, most crowded, and most expensive months to go.

Not convinced late summer is the worst time to visit? Let us change your mind. Arriving in July or August means you’ll experience the hottest temperatures Destin sees on an annual basis.

Average highs are around 90F, but may feel well over 100F with the combination of heat and humidity. You can always seek shelter indoors or take to the water to beat the heat, but there’s no way around it – this is the hottest period to visit Destin, period. 

Along with those hot temperatures, you’re going to run into the highest rainfall levels of the year during August. Destin gets an average of 7.2 inches of rainfall in August alone, with another 5.2 inches falling in July.

Compare that to the much drier, slightly cooler, and less-expensive months of April, May, and June, which all receive around 4 inches of rain each month.

You’ll also pay dearly for your Destin trip in July and August, which are the most expensive months to do due to the higher demand from tourists. With rooms booking up months in advance, hotels and airlines alike raise their prices in late summer.

You may also pay premium prices at local restaurants and shops around the city who want to profit from the increased number of tourists arriving. 

More Things to Consider

During the best time to visit Destin Florida, a woman in a red swimsuit sitting on a paddleboard looking at dolphins

Denis Moskvinov/Shutterstock

You know the best time to visit Destin Florida, the worst time to go, and when it’s cheapest and less crowded. What else should you consider for your trip to Destin?

Here are our most helpful travel tips for sunny Destin!

  • Plan activities for rainy days or brief showers. Destin doesn’t receive much rain during the late spring, early summer, or winter, but brief showers do happen in the afternoons. Plan some activities for those rainy periods when you can’t spend time on the beach or at the pool to keep the fun flowing! Rainstorms are a great time to check out Destin’s indoor attractions, museums, and theaters. They’re also perfect for a much-needed break from the sun. 
  • Scout deals in brochures and websites. Those colorful brochures in the lobby of every hotel and restaurant can mean big savings on attractions, water parks, and activities if you’re savvy enough to flip through and find the things you’re interested in doing! Many brochures and websites offer special discounts and coupons that you can only get by mentioning or presenting the coupon. You’ll even find specials on t-shirts and souvenirs this way! 
  • Take a trip on a boat. While in Destin, you’ve got to take a boat trip! You can take a dolphin cruise, ride out to Crab Island, go on a deep sea fishing charter, or opt for a leisurely sunset cruise. Rent a kayak or jet ski, ride on a banana boat, or take a glass-bottom boat cruise to see the beauty of Destin’s waters from a new perspective. You won’t regret it! 
  • Pack plenty of sunscreen and water. You know you’ll be spending lots of time outdoors in the hot sun while you’re vacationing in Destin, so be prepared with plenty of sunscreen and water wherever you go. Sunscreen should be reapplied after swimming and at least every 2 hours for adequate sun protection. Keep a cooler in the car with ice and bottled water to stay hydrated. A wearable hydration pack is a great idea for hiking or biking around the city! 
  • Alcohol isn’t allowed in state parks. You can pack a cooler full of boozy beverages on the public beaches in Destin, but you can’t bring alcohol into Henderson Beach State Park (or any Florida state parks, for that matter). The rule is strictly enforced, so don’t make the mistake of trying to sneak alcohol in. You could get a fine or citation by breaking the rules
  • Try truly fresh seafood while you’re there. A great rule to make for beach vacations is “Don’t eat anywhere you could eat at home.” Stick to truly fresh seafood, not chain establishments with frozen fish and fried seafood dishes, for the best local eats. Waterfront dining is a good place to start, but you’ll find some hole-in-the-wall seafood shacks with fresh-caught favorites on and off the water. Check out local favorite dining spot Brotula’s, where you can dine on fresh catches or bring your own catch for the chef to cook up! 
  • Take advantage of early bird specials. If you can drag yourself away from the beach or pool before 5:30 p.m., you can take advantage of great early bird and happy hour specials at many restaurants around town. Eating dinner early will net you discounts on meals for the entire family, and can make dining out while on vacation that much less expensive! You’ll also run into shorter wait times by dining early.
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So, What Is the Best Time to Visit Destin Florida?

Overall, the best time to visit Destin Florida is from April to June. This is when the weather is nice and warm without being too hot and humid, the rainfall is pretty minimal, and crowds haven’t yet reached their late summer peak.

You’ll find slightly lower prices than in late summer and tons of beachfront activities to keep you busy during this time of year!

The Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Destin, FL on a budget is from December to March. The winter season sees the fewest visitors of the year, so prices on flights and hotel rooms take a serious nosedive at this time of year.

You won’t be able to enjoy ocean swimming or swimming in unheated pools at this time of year, but there are lots of indoor attractions and winter events taking place to keep you occupied. 

The Least Busy Time to Visit

The best time to visit Destin without big crowds is during December-March and September-October. The winter is the least busy and cheapest period overall, but fall sees reduced crowds and some lower prices. You’ll run into increased rainfall in the fall, while winter is typically drier. 

The Worst Time to Visit

Whatever you do, try to avoid Destin in July and August – the worst time to go. The temperatures are hottest, the rainfall is highest, and crowds and prices reach their annual peak at this time of year.

The late summer does have lots of waterfront activities going on, which can be fun for the kids, but you’ll pay a lot more to visit at this time of year. Plus, it’s very rainy in July and August, which can get in the way of beach and pool enjoyment! 

Final Thoughts

Destin Florida is a great place to visit whether you’re taking a solo vacation, going with a group of friends, or traveling as a family.

The shimmering sugar sand beaches, emerald green waters, and huge range of food, fun, and festivals going on at different times of the year make Destin an unforgettable place to vacation.