Who doesn’t love a beach vacation? White sand, salty hair, and delicious seafood combine for a restful, relaxing, memory-filled time away from home. And Destin is an epic place to plan your next trip.
Located on the panhandle and well within that glorious Gulf of Mexico climate, it’s a perfect visit in summer and winter alike.
While summers are hot and sticky, ideal if you love ocean swimming in turquoise waters, winters are relatively warm and still offer good weather for hiking, boating, or visiting Florida’s many theme parks.
Destin has several of those on offer, luckily, as well as a raft of outdoor activities to please any solo traveler, pair of lovebirds, or raucous family.
And it’s a very good place to be an angler. According to US News & World Report, it’s been named the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” so you’re almost guaranteed to come home with a catch.
Even if you’re not into that, you’ll love the shores: “Midwestern and Southern families flock to Destin’s beaches each summer for the city’s trademark bright white shores, made up of pure Appalachian quartz.
This unique sand not only stays cool in the summer heat, but with the sunlight’s reflection, it also gives the waters an emerald tint.” Plus, it’s a pretty affordable place to head to at any time of year.
Not only is it in the US, which removes the onerous financial burden of international travel, it has slightly lower-than-average food costs for the country. In other words, you won’t pay more there for any other vacation here at home.
Still, it’s important to ensure you’re not spending more than you have to – which is where this travel guide comes in.
Read on for a comprehensive look at the costs for lodging, flights, food and drink, activities, and transportation, as well as some extra considerations and FAQs for the budget traveler.
By the time you’re done, you’ll know everything you need to start planning that magical, tropical vacay.
Average Trip to Destin Cost in 2023
An average one-week trip to Destin for two people will cost around $3,300:
- Average Accommodation Cost: $100 per night
- Average Flight Cost: $500 per person
- Food, Drink & Activities: $100 per person, per day
- Transportation: $200 total
- Total Cost: $3,300
Keep in mind that these costs are very flexible. Costs will decrease, for example, if you travel with more people. Renting a house for eight is a much cheaper expense per couple than renting a house for two.
The same goes for cooking meals, which is always more affordable for the more people you include. Therefore, traveling to Destin with a family, for a college reunion, or on a friends trip will save you money.
That’s not to say, however, that you can’t create an affordable experience for two, because you definitely can.
The best way to save money is to first understand the costs involved, then adjust them up or down to match the time of year you’ll be traveling, who you’re going with, and what you care about. Let’s take a closer look.
Destin Trip Cost: Average by Item
Averaging out trip costs is no easy task. Each choice you make along the way has consequences for the final tally. Will you go on that expensive paragliding day trip, or would you rather have a super nice hotel where you can hang by the pool?
Are you more interested in nice dinners or hiking the best trails? And so on. With that in mind, we’ve provided some average costs below so you can determine the best ways to spend and save for you!
The good news is, you won’t pay more for a hotel in Destin than you would in your hometown or a big city across the US. There are plenty of deals to be had, especially if you price-shop and track seasonal variations.
You can typically get a nice hotel for about $100 a night, including a pool, views of the gulf, free cancellation, eco-certification, and a range of amenities.
Deals on such hotels often drop to $75 if you’re patient. If you want a more resort-y experience, then plan to pay between $125 and $175.
You’ll get nice eateries on site, a pretty bar, more expansive pools, better views, and serene landscaping that’s perfect for handholding and strolling. A good bet for saving money is to stay at a hotel that offers complimentary breakfasts.
You can not only save about $10 per person, per day, you can walk away from the breakfast bar with snacks such as cereal or a piece of fruit to keep you going until lunchtime.
One of the best ways to do this is simply to Google “hotels in Destin with free breakfast” and peruse the results – easy peasy! Overall, $100 a night will get you a nice room for two, and you have some wiggle room for a resort experience for a night or two.
The average cost of a flight from New York City or Los Angeles to Destin is about $400 round trip. You will pay less if you book your ticket closer to your departure date, because that’s when airlines are trying to fill up planes.
Just note that if you leave it for too long, you and your companion may have no choice but to sit separately.
If using this strategy, monitor flights in incognito mode to look for price dips without alerting travel companies of your interest, which will drive those prices right back up.
Make sure to plan an extra cost if you’re taking multiple stops on your way to Destin Airport, as those usually come to about $100 or $200 per leg. On average, plan to spend about $500 per ticket getting to Destin because it’s a smaller airport.
Food, Drink & Activity Costs
The average meal when dining out in Destin will cost about $20 for dinner, minus drinks, and less for breakfast or lunch. (See our note under Accommodation for saving money at breakfast time.)
If you buy a few drinks, your daily totals of dinner + lunch + drinks will add up to about $50, assuming you’re eating on the cheap. If you throw in a nice meal every day, assume that it will be more like $75.
The best way to save money is to counterbalance your accommodations, food, and flights with free activities wherever possible. For instance, hiking is popular around the Destin area. Grayton Beach, the Florida Trail, and Eden Gardens State Park are all amazing places to hike nearby.
Destin Harbor Boardwalk is one of the most exciting destinations in the city and is free to boot. It is jam-packed with fun activities, both there on the boardwalk and leaving from the boardwalk.
Examples of the latter include dolphin tours, fishing trips, snorkeling expeditions, and parasailing rides.
There’s plenty to do by staying in place as well. The dining experiences run the gamut from the Boathouse Oyster Bar to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. There is a free-fall experience as well as a 1,000-foot zip line, and a climbing wall to boot.
With colorfully painted buildings, delicious food carts dotted around, and plenty of boutiques for shopping, you can easily spend the day there.
Ideally, you should book your activities ahead of time. That allows you to take advantage of short-term deals, because the company is willing to sacrifice money in order to get you through the door.
Always at least peruse the possible activities and compare travel site costs for tours, etc. to the costs on the provider’s website and see if there’s a significant difference.
Because Destin’s food costs are reasonable, it’s safe to plan several tours and still only spend about $100 per person, per day.
Getting around Destin is easy. Public transportation costs $2 per ride for adults, while taxis are affordable at about $25 for a 10-mile ride. If you want to spend your time out in the countryside, it might be worth it to rent a car.
Prices are higher than in some other parts of the United States at about $30 a day, though they go down at the end of the summer.
If you’re a hiker or camper who doesn’t want to stay in the city, though, this is a smart expenditure. Overall, budget about $200. This will give you money for a few taxi rides, a few car rental days, and plenty of public transportation.
Things to Consider
Here are a few other things to consider when planning your trip to Destin:
- Make the Destin Harbor Boardwalk one of your stops. This one-size-fits-all destination is fun for couples and families alike, and offers oodles of activities all day long. Make sure you plan to get there in the afternoon at the latest, though, as it closes at 6 PM.
- If you’re an angler, you can’t do better than Destin. It’s a lucky place to fish, you can rent boats or take tours easily, and the weather accommodates angling for much of the year. It offers freshwater as well as saltwater fishing, so come one, come all!
- Golfers are also welcome here. There are dozens of affordable courses in or near the city, so bring your clubs or rent a set.
- Interested in SCUBA? This is a great place to learn, with emerald waters, pretty reefs, and bright schools of fish. It takes three to four days to get certified if you aren’t already, which is a lovely way to spend a trip.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about budgeting your trip to Destin:
Is Destin expensive?
Destin is not particularly expensive. Although hotels and flights will always cost more than, ya know, simply staying at home, the food and activities are quite reasonable.
How can I save money in Destin?
The best ways to save money include price-watching hotel rates, staying somewhere with a complimentary breakfast, booking your activities ahead of time (since they often offer deals to get you in the door), planning lots of free activities in between paid ones, and booking accommodations with a large group if you can.
Is it safe in Destin?
Yes, it’s very safe in Destin. According to Always on the Shore, “Destin boasts remarkably low crime rates, providing a sense of security to both residents and visitors.
The local law enforcement agencies work diligently to maintain a safe environment, ensuring that you can explore and enjoy the city with peace of mind.”
When you travel, you should maintain the same level of caution that you do everywhere. Don’t flash valuables around, don’t bring valuables with you when drinking or when you’re otherwise distracted, and don’t walk alone at night … especially as a woman.
When is the best time to visit Destin?
The ideal time to visit Destin is spring, when the temperatures have warmed up enough to heat the ocean and the sun is shining almost every day.
You may face some thunderstorms in May or June, but some people find this exciting. This is also when prices are likely to be highest.
Winter is a good time to visit if you’re okay with sweatshirts, beach walks that don’t involve swimming, and outdoor activities with a chance of rain.
Fall is when the rain peaks, but temperatures are still comfy, and summer is humid, perfect for lots of ocean dips. When you travel is, therefore, really up to you!
Is it easy to get around?
Yes, it’s easy to get around Destin. Rental cars are affordable, the taxis are good, and the transportation system is functional. If you’re disabled, you can even call EC Rider’s Dial-A-Ride paratransit, but you have to complete an application ahead of time.
Wrapping It Up: Over to You!
|🛎️ Average Accommodation Cost||$100 per night|
|✈️ Average Flight Cost||$500 per person|
|🍽️ Food, Drink & Activities||$100 per person, per day|
|🚕 Transportation||$200 total|
|💲 Total Cost||$3,300|
The average cost of a one-week trip to Destin is around $3,300 for two people. Not a bad deal for a week of fun in the sun, right?