Many guests who vacation at the Seahorse Retreat and Palm Breeze Beach House often ask us what kind of entertainment our side of the Panhandle offers for kids. While families opt to spend much of their time swimming in our pool, playing on our beach, or cooking out, there are many fun things to do in the area. Here’s our list (some are free!)
NATIONAL NAVAL AVIATION MUSEUM: The world’s largest Naval Aviation museum and one of the most-visited museums in the state of Florida. It has more than 150 beautifully restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aviation. FREE! Open 9 to 5 daily. www.navalaviationmuseum.org
BLUE ANGELS: The world-famous Blue Angels are based at National Air Station Pensacola, and can be seen practicing over the Museum at NAS Pensacola most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from March to November. Practices typically begin at 11:30 am and last about 55 minutes. Admission to practice is FREE and open to the public.
BUILD A SAND CASTLE! (Not just any sand castle…): Round up the family for a day of fun in the sun and sand with a sand-castle building lesson! Your SandCastle Coach will meet you on the beach to demonstrate and help you use your imagination to create a unique 3 1/2 feet tall sand sculpture. Rate as the No. 1 outdoor activity in Destin on Tripadvisor. Lessons range from $200 for 1-5 people to $350 for 16-20 people. Try to schedule three weeks in advance in busy season. www.beachsandsculptures.com
PANHANDLE BUTTERFLY HOUSE: FREE. Kids and adults will delight in brilliant butterflies flittering around in this house located just at the base of the Navarre Beach bridge. See the butterfly life cycle, nursery, and mounted butterflies from around the world. You can also save time for a picnic on the playground or a splash in the fountains at the adjacent Navarre Park.
THE GULFARIUM: The Gulfarium bills itself as the world's oldest marine show aquarium. Its mission is to provide education about sea life inhabitants and entertain at the same time. Catch one of the sea lion or dolphin shows. Their exhibits also feature sharks, sting rays, Loggerhead turtles, otters, tropical penguins, and tropical birds. www.gulfarium.com
BIG KAHUNA'S WATER PARK: If you want more action, head to Destin and Big Kahunas Water Park, which features a lazy river, speed slides, body flumes, white water tubing, two wave pools, four children's areas with kid-sized slides, leisurely lagoons, and more. They also offer non-water activities like miniature golf and go-carts. www.bigkahunas.com
DESTIN HARBOR: You can rent jet skis and pontoon boats at the foot of the Destin Bridge. Water in the harbor is beautiful – clear, emerald, and shallow. You'll see lots of boats and jet skis; people bring picnic lunches to Crab Island (which is basically a sandbar), just north of the bridge. In the summer, there's a big inflatable water slide and trampoline ($10/day) and several snack barges selling hotdogs/hamburgers/ice cream/barbecue.
AJ’S WATER ADVENTURES: Based in Destin, AJ's Water Adventures offers daytime dolphin cruises, sunset dolphin cruises, sunset sailing cruises, snorkeling and more! Enjoy a thrilling ride on the 53-foot speedboat "Sea Quest" or sail the emerald waters on the 74-foot custom built schooner "Daniel Webster Clements." Every cruise comes with complimentary beer, wine, soda, water, and kids can captain!
BUCCANEER PIRATE CRUISE: Embark on the adventure of a lifetime on a pirate ship and discover the hidden treasures of bygone days while sailing the emerald waters off Destin. Lots of entertainment and interaction with sword fights, water gun battles, story telling, and treasure hunts. Great for younger kids. www.destinpirateship.com
NAVARRE FISHING PIER: Great place to stroll or fish - $1 to stroll; $7 to fish. Fun to see what the fishermen are catching. On-site restaurant with good burgers. Great people washing and fishermen watching.