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A Summer DESTINation in Destin, Florida!

A Summer DESTINation in Destin, Florida!

By Lincoln McElwee

It’s official! The summer months are upon us! With rising temperatures and vacationing kids, what better way to beat the monotonous heat than with a getaway for the entire family? For a destination with style, class and bucket loads of fun, try booking the ultimate family vacation in Destin, Florida! At the Emerald Grande at Harborwalk Village, you’ll find everything your family needs to both enjoy the summer and soak in the fun!

With white sandy beaches and beautiful Gulf waters, Destin’s popularity is unmistakable. It has the honor of being named the “Best Family Beach” in The Travel Channel’s Best Beach Awards for 2013. In addition, it was named one of the top 25 destinations in the United States by Trip Advisor, and received the Travelers’ Choice Award in 2011! With accolades like these, it’s no wonder that families are frantic to experience the tranquility and beauty of Destin, Florida.

Your ultimate family vacation should ultimately begin with resort-style accommodations at the Emerald Grande at Harborwalk Village. The resort itself has received a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor, highlighting the fact that families simply can’t get enough of this place. The Emerald Grande does offer airport shuttle service from both Northwest Florida Regional Airport (VPS) and Destin Airport as well, but be sure to contact the resort at least 48 hours in advance to arrange for pickup.

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The harbor-front setting of this sought-after sanctuary, and the fact that this Wyndham Vacation Resort is ideally situated at the foot of Marler Bridge, just four short miles west of the Mid-Bay Bridge in Destin, means that your family can explore the entertainment center of Destin with ease. The resort itself offers free shuttles to nearby beaches, and resort activities are within walking distance, allowing every member of the family to experience the very best of the Florida panhandle at this exclusive Emerald Coast location.

To highlight the breathtaking beauty surrounding the resort, all of the rooms at the Emerald Grande have spacious balconies and panoramic views. Indeed, this attention to detail places you and your family right in the heart of the Emerald Coast even from the comfort of your own room!

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One of the features that situates the Emerald Grande in a category all its own is the resort’s dedication to families of all sizes. The resort welcomes family-friendly vacationing by providing multiple-style accommodations, offering four different resort residence categories to ensure optimal space and luxury. All luxury accommodations include custom-designed furnishings and plush beds, as well as gourmet kitchens, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and private balconies, plus concierge services and spacious floor plans. You can view sample room photos and take a virtual tour of all accommodation types on the hotel’s website:

The resort’s amenities include a full service European spa and fitness center, indoor and outdoor heated pools – the outdoor pool is actually a beach entry pool and the indoor pool is both heated and cooled – and a family-oriented water playground, all of which happen to overlook the stunning Gulf of Mexico!


The Emerald Grande Spa, located on the second floor of the resort, offers everything from complete spa packages to spa parties, wraps, facials, massages, and body treatments. Packages are available for men, women and teens. The Spa Day Custom Package is a great choice, allowing you to combine any three services of $50 or more and receive a 10% discount, as well as a complimentary glass of wine or champagne. You can call 1-850-337-8150 to speak with a spa representative. There’s also the East Pass Fitness Center, which allows guests the opportunity to both work out in the hotel’s specialized fitness center and make use of group fitness options. The spa offers an onsite juice/smoothie bar as well.

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In addition to spa packages, the Emerald Grande provides a variety of booking packages for couples and families. For reservations or a full list of packages, call (800) 676-0091 or (850) 337-8100.

The resort has an amazing array of onsite activities as well, including a seasonal – and supervised – kid’s club, and a soft toy play area for little kids. The Emerald Grande even provides an arcade for teens. For beach fun, the resort offers a complimentary beach chair and boat shuttle service, allowing guests access to a secluded beach for hours of fun in the sun!

The Emerald Grande also offers full-time concierge service, garage parking and 24-hour security. Child care is also available, so if you’d like to have a romantic afternoon and make use of the resort’s in-room dining, you can! Otherwise, the Emerald Grande at Harborwalk Village offers a variety of restaurants to choose from.

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The resort ensures optimal enjoyment for the family with its ideal location at Harborwalk Village, where all sorts of fun, and at all levels, can be found around the clock! In addition to multi-level shopping right on the waterfront, guests get a thrill from the variety of aqua adventures offered, such as boat, Jet Ski and pontoon rentals, as well as fishing, and Harborwalk Village’s celebrated dolphin cruises! There are also weekly fireworks and live entertainment.


Destin Snorkel offers an exciting array of interactive tours for the entire family. Tours include a 2-stop snorkeling adventure where guests spend 3 hours throughout the day in search of crabs, shells, small schools of fish and other underwater delights. Guests are also treated to a dolphin tour as part of the adventure. Another fun tour from Destin Snorkel is Snuba, which combines the best of scuba and snorkeling into one amazing tour. The tour allows guests to breathe underwater by means of a 20-foot air line that is connected to a scuba tank. Sights include marine life not visible when snorkeling, such as toadfish, spadefish, sea anemones, and flounder. Shelling tours allow small children to get in on the fun. They can search for shells, learn about marine life and look for dolphins! Destin Snorkel also offers a variety of sunset, dolphin and firework cruises. Book yours today!

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The dolphin cruises, run by Olin Marler Charter Boats, will provide your family with enough memories to last a lifetime! Booking a fishing charter with Olin Marler Charters means that your family is in the capable hands of the oldest and longest running recreational fishing fleet in Destin, with over 45 years in the business of charter fishing! The Destin Dolphin Cruises are popular for both the recreational and educational aspect of the cruises. Your family will embark on a daily dolphin watching tour and learn about the history of Destin itself! This family friendly approach to dolphin cruises and charter fishing is what has made Olin Marler Charter’s Destin’s favorite charter service since 1967!


Another cruise that will have everyone in the family laughing and joining in the fun is the interactive Buccaneer Pirate Cruise. The Buccaneer Pirate Ship departs from the Harborwalk Village Marina, where visitors will sail the high seas of the beautiful Emerald Coast. Passengers will be entertained with sword fights, storytelling, water gun battles, singing, dancing, and treasure hunts! The great thing about the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise is that parents can participate in the fun with their children or simply sit back and relax while watching their children have the time of their lives. As well as providing the Scurvy Dogs’ Club cruises for adults, the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise also offers birthday cruises for children, which include a private area on the quarter deck, decorations, a complimentary group photo, flag raising ceremony, and a souvenir flag! The birthday child even gets to steer the ship!

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For a bit of family-friendly entertainment on land, visit the Bart Rockett Magic Theater. Bart Rockett is a global phenomenon, an amazing variety performer who has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, and FOX, to name just a few. Offering a magic experience for all age groups, tickets for upcoming shows can be purchased online. Bart Rockett also offers magic and ventriloquism workshops for all ages. The theater has a magic shop as well, where one-of-a-kind show souvenirs and magic tricks/illusions can be purchased.


As far as dining is concerned, Harborwalk Village truly has you covered! For a mouthwatering experience, visit Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi, the epitome of a good living while in Destin. The restaurant is named after legendary Destin Charter Boat Captain Dale Beebe, who took a charter to the “local’s fishing area” in search of the famed amberjacks the area had been known for. On the trip, however, Beebe managed to catch only barracuda. When he jokingly referred to the fish as Jackacuda, a legend was born! All the other captains began taking charters to the area in search of Jackacuda. With Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi, the same thrill and expectation of fishing at one of Destin’s famous fishing holes is now available for all those who “charter” a trip to the restaurant for seafood and setting. The ambience of Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi is rightly styled after the inviting manner in which locals brought friends, family and tourists to their secret fishing spots. With its relaxed environment, the restaurant beckons customers to enjoy the familial comforts of friends and food, as well as award-winning flavors.


The menu at Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi is both eclectic and impressive. The restaurant’s sous chef, James Cooke, will delight your palette with wonderfully decadent creations, such as the Fried Avocado, T’s Mac N Cheese with Bacon and Smoked Gouda, the Chorizo Crusted Snapper, the Blackened Fresh Seasonal Fish with Caramelized Pineapple Butter and the House made Cheesecake with seasonal topping. As far as the sushi is concerned, executive sushi chef Efrain Tirado combines global culinary traditions with West Coast influence to produce unique, mouthwatering works of art for the palette. The restaurant also has an impressive drink menu, including international beer, wine and sake. If you’re lucky, you might be waited on by Ryan, an all-around swell guy who knows the entire menu at Jackacudas.

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If you want to dine like a local, also try Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer, Jackacuda’s sister restaurant. Brotula’s has a local fishing hole history similar to Jackacuda’s, and offers a range of dishes to ensure good times and great taste. Try the Bro’s Clam Bake or the Conecuh Potato Crusted Red Snapper, a fan favorite.

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Also be sure to check out Margaritaville Destin. With wonderful island-inspired food, a volcano flowing with margaritas and four unique bars to choose from, guests of all ages are sure to enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of this establishment, which includes nightly dancing and live music. Try the Beach Tacos or the tasty Surf & Turf. For the little ones, the Friend Shrimp Dinner is a favorite. Be sure to order the Chocolate Hurricane to reward yourself and the rest of your table as well. Margaritaville Destin also offers guests gluten-free and vegetarian menus, so families who have children with food allergies can rest assured that their child’s needs are being met! With such care and carefully crafted food, it’s no wonder that this restaurant is a crowd favorite. Dine with ease and enjoy the good life at Margaritaville Destin!


Your visit to Destin, Florida will not be complete unless you make plans to visit the Regatta Bay Golf & Country Club. This stunning golf course, designed by the lead architect for Arnold Palmer, has been named one of Golf Digest’s “Top Places to Play in North America!” It offers on-course circulating beverage carts, a state-of-the-art Parview GPS system on its golf carts, a clubhouse with a golf shop, chilled apples on the 1st and 10th tees, and mango-scented iced towels. There are also a variety of specials and packages, so be sure to inquire before you go! Another wonderful amenity is a full-service restaurant! Overlooking Lake Regatta, the Regatta Bay Clubhouse offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a daily happy hour with 2-for-1 drinks.


With all of the activities available at the Emerald Grande at Harborwalk Village, Destin, Florida is indeed the place to be this summer. So be sure to inquire and make your next vacation a DESTINation!