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The Good Life: Hello, Destin!

Summer is the time to start planning your vacation, and there’s nothing more synonymous with summer vacation than…yup, you guessed it: Sunshine!

You could go anywhere you please, of course. But Florida is the Sunshine State for a reason; and it’s been at the top of the destination list for, well, so long it seems almost never not to have been there. Its picturesque beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world, and the state boasts fishing spots so hot that people come in from all points on the planet to cast their lines in its limitless depths. And while the Keys might be funky and Orlando screams with theme park adventure, the once-tiny city of Destin has a draw unlike any other: sugar white sand and emerald green water so breathtaking that even millionaires drop their jaws at the mere sight of them.

Million-dollar views aside, you don’t have to bank big bucks to make Destin your destination for the summer. When you play your cards right and plan things in advance, you can actually score some pretty sweet deals that can help you stick to a family-friendly budget. Depending on the size of your family and your interests, you can manage your vacay in a way that won’t sacrifice anyone’s college fund.

And despite the fact that it’s billed as the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village, Destin isn’t all about angler appeal. It’s relatively small in size compared to other vacation hot spots around the country, but Destin is capitalizing in a big way on its wide demographic and huge tourism industry. In fact, it’s a veritable paradise for foodies and fashionistas, with some of the best shopping on the coast and restaurants owned by multi-starred chefs. It’s a once-hidden gem that’s become more sparkling and polished to be out on display in recent years, somehow managing to be not-quite-so-hidden yet still not over-run with flash.

Whether you love the idea of being a beach bum with no set schedule or delight in shopping for days on end, there is any number of things to keep you happier than a clam. In fact, you’ll probably run out of days before you run out of things to do; so you might want to put Destin on your repeat list.

Every year and every season, it seems, Destin has a reason to come see what’s new and what’s happening, but summer is by far the best time to visit. The beaches are alive and at their very brightest—the water’s warm and ready for you to dive right in for a swim or to try your hand at catching a fish worthy of causing a flurry of Likes on your Facebook feed. But even if you never venture a toe into the sand, you’ll never run out of ways to keep your days full of sunny fun—even if the sun isn’t actually in on the fun. All up and down the city are shops and restaurants and even entertainment venues where you can do everything from playing mini-golf to testing your sense of adventure at water-slides and go-kart rides. There’s something to do for everyone, regardless of age, interest, and even budget.

As the sun climbs higher and the days grow longer, set your sights on the GPS and plot a course for Destin. It’s one lucky village you’ll fall in love with and dream of seeing, year after year. It’s a friendly place to build castles in the sand and a beautiful city full of treasures just waiting to be found.

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