The soft, sugar sand beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast may be the initial reason people consider buying a vacation home in Destin and South Walton or decide to retire or move to one of Florida’s most popular family playgrounds, but it’s the vibrant community neighborhoods and wealth of diverse activities that clinch the deal. There’s plenty to do in the Destin-South Walton area when you get off the beach. Here are some of our favorites:
· Kitchenique Cooking School and Gourmet Pantry is one of Destin’s top off-beach attractions. Noted local and regional chefs share their professional cooking techniques in hands-on classes. A constantly-changing schedule keeps foodies and aspiring chefs coming back for more. Gourmet cooks and wine lovers won’t want to miss The Grape Gourmet Wine Pairings Class, a continuing series instructed by noted area sommeliers. The gourmet pantry stocks an enticing array of gourmet ingredients, spices and cooking tools.
· Destin History & Fishing Museum is the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon. Guided tours and historic photos provide a fascinating look back in time to Destin’s early days as a prominent Gulf Coast fishing center. The museum’s antique rod and reel exhibit includes a split bamboo rod that belonged to Ernest Hemingway. Even if fishing isn’t your sport, you’ll be fascinated by the mounted display of local Gulf fish.
· Gator Beach is a must-see Destin attraction and a perennial family favorite where you’ll learn lots of fun facts about Florida’s most fearsome inhabitant. The wildlife exhibit area is free to the public, but there is a charge to feed the gators and have your picture taken with a gator; both definite must-dos. Don’t miss the gator show and watch out for Mellow Yellow, a rare yellow alligator.