Destin is a vibrant hub for nightlife on the Sunshine State coast. Fringed by white-sand beaches and washed by the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it draws in thousands looking to revel in the cocktail of cool seas and endless sun, watersports, and world-class shopping.

    The resort city's buzzy marina bars slosh with tequilas and margaritas for the spring breakers. There are laser tag arenas and mini-golf courses for the family. Couples can enjoy rambunctious blues venues and romantic walks along the quaysides. All that and more is covered in this guide to things to do after dinner in Destin.

    1

    Margaritaville

    Drink and dance on the Destin HarborWalk

    • Nightlife

    Margaritaville is arguably the most legendary name on the line-up of good-time bars that make their home in Destin. The resort's outlet of the famous chain huddles down on vibrant Harbor Boulevard. It should be easy to reach after just a short detour off the US 98 Highway.

    Delve in to be greeted with a hodgepodge of Caribbean-inspired décor and paraphernalia – think bamboo chairs and make-believe palm trees. There's a fantastic view out across the boat-bobbing marina from the drinking deck, too. The drinks list touts all sorts of mango-infused, lemon-topped margaritas, along with spiced-rum moonshines and dry Californian white wines.

    Location: 76 Harbor Blvd, Destin FL 32541, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 850-460-7700

    Map

    photo by logopop (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    2

    Destin Harbor Boardwalk

    Bars, beautiful promenades, and local dining

    • Food
    • Nightlife
    • Couples
    • Photo
    • Budget

    The Harbor Boardwalk is an energetic quarter of Destin, especially when the sun dips below the horizon. Romantic walks here are bolstered by sweeping views of the cotton-white beaches and the soothing salt airs of the Mexican Gulf.

    After enjoying some classic Southern comfort food in oyster shacks and gumbo kitchens, this is the place to come for a dose of nightlife. Famous names like Margaritaville pop up with long cocktail menus on one corner, while wine bars and taquerias run by Destin locals dot the other. You'll find the Harbor Boardwalk bending along the coast between the marina and the entrance to Choctawhatchee Bay.

    Location: Harbor Blvd, Destin FL 32541, USA

    Phone: +1 850-683-3009

    Map
    3

    Destin Laser Tag

    Futuristic showdowns that are a doozy for the whole family

    • Families
    • Nightlife
    • Adventure
    • Group

    Destin Laser Tag offers action and fun for the whole family. The arena sits in a large plot on Highway 98, around just 10 minutes' drive from the HarborWalk. That makes it easy to reach after an evening of deep-fried shrimps down by the marina, and a great choice for groups looking to finish the day with a dash of adrenaline-pumping fun.

    The main draw is the eponymous laser tag game. That'll have you shooting your way to glory in a 4,000-sq-ft maze with neon lights and up to 40 other people. There's also a fully backlit mini-golf course with all manner of challenging putting holes. Completely indoors, Destin Laser Tag is a prime option for rainy evenings on the Florida coast.

    Location: 20011 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Destin FL 32541, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 3 pm to 10 pm, Saturday–Sunday from noon to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 850-650-6748

    Map
    4

    HarborWalk Theater

    Be mystified by magical shows

    • Families
    • Nightlife
    • Couples

    The HarborWalk Theater is the premier playhouse of Destin. As the name implies, it's one of the main attractions on the bustling HarborWalk, a hubbub of after-dinner activity that runs parallel to Harbour Boulevard right in the city’s core.

    You'll need to check the box office ahead of time to see what's on at the HarborWalk Theater during your dates. However, if previous calendars are anything to go by, it's likely to be a mix of hypnotism, stand-up comedy and illusion. During the day, the theatre hosts magic workshops for younger ones.

    Location: 10 Harbor Blvd Unit 234, Destin FL 32541, USA

    Phone: +1 850-273-7888

    Map
    5

    McGuire's Irish Pub

    Hearty party nights courtesy of the Emerald Isle

    • Food
    • Nightlife

    McGuire's Irish Pub is the go-to spot for after-dinner folk music, foot-stomping Gaelic fun, and watering sessions of whiskey and beer in Destin. Sitting at the western end of the HarborWalk, it's a cracking option for a nightcap after you've dined in the local seafood shacks by the boats.

    When it comes to imbibing, you can pick between heavy Irish stouts and red root beers, not to mention a whole load of American and European wines and mixed cocktails. There's food, in the form of hearty pub grub and sweet desserts. Also, get ready for a medley of local fingerpicking and banjo-plucking country musicians on the entertainment front.

    Location: 33 US-98 E, Destin FL 32541, USA

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 11 am to 2 am, Sunday from 10 am to 2 am

    Phone: +1 850-650-0000

    Map

    photo by Infrogmation (CC BY 3.0) modified

    6

    AMC

    A touch of Hollywood on the Gulf of Mexico

    • Families
    • Nightlife
    • Couples

    AMC – or the AMC at Destin Commons 14 – is a fine spot to get your fix of the silver screen between sessions on the silver-sanded beaches of the Sunshine State. You'll find it amid the retail outlets of the Destin Commons Mall, just a whisker off US Highway 98, the main road going through the town. 

    Multiple screens show the crème-de-la-crème of Hollywood's latest blockbusters. For something extra special, opt for the IMAX experience at the AMC. It costs a little extra but cranks up the immersion to new dizzying heights.

    Location: 4000 Legendary Dr, Destin FL 32541, USA

    Phone: +1 850-650-4539

    Map

    photo by Mike Kalasnik (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    7

    The Craft Bar

    Beers for all tastes

    • Nightlife

    The Craft Bar is a great place to sample some of the finest hops-filled brews this corner of Florida has to offer. The watering hole sits in the Paradise Key Shopping Center, between the 293 and the 98 roadways, close to the major Destin Commons mall.

    It's open until at least 10 pm every day of the week, which should leave you plenty of time for sampling the taps after your dinner in Destin. When it comes to said taps, the offering changes all the time. Will it be a zingy IPA with lemon undertones? Will it be a heavy coffee stout with a milky top? Oh, and everything from a Moscow Mule to a Southern smoked Old Fashioned is on the cocktail card, just in case you're not into beer.

    Location: 4424 Commons Dr E, Destin FL 32541, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to 11 pm, Friday–Saturday from 11 am to midnight, Sunday from 11 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 850-460-7907

    Map
    8

    The Village of Baytowne Wharf

    Summer festivals down by the waters of Choctawhatchee

    • Nightlife
    • Photo
    • Budget

    The Village of Baytowne Wharf sits on the northern edge of the golfing mecca of Miramar. It takes you east of Destin, right by the reflective waters of Choctawhatchee Bay. Expect a drive of around 30 minutes if you're heading in from the HarborWalk entertainment district.

    Those who make the journey will be rewarded with a wholesome and fun-filled enclave of shops, eateries and bars. The whole place is spread over a quaint quayside, filled with painted shacks and old fisherman cottages turned venues. Summertime events especially are plentiful at Baytowne, with evenings of rock and roll, jazz, and wine tastings on the calendar.

    Location: 9300 Baytowne Wharf Blvd, Miramar Beach FL 32550, USA

    Phone: +1 850-267-8000

    Map
    9

    Graffiti & The Funky Blues Shack

    Live music for every night of the week

    • Food
    • Nightlife

    The Graffiti & The Funky Blues Shack is bound to get the hips a-twisting and the toes a-tapping. Occupying in a neon-hazed building with timber-clad walls on the Emerald Coast Pkwy, it’s just a stone's throw from the main coast road and the Destin Commons.

    Here, regular live bands – usually from 7 pm onwards – combine with happy hour deals to get the good vibes flowing each evening. So, prepare for a medley of twangy Delta blues and Southern country, big band and bebop. All that's topped off with a menu of Floridian comfort fare, gulf seafood bites, and affordable drinks deals. 

    Location: 34902 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Destin FL 32541, USA

    Open: Daily from 5 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 850-424-6650

    Map
    10

    Destin Commons

    Shop during the day, catch live music at night

    • Nightlife
    • Shoppers

    The Destin Commons is one of the largest and most popular shopping precincts on the Emerald Coast. It's in a really convenient location, just where the Mid-Bay Toll Bridge crosses over to Destin proper and joins the 98 Highway as it rolls across the Panhandle – a cinch to reach for anyone with their own wheels.

    What awaits when you arrive is an award-winning mall with both indoor and outdoor strips. It's all centred on a pretty clocktower, which looms high above rows of high-fashion outlets, jewellers, electronics emporiums, fishing shops, cosmetics brands – you name it. The Destin Commons also hosts regular live music and boasts art galleries and buzzy bars.

    Location: 4100 Legendary Dr, Destin FL 32541, USA

    Open: Friday–Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm, Sunday–Thursday from 11 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +1 850-337-8700

    Map
    Joseph Francis | Contributing Writer

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