Ok, this is a good/bad review. I decided to take the wife and teenage daughters to Destin for our beach vacation this year.
First off - the 2 bedroom condo we rented was very good. We enjoyed the condo. It was everything we expected based on the website pictures. I guess the only negative is that the condo above us had a tile floor so everytime someone moved a chair it sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard! But I have no complaints about the condo. The owners did a great job with their furnishings. Additionally, there are 20 floors (actually 19 since there was no 13th floor) so the elevators were used quite a bit. One of the four elevators never worked the entire week we were there but again no problems. And the staff did a great job cleaning the high traffic areas. The checkin process was fine. We had no problems with the staff as they were nice during check in and check out. Be sure to keep a luggage cart in your room the night before you check out - seems that's the thing to do to ensure you don't have to lug your bags to your vehicle...
We ate out 5 of the 7 nights we were there. Got to say Louisiana Lagniappe was our favorite and the most expensive of all the meals. McGuire's Irish Pub was good. Fisherman's Wharf was ok - as well as the night we just ate at the Hard Rock Cafe at Destin Commons (outdoor mall area). We did not like the Laredo Cantina that well but they had a great Margarita!
Destin Commons is an outdoor mall area (Bass Pro Shops, Movie theater, Books a Million, etc...) and was a good place for the girls to spend more money. We didn't do the water park or any of the outdoor amusement type spots. I was intrigued by Fuddpuckers but I couldn't talk my wife into letting me pull in to check it out...
On a cloudy day we took a trip down to Okaloosa Island to walk the pier ($2 per adult). We also went through the Gulfarium ($20 per adult) to see dolphins, seals, sharks, turtles, etc... Everybody seemed to enjoy the exhibits and shows. Definitely not sea world but they do a great job there.
Ok, now the bad and it pains me to say it but the beach was terrible. There are two huge high rise condo buldings there at the Pelican Resorts. Evidently in Florida the property lines extend to the edge of the water. And both properties that border the Pelican property put up caution tape along the boundary and do not (repeat do not) allow Pelican renters/owners on their beach. So imagine 3000 people crammed into 150 yards of beach front. Let's just say everybody gets to know their beach neighbor. We rented an umbrella and two beach chairs from the beach service which was fine. However, they don't get there to setup until 8ish/9am. So the early birds who own their own umbrellas/chairs get most of the beach front spots. So in my opinion, go to Walmart - buy a cheap umbrella and stake your claim while you make coffee. The week we were there there was basically 4 rows of chairs and umbrellas along the beach. Both properties to the left and right of the Pelican property were not crowded. If you want an idea of how it is setup try google earth and zoom in on the beach area. You'll see what I'm talking about.
The beach property itself will keep us from ever staying at this property again. Other than being packed in like sardines, the ocean has eroded the beach and has created a ledge. If you like to walk or run on the beach near the water - well you need to be part mountain goat or run behind the tractor that cleans the beach. Simply- the beach front is terrible. Yes, the sand was white and on a couple of days you could see why the area is called the Emerald Coast. But we assumed from the storms and rain that we had, the "june" grass was a turnoff as well. Definitely not what we expected.
Will we ever visit Destin again? Probably. But no way we stay at the Pelican. And it's not because of the condo or the staff or the parking. It will be because of the beach itself. I would suggest anyone who is trying the Destin area for their first trip - ask the property about the beach before you book. Ask about the umbrellas and chairs situation.
So our grade for this trip would be average. The emerald coast wasn't as pretty as we expected. Heck, most of the time we couldn't even see the water from our vantage point.
If you have any questions I'll be glad to answer! Hope this helps other first time Destin visitors.
Our 2 bedroom condo faced east so we caught the morning sun. Do not stay on lower floors overlookin...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.