The temperatures dip come September, but Destin’s beaches and fall fun sizzle. Thinned-out crowds, cooler temps, and festivals and events rival summer’s hold any day. The Emerald’s Coast’s year-round golfing, fishing, and watersports serve up adventure, but Destin’s robust offering of festivals (or feastivals, give the food-and-drink outings) make fall the perfect time to book a stay.
Destin Fishing Rodeo:
Anglers compete in the 73rd-annual Destin Fishing Rodeo happening from October 1st-31st. Fish from kayaks, paddle boards, piers, bridges, jetties, and, of course, boats to weigh in your haul. More than 30,000 anglers vie for prizes exceeding $100,000, so cast a line and test your skill. October Rodeo events also include Halloween on the Harbor, the Destin 5K Rodeo Run, Kids Fall Movie Festival, and more.
Rocktober Nights with Fireworks at HarborWalk Village:
After a day spent checking out the Fishing Rodeo’s haul, swing by HarborWalk Village for free concerts on October 14th and 21st. Cap off the night with a 9pm fireworks blowout blanketing Destin Harbor.
28th Annual Festival of the Arts:
Add culture to the fall calendar with a stop at the 28th Festival of the Arts, one of the Southeast's premier juried arts festivals. The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation presents works from more than 100 artists. Street performers, live music, children’s events, and food trucks make this a stop on your fall calendar or packed enough to fill up a whole weekend. The festival runs October 28-29th.
Food and Drink Festivals
Smoke on the Coast:
Destin isn’t just for seafood lovers. Check out the area’s best BBQ on September 30th at Destin Commons from 3-6pm. A bonus to savoring the rubs, sauces, and smoked meats? The festival pairs local charities with restaurants to win more than $72,000 in prizes. Local bands are on hand for entertainment.
Baytowne Wharf Beer Festival:
Craft beer fans, gather! The Baytowne Wharf Beer Festival hosts more than 200 breweries–lagers and ales, sours and stouts and everything in between. October 6th features local offerings and the Grand Tasting takes over the day on the 7th. Sit down with one of the on-site brewery reps to learn more about the tastings. Two-day tickets are available as well as admission to single events.
Market Shops Bloody Mary Festival:
Unlimited tastes of craft bloody marys and a chance to raise money for this year’s charity–Habitat for Humanity of Walton County–make the 7th Market Shops Bloody Mary Festival a treat for your taste buds and a way to give back. Sip your way through the festival on October 14th as 14 restaurants offer up their takes on this bruchtime classic. Tasting guide maps let you plan your outing.
Destin Seafood Festival
Kick off the Destin Fishing Rodeo from October 6th-8th when you walk the more than two miles of vendors offering up fresh catch and local delicacies like fried alligator (Who says Destin’s adventures are just on the water?). Shrimp, crabs, oysters, and more tempt festival goers looking for a taste of the coast. If seafood isn’t on your menu, landlubbers, non-seafood dishes also pepper the stalls. Artisans also are on hand and offer up unique, handcrafted finds and live entertainment rounds out the sensory delights.
Halloween Haunt at Destin Commons:
Suit up in your best costume and trick-or-treat storefront style on October 27th from 3-6pm. Transform your look with face painting, test your skill with some fall crafting, and maybe show off your costume and capture one of the costume contest’s prizes.
Spooktacular Nights at HarborWalk Village:
The perfect way to wrap up spooky season! The Spooktacular Nights at HarborWalk Village transform the village from October 26th-28th with a live orchestra, trick-or-treating for the little goblins, and a bingo pub crawl for the kid-at-heart Halloween fans. This event is free and be sure to stay for Saturday night’s fireworks show.
Trick-or-Treat Street at the Village of Baytowne Wharf:
The actual day of Halloween sees ghosts, goblins, and every type of trick-or-treater hit The Boardwalk and Fishing Pier on Okaloosa Island. Merchants dole out the treats (no tricks here!). Live music and craft stations round out this bootiful Halloween night.
McGuire’s Halloween 5K/10K Run:
Burn off some energy–and Halloween candy–by hitting the road for this 5k run/walk or 10k run on October 28th at 9am. Bookend your run with a pre-race breakfast and post-race party. Prizes up for grabs for running and costumes.