Destin Road Trip from Austin: The Ultimate Guide
If you’re looking to road trip to Destin, Florida from Austin, Texas here is your ultimate guide! I included everything from where to stay, things to do, places to eat, and pitstops along the way. The beaches along the Emerald Coast are some of the best in the country with clear blue-green water and soft white sand. It’s the perfect place to unwind and so worth the drive!
Where to Stay
Majestic Sun Condos | $200/night
We stayed 5 nights in Miramar Beach in South Walton which is just a couple miles east of Destin. We booked a place at Majestic Sun Condos through Airbnb. Note that we booked this last minute just a few days before our Labor Day trip. You can easily find quality and even more affordable accommodations in the area on non-holidays and if you book a little further in advance. The condo we were in had a beach view, king bed, bunk bed, pull out couch, full kitchen, and washer/dryer. It’s great for families! Best part is the location! There is easy access to the beach, all you have to do is walk a few steps across the street. The stay also included parking for 2 vehicles, had a guarded and gated car entryway, and plenty of parking spots. All very important things to consider when you are traveling via car!
Things to Do
Go to the beach
This was the reason we wanted to visit Destin and really the only thing you need to do while you’re here. Watch the sunset, swim in the water, or play in the sand. The beaches here are some of the best in the US and maybe even the world! The water is clear blue and green and sand is soft and white. It definitely lives up to its nickname, the Emerald Coast. We visited in September and the weather was warm but not triple digits hot. It was the perfect temperature to be in the water. Although be mindful when you are planning that generally June through October is hurricane season. We were lucky to not have rain when we were there. We frequented Miramar Beach because it was closest to our Airbnb but I’m sure you can’t go wrong with any of the beaches in the Destin area!
Browse Souvenir Shops
Super touristy thing to do but I love it! Like typical beach towns, the souvenir shops here are pretty big. Some have multiple stories and sell everything from t-shirts to home decor. The bigger stores tend to have fun photo ops in the front like a giant beach chair or shark mouth. We snagged a magnet, postcard, and even found a $4 boogie board on sale which we definitely put to good use at the beach! Alvin’s Island is probably the biggest one we noticed, they have a huge variety of items, and there seems to be one on every street. Beware of a store named “$5 Beach Store”, nothing in there is actually $5!
MORE PLANNING RESOURCES
Places to Eat
Below are 5 places we ordered takeout from that we enjoyed! Since we traveled in the midst of COVID-19 we made the decision not to dine-in while we were here. Unfortunately this eliminated a lot of restaurants that we wanted to try and those that were recommended to us because they offered only dine-in options and no takeout.
Restaurants we wanted to try that didn’t offer takeout but had dine-in only: Dewey Destin Seafood, Pompano Joe’s, Harry T’s, The Back Porch
J.C. Seafood House
321 Mary Esther Blvd | juicycrabhousefl.com
When in Florida, seafood is a must! This restaurant is located in Mary Esther, a few miles west of Destin. You can build your own seafood boil here. First you pick a sauce then choose what seafood you want, and how much. We got 5 lbs of cajun garlic butter crawfish, king crab, shrimp, mussels, clams, sausage, corn, and potatoes. It was an amazing seafood feast!
635 Harbor Blvd | whereindestin.com/donut-hole-destin
This diner serves classic southern breakfast all day! We enjoyed the Crab Cake Benedict, The Everything, and donuts! The key lime pie is supposed to be the best here. I’m not an expert but I must say it was delicious! Tip: if you call ahead for takeout or order takeout at the restaurant, you can skip the line of people that’s usually out the door!
Maple Street Biscuit Company
9375 Emerald Coast Pkwy W | maplestreetbiscuits.com
They make epic biscuits here! As you can see, they definitely don’t skimp on chicken. These are huge and super filling. I got the Squawking Goat which is a fried chicken biscuit with fried goat cheese medallion and pepper jelly. They also have loaded chicken biscuits with gravy, honey butter, and other awesome combos!
4618 Opa-Locka Ln
This spot is located inside a gas station. It’s a hidden gem, hole in the wall, serving up delicious authentic Mexican food. We got street tacos w/ onions, cilantro, lime, red, & green salsa and tamales. Don’t let the location fool you! I won’t name any names but this place is miles better than another highly rated and popular taco restaurant in town.
Acme Oyster House
90 Seascape Dr | acmeoyster.com
Acme is a New Orleans based restaurant serving up Cajun and Creole food. We love soft shell crab and not many restaurants offer whole fried ones, it’s usually in sandwich form. So we had to jump at the chance to get a Double Soft Shell Crab Platter! Also, you can’t go to Acme and not get chargrilled oysters and a cup of gumbo!
multiple locations | publix.com
Since our Airbnb had a full kitchen, we cooked about half of our meals during this trip. Publix was our go-to place groceries, water, and other random stuff. We don’t have Publix in Texas but it’s similar to HEB. They also have $5 sushi rolls on Wednesdays! Not fancy rolls or top notch sushi by any means but certainly good enough for me!
Pitstops on Your Austin to Destin Road Trip
buc-cees.com | Buc-ee’s is an iconic Texas pitstop. This should be a destination in itself. There are tons of gas pumps, extra clean restrooms, and all the snacks you could want. The one in Baytown is the last one before you leave Texas. We discovered that there is also a Buc-ee’s in Alabama. Trust me, it is worth it to plan your pitstops around Buc-ee’s!
Pilot Flying J
pilotflyingj.com | When we were in states where there wasn’t a Buc-ee’s, we’d stop at Pilot. Nothing special about this pit stop, it just seemed to be in convenient locations, decent bathrooms, and basic snacks.
loves.com | Comparable to Pilot. If you need to make a stop, this would be a good place to go if you can’t make it to the next Buc-ee’s. Again, nothing exciting but decent.
neworleans.com | If you have the time either direction on your road trip to Destin from Austin, New Orleans is just a quick detour away. Stop for some cajun food, beignets, or to explore the French Quarter. On this particular trip, we did not stop here but in past trips to Florida we stayed a night or two. Definitely recommend adding this onto your itinerary if you’ve never been to NOLA before! You’re driving past it so you might as well stop to explore a new city. Check out my “3-Day New Orleans Road Trip Itinerary” post for some ideas of what to do!
Overall it was such a relaxing trip. We took this trip for my birthday but it was also a much needed escape from our hectic everyday lives. Destin is the perfect place to slow down and relax. If you’re considering doing a road trip to Destin, Florida from Austin, Texas, I’d say do it! With two people driving and taking turns, you should have no problem making it in one day. In total, with short stops for gas and bathroom breaks, it took us about 12 hours. We switched driver every 3 to 4 hours, which is also about 3 to 4 times. However if it’s just one driver, stopping in New Orleans isn’t a bad idea! If you have any questions or comments about my trip, please leave me a comment below!