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Summer’s End Doesn’t Mean End of Fun in Destin

by S. Lynne on September 28th, 2012

Summer may be over, but Destin is still one of the hottest vacation destinations on the Florida Gulf Coast. In fact, fall is a great time to take a Destin vacation. The weather’s still warm and sunny, the crowds have thinned, and, best of all, the rates for lodging have dropped.

Fall is also the season when the area hosts some of its biggest events. The entire month of October is dedicated to saltwater fishing, the sport that earned Destin its reputation as “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.”  ­Described as “the ultimate fishing tournament for saltwater anglers of all ages,” the Destin Fishing Rodeo has been attracting a crowd since 1948. Hosted by AJ’s Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar, the event, which runs daily from October 1 through October 31, offers more than $100,000 in prizes and usually attracts about 30,000 visitors annually.

“We have daily weigh-ins on our docks,” said Tracy McCraw, marketing manager for AJ’s. “This is one of the few events where people don’t actually watch the event   —   people watch the weigh-ins. They grab a drink and sit on our docks to watch.”

According to McCraw, fishing is free for anglers aboard any boat that is registered for the rodeo — and there are always plenty of Destin charter captains participating. There’s a $25 fee for anglers aged 15 and older who want to fish on the pier, bridge or jetty.

Awards are given for just about every kind of game fish.   “We once had a 436-pound Warsaw grouper,” said McCraw. Awards are given daily and weekly, in addition to overall at the end of the tournament.

The fishing includes Junior, Teen, Ladies, and Senior divisions. Children who participate receive a free fishing rod, courtesy of AJ’s.

For more information about the Destin Fishing Rodeo, go to

Another popular fall event, tied to the Fishing Rodeo, is the Destin Seafood Festival. Held around Destin Harbor and Boardwalk, it’s scheduled this year for October 5, 6, and 7. “Every business in the harbor area is involved in this event,” said McCraw. “It embraces the heritage of our area, which is fishing. It started with the fishermen’s wives as a way to end a successful season with a bang.”

Events at this year’s festival include arts, crafts, music, entertainment, and fireworks, as well as plenty of fresh local seafood served by local restaurants. Musicians playing everything from rock to reggae will perform at Destin City Stage, HarborWalk Village Amphitheater, Harry T’s Lighthouse, Crazy Lobster, Tightlines, The Shed BBQ and Blues Joint, AJ’s Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar, and Boathouse Oyster Bar.

Admission to the seafood festival is free, but a $2 donation (per adult) is appreciated. Hours are 3 to 10 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Many popular Destin condos, hotels, and resorts offer special rates, a free night’s stay, and other incentives for fall travelers.   And one of the best places to start planning an off-season Destin getaway is With hundreds of listings for vacation rentals, we make it easy to compare rates, amenities, and other features for accommodations ranging from Gulf-front condos to roomy residences in gated golfing resorts. also offers listings for restaurants, fishing charters, shops, and other fun things to do.

To start planning a Destin vacation, just click on the links for Destin vacation rentals, Destin shopping, Destin recreation, Destin fishing, and Destin restaurants, and start planning some end-of-summer fun today.

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One Comment
  1. Destin is a fabulous place to vacation in Florida. Everything about the place is first class and the fishing can’t be beat.

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