Community Guide: Crystal Beach
Tucked away off the beaten path in Destin lies Crystal Beach, a quiet community resting peacefully near the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Marked by quaint cottage-style homes offering a front-row view of the coastal seascape, you’ll likely catch glimpses of visitors and residents enjoying quiet walks in this peaceful neighborhood. Early risers gather for coffee before setting out on the day’s adventures, whether paddleboarding in the crystal clear turquoise waters, running and biking along the shoreline, or simply taking in the first drops of daylight on the covered porch of their beautiful home or vacation rental.
While the afternoon sun draws beach worshippers to the sandy shores, the evening sees curious travelers exploring excellent restaurants, plentiful shopping, and thriving nightlife nearby. Soaking up the sun, relaxing by the pool, and sharing experiences with family and friends symbolize the local lifestyle. It’s this laid-back beach-town vibe that makes Crystal Beach one of the most charming and popular communities in Destin. Whether you’re just passing through or your stay involves searching for that perfect Crystal Beach home or condo, we’ve got some tips to help make your time here even more enjoyable.
Where is Crystal Beach?
Crystal Beach is a small community located between Pensacola and Panama City in Destin, Florida. Located off of Scenic Highway 98, the main thoroughfare running parallel to the Gulf of Mexico, the area sees an influx of visitors each spring and summer. A popular destination for weekend travelers from nearby states, Crystal Beach is two hours from Mobile, two and a half hours from Tallahassee, and four hours from New Orleans.
Just 30 minutes from the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, an hour from the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, and an hour and a half from the Pensacola International Airport, the area is serviced by several carriers, including Southwest, American, United, and Delta.
Where to Stay
Crystal Beach is located right in the heart of Destin, with proximity to everything fun. You’ll find a wide selection of Destin vacation homes and condos guaranteed to make your vacation truly memorable. If you’re interested in relocating, buying a second home, or purchasing investment properties, talk with one of our agents about the Crystal Beach homes and condos available, many with private pools, waterfront views, and additional amenities to pamper you in style.
Where to Play
Outdoor living is at the heart of Crystal Beach’s charm, and it’s no wonder, given the beautiful weather year-round. The beach is where the action is, and our sugar-white sands and warm Gulf waters beckon for days spent in the glorious sunshine. Locals opt for The Shores at Crystal Beach Park, a quiet, family-friendly beach access point offering 65 feet of Gulf-front beach. Ranked #6 in Best Things to Do in Destin by U.S. News and World Report, the park is open from dawn to dusk and features public bathrooms, showers, and a picnic area.
While parasailing and kayaking, boat and helicopter tours, and paddleboarding are all favorite pastimes, there’s really no pressure to do anything but relax, unwind, and take in the beautiful scenery. Whether snorkeling or diving the artificial reefs, lounging poolside at your vacation rental or exploring the community, life doesn’t get much better than on the Emerald Coast!
Where to Eat
The local food scene is brimming with delicious eats, and although Destin cuisine is varied, we’ve provided a few favorites to help narrow down the selection.
- Camille’s – locals walk to this Crystal Beach favorite serving three squares alongside smoothies, and coffee, with cocktails and bar snacks served from 3-5 pm daily.
- Beach Walk Cafe – upscale yet casual dining with a fantastic menu showcasing steak, seafood, and pasta served alongside seasonal hand-crafted cocktails.
- Miller’s Ale House – a great place to catch a game on multiple flat screens while scarfing down baby back ribs, meatloaf, or fish tacos alongside a tasty cold brew.
- Lulu’s – featuring a scratch-made menu with fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, and classic seafood po’boys as just a few Southern classics we can’t get enough of.
- McGuire’s Irish Pub – for traditional pub fare, pasta, steaks, and chops, plus a full bar, live entertainment nightly, and special events happening year-round.
- Fudpucker’s Beachside Bar and Grill – a fun, casual environment featuring a diverse, family-friendly menu and the opportunity to hold baby alligators at Gator Beach.
- Bonefish Grill – serving fresh seafood, pasta, and steak with signature martinis, handcrafted cocktails, and wine and beer, rounding out a robust menu.
- Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer – start with some gumbo and the house smoked tuna dip before venturing into waterfront buckets and seafood platters sure to delight.
- Harbor Docks – serving everything from seafood and burgers to Thai and sushi, this locals hangout overlooking the Destin harbor is a great place to catch the sunset.
- Crab Trap – within walking distance and features an outdoor play area right on the beach, visitors flock annually for fresh seafood, frozen cocktails, and gorgeous views.
What to Do
Aside from sunbathing, swimming, and an array of water endeavors, Crystal Beach is near a host of family-friendly activities that will keep the whole family entertained.
Shoppers will relish a trip to the Destin Commons, an outdoor lifestyle center complete with an AMC Theater showing the latest releases. With over a dozen restaurants and 60 shops, it’s a fun time for all. Stop by the farmer’s market on the last Sunday of each month for fresh produce, handmade goods, original art, and more. Silver Sands Premium Outlets features over 100 designer and name brand stores, while the entertainment district at Village of Baytowne Wharf showcases boutiques, restaurants, and an Adventure Zone the kids will love.
From redfish and flounder to trout and tarpon, you’ll find it all and more along the Emerald Coast. Beginners and skilled anglers can cast a line in the shallows along Choctawhatchee Bay, the nearshore reefs, or the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Book a private charter, an overnight excursion, or simply cast your line at the jetties or Norriego Point, but read up on fishing license requirements before venturing out.
You’ll find several world-class courses just minutes away designed to offer up challenging yet fun play for all skill levels. Kelly Plantation Golf Club features 18 holes of championship golf along with spectacular views of the Choctawhatchee Bay. Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort offers four championship courses, each challenging in its own way, and the Emerald Bay Golf Club is a beautiful course north of highway 98 nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay. Enjoy your favorite game at Regatta Bay Golf and Yacht Club, a top-ranked 18-hole course with pristine fairways. For an advantage over your opponents, review their hole-by-hole virtual tour before heading out.
Spring and Summer Events
Spring and summer are a flurry of activity as the community welcomes longer days and plentiful sunshine. The Sandestin Wine Festival brings the locals out for a culinary experience second to none. Featured chefs, wine tastings and seminars, gourmet food booths, and a New Orleans brunch complement over 100 wines available for sampling. The Emerald Coast Poker Run is the largest summer poker run in the United States, stretching from Sandestin to Pensacola Beach. Participants collect cards en route for the win in this popular event with a Captain’s party that includes live music and a silent auction.
Fall and Winter Events
Fall is filled with fun festivals and gorgeous sunsets. Winter brings celebratory events and a festive atmosphere to the community, like the Annual Baytowne Wharf Beer Festival. Swing by and sample over 200 of your soon-to-be favorites while browsing booths with merchants selling their wares. Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy live music at The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, an outdoor venue that sees crowds enjoying local and regional artists throughout the year. Also host to the Festival of the Arts, the foundation showcases this family-friendly event featuring over 60 artists representing several mediums in an outdoor walking exhibit.
The Destin Seafood Festival, a three-day Destin harbor event featuring fresh seafood, arts and crafts, and fireworks, kicks off the Destin Fishing Rodeo. The rodeo will see novices and veteran fishers competing for cash prizes throughout October with daily weigh-ins at AJs Seafood and Oyster Bar.
The climate in Crystal Beach brings people all year round excited to spend time outdoors. Summer temperatures average in the upper 80s, while Spring and Fall range from the low 50s at night to the mid-70s each day. Winter is just as mild, with lows in the 40s at night and highs in the 60s.
Helpful Information for New Residents
We hope you enjoy your stay in our friendly community and look forward to welcoming you should you decide to make your stay permanent. Whether looking for a Crystal Beach home or condo to be used as a primary residence, a secondary home, or a vacation rental, we’re happy to offer several resources that will prove beneficial during your transition.