Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

How to Beat the Traffic in Destin Florida (Local Tips for Your Vacation)

How to Beat the Traffic in Destin Florida (Local Tips for Your Vacation)

You spent the cold winter months dreaming of your summer vacation to beautiful Destin

Once spring arrived, and the first buds began to bloom, you started a family countdown calendar on the fridge, getting everyone excited about the upcoming adventure to the Sunshine State. 

You bought sunscreen in every SPF imaginable, you replaced the rusty old beach chairs with a few brand spanking new ones, and you even spent 30 days surviving on kale smoothies just to feel good about your swimsuit bod.

All of these hopes and dreams, the stuff vacation memories are made of, do not include a single fantasy about….being stuck in traffic.

However, as sure as mosquitoes can ruin a summer picnic, as sure as a sunburn can ruin a round of golf, and as sure as a jellyfish sting can turn a beach day sour, traffic can also be a thorn in the side of any vacationer.

With that in mind, we have gathered some tips and ideas to help you beat the traffic in Destin, so you can spend more time soaking up the glorious Florida sun and less time staring at a bumper in front of you.

Why We Love Destin

Traffic aside (for a moment), Destin is an incredibly popular vacation destination for many good reasons.

The primary draw, what has brought people to here for decades is simple: its beaches. (Read this post about our favorite beaches in Destin.) Destin wows millions of visitors each year with stunning emerald waters and crystal white sands. This region of Florida is known as the Emerald Coast, and Destin is considered by many as the crown jewel.

Aside from its incredible natural beauty, Destin also offers vacationers a wide array of family-friendly attractions, from stand up paddleboards and exciting dolphin tours to dining and shopping. There is something for every member of the family in Destin, whether you want to spend a leisurely day soaking up the sun on the beach with a good book or you want to go for a more adrenaline-fueled excursion to Crab Island or a deep-sea fishing charter. 

To enjoy your Destin vacation to the fullest, you should plan ahead and follow our tips for beating the traffic. When planning your trip, keep in mind that Navarre Beach is quiet and offers a great beach and pool spot for the family. You will also find nice restaurants in downtown Pensacola.

However, Pensacola Beach is much more of a tourist spot, so expect more traffic and crowds and not as much in the way of great food and shopping as you would find in Destin. Okaloosa Island is just off Destin and has many amenities, but you may find yourself spending a lot of time in a traffic jam. 

Why We Love Destin Florida

Tip 1: Location, Location, Location

Whether you are staying in a hotel, a high-rise condo, or a vacation rental or home in Destin, take some time to research the location and proximity to the beach and other activities you are interested in enjoying on your trip. As a major pro tip, you can travel quite freely by pontoon boat around Destin harbor and the surrounding areas. Warning: This might incite much jealousy from those stuck on the road who realize they didn’t reserve a pontoon rental ahead of time. If this interests you, make sure you plan ahead. (We even guide you where to go.)

If your goal is to avoid traffic as much as possible while in Destin, the best route for you may be an oceanfront resort with amenities. That way, once you arrive, you can simply park the car and not return to it for the duration of your stay (or perhaps use it only once or twice to leave the resort). 

Destin has a number of resorts where everything you could possibly want—activities, dining, shopping, and more—are all available on the property. This can make for a stress-free vacation, especially for families with smaller children looking for things to do. Cutting down on the number of times you hoist little ones in and out of car seats is a welcome relief for most parents, certainly while on vacation.

Tip 2: Timing is Everything

Timing matters a great deal when it comes to avoiding a traffic jam in Destin (or anywhere for that matter), and the rule of thumb during your vacation is to go out early.

Head out to go shopping, visit parks, or take in other attractions earlier in the day. We know this may be unwelcome news for night owls who like to sleep in, but the traffic gets progressively worse throughout the day in Destin as more and more vacationers head out to various sites.

If you schedule activities in the morning hours and aim to be beachside or poolside all afternoon, you may be able to avoid some of the headaches associated with Destin traffic.

Consider, too, the timing of your arrival and try to bring everything you need for at least the first night, without having to stop and shop. If you have spent a long day driving or flying to Destin, the last thing you want is to continue to sit in traffic while trying to get to a grocery store. 

Find a good parking area, check-in, relax, and unwind, then make a grocery run early the next morning to beat the crowds and the traffic flow.

Tip 3: Patience is a Virtue

Finally, bear in mind that traffic is simply a reality in Destin. You might consider traffic the price we all have to pay to enjoy Destin’s stunning beaches. Try to stay patient and calm, focusing as much as possible on the fun memories you will make on your trip!


We at Destiny Water Adventures hope these 3 simple tips shave off some of the “are we there yet” car questions for you and your family. Our goal is to pad your time with fun memories, and the “I wish this wouldn’t end” statements we all cherish so much. For other tips on making the most of your Destin vacation, check out our blog. If you are traveling with kids, here is one related post where we rank the best kid friendly places to eat around Destin.

See you soon!


More Posts