Heading to Sandestin with kids? We just got back from an amazing weekend there and I have all the details about it for you! Keep reading for the reasons you must visit, plus what to do, and best places to stay.
Being from Texas, I would fly to Florida a couple of times a year for some beach time. I wasn’t very adventurous though, I always went to Miami (my favorite city in the US). Now that I have kids, I decided to give the rest of Florida a chance.
I’ve heard about the Gulf Coast for years, and I decided to check it out. They were running a great deal on the Hilton Sandestin so I booked it and off we went.
Sandestin is a 2,400-acre resort community in Miramar, about eight miles from Destin. It has the same soft white sands and clear water as Destin, but not as jam packed. It’s essentially its own little town in the middle of the bigger towns.
There are many types of accommodations, golf courses, tennis facilities, marinas, shopping, and dining. The best part is that no matter where you decide to stay in Sandestin, you will get access to all of the Sandestin amenities.
Also, whether you stay on the beach or not, each hotel has private beach access to Miramar Beach.
So, if you’re looking for a beautiful and fun-filled trip to the Gulf Shore, keep reading!
Heading to the beach but don’t have any gear? I’ve got you covered!
- Sandestin is a beach town on the Gulf Coast of Florida, in between Destin and 30-A.
- The best features of Sandestin are the incredible beach, the family-friendly amenities offered, the proximity to Baytowne Wharf, and the free transportation around town.
- Two of the best hotels to stay at are the Hilton Sandestin and the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.
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Best Time to Visit Sandestin
Any time between May-October is the time you’ll be able to get a great beach day. The weather is warm, sun is shining, and the water is comfortable to swim in. All of the tourist attractions and water activities are open for business too.
However, the very best time to visit are the months of May or October. The water is warm enough to swim in and the temperatures and humidity are much more comfortable than in the summer (mid/high 70s and 80s).
Any time earlier than May or later than October is risky weather-wise. Hurricane season is between June-November, so be extra sure to purchase travel insurance if you vacation during those months.
The most popular time to visit is obviously summer, but it’ll be crowded and the prices will be at their highest. But on the plus side, the summer months are packed with the best family activities like weekly firework shows and nightly family events.
Getting to Sandestin
Sandestin is drivable from three different airports.
VPS Airport: It is 24 miles (~45 minutes with no traffic) from Fort Walton/Destin Airport (VPS).
ECP Airport: You can also try Panama City Airport (ECP) which is 41 miles (~75 minutes) away.
PNS Airport: Additionally, Pensacola Airport (PNS) is 82 miles (~90 minutes) away.
Getting Around Sandestin
I could’ve easily stayed at our hotel the whole time and been completely content. There was so much to do, and everything was at my fingertips. But we did get out to explore the area.
Tram: We ventured out using the free Sandestin tram. With stops at every major area, it was majorly convenient.
Bikes: Additionally, our resort (and many others) had free bike rentals for up to 4 hours.
Car rental: To get around Sandestin yourself or hop over to the neighboring cities, you can rent a car at the airport and enjoy the beautiful Gulf views from the car.
Best Places to Stay in Sandestin
Sandestin has many types of accommodations. There are the major hotels that offer standard double rooms or large family suites like the Hilton Sandestin, Hotel Effie Sandestin, and Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.
Each of the hotels have access to the private beach. They also have pools, full-service spas, dining options, and gyms.
This is where we stayed, and we LOVED it. It’s the only hotel in Sandestin that’s actually on the beach. There were multiple pools, dining options, great service, a spa, plus free parking if you need it.
They have standard rooms, and multiple suites like family parlor suites (with bunk beds!) and ambassador suites. The resort has won many types of awards and it’s no surprise why!
➡️ Check prices and book your stay at the Hilton Sandestin by clicking here!
If you need extra room, then this is your spot- it’s a condo resort. You’ll get the extra room plus the multi-room rooms all have a full kitchen.
There’s also a ton of freebies with your stay, like free bike rentals, kayaking, boogie board rentals, and tennis court time. It’s also walking distance to the private beach!
➡️ Check prices and book your stay at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort by clicking here!
5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Sandestin
1. THE BEACH!
I could not get over the beauty of the beach. The moment I walked on the sand I was hooked. It was like walking on FLOUR. Yes, flour. (When I got back home, I found some flour to confirm and yes, the sand was like flour.)
White, fluffy, easy to walk (and make sandcastles) in. There were also plenty of chairs and umbrellas offered too ($40 for the day) so you could easily camp out there all day. If you didn’t, there was a small strip of sand by the water with just enough room to plop your stuff down and jump in.
To compliment the dreamy sand, the water was emerald green and as clear as pool water. There were no rocks in the water and it was shallow enough that I could comfortably walk out a good distance.
The waves were hit or miss depending on the day, but even the worst waves we got weren’t bad. My 2-year-old actually had a blast jumping in the waves and floating back.
To add to the fun of the beach, there were plenty of water activities. The coolest one was the inflatable obstacle course. It was roughly 50 yards away and had a variety of humongous floats (think of that show Wipe Out).
In addition to that, there were jet skis, kayaks, and banana boats for rent, parasailing, and of course beach volleyball. In short, the beach had it all!
2. Everything You Need Is There
Without a doubt, Sandestin was made with families in mind. Everything that a family would want is there.
To start, in addition to the fantastic beach, the resorts each have multiple pools and hot tubs. Sandestin has 19 pools altogether! The Hilton had two large outdoor pools and a hot tub, plus an indoor pool that we would have some fun in (to get any remaining energy out) before bedtime.
Beach access was directly across from both the pools so it made it very easy to jump from beach to pool (and my son wanted to do this multiple times a day!)
For the athletes, families have their choice of golf. They can head over to Dune’s Mini Golf, an adorable 18-hole course with sand-traps, water hazards, and fast-breaking ridges. Or for the more advanced golfers, Sandestin is home to four championship golf courses.
There are also basketball courts next to Dune’s and you can rent basketballs. Or you can head over to one of the 15 tennis courts and get private lessons, hitting sessions, join a class, or a matching service. They even have children’s tennis activities too.
Two of the resorts offer Kids Clubs during the day and at night too- Kids Crew at the Hilton Sandestin and Club KZ at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. The kids fly kites, build sandcastles, play with water balloons and squirters, slide down water slides and slip-and-slides, play educational and interactive games, and so much more.
Not only do the kids have a ton of fun with other kids but the parents can have some adult fun as well! Check the schedules for both on the links above.
After all that fun, there are all kinds of food options. Our resort, like many of the other resorts, had numerous food options.
Just in the Hilton, there was a coffee and snack shop (with Starbucks coffee), a beach snack hut that had all kinds of quick pre-made snacks like chicken tenders or pizza, an open-air bar and grill perfect for lunch by the pool, a breakfast buffet, and a sushi restaurant.
There was also pool and beach service, so you didn’t even have to leave your seat if you didn’t want to.
TIP: I recommend sticking with seafood, it’s fresh and we never had a bad seafood meal… everything else was nothing special. And don’t expect to get a quick meal at a restaurant either, everything goes at a slow pace in Sandestin.
3. Village of Baytowne Wharf
Baytowne Wharf is a charming little village with cobblestone streets lined with big, full trees right on the bay. It was modeled after Bourbon Street in New Orleans (but a family version). It’s full of food, shopping, events, family activities, and nightlife.
They have many, like 10 or 12, delicious options for dining. Plus, many options for ice cream and candy stores for dessert.
The kids activities were legit. A merry-go-round, an enclosed playground, an adventure zone with zip-lining and a ropes course, and laser tag and an arcade.
And the best part—all kinds of family events. In the summer, there are weekly firework shows, live music, magic shows, outdoor movies, art festivals, and food festivals.
You can easily spend hours here or come back multiple times. My kid cried when we had to leave, so it’s that kind of place.
If addition to the Wharf, Grand Boulevard offers a more upscale option for shopping and dining, plus a movie theater.
4. The FREE Sandestin Tram Gets Your Around
The shuttle was a life saver. I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of renting a car and finding parking, so I wanted to visit a place that was walkable and had transportation included.
The tram runs on two continuous loops and will hit each stop roughly every 30 minutes.
In the summer months, it runs from 8:30am—midnight on weekdays and 8:30am—2:00am on weekends. It fits about 20 people with overhead storage.
There is even a live tracker!
5. Location, location, location.
Sandestin is the type of place you can visit and not leave the resort. However, if you want to see more places during your time at the Gulf, it can also be a great home base to discover neighboring cities. It’s in a perfect location—only 8 miles away is Destin and 10 miles to 30-A beaches.
Destin is a bustling hot spot. It’s called “The Crown Jewel of the Emerald Coast.” It’s much larger than Sandestin and has a wide variety of activities and restaurants from water parks to dolphin cruises. It’s usually packed with tourists though, so competition on lodging, restaurants, and events is high.
You can head over to Destin and get the action during the day and then enjoy quiet nights in Sandestin. The best of both worlds!
Scenic Highway 30-A is home to 12 different unique beaches. Even though they are neighbors, they each have their own charm about them.
30-A is relaxed, quiet, and less commercial area. If you want a slow beach day or a bike ride around an adorable town, this could be a perfect day trip!
FAQs: Sandestin With Kids
What is the difference between Destin and Sandestin?
Sandestin is a 2,400-acre resort community about eight miles from Destin. Sandestin is essentially its own little town in the middle of the bigger cities. It has the same soft white sands and clear water as Destin, but not as jam packed.
Destin is a large, bustling city with a vibrant atmosphere. There are more activities, lodging, and events – but also more traffic, crowds, and higher prices.
If you want to be in the action, pick Destin. If you’d rather a calmer beach trip, pick Sandestin.
Is Miramar Beach good for families?
Does Sandestin have a private beach?
Wrapping Up: Sandestin With Kids
As you can tell, Sandestin is an incredible place to visit for your next family vacation.
It has great family-friendly hotels, fun activities, and even FREE transportation so you don’t have to worry about a car.
We had a blast while we were there, and I hope that you do too!
Enjoy your trip to Sandestin!