Valentine’s Day fell on a Monday this year, which, between recovering from the weekend and starting a new work week, may be the least romantic day out of the seven! That’s why we recommend celebrating love with your partner throughout the week of Valentine’s Day, heck, why not the whole month of February? With relaxing, fun and tasty things to do, the Destin and Fort Walton Beach areas are an excellent place to enjoy as a couple. Here are some of our suggestions for the best romantic restaurants and activities near Crab Island to enjoy as a couple:
Best Romantic Restaurants in Destin
If you’ve read our previous blogs, you’re already aware that Destin is known for its spectacular fishing scene. With the ease of fishing and the variety of Gulf fish and shellfish available in the area, from red snappers and mahi mahi to the best oysters and king crabs, it only makes sense that the Florida panhandle would be celebrated for its excellent seafood! Not into seafood? Don’t worry, many of our favorite restaurants offer vegetarian and non-seafood options as well!
If you are on the lookout for a romantic dining experience with outdoor seating and a view of the beach that cannot be beat, make a reservation at the Beach Walk Cafe located in Destin’s Henderson Park Inn. The restaurant has a variety of delicious seafood options, but also includes veggie-friendly and non-seafood items as well. The award-winning view of the Gulf of Mexico makes this the perfect date night spot. They even offer the option to reserve their ‘Toes in the Sand’ dining experience, which includes a private table seating on the edge of the water with an incredible view of the sunset, plus a dedicated server. It’s guaranteed to be one of the most romantic dining experiences of your life!
Another excellent option in Destin is Louisiana Lagniappe, also an upscale waterfront dining experience, but with a more casual vibe. A staple in the area, Louisiana Lagniappe has been making creole-influenced Gulf seafood since 1984 and they consistently win TripAdvisor’s Award of Excellence, ranking in the Top 10 restaurants in the area each year. They open daily at 4:30pm and have a “2 Can Dine w/ Wine” Valentine’s week special that runs through Thursday, February 17th!
For the wine-loving couples out there, Bijoux in Miramar beach, a full service fine dining restaurant with an award winning wine list is a great option. They describe their cuisine as coastal with a New Orleans flair, but they are lauded for their prime steaks as well and they have vegetarian-friendly menu items. Bijoux has outdoor seating available and private dining options if you are looking for something more intimate. Just keep in mind that the attire is formal, so leave the shorts at home!
On a budget? ear not, there are plenty of affordable dining options for a romantic evening in the Destin area. For a unique menu and quality wine list, we recommend checking out Vin’Tij Food & Wine, which has been a local favorite for two decades in Miramar Beach. Like the other restaurants on our list, they also boast outdoor seating options. Vin’Tij prides themselves on high quality food and wine, and a comfortable, unpretentious environment.
If a great view is a priority on your date nights, checkout Jaco’s Bayfront Bar and Grille in Pensacola. They have a relaxed atmosphere, excellent food and an unbeatable view overlooking the boats in the Palafox Pier Marina.
For those looking for a romantic ambience with tasty eats in the Destin area but aren’t seafood lovers, Mimmo’s Ristorante Italiano is an excellent place to bring a date. They serve Southern-Italian cuisine and the best pizza in the area. Besides great food, they’re consistently reviewed for their friendly, conscientious staff and excellent service. Just be sure to get there early or make a reservation, as Mimmo’s can fill up fast!
Fun Outdoor Activities in the Area
The Gulf of Mexico is the 9th largest body of water in the world, covering 600,000 square miles and home to over 15,000 marine species! We’ve mentioned the wide variety of fishes to be found in the area in our Fort Walton & Destin Fishing Guide, but did you know there’s also 9 different species of dolphins found in the Gulf Coast? Though only the Bottlenose dolphin, Atlantic Spotted dolphin, and Risso’s dolphin are commonly found in nearshore waters, this area is known for being one of the best dolphin watching spots in the country.
Why not do something special as a couple, take advantage of the diversity of wildlife on the Emerald Coast and enjoy a romantic sunset cruise or sailing charter? Dolphins are most active between 2pm and sunset so this is the perfect time to spot these personable creatures among all the other wildlife in the area. And don’t forget, once March 1st comes around, Crab Island Watersports is back open! Enjoy the water and keep your eyes out for dolphins from one of our pontoon boats or jet skis.
For a romantic outing with an unbeatable price, head over to Henderson Beach State Park for a stroll down the white sand beaches. There’s a $6 entry fee, but unlike other beaches in the area, it’s quite spacious which means fewer crowds. Plus it has plenty of parking, multiple restrooms, areas with gazebos and tables for eating and friendly park staff! You can even rent a private campsite and spend a romantic night on the beach with your date, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Fun Indoor Activities in Destin
Are you a couple that likes to indulge in the luxurious? Before hitting one of the recommended restaurants, or maybe after dolphin watching on the water, why not splurge on a massage for two and enjoy time relaxing and being pampered as a couple. There’s some excellent spas in the area that have specials and offerings for couples. We recommend checking out the Surfside Spa, the Spa at Silver Shells or the Spa at Henderson Beach Resort which are all located in Destin. Another great option is Spa Lilliana at the luxury Hotel Effie in Miramar Beach.
Maybe you’re a pair that’s more interested in adventure and excitement than relaxation. You’re in luck as there’s plenty of that to be found on the Emerald Coast as well. For fun-loving couples, test your relationship under pressure with a visit to one of Destin’s escape rooms! An escape room is just what it sounds like – a themed room filled with puzzles that have to be solved within a certain time limit to win. They can be a fun and adrenaline-filled activity to enjoy as a couple and there are a few different options in Destin. Check out Escapology, Gulf Coast Escape Room, and Escape Zone 60 which all have locations in Destin!
So whether you’re the type of couple that likes to relax with a massage and private dinner on the beach or you’re more of the type looking for an adventure followed by an amazing seafood dinner in a bustling bar environment, there is something for every pair of lovers in Destin. Don’t wait for Valentine’s day to come back around, treat your valentine to an awesome date on the Emerald Coast.