In the past, our family beach trips have been in the summer to secluded Fort Morgan, Alabama where you rented a house and the beach in front of said house was all yours. We could go all week without seeing anyone even remotely familiar. I was expecting Destin to be the opposite of that experience. But the ritual of hitting the panhandle in the cool spring must be tried, so away we went proudly wearing our chosen college tshirts and toting our beach chairs.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites, Miramar Beach, which was a little off the beaten path from the true "action" on the beach. Three other families from Brentwood High School stayed in our hotel and maybe others from surrounding schools. We saw them at the complimentary breakfast every morning, we hung out at the beach, and reassembled again for dinner two nights. But when we hit the beach, where we braved the cold and tried to stay low and out of the wind, we saw many more familiar faces. We saw the Smiths, whose dad was doing sand art on the beach. Mark crafted a huge hammerhead shark (see photo) and the next day a race car. It was unexpected fun to invite our friends, the Moores, to join us on the beach each day. Their residence was down by the "action" and they enjoyed a little more of a family atmosphere with us. A little further down the beach were big groups of chaperoned BHS seniors which our seniors visited for a day. With so many friends and acquaintances around, we found ourselves entertained and still relaxed.
One morning, we scooted down the road a few miles east to Seaside and Seagrove to look around. It was a slower pace and more upscale shopping, but the difference was the crowds and traffic. Most patrons in this area ride bikes or walk to the shops. This area is definitely of interest for future vacations.
All in all, I'd say Destin probably has something for everyone, but our family prefers more privacy, a little less traffic, and shorter lines at dinner. But we have now been there and done that with no harm, no foul! Is it Brentwood South? Yes, but we were pleasantly surprised by that being a positive experience. Just pick your hotel carefully!