Destin Goes Luxe
A comfy perch in the Panhandle
The Neighborhood: Destin, Florida, has long attracted vacationers with its postcard-perfect beaches without the trappings of a fancy resort. Until a few years ago, that is. Now, snowbirds who crave both can book at the Henderson. Steps from the town’s famous white sand beach, the hotel is flanked by a state park, which protects more than a mile of coastline. The result? Unobstructed water and sunset views.
The Vibe: The sweeping lobby sets a luxurious, relaxed tone with cooling blue tones, dark wood accents, and local, ocean-inspired paintings.
The Digs: All 170 guestrooms face either the Gulf and nature preserve, or the lush, landscaped terraces around the lazy river and two pools framed by cabanas. It’s all prime for relaxing but those craving more activity have access to paddle boards, jet skis, and charter fishing.
Insider Scoop: Soak up the chill vibes in the spa’s Himalayan salt room.
If it’s Thursday, post up at the octagonal lobby bar, Horizons, during oyster happy hour (4 to 7 pm). Otherwise, ask for a patio table at the hotel’s restaurant, Primrose, where the sushi bar puts out extravagant rolls. Save room for one of the many dishes on the menu sourced straight from the Gulf, like cornmeal-fried snapper and grilled grouper.
Steps away from the resort, sister property Henderson Park Inn features beachfront dining at its cafe. Splurge for a “toes in the sand” experience—a private dinner at the water’s edge—preferably timed around sunset.
A short drive brings you to multiple hotspots along the Emerald Coast Parkway. Find your way to Grand Boulevard, a high-end outdoor retail destination, and Emeril’s Coastal Italian, an airy, elevated-casual eatery. The famed New Orleans chef calls this area home throughout the year and might pop into the open kitchen to put the finishing touches on homemade pasta and Gulf seafood dishes, like fettuccine Nero napped with bits of crabmeat. Nearby, the recently renovated Cuvee Kitchen + Wine Bar is a fine stop for a bourbon-based Coastal Fashioned and a sidecar of duck fat fries.
WHAT TO ORDER
A mango-based green smoothie and avocado toast on the dining terrace at Primrose.
Settle in to a window-side seat at Horizons and order the Dunavant, a refreshing blend of Monkey 47 gin, Jack Rudy tonic, and lemon.
Book a table at Emeril’s Coastal Italian and go all in on seafood, starting with skillet shrimp laced with Calabrian chiles, followed by roasted oysters florentine, and then a plate of linguine with clams.
- by Isabelle Adler
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by Jennifer Stewart Kornegay
- by Emily Havener
- by Hannah Lee Leidy