Destin, a small coastal city on the Gulf of Mexico, rich with bays and inlets, located in the northwest Florida, has a population over of 13,000 people, Overall, Destin is a city of sales persons and office workers, service providers and professionals. Many members of the armed forces living in Destin, and you might notice that quite a few of the people you meet are employed by the armed services…even though they are not in uniform.
Destin is a major vacation destination, the heart of the Emerald Coast, and a lot of the local population is seasonal; people own second homes and only live there part-time, so during the down season, you might see many lovely condos and homes empty, not because no one wants them, but because they are dormant, waiting for the return of the pleasure seekers. The effect of this seasonality on the economy is that a large percentage of local businesses are dependent on tourist dollars and often operate exclusively during the high season. When vacation season (largely May to August) ends, Destin’s population drops noticeably, so that year-round residents remark how the coastal city (or town) is a quiet place to live. Destin is nautical, and great parts of it are of historical value, touching the Gulf or tidal bodies of water. Often, nautical areas like the bay and islets themselves attract visitors. Many locals learn to appreciate “bay culture” as much as the sun-and-sand culture of the beaches.
Destin is significantly better educated than most communities in the nation, and the per capita income in Destin is nearly $40,000, which is wealthy relative to the state and the nation. This equates to an annual income of $145,660 for a family of four. The people who consider Destin their home belong to a variety of racial or ethnic groups, but the largest number of Destin residents report their race to be Anglo- or Euro-American. Ancestries of people in Destin include German, English, Irish, Italian, Scottish and French.
If life full-time or part-time for those who claim Destin (and the area) as home can seem sybaritic or self-indulgent, it can also be loving, spiritual, and fun. The further east one moves from Fort Walton to Destin to Miramar Beach and Santa Rosa Beach and the life of the 30-A crowd, the more idyllic and otherworldly the beauty of the white sands and blue waters, the crepuscular foliage and secretive wildlife — but somehow the entire venue of wealth and escape between Fort Walton Beach and Panama City seems to begin with Destin! — the more one forgets most of the Panhandle is not a tourist site nor a playground for the wealthy, but a region very rich in history and a Southern culture of the “country” — that haven of real people with real lives and real beliefs and real concerns.
The City of Destin proper has a detailed historical heritage dating back to American Indian inhabitants as early as the seventh century A.D. Spanish explorers surveyed Florida in 1538. Don Francisco Tapia was commissioned to survey the Florida coast, and in 1693 drew the first known map of East Pass and its shores. There is Old Florida with its mysteries and legends, regional and national politics upon which world events took place, and there is New Florida, land of tourists and retirees, where the middle classes rub shoulders with the upper classes. If you want to discover the Old Florida, just take a day’s journey into the Panhandle away from the coastline retinue; and if you want to jump back into the lap of luxury — say if a gator tries to eat you — a divine spa is just moments from the door of your exquisite beach condo. If this sounds schizo, it’s meant to — but only in the sort of way that flatters…because this is the Emerald Coast for a reason. Natural beauty and man-made beauty abound and abide here.