October is a spook-tacular time to visit Destin, Florida. In addition to the quieter beaches and stunning sunsets, there are numerous Halloween happenings. From trick-or-treating and costume contests to spooky pirate cruises and socials for your pup, everyone in the family will enjoy these festive events. Below are popular annual events and many take place the weekend prior to Halloween. This post was written as of 2023 and I will do my best to update it every year, but please check with the venue/company for exact dates and times as they may change. I hope you have a hauntingly good time along the Emerald Coast!
McGuire’s Irish Pub hosts an annual Halloween 5K walk /run and 10K run where participants dress up and make their way through the streets of Destin. The run concludes with a post-race party, which features live entertainment, Irish fare, Irish Wakes, and McGuire’s Ale.
The Halloween Haunt at Destin Commons is the perfect place for the whole family to kick off the holiday weekend. There is a costume contest, face painting, photobooth, creepy crafts and trick-or-treating. The outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment center offers a safe and festive environment for even the tiniest ghouls and goblins to enjoy the holiday.
Destin United Methodist Church sets up a pumpkin patch on their large lawn where you can purchase a variety of pumpkins and take some cute pictures. The church also hosts a Trunk or Treat, which is a free community event with inflatables, treats, music and more festive fun.
The family-friendly Spook Street event at HarborWalk Village (typically held the Saturday before Halloween) boasts kids crafts, carnival games, a spooky scavenger hunt and trick-or-treating down the harbor. There’s also a costume contest, DJ dance party and fireworks. Adults looking for a festive night out will enjoy Boos and Booze, a Halloween pub crawl and concert (typically held the Friday before Halloween).
The Buccaneer Pirate Cruise lets sailors experience “Spo0ks on the Sea” the last week of October. The Halloween-themed pirate cruise features spooky stories, a costume contest and specialty themed drinks. Plus you’ll enjoy gorgeous views of Destin as you sail along the Emerald Coast.
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park on Okaloosa Island turns into GulfScarium the weekend before Halloween! There are Halloween-themed presentations and chats, trick-or-treating around the park and scavenger hunts. Events include a Spooky Shark Feed, Otterly Eerie Otter Chat, Hair-Raising Harbor Seal Chat, Petrifying Penguin Chat, Dolphin Presentation and more.
Gulf Breeze Zoo hosts “Boo at the Zoo” the weekends leading up to Halloween. The festival includes bounce houses, face paintings, local community vendors, and a trick-or-treating trail complete with candy, treats and toys. Plus the regular zoo attractions and Safari Express Train Ride. It’s about an hour away from Destin, but offers lots of entertainment for the whole family.
Grand Boulevard hosts several festive events this month. Dog-lovers won’t want to miss Barktoberfest, which benefits Dog-Harmony (a non-profit charity dedicated to reducing shelter dog populations through ongoing humane education). The doggie social features a costume contest, music, beer and light bites. On October 31, bring the whole family to “Halloween on the Boolevard” where the merchants of Grand Boulevard host a trick-or-treating event that is free and open to the public.
On Halloween visit Trick-or-Treat Street at The Village of Baytowne Wharf. Merchants will be handing out candy, plus there is live music on the main stage, crafts, balloon animals, and a costume contest at Coconut Kidz. The night ends with a spooky fireworks display at 8pm.
Rosemary Beach invites all ghosts and goblins to the Monstrous Halloween Bash at the East Long Green Park, which features games, pumpkin carving and painting, trick-or-treating, colored hairspray, balloons, music and a costume contest. This event takes place the Saturday before Halloween.
The annual Halloweener Derby takes place in Seaside the Saturday before Halloween and benefits H.E.A.R.T Animal Rescue Inc. Watch the dachshunds race across the Lyceum Lawn followed by a costume contest for all breeds.
Another popular event is the Witches of South Walton Charity Ride, which benefits Children’s Volunteer Health Network. There are several ride options now that the event has grown, but the original “Founders Ride” takes place on 30A the morning of Halloween. Come in costume and decorate your bike before cruising from Gulf Place, then enjoy brunch and mimosas with the other witches.