Parks Bring Positivity to Destin

By Charles Morgan III


It’s spring. The wind is about to turn southeast. The Gulf water is warming up. It’s cobia season. That calls for an upbeat, optimistic view of life here in Destin. So here goes…and this has nothing to do with fishing.


Destin has some wonderful natural features. We have white sand beaches, Choctawhatchee Bay, and a perfectly located harbor. Destin also has attributes that we should be proud of that we developed ourselves.




The Clement Taylor Park on Calhoun Avenue is a classic park for families to enjoy the bay. The Mattie Kelly Park and boat ramp on Joe’s Bayou will be one of our largest parks when it’s completed. Buck Destin Park on Legion Drive has tennis and basketball. Royal Melvin Park is a tribute to our heritage and it sits on a bluff on the harbor. The park at Noriega Point, spread between the harbor and the pass, is about to be finished. June White Decker Park is an in-town park on the Gulf.


The 1.7 mile long Henderson State Park is along one of the few remaining pristine beaches we have left. James Lee Park is on the Gulf and has ample parking for everyone. The Shores at Crystal Beach is our nicest beach access with facilities for anyone living in the Crystal Beach area. We have pocket parks like the one in Kell Aire and the one on Main Street off Joe’s Bayou.


Dalton Threadgill Little League Park has been around since Brad Shoults hit 17 home runs one season. He’s old now. Everyone in Destin has memories of this three-field park.


The track and the ball fields at Destin Elementary are constantly in use and host a variety of events.


The Destin Community Center provides space for basketball, pickleball and volleyball and is the unofficial center for Snowbird activities. Lisa Firth hosts more groups than you can imagine.


There is the Nancy Weidenhamer Dog Park that has exceeded everyone’s expectations (except probably Ms. Weidenhamer’s).


The Community Garden, behind the American Legion on Main Street, is one of the most impressive operations in town. A visit there will show you what a determined group of people can accomplish.


The Destin Pool is back open, and this time it’s run by professionals. Nothing has made my life more enjoyable in Destin than a beautiful pool that is constantly 82 degrees regardless of the weather.


The Morgan Sports Center offers fields for our citizens to enjoy and for visiting groups to host tournaments of all kinds. Soccer, softball, football, baseball and lacrosse tournaments are held at the Sports Center, which the city rents from Destin Water Users for $1 a year. It’s a rare example of a facility that is used by residents AND it pays its way by charging groups to sponsor events. It also brings families to our area—at their expense, not ours. They visit and leave money behind.


The crown jewel of Destin is its quietest place. Literally. No hoopla. No flashing neon signs. No advertisements, t-shirts, or drink specials. No AYCE nights.


The Destin Library has been beautifully and efficiently run by Jurate Burns forever. It is beyond special. It is the most beautifully conceived building our hometown architect Charlie Clary ever designed. It is set among gorgeous live oaks and it is home to books, films, numerous programs and special events for patrons of all ages.


We can’t take credit for the beaches or the harbor or the bay. But the library is different. WE DID THAT! It makes life in our town better, even if you aren’t a regular visitor. Thanks, Jurate.

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