Pin on the map of Florida showing the location of Destin

Avoid Traffic in Destin During Your Beach Vacation

At Newman-Dailey, our goal is for our guests to have a great time on their Destin vacation. Right now, we ask that guests pardon our progress as the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) widens and improves our roadways to make our destination easier to traverse. In the meantime, traffic can be an issue especially during our busy summer season and on rainy days. Here’s our guide for navigating traffic in Destin:

Timing is Everything

As locals, we’ve learned that the early bird not only gets the worm but he/she avoids traffic. We recommend going shopping early in the day. While you will contend with locals commuting to and from work, the volume of cars on the road is much less that during mid-day and dinner time. Hit the grocery store early in the morning when the products are freshly stocked and you’ll be enjoying the beach when everyone else is battling the crowds. The same holds true for dinner. Plan to go out for dinner early and beat the rush and the traffic. And while you’ll want to stay and savor every last minute at the beach, we recommend hitting the road early to head home and beat the traffic during the 10 a.m. to noon check-out rush. If you miss the window, you may want to go ahead and enjoy some additional beach time and head out mid-afternoon when other travelers have already cleared out. 

Navigating Construction on Highway 98

This year (2019) marks the halfway point in the $33.5 million dollar roadway project to widen highway 98 from four to six lanes between Airport Road in Okaloosa County and Tang-O-Mar Drive in Walton County. This project is projected to be completed in spring of 2021. In addition to the widening project, there is a improvement project to make our area more pedestrian-friendly as well.

Traffic is slower than normal with road construction underway so be prepared to merge or be shifted to the other side of the highway. With construction taking place on both sides of the highway, the middle turning lanes appear quickly and have limited ingress and egress.

If you are traveling eastbound between Airport Road and the west end of Henderson Beach State park traffic is shifted to the center of the roadway so crews can work on the new eastbound lanes. FDOT is hoping to have these eastbound lanes completed by the end of 2019. The construction makes it difficult to turn into Silver Shells Resort and we encourage guests to go to the traffic light to take a left and come down Scenic 98 by the Back Porch Restaurant and up Restaurant Rd to access Silver Shells from the south side of Hwy 98.

If you are traveling west from Walton County to Destin, traffic will be shifted to the south side of the road at some point this year to construct the westbound lanes.

Our best advice is to stay on Scenic 98 when possible in Miramar Beach and take Commons Drive, which runs parallel to Hwy 98, when traveling east and west in Destin. These roads may move slowly during peak times but at least they are moving and the view from Scenic Gulf Drive is enjoyable.

Visit Facebook for updates on the widening project here and updates on the improvement project here.

Stay Informed by signing up for alerts by Texting: MYUS98 to 313131

Alternate Routes

When all else fails, look for alternate routes. If you must go out on the highway during peak times, we recommend using Google Maps or Waze to identify alternate routes and avoid traffic. Silver Sands Premium Outlets is going to be crowded on a rainy day so get there when the stores open at 10 a.m. or wait until 7 p.m. to access the center and find the best deals without traffic headaches.

For those staying on Scenic Highway 30A, we recommend heading east to Panama City Beach and enjoy the activities and shopping at Pier Park.

We’re thrilled that construction is wrapping up on Highway 331 providing quicker access to the beaches of South Walton. However on Saturdays northbound traffic is still very heavy between 10 a.m. and noon and southbound traffic is heave between 3 and 5 p.m. so recommend avoiding these or considering an alternate route. Highway 79 is a four lane highway that provides direct access from I-10 to Highway 98 in Panama City Beach. 


Parking continues to be a challenge in Destin, especially during the busy summer season. Please pay close attention to the number of parking spaces that are available with your vacation rental. If you arrive with additional cars, be prepared that there is no place to park them. 

Where to park at the Destin Harbor? The Destin Harbor is the place to be for fun and entertainment. As the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village, you can imagine the volume of people visiting each day is growing. The parking lot at HarborWalk Village is now a paid parking area so bring cash. Once this lot is full, the City of Destin has opened some new Pay-for-Park lots nearby. Click here to view the three pay-to-park lots as well as the Destin Library for after-hours parking.  

Your best bet is to leave your car and walk or ride a bike to nearby businesses. Another option is to try one of the area’s new beach shuttle services. In Destin, 654-LIMO launched the Beach Bus, which has scheduled stops between the Destin Harbor and Silver Shells Resort. On Highway 30A, try the Turtle Express 30A Trolley

For DOT Traffic Updates related to road construction visit their Facebook or Instagram, or text MYUS98 to 313131 to get alerts.

Ready to book your Destin vacation?

View our collection of Destin vacation rentals online or call one of our friendly vacation specialists at 1-800-225-7652 to help narrow your search and give you advice about businesses that are nearby as well as bike rentals and public transportation options that will help you avoid getting in your car.  Your Destin vacation awaits. 

See you @ the beach!

Published on Thursday, June 6, 2019