Exploring Northwest Florida
Exploring Northwest Florida
The Destin Fishing Museum is a vibrant, community-supported facility that preserves the maritime history and heritage of the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.”
It's not big and it's not fancy. You won't find a lot of electronics or interactive exhibits or computer generated animation. What you will find is a community supported tribute to the history and heritage of the hearty fishing folks who settled this remote white-sand beach and left a legacy.
Located on the Northwest Florida gulf coast between Pensacola and Panama City Beach, Destin was founded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by fishermen and their families who brought their fishing knowledge and their determination to survive.
Isolated by the Choctawhatchee Bay on the north and the Gulf of Mexico on the south, Destin was a pioneer town of daily toil and hardship, sprinkled with simple pleasures.
Today, the lucky little fishing village has grown to be a major beach resort and award winning Florida vacation destination, but at the base of the high-rise resorts and condominiums is the fishing community, still strong and growing.
In fact, the harbor is home to the largest charter fishing fleet in Florida, and each year during the month of October, the Destin Fishing Rodeo brings in some of the largest fish found in the gulf. So as to not lose sight of their roots, the town's fishing families established the Destin History and Fishing Museum.
A portion of the 4400 square feet of exhibit and research space in the museum is given over to displays of daily life. Artifacts donated by Destin residents, many the descendants of the original fishing families, tell the story of those early pioneers. An early 20th century kitchen is set up, showing life before dishwashers and running water and portraits of Destin’s founders hang on the walls above pieces of the furniture they once used.
Inside the Destin Fishing Museum is a display on seine boats that shows how the fishermen fished with nets, then hauled their catch some 65 miles west to sell in Pensacola. An actual seine boat is on display across the street from the museum, showing how small these boats actually were.
Other fishing artifacts include nets, lines, and rods and reels, including a rod and reel once owned by Ernest Hemingway, along with a photo of him catching a fish.
Dozens of brightly colored fish line the walls and hang in glass cases. Wahoo, blue marlin, black fin tuna, dolphin (the fish not the porpoise), red snapper, king mackerel, grouper, amberjack and several different species of sharks swim through a painted sea, showing the variety of fishes found in the gulf.
No visit to the Destin Fishing Museum is complete without a trip to the Destin docks. Located across U. S. Highway 98 on the Destin harbor, the docks are a great place to see the fish and talk to the boat captains. Around 5:00 PM every day the boat crews unload the day’s catch and fillet them for customers. Many of the fish that are on display in the museum can be found here.
The museum is one of several community-supported museums in the area that include the Heritage Park and Cultural Center and the Emerald Coast Science Center, both in Fort Walton Beach. You might also enjoy visiting the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base and the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida in Valparaiso.
The Destin History and Fishing Museum is located at 108 Stahlman Avenue near the bridge in Destin. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for Seniors & Military, and $3 for children ages 7 and over. Children under 7 are free. Call 850-837-6611 or visit their website for more information.