The 2013 spring break season can be summed up in one word — successful.
"Spring break has been phenomenal for Destin harbor," HarborWalk Village's Jamie Hall told The Log. "Visitors now know what locals knew all along, the harbor is a great place to play."
Throughout Destin, throngs of spring breakers from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and a half-dozen other states could be seen on the beaches, shopping at retailers and eating in restaurants.
With vacation rentals from Panama City Beach to South Alabama, the team at ResortQuest saw their fair share of visitors over the past month or so.
"It was a very good spring break for us," said Martin Owen, regional marketing and sales director, Gulf Region at Wyndham Vacation Rentals, which owns ResortQuest. "We've seen some good years since the oil spill. The summer looks very promising at the moment."
Given some inclement weather during the spring break season, many of the visitors in Destin took to local retailers to get out of the rain and soak up some retail therapy.
"When people cannot be at the beach they shop," said Kristina Truijillo, director of marketing for Destin Commons. "Our restaurants and movie theater experienced upswings, along with our retailers."
Trujillo told The Log that given the outlook of booking rates, which "appear to be strong" for the third year in a row, plus a rise in commercial developments along U.S. Hwy. 98, the upcoming summer season should be strong for the Destin area.
"We are interpreting that as a positive sign," she said.
But it wasn't all shopping, sunshine and dining. The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department kept busy, as they scanned the sugar white beaches for underage drinkers.
Just along Okaloosa Island and Destin, deputies made 337 arrests. Of those, 220 were notices to appear for underage drinking, according to Michele Nicholson, public information officer for the OCSO. And while there were some house parties to contend with, she reported that it was not "at the same level" seen in Walton County.
There were 1,008 arrests in Walton County. On March 11, the Walton County Sheriff's Office arrested 32 spring breakers at a house party on Scenic Highway 98.
With the summer season right around the corner, Destin Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Shane Moody told The Log that the spring break season was a good indicator for what lies ahead.
"The visitors showed up, and the stores and restaurants were busy," he said. "It's obvious that the appeal of Destin still exists."
"We're hearing advance reservations are strong, and we know that there will be many last-minute visitors as well," he added. "As long as we pursue to develop a reputation of being family-friendly, safe environment for vacations, we'll be fine. Where else can you find beaches, water and amenities like we have"?