Thinking of Going Out for Thanksgiving Dinner?


These Area Restaurants Are Open and Thankful to Serve!


By Will Estell

If you’re like a lot of us, the traditional Thanksgiving lunch or dinner with family and friends has come to be cherished as a rather important part of life in this great country, and one many of us grew up looking forward to and celebrating as long as we can remember. Though the traditional Thanksgiving meal may be a staple of American life there is no denying that quite an abundance of preparation and work often goes into getting that turkey, those potatoes, the yams, and that oh-so-ideal dressing recipe “just right.”
As important as the food may be, some couples, families–and especially Friendsgiving groups–find that taking the occasional break from the rigorous kitchen activities and simply relaxing and enjoying the holiday can be a welcome break. That’s where making the decision to leave your Thanksgiving feast to one of these Northwest Florida restaurants comes into play.

Here, I’ve compiled a list of some (though not all) of the surrounding area eateries that are open and serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal that you, and your mom, would be proud of:

Dinner with friends. Group of young people enjoying dinner together. Dining Wine Cheers Party thanksgiving ConceptAJ’s on the Bayou and AJ’s Grayton Beach

If you know the Destin, 30A and surrounding area well, then you know World-Famous AJ’s.
Both locations of this Gulf Coast favorite will be serving a donation only Thanksgiving feast with proceeds from your donations going to Kids on the Coast Foundation. Service begins at 11:00 and goes until 4:00 at AJ’s on the Bayou, and runs from 12:00 to 5:00 at AJ’s Grayton.

I find it quite appealing to think of enjoying a day that’s all about giving thanks, at a place where you can pass a little of those blessings and thankfulness along to others through a donation only Thanksgiving meal like AJ’s has chosen to do.

Harbor Docks

Thanksgiving Day is always great at Destin’s staple of fresh seafood and harbor views, and this year is no exception.

Harbor Docks is offering complimentary sit-down meals for locals and out-of-town guests from 11:00 – 4:00 on Thanksgiving Day. The meal is a “donations only” event, benefitting Habitat for Humanity Okaloosa County and Destin Harvest House. It’s really remarkable that in this day and age a restaurant of such caliber and quality would choose to open their doors and bring in their staff to give back in this way, but quite frankly its also right in line with so much of what the Morgan family and their wonderful group of companies have long become synonymous with in our local coastal communities. Check them out, and please donate and pass the Thanks around this Thanksgiving.

The Henderson Beach Resort

The Henderson Beach Resort is always a Destin favorite for food, fun, great coastal cocktails and remarkable views, and this Thanksgiving brings you all of this and more… all without the hassle of cooking or cleaning!

This year’s exclusive Thanksgiving dinner features their chefs’ prepared feast that combines traditional Thanksgiving flavors with succulent roasted turkey, fresh seafood and a vast array of delectable side dishes to tantalize your taste buds while taking in the awesome views and atmosphere that make the Henderson such a favorite to so many locals and visitors alike.

95 for adults; $35 for kids and free for children six and younger. Make your reservations at OpenTable, and hurry, because seating is vast, but fills quickly at this favorite.

Hotel Effie’s Ovide Thanksgiving at Sandestin

Join Ovide in Hotel Effie for a splendid Thanksgiving buffet from 11 am to 3 pm. Indulge in seafood, traditional carvings, sides, and delectable desserts. Adults are $115.00++, children aged 6-12 are $65.00++, and kids under 5 are free (taxes and service charge not included). Celebrate the holiday in a stunning setting with exceptional service.

Lady Rays

This unique dessert boutique and bakery is located on Destin’s Harbor Boulevard and offering order out Thanksgiving “delectables” to complement your Thanksgiving festivities, wherever you may choose to do the rest of your meal. From cookies and cakes to croissants to lemon, Key Lime, pumpkin, and pecan pies, you’re sure to find that ideal dessert and so much more at Lady Rays. Did I mention you have to try their bread pudding!

You can choose from treats and sweets that feed a few to the entire family. Preorder by November 19, to pick up by the 22nd.

The Island Resort

The ever-popular Island Resort in beautiful Fort Walton Beach (Okaloosa Island) is celebrating the holiday season with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at their signature restaurant, Coastal Kitchen.

The menu features Golden Ginger and Carrot Soup and a refreshing Autumn Salad with baby kale, pomegranate, pears, brie cheese, and candied pecans in Champagne vinaigrette as appetizers. The centerpiece of the dinner is the carving station, offering succulent turkey, maple-glazed ham, and prime rib, complemented by sides like Sriracha Honey Glazed Heirloom Carrots and Chef’s Recipe Mac and Cheese. Round off your dinner with the classic Thanksgiving desserts – Pumpkin Pie, Apple Cobbler, and more, promising a delightful end to the festivities.

Two seating times are available: 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Patrons will park on the premises and enter via the resort lobby. Reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling 850-243-9163.

SunQuest Cruises, Thanksgiving aboard the Solaris yacht

There’s not much that can compare to having your Thanksgiving lunch or dinner on the water, and that’s exactly what James “Shorty” Murray and his great team at SunQuest Cruises are offering to guests this Turkey Day.

SunQuest’s 125’ Solaris will host both a lunch buffet of traditional Thanksgiving classics and a dinner cruise this holiday, leaving from the Solaris’ home port of Sandestin Marina in beautiful Miramar Beach.

Let the crew handle the cooking and cleaning, while you and your group focus on the family and fun! this holiday season.

Visit or call them at (850) 650-2519. Book fast!

For additional meal options, visit Our friend Susan Young with Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty has found some meal options to eliminate your time in the kitchen so you can spend more quality time together.

As always, with this information, we recommend calling ahead to verify availability and make reservations as needed.

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