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Ocean Club


Elegant and upscale, this dimly-lit bar caters to a mixed clientele but is especially popular with a slightly older crowd. During the early evening, the Ocean Club is a stylish restaurant, but later on, a talented pianist entertains patrons with a mix of classics and contemporary music (including an incredible rendition of "The Phantom of the Opera"). A dance floor is available if the spirit moves you, but for the most part, guests simply enjoy listening to the beautiful music, which plays several nights each week. Ideal for an after-dinner cognac, too.

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Colored lights and glass balls dance overhead at this festive restaurant, whose walls are adorned with funky, primitive artwork. Jazz plays in the background, and patrons (many of them locals) sing along to the melodies. Conversation flows as easily as wine, and guests partake of three-cheese ravioli and chicken artichoke pizza, one of the house favorites. The herb-crusted triggerfish highlights Gulf Coast seafood with a crisp coating and a lemon beurre blanc sauce. The casual atmosphere is perfect for families, groups, or couples, and the owners and staff are attentive and happy to accommodate requests.

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Fudpucker's Beachside Bar & Grill


Raised on pilings, this multi-level restaurant and bar is adorned with grafitti, so much so that it's become an unofficial trademark. Inside, the island decor depends heavily on flotsam and jetsam, giving the place a studied casualness. Popular with tourists and a favorite of locals, Fudpucker's serves good food and live music with equal dexterity. Bands play a variety of styles (mostly rock and beach music), and patrons flock to hear the best. The bar adds liquid refreshment to the mix, and an outdoor deck invites lounging and nighttime conversation. Locations on Okaloosa Island and in Seagrove Beach too.

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Miracle Strip Parkway
Swamp


One of the area's hottest clubs, the Swamp is also one of the newest. Disneyesque in its appeal, the venue has trails that wind through landscapes of old tires, wooden shacks, and whiskey barrels. There's even a moat and a waterfall. Located right on the beach, the Swamp can hold 1500 people and entertains them with live music, DJ-spun dance tunes, and five bars. The place is a tribute to bayou culture, and patrons flock to it for the innovative surroundings and expansive space. It's a perfect club for mingling and wandering around. You'll never get bored, and you're likely to meet some cool new friends. Must be 18 to enter; shirts required. No food is served.

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Hogs Breath Destin


This local hang-out looks like it's had its share of loving over the years. In classic bar style, it sports dark wood, brass rails and neon beer signs, but you know you're at the beach by the surfboards suspended overhead. Very laid-back, it always entertains a gang at the bar, and at night, patrons gather to play pool and listen to live bands. Rock music and cover tunes are most popular, but you'll also hear blues, jazz, and island music. Inside, several levels corral bar-goers, but if you don't like the cigarette smoke, there's an outdoor deck. The place also serves food, including appetizers, steaks, seafood and sandwiches. Raw bar, too.

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AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar


Club Bimini, AJ's venue for live music and night-time drinks, is the party choice in Destin. An expansive wooden deck, with a tiki-hut bar and terrific views of the harbor, hosts hordes of tourists and locals. Beer specials are a perennial favorite, and when the bands aren't playing, DJs spin island music and classic rock. Vacationers mingle easily and conversations take off as quickly as the breeze. If you're hungry, order a few oysters or one of the seafood baskets. If not, just nurse your drink and enjoy the evening. There's plenty to do, and if you've arrived early enough to get a parking space, life is nothing but good.

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