Keeper of the Plans

For as little as $100, Wichitans can fly roundtrip to one of the country’s best beaches

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway, you could do worse than the beaches of the Florida Panhandle.

Especially now that a beach that’s easy to access from Wichita has been named one of the country’s best.

Grayton Beach State Park, a 45-minute drive from Destin, Fla., was recently ranked one of 2019’s top ten beaches in the country by beach expert “Dr. Beach.” It came in at No. 3, just below beaches in Hawaii and North Carolina.

Next month, Allegiant Airlines will start offering two-hour-long nonstop flights between Wichita’s Eisenhower National Airport and Destin—Fort Walton Beach Airport in Florida.

Though Allegiant was running a special on airfare shortly after it announced the routes earlier this year, regular-price tickets are still cheap in comparison to other airlines.

The flights are available on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting June 5.

Airfare seems to run a little cheaper for the Saturday flights than for the Wednesday flights.

The cheapest we could book roundtrip flights to Destin was $104 per person ($56.66 for flights, $67.34 in taxes) in early June.

Keep in mind Allegiant does charge for carry-on bags. Travelers are allowed one “personal item,” such as a purse or backpack, but there are fees for carry-on bags and checked luggage.

As the prime summer vacation season goes on, airfare will increase — so for the budget-conscious, booking earlier in June seems to be the best option.

Finding cheap lodging in the Destin area might be a tad more challenging than finding airfare, but Airbnb rental homes can be had for under $200 a night.

For those not wanting to add a 45-minute drive after a 2-hour flight, Destin’s in-town Henderson Beach State Park is highly regarded as well.

The South Walton area in general has more than 50 beach and bay access locations along its 26 miles of shoreline, with quartz sand and turquoise water from the clarity of the Gulf and the reflection of light off the sugar-white sand.

To browse flights, visit Allegiant’s website at

Matt Riedl covers arts and entertainment news for the Wichita Eagle and has done so since 2015. He maintains the Keeper of the Plans blog on Facebook, dedicated to keeping Wichitans abreast of all things fun.