Travel Progeny

By 2g1c2 girls 1 cup

Archive for the 'Florida' Category

25 February
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Destin and the Panhandle

Just before school started this fall we headed down to Des­tin, FL for one last bit of fun.  We drove to New Orleans first and from there to Des­tin– Ten hours to New Orleans, overnight there, and then four more Des­tin.  It was worth the drive!  Des­tin is the per­fect choice for kids who are fear­less but not great swim­mers.  Every­thing is close and the beaches are clean and beautiful.

Our Town HouseWe stayed in a friend’s rental prop­erty.  It was in a lit­tle gated com­mu­nity just off the main street and walk­ing dis­tance to the mall and the beach–even for a 3 and 5 year old.  The sell­ing point for the kids though was the pool that was just out­side our front door.  The town house itself was huge– 5 bed­rooms, 4 full baths and two sit­ting rooms.  We were just four plus two dogs but the condo could have eas­ily slept at least 10.   We were there for 9 days so I was espe­cially thank­ful to be in a place with a kitchen and a washer/dryer.  Hav­ing such a great place to stay made the trip so much more enjoyable.

It was the begin­ning of hur­ri­cane sea­son so we did have days with rain, but for the most part those days also included quite a bit of time of sun. On those rainy days we hung out in our house, headed to the Out­let Mall to do some back-to-school shop­ping or to the mall to catch a movie.  I never felt like I didn’t have options.

The beaches got crowded later in the day but never so packed that I felt like my space was being encroached upon.  The beach is per­fect!  The sand is beau­ti­ful and the beach clean. The water is shal­low for quite a dis­tance and the waves for­giv­ing so the kids never felt appre­hen­sive about get­ting in.  Mostly the beach was pop­u­lated with fam­i­lies but also a fair num­ber of solo teens and adults.

wavesG at DestinThe 3 of us
It was a work­ing vaca­tion for one of us so most of the day it was just the kids and me. I took one back­pack. The kids each car­ried their own stuff. These are the things I am glad I brought:

  • A beach tent:  Although there are umbrel­las I bought a lit­tle beach tent.  I had done some research before I got down there but I ended up get­ting a tent at a local Wal-Mart.  It’s great.  It col­lapses down to noth­ing, has a floor, held up in some sub­stan­tial winds (our last day there was the day before a trop­i­cal storm hit) and it was cheap ($18).  It allowed us to stake out a shady spot a lit­tle closer to the water.  I also felt a lit­tle more con­fi­dent leav­ing stuff unat­tended while I was in the water with my bag securely tucked into the tent’s back corner.
  • The FloatiesFloat­ies:  Not those lit­tle inflat­able arm­band things but a hybrid life preserver/arm band thing with a cute face.  We also got them at Wal-Mart.  They are basi­cally a foam band wrapped in nylon life pre­server mate­r­ial with two foam arm band sim­i­larly wrapped and attached on the sides, a nylon strap with clasp on the ends and a face smacked on the front for good mea­sure.  ES had a yel­low duck and G a shark.  Even with the big waves on the last 2 days they kids just bobbed right up.  They felt safe and I felt like they were too.  Nearly every nearby par­ent asked where I got them after see­ing the kids in the water with them on. They were maybe $15 each.
  • Gog­gles: Salt water burns lit­tle eyes and whin­ing about burn­ing eyes hurts big ears.
  • Water­proof sun­screen:  Lots of it.  Spend­ing all day at the beach meant we had to reap­ply sev­eral times a day.  I used about twice as much as I thought I would and still it was not enough. Sorry, G.  They say the lotion is more effec­tive but I find the spray much more con­ve­nient once we get out and about.  I com­pro­mise by apply­ing lotion before we leave the house and bring­ing the spray to the beach. G tested Hint: Apple Cider vine­gar works bet­ter than aloe vera gel to relieve the sting of a sunburn.
  • Tow­els: I brought the large micro fiber ones.  You can find them at Mar­shalls of at Out­door Sup­pli­ers.  I only had one back­pack and one tra­di­tional tow­els would have taken as much space as four of these did.  These were plenty and they dry much faster than terry towels.
  • Beach blan­ket:  I found this on the rainy day out­ing to the nearby out­let mall.  Eddie Bauer makes it.  One side is a water­proof nylon and the other flan­nel.   It was big enough for 4 to sit on but rolled back nicely into it’s draw­string stuff sack.  It was at the out­let for $15 so I’m not sure if it is some­thing they still sell.
  • Water:  There are guys that walk around sell­ing water and frozen treats but they didn’t seem to come by that frequently.
  • Snacks:  There are places to eat but quite a trek from where we were on the beach.

Grayton BeachDur­ing the week we walked to our local Des­tin beach but on the week­end and some evenings we went to Sea­side and Gray­ton.  We were look­ing for good food and a dog friendly beach. The towns of Gray­ton and Sea­side are cuter than the much big­ger Des­tin– no malls, no big stores, lots of inde­pen­dent restau­rants. In Sea­side we ate and walked around to the lit­tle shops but didn’t go to the beach. Instead we stopped at a park and let the dogs and kids swim in the inlet.  Turns out there are no pub­lic dog-friendly beaches in the whole county. But in Gray­ton not only can a res­i­dent bring their dog they can lit­er­ally drive right up to the water at with a res­i­dent tag.  It was late in the day so we risked it for old Joe– it was sad to be so close to a beach and be unable to bring the dogs with so many already there run­ning free.  It was Layla’s first time at the ocean and they both had a blast. The beach was beau­ti­ful but we did find it had more jel­ly­fish and algae than just down the beach in Des­tin but maybe that was just the day we were there.

We came to go to the beach so that is what we had been doing every­day, but about mid­way through our trip I decided that we would mix things up and head to the water park: Big Kahuna’s.  We got there in the early after­noon.  You must pay to park and you must pay to get in and once you are in you pay for a locker.  It was an expen­sive day out– nearly a $100 for three.  I can’t say that I felt like I got my money’s worth. Maybe if they had not closed all of the pools a cou­ple of hours after we got there because of the storm that rolled in, or maybe if the kids had been big­ger we would have got­ten more out of it.  Lit­tle peo­ple had their own area and could go on some slides but they were frus­trated by all that they were not allowed to do. Although the kids had their float­ies (thank good­ness!) one me alone with two young chil­dren among lots of unsu­per­vised kids was a bit much at times. I think I will hold off on water parks until they are a bit big­ger, bet­ter swim­mers and/or the adult kid ratio is 1:1.  They had fun at the water park, but had just as much fun at the beach or the pool in our lit­tle community.Sandholes in Destin

You can find what­ever you would like to eat in Des­tin: local favorites, over­priced tourist traps to national chains like Waf­fle House or Chili’s. If noth­ing in Des­tin is to your lik­ing then all one needs to do is drive down the road to a nearby town.   Unless you live in a very urban place every­thing you can find at home you can find here in much the same way—large gro­cery stores, Wal­greens, Tar­get, Wal-mart, Barnes & Noble and a whole out­door mall com­plete with a huge Bass Pro Shop and movie the­atre.  It’s a tourism town.

We had a great time.  Not too long ago G and ES were telling me that they were for­get­ting how to swim and needed to go back to Florida.  I’m glad they enjoyed it as much as I thought they did.  I would go back.