Soft white sand, the rhythmic sound of sea on shore, and multiple generations gathered under the summer sun. These are just a few of the elements of the quintessential escape many look forward to all year. Along the Northwest Coast of Florida, in the Destin and Fort Walton Beach area, all this and more awaits, making it our pick this year for the best place for a family beach vacation.
There are many options when it comes to where to stay in the Destin/Fort Walton Beach area. Do you want a high-rise condo with sweeping views of the gulf and a resort pool? Do you prefer the intimacy of a house, beach front or not, with the cozy feel of a home away from home? Or is a townhouse, like the wonderfully located Quiet Surf II #4 unit (pictured right), the ideal happy medium for you and your family? Find the perfect fit at DestinVacation.com, the easy to use booking site for Newman-Dailey Resort Properties. In addition to the large variety of options, Newman-Dailey rentals come with the Newman-Dailey Gift Card, which includes one free adult admission per day to Destin Snorkel, parasailing, Big Kahuna’s Waterpark, a dolphin cruise, and tickets to the Track, as well as daily beach service. For those looking for an end-of-summer getaway, guests who stay in a Newman-Dailey vacation rental between August 3 and September 7, 2015 will enjoy up to 30 percent off standard summer season rates.
While lounging in the sand and surf day after day is some folks’ ideal, others need a little more action. The go-getters of the group will enjoy:
Parasailing. You’ll soar 800 feet up while enjoying 10-12 minutes of the most breathtaking views. Gilligan’s Watersports has great packages and also offers dolphin tours and pontoon boat rentals. 850-650-9000, GilligansOfDestin.com.
Snorkeling. Chase down hermit crabs in the wild and discover lots of other undersea creatures you don’t normally see just off the beach with a snorkeling excursion. The folks at Destin Snorkel know the best spots! 850-269-2329, DestinSnorkel.com.
Ziplining. Take a break from the beach and drive into Milton, Florida for a day of ziplining and canoeing along Coldwater Creek at Adventures Unlimited. 850-623-6197, AdventuresUnlimited.com.
Fishing. Charter a boat and cast a line into the Emerald Waters. When booking, check with the captain about fish cleaning and area restaurants that will cook your catch if you’re staying in a place without a kitchen or grill.
Marine Animal Interaction. After undergoing a $4 million renovation, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, which was founded in 1955, now features upgraded exhibits and animal habitats. Plus, they have a new baby dolphin that is adorable! 850-243-9046, Gulfarium.com.
You’re at the beach, so plan to gorge on the delicious sea fare that’s fresh from the water. Some of our picks include:
Vue on 30A. Voted as having the Best Waterfront Dining by Florida Travel + Life Magazine and most recently as the “Best Place to Watch a Sunset” by the readers of Destin Magazine, the Vue takes a fresh approach to dining with a delicious menu designed and prepared by Chef Giovanni Filippone, who is recognized by Best Chefs America and you may remember from Season 5 of Hell’s Kitchen. 850-267-2305.
Momma Clemenza’s. There’s no better place to brunch (yes, it’s a verb now) than Momma Clemenza’s. With delicious European breakfast creations, many that have been in the owner’s family for generations, your taste buds will have a holiday. 850-650-5980.
Osaka Japanese Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar. Organic local produce, Gulf-fresh seafood and the highest quality beef take center stage at this fun, family-owned hibachi grill. It’s a great change of pace from traditional seafood joints. 850-650-4688.
Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer. Locally owned and operated, Brotula’s, which opened this spring to much acclaim by locals and visitors alike, focuses on steamed and boiled seafood. And, when you order the catch of the day, you can look up where your fish was caught and the boat and captain who reeled it in! The huge patio is right on the harbor so you can see the fishing boats come in while you eat. 850-460-8900.
Bric-A-Brac. This fun, quirky joint serves up a mixture of Hispanic, European and traditional American dishes. Be sure to save room for dessert, the key lime pie and the bread pudding are both divine! 850-424-6369.
By Abby Hoeffner