After a year of not being able to GO anywhere or DO much outside of the house, we were all itching to go and do and not be at home. I needed some vacating time, and we all needed to get out of dodge. Many ideas were tossed around but the Husband and I kept coming back to two main requirements:
- Wherever we went needed to be drivable in less than a day. It had been a while since we’d forced Skyler to roadtrip and wanted to make things easy on ourselves in case he hated it.
- We needed to be on a beach with easy pool access.
I started pouring over maps, scouring AirBNB and VRBO to scout our best options. What would give us the best bang for our buck? Enough living space so I could work a couple days from our rental, close and easy beach/pool access, nearby food options. And then my dad invited himself along for the trip and simplified the whole thing: let’s get a condo at a resort to make our lives simple for the week.
After some research, we all landed on Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, FL as our resort of choice. Originally, there was talk of my brother and his girlfriend, and my mom joining us so we chose two two-bedroom condos in the same beachside tower, which would give us all our own space and make childcare duties shareable. We splurged on a golf cart rental, as well, to make getting around the resort property easier; no need to worry about loading in and out of a car and getting Skyler in the carseat. We could all just hop on the golf cart and jet off.
In the end, my brother couldn’t take the time off work and my mom decided she’d rather have a week of peace and quiet at home, so my dad, husband, kid and I loaded up a rental van and headed to Florida!
We stayed for 8 nights in one of the Beachfront towers, never left the property, and had a total blast! The views were gorgeous, the condos were lovely, the food on property was better than expected, the pools were perfect, and having the golf cart made everything so convenient. We were all able to relax and vacate. Even my father, who loves to work and has trouble doing nothing, enjoyed himself immensely, reading a lot, taking naps, and spending a lot of time with his grandson. Skyler hated the beach, but his opinion doesn’t matter that much 😉 We would 100% return and do this vacation again.
The Husband, the Mooch, and I shared one condo – and boy was it nice giving the kiddo his own room like he’s used to at home! – while my dad had another condo to himself. We took the one that had the bunk bed on the higher floor with the better view since we knew we’d all be hanging out in our condo more often, given the child situation.
The condos were both nicely decorated, clean, and spacious. The master bed was super comfy and there was so much closet space, it was easy to hide the massive quantities of stuff we brought with us. And that view…. I mean, come on. That doesn’t suck.
Even though I grew up in Florida, I had never been to this part of the state, and haven’t been to the pandhandle at large since 2013. I did not realize just how gorgeous the water is or how nice the beaches would be. Absolutely stunning! Skyler was thoroughly unimpressed, however, and hated being on the beach. (This shocked us; he loves playing in sand!)
The water was too chilly for my liking, but we were there in early May, so the weather wasn’t that hot. Temperatures never got above the mid-80s. We did have two rainy, overcast days, but most of the time the sun was out and we were diligent about our sunscreen. The Husband likes to make fun of the fact that when I go to the beach, I’m the only one covering up under layers of towels, but hey, I don’t want skin cancer!
The beaches were not crowded, but the weekend we left crowds were picking up. We definitely went at the right time!
One of the appealing things about staying on a resort property was the convenience factor for eating out. With restaurants scattered throughout the various hotel properties as well as the main wharf village area, dozens of food options were within a 10-minute golf cart ride. The wharf village reminded me of a very small Disney Springs; cute, tidy, curated, walkable, jam-packed with retail, restaurant, and entertainment options. If we ever had to wait for a table (which only happened once or twice), we could kill time walking about. It definitely made things simple during meal times!
The food quality itself pleasantly surprised us all. Too often, food at resorts, on cruises or fancy hotels can be overpriced and mediocre, so that’s what we expected. But all around, the food and drinks were moderately priced and good in terms of quality and variety. We only had a couple disappointing or lackluster meals (and what is up with this horrible trend of breading french fries?! You’re ruining the integrity of the potato!), and enjoyed several very good, delicious meals. The Husband and my dad ate tons of oysters; we all enjoyed our fair share of fried seafood; and I ate my weight in fresh fish. We splurged one night for a fancy dinner at Seagar’s, a white dining cloth and dress code sort of place, and had excellent service, a fantastic wine selection, flavorful dishes with artistic plating. Would recommend!
The Resort Property
The Playground! The scenery! The Village! It was all so lovely. Very well maintained and scenic, full of beautiful landscaping. The Village at Baytown Wharf, though cheesy and fabricated, provides lots of all-age entertainment, retail, and food options that made it a convenient place to spend a couple hours to entertain all of us, every day. Lots of good photo ops for Mama 🙂 One of the BEST parts of the Village was the massive, all-ages playground called the Treehouse. We visited it several times and the Mooch never got tired of running around; he’s still not into slides, but he sure had run climbing and running.
We drove around most of the property (in the golf cart, natch) and were impressed by the beauty of the neighborhoods and sections, regardless of which pricing tier the accommodations were in. Everything from the most expensive mansion down to the most basic condo building seemed to be clean, tidy, kept up to date. It was fun and relaxing to jet around the property, enjoying fresh air and taking in all of the sights and sounds.
Every building and neighborhood on the resort property has its own pool that the guests and owners are allowed to use. But, what I don’t think many of the guests realized, is that there are other pools on property that guests also have access to. As a pool lover, it was my goal to visit them all, but with the weather not being quite hot enough to warrant getting in the frigid water, I didn’t quite hit my goal. (There’s always next time!)
The Golf Cart
Um. Best. Idea. Ever. If you ever have the opportunity to rent a golf cart on vacation… do it. It made life SO much easier for schlepping all of us to and from dinner and the pools, and it was HELLA FUN to drive! Now I want to do this on EVERY vacation! All of us loved it, especially Skyler. He hasn’t shut up about the golf cart.
The Big Question: Would we go back?
1000000% YES! This was EXACTLY the relaxing, peaceful, beautiful, simple, easy vacation that our family needed. We never left the property (besides a grocery and booze run at the very beginning; there’s a Publix five minutes away) and frankly didn’t need to. We had everything we needed on site; dozens of places to eat, plenty of activities, and heck, with the golf cart we were all easily occupied and entertained. (Seriously, have I mentioned how fun renting the golf cart was?!) We were all able to turn our brains off, put our feet up, crack open a beverage of our choice, and truly vacate. It was perfect.
Have you ever stayed at a condo resort like this? What’s the best beach vacation you’ve ever had? What other condo resorts should we consider for future relaxing family beach vacations? How do you feel about golf carts? 🙂