Sandestin: From Sand to Shopping, Something for Everyone

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My family and I were very excited to be invited to beautiful Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, Florida, located between Pensacola and Panama City, for my daughter’s spring break. I’ve reviewed everything from sunscreen to all natural toilet bowl cleaner, but I’ve never been fortunate to review a family vacation destination.

I’ve been to Jamaica a few times as a child with my family and the white sandy beaches and turquoise blue water on the Emerald Coast definitely rival that of the Caribbean.
e’ve never stayed at a resort in Florida before, having always stayed at my dad or stepmom’s condo in close by Navarre Beach. As my older sister told me yesterday, once you stay at a resort you’ll always want to stay at a resort!

Our accommodations were bay side at the Fairways on the beautifully landscaped golf course. The beauty of Sandestin is that once you check in, you truly can park your car and never use it. You can walk, bike, or catch the tram, or rent a golf cart. We stayed in a two-bedroom, two-bath town home that included a loft area with a TV and DVD player as well as a full kitchen with a washer and dryer, which came in handy for washing and drying our beach towels.

Guests at Sandestin have a wide variety of amenities at their fingertips, including:

  • On-property tram service which can take you from the bay side to the beach side, which covers 26 miles of beautiful sugar white sand, to the Village of Baytowne Wharf with all its fun restaurants and shops
  • Four hours of bicycle usage daily. There are tricycles for younger kids as well as bikes with seats on the back for toddler and preschool age kids and a tunnel allows you to safely cross the highway from bay side to beach side with ease.
  • Unlimited use of the fitness center
  • An hour of tennis court time daily
  • and use of canoes, kayaks, or boogie boards

We’re not golfers, but found no end to the activities to fill our days. We are HUGE beach lovers and spent a lot of time on the beach side and swimming in the beautiful heated pool at Luau, one of Sandestin’s newest beach front properties. There was a full-service snack bar at Luau that served up margaritas and lunch and Jimmy Buffett was playing poolside, which was pretty much paradise for me. We also rented bikes and went exploring one day and my oldest daughter had a blast on the EuroBungy at the Village of Baytowne Wharf, where the girls explored the playground and tree house near the boat docks and hubby scoped out the wine and cigars at Lumpy’s Wine Bar & Bottle Shop with its resident dachsund mascot. Speaking of dogs, I noticed that the resort is very dog friendly, with some accommodations specifically for families who want to bring their pet.

Besides being the perfect family beach destination, Sandestin would be ideal for a romantic couples’ getaway like our 12th anniversary this May (cough) or even a girls getaway as there is a spa at the resort and the nation’s largest designer outlet center, SilverSands Factory Stores, is a short drive. Shopaholics can hunt down deals on everything from Ralph Lauren to Tommy Hilfiger to Strasburg Children to Liz Claiborne or Nine West. My best friend and I are turning forty this summer. Hmmm …

We try to stick to a budget for dining out on vacation. Sandestin is close to a WalMart and a Publix where we made pit stops, and I spotted a Dollar General and Winn-Dixie further down the highway. Our town home also had a small charcoal grill on the patio and my husband grilled steaks our last night.

We did our share of dining out, too. One of the best dinners we had was at Cantina Laredo, right around the corner from Sandestin and close to the Publix shopping center. Our server made fantastic fresh top shelf guacamole right at our table. Our most enjoyable meal on the resort property was beach front at Finz. The service was fantastic and our server brought out a second round of margaritas when our order was running late. No trip is without its flaws and we did have a negative experience in the Village of Baytowne Wharf. Although our dinner was fantastic and the atmosphere was fun and funky at one particular restaurant, somehow the girls’ order got dropped. Our server and management were very apologetic. Thankfully the fried green tomatoes (with caramelized onions and bacon) appetizer was amazing.

If you want to explore Destin there is no end to the family activities in the area. We played putt putt and had a great lunch out at Fudpucker’s, complete with a gator farm (only in Florida), and had lunch at Pompano Joe’s beach front our last day.

Sandestin is an easy eight-hour drive from Nashville, with two kids I might add and a heavy barrage of DVDs for their backseat viewing pleasure, but should you need to fly, the Okaloosa Regional Airport is only 30 minutes away and the Panama City-Bay County International Airport is 40 miles east.

The toughest part of our trip was leaving. We could have easily spent another week at Sandestin.

Photo courtesy of BlondeMomBlog


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