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Trip Report Spending February on the Florida Panhandle

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Spending February on 30A
The Beaches of 30A run for about 20 miles between Destin and Panama City. The beaches are gorgeous and February is the offseason so rentals are very inexpensive and there are no crowds.

My husband and I spent the month of February at a condo at the Adagio in Blue Mountain Beach/Santa Rosa Beach. We had a great time. We drove to Florida, stopping to see family and some friends on the way down and back. We drove 8-9 hours a day. It took us 2 days driving down. We waited for Atlanta to get cleaned up before driving through.

The obvious downside is the cooler temperatures but we were prepared for temps in the 50s and 60s. We just prayed for sun and our prayers were answered most days. We had a lot more days in the high 60s than I expected. We also had days in the low 70s. People who were in the area in January said they had never experienced the cold temperatures that they had this year.

Advantages to going in February
Escaping the horrible weather at home in N.E. Ohio was the major advantage. We watched all the storms hitting Akron. It was a bad February in Ohio.

Offseason rental rates

No crowds. We had the beautiful beach to ourselves. We walked the beach every day except for 2 rainy, yucky days.

Restaurant specials and no lines.

It is a great time to ride bikes. We rented bikes at Big Daddy Bike Shop were $60/month for the 3speeds. We could have rented the beach bikes for $45

When staying a month, you don’t get quite as upset when it rains for a day. We did have 2 days that were complete washouts.

We joined the Walton County Snowbirds. My husband golfed with them and played Bridge on Tuesday nights. They have a lot of programs for Snowbirds and also offer a storage facility for members to use.

My thoughts on the beaches of 30A

Love staying on 30A. There are fewer highrises, I love the bike trail.

Blue Mountain Beach/Santa Rosa Beach—they blend together-- is in a good location, right between Seaside and Destin.

Grayton Beach: This may be my favorite place on 30A. I used to love all the little cottages that were in the area when we visited many years ago. A lot of those are gone but I still like Grayton. Easy bike ride to Seaside.

Watercolor: Beautiful homes here. Love biking through the town and around the lake. Took us some time to find the Publix here. I knew it was there someplace.

Seaside Beach: My daughter said the town looks like a Pinterest Page. It is charming. The outdoor restaurants and trailers were hopping on the weekends and over Presidents Weekend. We stayed here many years ago, coming two Octobers in a row and renting the Honeymoon Cottages with my husband’s office. I cannot imagine how busy this place must be during the high season though. I would love to own one of the lovely cottages in the town, but when I am renting at the beach, I prefer to be gulfside. Most of the cottages here and in Watercolor are across the street from the beach. I love Sundog Bookstore.

Seagrove Beach: This might be the location that I would most prefer. Rentals are cheaper here than in Seaside—I am going to look at rentals here. I think there are several places where you can rent that are south of 30A on the gulfside. It is a nice central location.

Lots of gated communities as you head down 30A with the big development being Rosemary Beach. We actually spent 2 nights in Seacrest Beach next door. Same beautiful beach extends to this area. As much as I don’t have any reason to head into Destin, I still seem to prefer the other end of 30A. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay in this area though.

What we did

We started every morning relaxing with coffee and then hit the beach for a long walk. What a great way to start the day—especially after seeing the Facebook posts from friends at home moaning about their weather. There were always a few people walking their dogs, but the beach was pretty quiet in the morning.

We would explore a bit and then my husband would often head over to the Santa Rosa Golf Course and play their “After 2PM special rate” or hit balls at the driving range.

My husband played in the Walton County Snowbirds vs. Destin Snowbirds Golf Outing. He didn’t play well. He also played the Raven Golf Course in Sandestin and raved about how beautiful the course was. He also played better that day.

He swam laps in the gulf front pool everyday. I would read at the pool, enjoying the view out over the beach.

My husband also used the exercise room. I thought I would use it, but I often would just take a second walk on the beach or ride my bike.

We rode bikes. The bike path is wonderful. We rode down to Grayton for lunch. We rode into Seaside for lunch. Rode through some of the developments along 30A. We hoped to bike with the Snowbirds but our schedule got busy.

We had a lot of company. Family joined us at different times. We had several family members join us over Presidents Weekend and even rented another condo. This kept us busy and they seemed to want to eat every single day. It was easier to cook than go out so we all took turns cooking and going to Publix. We usually went to the Publix on 98.
Watched the sunset every night. Had a special champagne toast on the beach at sunset one day celebrating our daughter’s promotion.

Hit some great President Day sales at the Silver Sands Outlet Mall—nice mall. Also stopped at some interesting consignment shops on rainy day.

We actually spent 4 days in Marco Island visiting friends. It was a 9 hour drive and I thought this was a stupid idea. We did have fun with our friends. I do not like Marco Island though.

We spent an extra 2 days at the beach. We had to check out on March 1st but the weekend forecast was fabulous so we spent an extra couple days just enjoying the beaches down by Rosemary. We only got down that way one day before staying there—even though it was only about 15 miles from Blue Mountain Beach.

Restaurants

We actually didn’t eat out that often but there were a lot of specials offered in February. We missed the Buy1/get 1 dinner at the Marina Café. It was on my list.

Café 30A: We wouldn’t miss this buy1/get1 free deal. We loved this place when we visited many years ago. It’s still a great restaurant. The place was packed the night we were there. We were trying to figure out where all those people were staying.

The Red Bar: We had lunch here. The place was pretty empty and we just walked right in. My dad went back at night 3 times. He loved the place and loved the music at night. He’s 87.

Marie’s: Maries was right across the street and the parking lot was always packed. There is also a bar right next door. It was convenient, seems to get great reviews but our dinners the night we went were just ok

Deweys Harborside: We had great fish dinners here. The Snowbird special included a free bottle of wine that you could drink with dinner and then take home if you didn’t drink the whole bottle.

McGuires Irish Pub: We stopped here the first week we were there on the coldest rainiest day we had all month. The place was packed. They offer good lunch specials and if I remember correctly $.19 cup of gumbo with your meal.

Pompano Joes: We went here for a sunset dinner with our family over Presidents Weekend. Worked out great—we had a party of 10 adults and 2 children with us. My daughter and her cousins wanted to eat at a restaurant on the beach.

Local Catch: We stopped here one night—it was right down the street-- and there were only 3 tables occupied. Good fish dinners.

Pizza by the Sea: Rode our bikes down to Gulf Place for lunch here

Another Broken Egg: On 30A at the Grayton Beach plaza. Great breakfast. Next trip I would split the breakfast with my husband—large portions.

Shades: We stayed a couple nights at Seacrest Beach and found this sports bar. Good wings/burgers. I had a wonderful shrimp salad

Where we stayed
We loved staying at the Adagio. My husband wanted a place with a heated pool to swim laps and a fitness room. It was great having 3br/3ba. The complex is beautiful. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again. We had a room that looked out at the unheated resort style pool, but the complex is right on the gulf side of 30A.

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