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sethsmom Mar 15th, 2007 10:55 AM

August Vacation in Panhandle
We're planning a late summer vacation for a family of 5 (kids are 8, 16, 19) and have heard wonderful things about the Florida Panhandle area. Would love some tips on beachfront hotels with great pools, and favorite restaurants (we love to eat out) in Ft. Walton or Destin.

Ike Mar 15th, 2007 11:41 AM

Check out the San Destin Hilton. It's the largest and nicest resort in the area. It's big and has plenty for kids including being right on the best beach in America and having a large pool, plenty of places to eat and good service. Your other choices are renting a condo which will provide you with a kitchen to cook some meals in your room. The Hilton has rooms with a small bunk bed room area as you enter the room for some of the kids and an in room refrigerator though.

There are way too many great places to eat in Destin to list here but here's a few.

Criolla's, Beach Walk, Bud and Alley's and Marina Cafe. AJ's Seafood is good, Back Porch, Harbor Docks are all good. Beach Walk is my favorite. Go east to Seaside to visit for lunch and look around. There is plenty to do in Destin with kids. If you want to look for a condo go here.

Orlando_Vic Mar 15th, 2007 12:15 PM

Without a doubt, the FL Panhandle probably has the most georgeous beaches in the entire state. However, be aware that August is prime hurricane season and the Panhandle (plus SE and SW FL are favorite landfall targets), so be flexible.

Sunshinesue Mar 15th, 2007 12:30 PM

I am not sure where you are from or if it will matter to you, but it is VERY hot and humid in August in the panhandle. Of course it is never too hot to sit on the beach under an umbrella but if your kids want other outdoor activities, such as biking or boating, you may want to plan them for early morning.

On the positive side, the shoulder season starts the middle of August in the Destin area so you might be able to get a good rate.

In addition to Sandestin, you might want to look at Silver Shells. It is quite nice.

As Ike said, be sure to take a day trip along 30A and visit the beach communities of Seaside, Grayton, Watercolor, Rosemary, etc. (Collectively known as The Beaches of South Walton.)

You will be visiting the prettiest beaches in America! Have a great time.

Ike Mar 15th, 2007 12:47 PM

I didn't think to mention the heat but it does get very, very hot in Destin the summer and there are lots and lots of folks there vacationing. Lines get long everywhere and traffic is bad. I personally don't go to Destin anymore. I'm too old to put up with the crowds and traffic. But my wife loves it and takes the grand children every year. Don't worry about hurricanes. If one heads for Destin you will know in plenty of time to check out and head home. Just don't wait too late or you won't be able to get gas and the traffic will be very slow. Leave early even if you don't know the exact direction of the storm. Don't worry about the hurricane or heat. Get in the pool or the ocean and cool off. I can guarantee you your kids will love it. Nothing bothers them such as heat and hurricanes. Go and have fun. I would stay at the Hilton so you don't have to clean up and your kids will enjoy it there as there are always a hotel full of kids around the Hilton.

sethsmom Mar 15th, 2007 01:07 PM

Thanks for the replies. Ike, I went on the Sandestin Resort website and it looks fabulous, just what we are looking for. And, thanks for the tips on eating out. We truly enjoy experiencing every meal when we are vacationing and it's nice to know about the favorite spots.

When we originally started looking for a vacation spot, we thought about Sanibel Island but all the talk about red tide and algae spooked me off. Our 8 year old son has asthma and we just don't want to risk it. Not sure how hurricanes will affect him though:)

Sunshinesue, we will definitely set aside a day to drive to the Beaches of South Walton.

Ike Mar 15th, 2007 01:35 PM

Seths's a restaurant link. Drive up 30A to Seaside and have lunch/dinner at Bud and Alley's which is a casual restaurant your kids will enjoy on the water. Seaside's a neat town for shopping too. Water Color is a nice place. Their restaurant Fish Out of Water is excellent. Click on About Us.

Another Destin favorite is Captain Daves. Also I really like The Back Porch for lunch. It's pretty close to the Hilton and has great seafood for lunch right on the beach. Have fun.

Ike Mar 15th, 2007 01:36 PM

You can fly to Destin pretty easily now days through Fort Walton Beach a/p at Eglin AFB in Ft. Walton Beach. Non stop from Memphis and others too I'm sure.

sethsmom Mar 15th, 2007 02:31 PM

Thanks Ike...I will check out the websites right now.

Ike Mar 17th, 2007 01:39 PM

Seths Mom.......Just across the highway from the Hilton on the bay and also in some high rises south of the Hilton is a series of new resorts owned by Sandestin Beach Resort. You might want to check out a condo there. The Baytown Wharf Resort is very new. Your 3 kids would have more room but the Hilton should take care of you also as they have some bunks in most of their rooms.

sethsmom Mar 19th, 2007 09:56 AM

Ike...Thanks for the info. We made tentative reservations at the Hilton Sandestin but then heard about Silver Shells. I have been looking on VRBO for options there. Will check into Sandestin Beach Resort soon.

mcmckissic1 Mar 19th, 2007 11:13 AM

Hi there Sethsmom, we stayed at Hilton Sandestin Resort last April and loved it, rooms were very nice but smaller, pool areas were fabulous as was the beach. Next year we have decided on a private condo on at Westwinds condos at the Sandestin Resort, right by the Hilton, but a two bedroom condo on the beach for just about the same price we paid last year ($60.00 more total) at the Hilton. We have three kids this time so need more room and these looked nice. Sandestin Resort is a HUGE complex with tons of accomodations. I am pretty positive that the Hilton Sandestin was right in here by these other condos. You will enjoy the Hilton a ton, just depends on what you are looking for, and if you go thru a private owner you do save some cash.

sethsmom Mar 20th, 2007 06:04 AM

Thanks mcmckissic1, I'll check it out. We are planning on going the third week of August.

gracie Mar 20th, 2007 08:50 AM

I have stayed atthe San Destin Hilton a few times and think you will love it. I also echo the recommendations for dining. If you travel to 30-A, check out Angelina's and Old Florida Fish House. Just be aware that algae and seaweed may be in the water in August. Also, most, if not all Florida public schools, K-12, will be back in session before the third week in August, so there won't be as many Florida families vacationing as you might think.

bestrn1 Jun 2nd, 2007 08:30 PM

You have to go to Picolo's Red Bar in Grayton Beach to eat. IT IS THE BEST!! They have the best crab cakes and a yummy stuffed eggplant. But get there about 5pm or you will be waiting a while. The Louisiana Lagniappe is also good. It;s in Destin-the stuffed shrimp are excellent. They have a bit of a wait also.

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