Destin, Perdido Key, Fort Walton???

Jun 11th, 2005, 04:24 PM
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Destin, Perdido Key, Fort Walton???

What's the difference between the different beach locations on the Flordia Gulf Coast. We've vacationed in Orange Beach, AL for several years and we're looking for something different this August. DH and I are thinking of a short trip (4 nights) with our two DSs, age 7 and 10.

Perdido Key would not be THAT different than Orange Beach and they're still recovering from Hurricane Ivan. We stayed in Destin 7 years ago during the off-season before the DSs were school-age.

What differences do you see between Perdido Key, Destin (many areas---- Holiday Isle area, mid-Destin area, etc), Fort Walton Beach. Heck, I've even looked at Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach. I just can't see the uniqueness of each area on the www!

We like to stay in a condo ON the beach. We also like to hit the beach in the morning, back to the room for lunch and a little down time. Then, we head back to the beach and/or indoor pool in the late afternoon. We all have fair we can't stay in the sun all day. DH and I do enjoy a good restaurant at night.

Also, name a favorite condo, if you have one.

ozres is offline  
Jun 12th, 2005, 01:27 PM
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I just returned from Seagrove Beach, FL and would highly recommend any of the beaches along the Highway 30A stretch (Seaside, Grayton Beach, Blue Mountain Beach, etc). This area is made up mostly of beach cottages, upscale developments and a few lowrise condos here and there. It's a lot different than nearby Destin and Panama City Beach. It's a pretty laid back area in which you'll find no chain restaurants, only local establishments. For evening entertainment, you can visit Seaside for outdoor concerts, ice cream, quaint shops, etc. It's a great family area.

Check out As far as accomodations, I would look at to rent directly from owners and bypassing the realtors (and their fees). We stayed at Commodore's Retreat which is a small oceanfront condo with pool. If you go to the site, it's listing #40318.
bsam is offline  
Jun 13th, 2005, 06:34 AM
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Thank you BSAM! Anyone else have an opinion?

ozres is offline  
Jun 14th, 2005, 07:26 PM
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Seaside, Grayton Beach and the whole 30-A streach is a beautiful area with wonderful beaches. However, as a resident of the Fort Walton Beach/Destin area, I think Destin has alot more to offer your sons. Big Kahuna's is a terrific water park in Destin. The Track is a fun place to take the kids day or evening, with putt-putt golf, go-carts, rides for younger kids and an arcade area. There's tons of shopping, more to the liking of a 7 & 10 year old, theaters, fast food, bowling, and I'm sure I'm leaving something out! Plenty of activies to get them out of the sun for a while.

The beaches are all pretty much the same from Gulf Shores AL to Panama City Beach FL--beautiful! The Crystal Beach area, Destin or Sandestin area are all excellent places to consider a condo. Just make sure it is directly on the gulf and you should be okay. Resort Quest is the big agency in the Destin area.

Don't get me wrong, 30-A and the Walton Co beaches are heavenly. A very quaint area. I just personally think the area is more suited to couples or families with older children. Destin will give you more options for entertaining the family off the beach. And there is excellent dining for you and DH all around the Destin area. Also, 30-A and Seaside are only a 20-30 minute drive (depending on traffic) from Destin if you feel like checking the area out.

I will check back on your post in case you have other questions.
J_Mac is offline  
Jun 16th, 2005, 01:54 PM
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Thanks JMac for the information.

I'm busy looking at for condos located ON the beach. It's more confusing than Orange Beach.

In Orange Beach the condos sit parallel to the beach so every unit in the condo has a "full" view of the beach. In Destin, so many condos sit at an angle that you don't get a "full" view of the beach. I'd really like to see the sunrise AND the sunset!

If you have any condo suggestions, I'd appreciate it.

ozres is offline  
Jun 16th, 2005, 02:40 PM
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Actually, the condos in Destin sit parallel to the beach also. Some are designed as three highrises that form a modified, shallow U-shape. Any that I can think of all have a terrific view of the beach. Just make sure that whatever property you're looking at is on the "gulf" and not harbor, bay or intercoastal waterway. I am thinking of a particular area which is right across Hwy 98 from several of the activities I described for the boys. The names escape me--there are sooooo many condos out in Destin. I will be going out to Destin tomorrow night for dinner. I'll write down some of the nice ones and get them back to you. I would anticipate spending in the neighborhood of $2500 for a week in the Destin area on the beach.

J_Mac is offline  
Jun 16th, 2005, 03:10 PM
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I second the 30-A stretch of beaches. I was just in Sandestin a little over a month ago and was surprised how much it had grown just since I'd been there last three years before. The beach in Seaside, et. al are equally as nice, however, they are not nearly as crowded as Destin and Ft. Walton.
mah1980 is offline  
Jun 16th, 2005, 04:40 PM
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I'm a big fan of Santa Rosa Beach, which is on the 30S stretch. I've stayed in condos at Gulf Place several times and always enjoyed it. They are across the street from the beach but Gulf Place has its own boardwalk over with a crosswalk on the street. Nice shops and a place that rents bikes and beach floats, too. Go to Bud and Alley's to eat and watch the sun set.

Red Bar is a good restaurant for the whole family and a dependable favorite.

Look on and you'll see a number of units for rent there.

Seaside is only a few miles down the road. They have movies on the green on some evenings and they're usually family oriented. It's a fun place to walk around.

If you go into Destin, your boys would enjoy Fudpuckes. They have good food and an alligator show that always wows kids. Donut Hole is great for morning treats, lunch and pie/coffee at night.
atlswan is offline  
Jun 16th, 2005, 04:40 PM
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OOPS! That's Fudpucker's. That was a gross typo!
atlswan is offline  
Jun 16th, 2005, 07:09 PM
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To answer your initial question about difference between the beaches, here's my opinion:

All panhandle/gulf coast beaches: white powdery sands, the prettiest beaches ever with great places to eat. The differences lie in the local establishments and tourist population.

Gulf Shores: A little touristy, more teenage/college vacation appeal. Pretty darn crowded and hard to find parking.

Perdido Beach/Orange Beach: A little more upscale than Gulf Shores. Nicer places to eat and stay. A little less crowded.

Pensacola/Navarre: More like Gulf Shores, but there seems to be more commercial development. I am not too impressed by these beaches.

Ft Walton and Destin: I hate the traffic in both places. Way crowded. Destin more upscale than Ft Walton. Tons and tons and tons to do, see, eat, and shop in both places.

Seaside/Seagrove: my favorite. Everything you need is there but not in excess. Tons of families, very few college partier types. Laid back, no amusement park-style attractions. Much more low key, family oriented events.

Panama City: Strip malls and chain restaurants and party, party, party.

Hope I haven't offended anyone. These are just my own personal opinions!
Jun 16th, 2005, 07:17 PM
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bamakelly, I lived in the area for over 30 years and I honestly could not describe it any better than you did. Great job!! I can't imagine that you've offended anyone as you've definitely hit the nail on the head with your post. Good job!

Jun 17th, 2005, 06:10 AM
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That's just the information I was needing. Our first visit to Gulf Shores 9 years ago was wonderful. But, we discovered we like Orange Beach's "upscale" atmosphere a little better.

Back to looking at the listings..............

ozres is offline  
Jun 17th, 2005, 06:45 AM
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Bamakelly, I agree that your descriptions are pretty dead on.
atlswan is offline  
Jun 17th, 2005, 07:47 AM
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Ozres --

You've rcvd some great info, but I would like to throw in my 2c too!

If you do end up staying in Destin, I recommend the scenic Old HWY 98 area, especially around Crystal Beach. Traffic isn't as bad, yet it's still easy to get to "the action." Some of the condos in this part are Emerald Dunes, Inn at Crystal Beach, Crystal Dunes.

Good luck!
Brookside is offline  
Jun 18th, 2005, 06:47 PM
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Destin Gulfside is also on old 98--right at the very start where new 98 branches off. Just prior to the split of old and new 98 are Sterling Sands Towers and Silver Towers. As Brookside said, that is a great area--close to tons of activities for the kids, shopping and places to eat.

The traffic in Destin is definitely murder this time of year--took us an hour to get from Destin bridge to the opposite side of Destin Friday night. Seaside/Seagrove Beach is definitely beautiful and very laid back, but in my opinion, there are more activities to get the boys out of the sun in the afternoon. August can be very hot and humid, and the dog flies start to make their appearance.

Also, our kids start back to school on 4 August which will help the traffic situation alot.
J_Mac is offline  
Jun 18th, 2005, 10:42 PM
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I agree that the Crystal Beach area of Destin is far quiter than other areas, especially Sandestin. I went to awedding at the Inn at Crystal Beach last month and it was great. They have beach service, but there aren't any hotels surrounding the Inn so it's extremely quiet.

We stayed at the Sandestin for 3 days, and then the night before and night of the wedding we stayed across the street from the Inn at the Nantucket Rainbow Cottages. They were suitable since we weren't in our rooms very much, but the Inn at Crystal Beach looks very nice.
mah1980 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 08:34 AM
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We enjoy Fort Walton Beach. There, on Okaloosa Island, are fewer crowds & just a stretch of condos. But plenty to do in Destin, just 5 miles away.
pw423 is offline  
Jun 16th, 2011, 09:57 AM
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I live in Destin and find it interesting to read about traffic. I moved from a large city where I fought traffic daily. In Destin, we have traffic congestion probably 8 weeks out of the year where it's really - however, the rest of the year paradise has roads easier to travel on. We love tourists and we want them to visit our beautiful slice of heaven, but realizing that it might get busy on the roads at peak times.
BeachGal2011 is offline  
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