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Planning family reunion in Florida Panhandle, need some advice

Planning family reunion in Florida Panhandle, need some advice

Old Mar 4th, 2010, 08:37 PM
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Planning family reunion in Florida Panhandle, need some advice

This July/August, we're going to have a family reunion with around 15 people. We want to rent a vacation home in the Panhandle that will accommodate that many people.

Requirements are (a) right on beach, (b) within 10 minute drive to a good selection of restaurants, (c) near kid friendly activities.

Please chime in on pros and cons of Destin, Ft. Walton, Seaside, Seagrove, etc...

Also, any recommendations of where to stay would be appreciated, and some restaurants that would accommodate us at one table.
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Old Mar 5th, 2010, 08:47 AM
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ttt
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Old Mar 5th, 2010, 10:34 AM
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I love the little towns along Hwy 30 (Seaside, Grayton Beach, Watercolor, etc.) but I'm not sure you'd find a lot of restaurants in those towns that could accomodate your party at one table. But I haven't been in that area in a few years.

I hope your post will catch the eyes of some of our north Florida/Lower Alabama posters who can advise you.
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Old Mar 5th, 2010, 10:54 AM
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All have good beaches.
Seagrove will be less expensive than Seaside.
Check VRBO for rentals.
More dining options in Destin/ Fort Walton due to more highrises/ density.
There are tradeoffs both ways.
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Old Mar 7th, 2010, 06:25 PM
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thanks, I'll keep these in mind.
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Old Mar 7th, 2010, 08:39 PM
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What constitutes "kid-friendly activities" and how close is "near"? And what ages?

Also, when in July/August? Are your dates flexible right now, or do you literally mean overlapping July 31/August 1?

The Navy's Blue Angels flight team has practices at Naval Air Station Pensacola that are open to the public (go to http://www.blueangels.navy.mil/index.htm to see the schedule). After practices on Wednesdays they are available to meet the audience and sign autographs at the Naval Aviation Museum. My niece and nephew loved getting to meet them. And the museum is a hit with kids any time. There are also a couple of old forts on the Navy base that are fun to explore. NAS Pensacola is most convenient if you are at Perdido Key but you could still visit from Pensacola Beach.

The Blue Angels have their annual show at Pensacola Beach on July 10 (most convenient if you stay at P'cola Beach or Navarre Beach). Fort Pickens is near Pensacola Beach as well and kids like it, too.

Part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore lies between Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach - no development! You might enjoy visiting it if you stay at either of those places just for the contrast with the developed parts.

You could be in downtown Pensacola from the center of P'cola Beach in 10-15 minutes. It would take longer if you are outside the center (which a beach house probably would be).
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Old Mar 8th, 2010, 08:42 AM
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For kid friendly activities, most of the time we'll be on the beach, but I was thinking something along the lines of zoos/animal parks/miniature golf, etc...

Near means within a 15 minute drive.

Dates are somewhat flexible but late July spanning early August would probably be what we would want.
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Old Mar 8th, 2010, 08:46 AM
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"along the lines of zoos/animal parks/miniature golf, etc...

Near means within a 15 minute drive."

Go to Panama City Beach
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Old Mar 8th, 2010, 10:57 AM
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You can find miniature golf many places, but not Seagrove/Seaside/etc. area of South Walton County (as far as I know) - you'll have to drive much more than 15 minutes from there. In fact, I am not sure what that area has besides the beaches (not a knock - I just don't know). I think they do have things like free outdoor movies and/or concerts certain days in the summer.

The Gulfarium is in Fort Walton Beach, but it is at least a 15-minute drive from Destin (depending on where you are) and closer to an hour from South Walton.

The Zoo Northwest Florida (between Gulf Breeze and Navarre) is about 20 minutes from the centers of Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach (going opposite directions).

Other than Panama City Beach (for multiple activities) and miniature golf (most but not all places), a 15-minute drive sounds optimistic to me. But again, I might be wrong.
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Old Mar 8th, 2010, 12:39 PM
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Consider booking this duplex: http://www.destinbeachfrontrentals.com/paradise.html . It's directly at the beach and has a kitchen and a great table for a family dinner. Destin has quite a nice range of restaurants, so it shouldn't be a problem to find an appropriate one for you.
For search of accommodations in other towns of the Panhandle area this directory will be helpful: http://www.triprents.com/rentals-Florida-Panhandle.html.
Have a great reunion!
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Old Mar 8th, 2010, 05:22 PM
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I would suggest the Beaches of South Walton (Dune Allen Beach, Seagrove Beach, Blue Mountain Beach - all of these beach communities are side by side along Scenic 30A) or Miramar Beach (just east of Destin, but considered Destin). The Beaches of South Walton is very family oriented and less crowded beaches. You'll find terrific restaurants that can seat all of your family like Lakeplace and Cafe Thirty A (for a fabulous dinner), Stinky's Fish Camp (great food and reasonable), Red Bar (laid back and beachy, good food), Smiling Fish Cafe (yummy and reasonable - great for an outside lunch). There are more options, but those stand out. As far as the best vacation rental properties (many gulf front choices for large families), I would go to http://www.BeautifulBeach.com. There you will find accommodations, area info and links to places to eat and activities.
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Old Mar 8th, 2010, 07:15 PM
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We sound like a similar group - ages from 2-70 and about 20 of us (some of the college age ones will be in and out, they can only stand a few days with the old people). We're using beachreunion.com and have booked one of their larger houses in the Destin area. It is a block off the beach with it's own pool and includes beach setups so we don't have to cart everything and the kids. Close to dining - I think it's by the Miramar Beach area? Sorry, haven't been to Destin in about 15 years. We decided on space over beachfront. If anyone else has any feedback on that area (about 1/2 mile east of Pompano Joe's)I'd love to hear about it - looks really nice.
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Old Mar 8th, 2010, 11:34 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions. I'll pass on Panama City Beach, been there and it's a little more for teens and twenty somethings than kids 6 months to 8 years and then adults 30's up to 70!

I'll check out the other web sites...
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Old Mar 8th, 2010, 11:36 PM
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Jodi, sounds good but we need beachfront. I'll check the site though.
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 12:29 AM
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I've been to PCB too, and am not a fan, but it's the only place in the Panhandle that has what you said you are looking for. Checking out the other web sites is a good idea. That will give you a better idea what the four places you have listed are like - and you can choose among their pros/cons.
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 11:31 AM
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St. George island is beautiful, lots of rentals, Apalachicola is close with great restaurants.
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 11:52 AM
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St. George Island is beautiful, but the beaches are not the sugar-white sand that occurs farther west (from Perdido Key to Panama City Beach).
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 12:20 PM
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And St George is even further from the mini-golf kind of stuff the OP is looking for.
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 02:28 PM
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Well, there is Putt-N-Fuss in Eastpoint, but that is about it.

There is also the Apalachicola Maritime Museum in A'cola - but more than 15 minutes from SGI. In addition to the museum building (which is free), they have the sailing ship "Heritage" that does cruises on the river and bay (free to visit the ship, but you pay for the cruise). http://www.ammfl.org
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 02:35 PM
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Hey, I love the area. My absolute favorite is Indian Pass with SGI and CSB as runners up. But, as much as I love the area, it doesn't sound like it's what the OP is looking for.

My BFF goes down with the grown sons and grandkids and they rent a private home with pool. They love their family vacations at SGI every year, but IMO it's not what the OP wants.
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