Sunsational Sandestin!

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Relaxing at the beach has never been so easy. Oh-so-friendly Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is the key!

“Whoo-hoo!” It’s a quirky family tradition: After a nearly eight hour drive south heading to the Florida beach from Nashville, we all sit forward to see it coming: the bridge! The final bridge to the beach! Zipping along 331, as soon as it’s spotted our windows come down and our voices lift, hands pushed out into the warm outside air.

“Whooo-hoo!” we cry, corny but true, the rushing wind filling our ears until we’re “Whoo-hooed” out and peeling down from the bridge’s crest.

It’s official: we’re here!

For a busy family of six, the call of the beach at the end of a jam-packed school year is like winning the lottery; we get all excited just to see the old turtle get attached to the top of the car.

We’re no strangers to Destin or the surrounding area of South Walton, but there’s always plenty of unknown. First, a mystery known as Alys Beach. Second, the latest best bet for families: Rosemary Beach. Third, an inaugural stay at a beach resort. But not just ANY resort, mind you. We’re talking the award-winning 2,400-acre Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort that boasts golfing, fishing, swimming, shopping and fun, fun,

fun till your daddy takes the T-bird away … or something like that. We were more than ready for our stay “from beach to bay,” so … Let’s go!

The Grand San Destin on the Bayside is the “Grand Dame” of the resort.

The Grand San Destin on the Bayside is the “Grand Dame” of the resort.

The Resort

Driving through the security gates of the impeccably groomed resort, we wondered out loud how we’d ever figure our way around, but that’s just newbie talk. We quickly learned with an easy map how easy it is to navigate the resort by bicycle or foot, and everywhere we went there were always plenty of happy-go-lucky golf carters driving to and fro.

Accommodation options are plentiful. While we enjoyed a swanky (granite counter tops!) Tuscan-style townhouse in the nearly completed Villa Lago neighborhood lakeside, the resort also offers more than 30 other options from lakeside cottages and bungalows to beachside villages and condos. Elegantly situated lakeside, the Grand Sandestin is the resort’s “grand dame” so to speak, boasting grand southern architecture, manicured flower beds, luscious pools and more.

Of course, no matter what your family’s interested in doing, resort life dictates something for everyone. Want to golf? Four sweeping courses include the Raven (designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.) and Burnt Pine (designed by Rees Jones). Lakes and ponds are plentiful for fishing, YOLO boarding and kayaking, tennis courts abound, the on-site salon will replenish you and a vast collection of factory outlet shops nearby will keep you busy rain or shine.

My kids love biking, so one of their favorite things to do was to ride to the underground tunnel connecting bayside to the beachside and going to the beach themselves. I never worried about this — the speed limit in the resort is 25 mph and, well, on vacation sometimes you just have to let kids go. That’s one of the best parts about resort life: there’s plenty of fun for kids to have without Mom and Dad breathing down their necks!

Exploring Around

We love nothing more than plopping ourselves on the beach, though. Sandestin’s may be a bit narrow, but we always had an umbrella and chairs waiting for us — lovely.

Still, I wanted to see a couple of beach towns we’d never seen before. We headed east one morning to check out Alys Beach — a stunning upscale Greek Meditteranean community that practically shouts, “No kids, thank you very much!,” and, further east, Rosemary Beach — easily today’s trending beach destination with architecture combining the style of Seaside with new Grayton for an unparalleled level of family chic — the area’s “common” ground was teeming with kids which made my own want to dash from the car!

The Village of Baytowne Wharf is lots of fun ...  especially at night!

The Village of Baytowne Wharf is lots of fun … especially at night!

Foodie Finds

Happily back at our resort — why did we ever leave? — we contemplated dinner. The Village of Baytowne Wharf offers plenty of options including steak-and-seafood house Marlin Grill, Osaka Sushi Rocks and our pick, the Acme Oyster House. While crowds waited for tables, we were promised a quick text message when our table was ready, so we checked out the interesting boutiques and watched kids ziplining across the lagoon. As promised, a text message gave us five minutes to get back to Acme where we enjoyed a delicious meal of oysters, baked clams, pasta and more.

One afternoon, hanging out beach side, we devoured the delectable chilled seafood sampler at the Hilton’s Barefoot Bar and Grill and lots more (including a piña colada for Mom). For breakfast one morning we waited 20 minutes at Another Broken Egg Cafe, but deemed it worth the wait: the lobster and brie omelette with a champagne butter sauce still has my mouth watering!

If you can manage it this summer — or any season at all — (the area offers lots of goings on year round!) give Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort a whirl. It’ll have you shouting “Whoo-hoo!” too.

YOLO boards, kayaks, bikes ... what more do you need when you’re on vacation?

YOLO boards, kayaks, bikes … what more do you need when you’re on vacation?

San Destin Golf  & Beach Resort

Susan Swindell Day is the editor in chief of Nashville Parent and the mom of four amazing kids.

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