Thanks to Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort for having my family as their guests. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are strictly my own.
When your day starts like this, you know it’s going to be a good one:
This was my view last weekend from Luau Tower 1 in the resort community of Sandestin, Florida. Sandestin is the type of place where you can park your car when you arrive, and not touch it again until it is time to head back home. It is a place with countless things available for you to do (some of the best golfing and tennis courts are there, for example). Or you can just head to the beach, which has sand so white that my oldest truly thought it was snow!
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort was such a breath of fresh air for our family. We stayed 3 nights as the guests of the resort, and got a real feel for what a vacation there with young children would look like. And let me tell you, it was GREAT! And I say that being fully aware that not every vacation destination is a good choice for those of us with little ones. Let me tell you why I would recommend Sandestin after staying there with my crew:
First, there are SO many housing options. There are over 1,200 accommodations in 30 neighborhoods available for rent in the Sandestin community. They range from studios to 3 bedroom villas, some with beach views, and others with gorgeous views of the bay or super close proximity to the spectacular golf courses. We stayed in a 2 bedroom unit. Here’s what it looked like:
Being able to have a full-size kitchen and to also have a living area (which means room for running around) was SO AWESOME. I’m not one to suggest spending money wildly, but honestly, I think these features are totally worth spending a little bit more on. You’ll save a ton of money by not having to eat out all of the time, and you’ll feel more comfortable just dwelling in your rental unit, which sometimes is all the kids want to do, anyway. If they are going to be watching Spongebob, at least you can be watching the waves from your great view, and perhaps even get to sprawl out on the couch with a good book, or hang out in the kitchen snacking on some yummy treats you grabbed at the Publix right outside of the resort. No need to feel cramped and no need for your kids to feel over-extended.
But when the kids are ready to get out and do some exploring, there’s always something fun happening over at the Village of Baytowne Wharf, which is on the Bay side of the resort.
We rode the carousel, watched the 11th annual Mardi Gras Dog Parade, did a little kayaking in the bay, and enjoyed the abundant sunshine.
My in-laws met us at the beach and stayed with us, and that even gave Tim and I the opportunity to go on a date! We treated ourselves to some delicious seafood at Elephant Walk, which was just a 3 minute walk from our condo (how’s that for convenient?!).
Then we headed over to Baytowne Wharf and enjoyed a drink at Rum Runners. This place is home of dualing piano players, which reminded me a bit of Silky O’Sullivans on Beale Street in Memphis. Only Rum Runners had a much more laid-back, tropical vibe!
Finally, we headed over to Blast Arcade and Laser Maze and had so much fun playing some games, and just getting to be kids ourselves for a little while.
We had such a nice time together, and for this reason among many others, were so glad that we vacationed with other members of our family. Sandestin can definitely accommodate larger groups!
But if traveling with other folks isn’t an option for you and you’d still like to have one-on-one time with your spouse, or even just be by yourself, Sandestin offers Club KZ, which is for kids 4-12. At a cost of $55 for resort guests, your kids can enjoy excellent programming with highly qualified supervision from 9am-2pm (lunch included), and you can go relax or play!
When the family is ready to reconvene, definitely head to Hartell’s for one of your meals. I thought this was the most family-friendly restaurant on property. It has a cute, ’50s throwback vibe, and the menu is perfect for kids who might be a little bit picky. Lots of yummy American fare (I had a BLT with tater tots) and of course, a nice selection of milkshakes!
As a resort guest, you also have access to all of the pools on site. It wasn’t quite warm enough to get into the pool at Luau, but if it had been, I would have wanted to spend lots of time hanging out by this awesome waterfall! I heard a rumor that a different outdoor pool in the area was actually heated, but I didn’t go investigate.
But perhaps the activity (other than the beach, of course) that I recommend the very most is bike riding. At the marina, you can rent a bike, and guests of the resort receive 4 hours of complimentary bike riding each day. Sandestin is FULL of great trails designed for bike riders and walkers (most of them paved), and much to my surprise and delight, they even have trailers available so you can take your kiddos for a ride with ease!
I’m such an infrequent bike rider, that I don’t personally even own one, so I was taken a bit off guard by just how much I loved riding the bikes with the kids. We went for a ride every single day, and those are some of the memories I’ll hold on to the most from our visit. That and the spectacular shows that the sun put on every day with its entrance, as well as with its exit.
After experiencing Sandestin for myself, it doesn’t surprise me in the least to hear that it made the U.S. New & World Report 2014 list of Best Hotels in the USA, as well as Redbook Magazine’s Best Travel Finds list. We had such a good time there as a family, and it is a place that I would highly recommend to folks who are looking for some beach time on the Emerald Coast. I would absolutely book a vacation there again!