Destin, Florida

The first time I went to Florida it was for spring break with my three kids—at the time ranging in age from 5 to 12. North Florida is an easy drive from Indianapolis and literally everyone and their neighbor goes there come late March, early April. Admittedly, when we started planning our trip, I had no idea just how many Midwesterners go to the greater San Destin area for spring break, but when I started running into people I knew … on the beach, at the nearby Starbucks, in restaurants … I realized it was true … everyone goes to Florida for spring break. At least from this part of the country.

And after a week spent frolicking about, I learned the Panhandle has decently-warm water, soft sand, tons of activities, good family-friendly restaurants and lots of places to run, walk or bike.

We stayed at The Hilton Resort—mostly because we had a ton of Hilton Honors points, but also because we loved the way the pool sits facing the beach. There’s plenty of hotels in the area, but their pool is by far the best (at least it was in 2011) and the location is prime. Every morning I was able to get a solid 5-6 mile run in along the winding pathway between the resort, the golf course and the Baytowne Warf. During the daytime, we hung out poolside (where I met a woman from Brazil who taught me to order my piñacoladas with a dark rum floater, and to this day, I thank her for that) and walked the coastline for hours. At night, we usually went to the Warf for dinner. And while there are many of good restaurants, my two favorites are The Crazy Lobster, a Cajun-themed seafood joint (don’t even look at the menu—just order the steamed seafood bucket!), and Acme Oyster House (need I explain more?!).

One afternoon, we did go to Fudpuckers, which, if you have young kids and they’ve never seen an alligator … well, you should go. Not the world’s most amazing food, but getting to go home with a photo of my son holding a baby alligator was well worth the visit.

Since our first trip to Destin, we’ve been back twice—but rather than stay in a hotel, we rented through VRBO and had amazing houses within a five-minute walk to the beach. The hotel was a nice way to explore the area for the first time, but now I’m saving those HH points for far off lands I’ve yet to explore.


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