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  • Writer's pictureriegermckenna

Coastal Delights: Exploring Pensacola Beach and Destin, Florida

Welcome back to the Local Adventurer! In this blog post, we'll be diving into the sun-soaked wonders of Pensacola Beach and Destin, two captivating beach destinations along the Florida coastline, just a short drive from our current home base, Biloxi, MS. From pristine beaches to delectable dining options, these coastal gems offer an idyllic getaway for beach-loving families. Let's explore the best places to stay, savor mouthwatering meals, and discover the stunning beaches of Pensacola and Destin.

Section 1:

Destin, Florida

*we stayed on Eglin AFB, so no lodging recommendations for Destin

Where to Eat:

Dinner:

🍴 The Gulf on Okaloosa Island: Located in Destin, The Gulf offers a family-friendly dining experience with its open-air seating and picturesque beach views. Their diverse menu features fresh seafood, sandwiches, and flavorful cocktails, catering to various taste preferences.

🍴 Harbor Docks: A long-standing favorite in Destin, Harbor Docks is known for its fresh seafood and sushi. With a laid-back atmosphere and a menu that appeals to both adults and kids, this waterfront restaurant is a great choice for a family dinner.

Breakfast:

☕️ Another Broken Egg: Begin your day in Destin with a delightful breakfast at Another Broken Egg. Their creative twists on traditional breakfast favorites, such as fluffy pancakes and savory omelets, will satisfy both kids and adults alike.

☕️ The Local Market: Before exploring Pensacola Beach, start your day at The Local Market. This charming café serves up delicious breakfast options, including pastries and hearty sandwiches. We absolutely loved the breakfast burrito.


Beaches to Check Out:

🏖️ Henderson Beach State Park: Henderson Beach State Park in Destin is a family-friendly beach destination offering pristine sands and emerald waters. The park features picnic areas, nature trails, and playgrounds, providing opportunities for the whole family to enjoy outdoor activities.

🏖️ Santa Rosa Island Beach: family-friendly beach destination with miles of sugar-white sands and inviting emerald waters. The shallow gradient of the shoreline makes it ideal for children to play in the gentle waves. The beach is equipped with picnic areas and restroom facilities, ensuring a comfortable visit for the whole family.


Things to Do with Kids:

🐬 Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park (Fort Walton Beach): Take your little ones on an exciting adventure at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park in Fort Walton Beach. This interactive marine park offers a variety of educational and entertaining shows featuring dolphins, sea lions, and other marine animals (they have an awesome dolphin show!). It's a fantastic opportunity for children to learn and have fun at the same time.

🐬 Emerald Coast Science Center (Fort Walton Beach): For a fun and educational experience, head to the Emerald Coast Science Center in Fort Walton Beach. This interactive museum offers hands-on exhibits and activities that engage young minds in the wonders of science. From physics experiments to wildlife displays, children can explore various scientific concepts in a playful and engaging environment.

🐬 Big Kahuna's Water and Adventure Park: Cool off and have a blast at Big Kahuna's Water and Adventure Park in Destin. This water park offers a wide range of thrilling water slides, lazy rivers, wave pools, and splash zones suitable for kids of all ages. With attractions like the Tiki River Run and the Buccaneer Cove, your little ones will have endless hours of fun and excitement.


Section 2:

Pensacola Beach, Florida

Where to Stay:

Home2 Suites by Hilton Gulf Breeze Pensacola Area: For a comfortable and family-friendly stay near Pensacola Beach, we recommend Home2 Suites by Hilton Gulf Breeze Pensacola Area. This hotel's convenient location allows you to explore Pensacola Beach while providing the amenities and comfort that families desire.

Pro tip for traveling with a baby - find a hotel that has a kitchenette for easy milk storage and bottle/pump cleaning!


Where to Eat:

Lunch/Dinner:

🍴 Grand Marlin: Treat your family to a memorable dining experience at Grand Marlin. With its waterfront location and a menu featuring delectable seafood dishes, this restaurant offers a family-friendly atmosphere combined with breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico.

🍴 Salt: Located in downtown Pensacola, Salt offers a farm-to-table dining experience using locally sourced ingredients. Their flavorful dishes, including fresh seafood and gourmet burgers, will satisfy the taste buds of both adults and children.

🍴 Red Fish Blue Fish: Nestled in the heart of Pensacola Beach, Red Fish Blue Fish is a casual seafood joint beloved by locals and visitors alike. With its laid-back atmosphere and diverse menu, this restaurant offers an array of seafood options, including fish tacos, shrimp po' boys, and their signature Red Fish Burger. Enjoy a relaxed meal with a view of the beach.


Beaches to Check Out:

🏖️ Beach Access 28A/Opal Beach: family-friendly destination with soft white sands and turquoise waters. Utilize the pull-offs along the road to access different areas of the beach, and find the perfect spot for your family to relax and enjoy the sun and surf.

🏖️ Santa Rosa Island Beach: family-friendly beach destination with miles of sugar-white sands and inviting emerald waters. The shallow gradient of the shoreline makes it ideal for children to play in the gentle waves. The beach is equipped with picnic areas and restroom facilities, ensuring a comfortable visit for the whole family.


Things to Do with Kids:

🐬 Gulf Breeze Zoo: The Gulf Breeze Zoo is a wonderful destination for a family day out. The zoo is home to a wide variety of animals from around the world, including giraffes, lions, monkeys, and more. Kids can enjoy train rides, animal feedings, and even a petting zoo area. Explore the well-maintained exhibits, learn about different species, and create lasting memories with your little ones.

🐬 Pensacola Boardwalk: The Pensacola Boardwalk is a vibrant waterfront destination, perfect for a family outing. With its lively atmosphere and stunning views of Pensacola Bay, it offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Kids will love the amusement rides, arcade games, and miniature golf courses, ensuring hours of fun and excitement.


Conclusion:

Pensacola Beach and Destin, Florida offer unforgettable coastal experiences for families seeking sun, sand, and delicious dining. Whether you choose to explore the family-friendly beaches of Pensacola or indulge in the waterfront delights of Destin, both destinations have something for everyone.


Embrace the coastal delights of Pensacola Beach and Destin, and create treasured moments with your loved ones. With their stunning beaches, delectable dining options, and family-friendly attractions, these destinations are sure to leave you with unforgettable experiences and cherished memories.



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