Florida’s Emerald Coast
Not every beach should be a scene. For those wanting good food, quality family time, and a great place to relax and unwind, head to Destin. Named for the beautiful emerald waters off the Gulf of Mexico, Florida’s Emerald Coast boasts 24 miles of sugar white sand beaches, raucous entertainment and comfort food with a twist.
The Henderson Park Inn is one of the most romantic Bed and Breakfasts in the area. Perfectly perched adjacent to the Henderson Beach State Park and directly on a quiet stretch of beach, this New England-styled bed and breakfast features Victorian-inspired furnishings and large veranda with impressive views of the Gulf of Mexico. You feel like you’re visiting grandma’s as you enter the quaint lobby; complimentary soft drinks, water, cookies and candy bars await. Just a few steps away is an expansive deck where you will find incredible sunsets and happy hour drink specials daily from 4:30 – 5:30 PM.
Breakfast is complimentary; although dinner isn’t included, it should be included in your plans.
Shrimp and grits do not appear on many upscale menus, so when you see them, you should try them. Seafood is the stand out at celebrity chef Tim Creehan’s Beach Walk. Try the sushi grade tuna – served with baby spinach and a soy ginger sauce.
On the sandy beaches of Okaloosa Island, one marine biologist’s dream has lived on since 1955. Florida’s oldest Marine Park has been educating generations as it plays host to Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, tropical black-foot penguins, loggerhead sea turtles, harbor and gray seals, American alligators, nurse and lemon shark, tropical fish aquariums and more than 14 fascinating Gulf-edged exhibits. The three bottlenose dolphins were trained by the original trainer of “Flipper.”
Acclaimed for its sporting collection of great golf escapes, this area tees up an incredible 1,080 holes. Get down to basics at the Emerald Bay Golf Club and Medicus Golf Institute. Learn the components of every golf swing and discover “Key Alignments” every successful golfer must overcome to master the game.
Round out your adventure at the BoatHouse Oyster Bar. It’s right on the water and right on the money for entertainment. Featuring live music nightly and beer with breakfast, you’ll request the beloved honkey-tonk tune “Redneck Mother” before the night is through. The oysters rock – raw and baked – and the Cheeseburger in Paradise helps stave off tomorrow’s hangover. Here’s a tip: arrive early; revelers don’t give up their seats too often.
Henderson Park Inn, 2700 Scenic Highway 98, (850) 269-8646; www.hendersonparkinn.com
Beach Walk (850) 650-7100; www.beachwalkdestin.com
Florida’s Gulfarium Marine Show Aquarium (850) 243-9046; www.gulfarium.com
Medicus Golf Institute, (330) 225-5949; www.medicusgolfinstitute.com
Boathouse Oyster Bar, (850) 837-3645
photo by Laurette Veres