Thank you Destin VIP magazine readers for voting our Jodi Ketchersid as the Best Real Estate Agent in Destin!
This is a blog about our area, what we do as locals - the latest about what is going on and possibly some tips about what to do and where to go. I opened RealJoy Properties in Panama City Beach in 2006 and I have lived in Destin since 2000. I love the Emerald Coast and live it so stay tuned for updates about everyting - not just real estate...
Thank you Destin VIP magazine readers for voting our Jodi Ketchersid as the Best Real Estate Agent in Destin!
Remember tomorrow night! The third annual Stock the Pantry Party will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Food For Thought Santa Rosa Beach Pantry, 132 Market Street. The event will feature the Mellow Mushroom Bake Bus, treats from Pop Stop, drinks from Grayton Beer Company, new Food For Thought T-shirts, a raffle with great prizes and fun activities for the entire family. Guests are asked to bring five food items (suggested items include plastic jars of peanut butter, plastic jars of jelly, granola bars, fruit cups, snack crackers, and/or breakfast bars or $5 for entry into the event.
Food For Thought is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization based in Santa Rosa Beach, FL that provides backpacks filled with healthy, easy to prepare food for students who are dependent on free or reduced school meals. The goal is to support a child’s development and educational experience by bridging the gap between school meals during weekends and holiday breaks. Food For Thought has been working to fight child hunger since 2010, and currently serves 15 schools in Walton and Okaloosa Counties, providing backpacks for 1200 students each week. For more information, such as donation locations, pantry items needed, and opportunities to volunteer, please email email@example.com.
So you are coming to visit - a few fun tips and perhaps a few tricks.... Destin all the way to 30A is actually not very big - I say this because traffic can get crazy here. We depend on tourists and we love tourists so do not misunderstand, but to make your trip maybe a little smother (especially when you have kids) maybe a few of these things can help.
When it rains it pours literally - our summers are hot and living on the gulf is amazing, we often get fun little spots of rain, they usually come up fast and leave fast, but be ready because when it happens everyone forgets how to drive including us. Expect traffic is what I am saying - our infrastructure does not allow for much relief in that department, so just know that about us. It seems like we are not in a hurry because we can't control what happens here during season.
WIth that said - most people leave on Saturday morning and check in Saturday afternoon, so if you are leaving Saturday morning and you are going over the bridge it may take you awhile so I would suggest leave early or go to lunch and leave late - check out is usually around 10:00 am.
When you are coming to Destin most everyone comes in Saturday evening so if you are trying to get here early again - so is everyone else and you can get stuck on the bridges for over an hour - come early or come later, just my 2 cents.
Jelly fish! We have them some sting some do not - I love swim shirts when we have a lot of jelly fish and pay attention to our flags purple flags usually mean we have jellyfish. In the 16 years I have lived here I have never been stung, because our water is so clear you can actually see them. We have a lot of different jelly fish and we always carry jelly fish squish in our bag in case someone does get stung (you can get that anywhere - target, walgreens) the blue jelly fish are the Portugese Man-o-war and they are the ones that sting. Don't touch them even on the beach, they can look dead and still sting you. They have long tentacles and they are the ones to avoid, The pink jelly fish also avoid they are called 'meanie" for a reason. The clear ones are what I usually see and they are usually harmless. I know this is very general and they are usually no big deal, but watch the flags they are there for a reason.
We also have stingrays which are really really cool, and I have never had an issue. Do the stingray shuffle and you will be fine. Stingrays like to bury themselves just below the sand and hide if you shuffle or slide your feet along the bottom the vibrations scare them away and you won't accidentally step on them. They do have a barbed tail and it will hurt f you get stung, so just a little advice.
The best advice I can give to you is watch the flags - watch the flags - watch the flags - our biggest problem here is that we have a strong rip current sometimes and the flags will warn you, but no matter how great of a swimmer you are, you are no match for a rip tide. If you get caught in a rip current, try not to panic and do not swim into it. Swim parallel to the shore with the current it won't last long and then once you are out, swim to shore.
Our sugar sand!!! Our sand is so white and so fine your feet will actually squeak when you walk in it. Interestingly enough, this process began thousands of years ago when tiny quartz particles from the Appalachian Mountains came down to our coast through the Apalachicola River. Our sand grains are actually almost perfect ovals, which is why it squeaks and it also why our water is so clear. This process is still occurring here and it is one of the very reason our beaches are the most beautiful beaches in the world. So a little history lesson, but if you have been here you know that not only is it beautiful it is sticky - sticks to everything, so a little locals hack - we use baby powder to get it off. Walk to your car and you should be dry by then and a little baby powder (or cornstarch) on your feet and hands gets it right off.
Your Phone put it in a ziplock bag! It will still work and it won't be a disaster!
SEAGULLS I love all of our birds, we all do and we have a lot of them, but don't feed the seagulls - I get it, they like to eat, they like cheetos, doritos, they will actually pretty much eat anything and usually right out of your hand. If you so choose to feed them, be forewarned, you have a really really great chance of attracting a whole group of them, like a bad move and they are not shy, they won't just go away and more importantly, they will probably poop on you (this is how locals KNOW you are on vacation, well, that and a sunburn).
Be safe, we love our beaches we want you here and we want you to see how beautiful they are too.
So to give you a little history about myself - I have 5 children - yes 5. So when it rains, and it does do that here, people first and foremost forget how to drive. The traffic will be insane, so plan on taking your time to get pretty much anywhere (including the secret locals back roads). The things we do when we are going a little stir crazy is not a huge list, but I hope it helps someone.
BOWLING! We have Bowling Alleys in Destin, the newest on is located at the Destin Commons and it is the nicer of the two - Uncle Bucks Fish Bowl and Grill it haas the fun atmosphere and if there is a wait, you can poke around the commons and shop. The other is Hurricane Lanes - it has been around for awhile and it does the trick. Lines are shorter and its probably cheaper if you have a crowd because they charge per person per game. Uncle Bucks charges per hour. Either way it is family fun.
INDOOR MINI GOLF! We go to Destin Laser Tag they have mini golf, an indoor arcade and laser tag. Lots of things to choose from and it is located right next door to...
FAT DADDY's!!! Fat Daddy's which is yet another arcade - family friendly, actually pretty decent pizza and it is inside!!!
BAYTOWN WHARF! If you are closer to Sandestin, Baytown is a great option, visit Baytown wharf for the most up to date activities, but there is yet another arcade PLUS shops and restaurants and during the summer there is always something fun happening. They do have parking but sometimes they make you catch a shuttle from the front gate, but it is worth the trip. Some of my favorite restaurants are located at Baytown, if it's just a drizzly day this is perfect year round!
SPA DAY! If you do not have little ones - we have some awesome spa's! Here are a few I recommend. Serenity by the Sea it is a full service salon, for both men and women (these all are) but it is a great atmosphere and why not you are on vacation. The other really nice spa is located at the Emerald Grande Spa this is perfect when it is raining because you can look out over the pass out to the gulf and watch the storms roll in.
MOVIES! Now with this said - everyone will be going, so my advice is to get your tickets online first! 2 theaters that I recommend are AMC DESTIN COMMONS 14 located at the Destin Commons or BOULEVARD -10 in Miramar Beach.
SHOPPING! Shopping with a caveat - all of our shopping is oout doors, but we have some great places to shop! The Commons, is a large retail venue and that is also where one of our movie theaters is and bowling alley and we also have Bass Pro which my boys love the aquarium! They can spend hours in Bass Pro - it is located on the opposite end of the mall of Uncle Bucks. Also Emerald Grand at Harborwalk Village which also has Starbucks, places to eat and fun places just for the kids like the fudgery (they sing when they make fudge) and the popcorn store! Going back towards 30A we have the Silver Sands Premium Outlets and that is pretty easy to stay in the underhangs and make it from shop to shop. We also have the shops at Grand Boulevard which has again places to eat, one of the movie theaters I mentioned movie, they also have a new Vineyard Vines. Lilly Pulitzer and Anthropologie. Then of course our quaint shopping along 30A The Merchants of Seaside and Watercolor!
These are just a few quick ideas - I will add to this list as we grow and as people suggest things, but hopefully if it rains, you can find some fun things to go besides the beach we have quite a bit going on especially during the summer!
So I love food - I love seafood, some of my family members are not such huge fans of seafood, but I am going to give you a few of my favorites and where they are located. Today I am focusing on my top 10 in Destin, because we have so many great places, I think breaking everything down is the easiest.
If you love seafood like I do, and this is not in any particular order - you can ask me for my favorite, but I know many of these owners so in all fairness, if they are on my list, they are a winner!
1. Harbor Docks on the Destin Harbor is a fresh caught seafood and they even serve breakfast. Open 7 days a week- you can sit out on the back and watch the sunsets and the dolphins play, this is fresh and you can order something for everyone! They get busy especially during dinner - but they do have valet service available. They are located at 538 Harbor Blvd in Destin. They also have an awesome sushi menu, this is a locals casual favorite!
2. Camille's and Harbordocks are owned by the same person. Camille's is located on the old beach road in Destin, 2931 Scenic Hwy 98. It is a little quieter and smaller and a little more upscale. They also have a sushi menu but the menu's are a little different, so it is worth checking both out. Camille's also has a casual cafe below for beach food on the go - they have a coffee bar and smoothies as well as a quick bite for breakfast or lunch as well as a a bar. This is a great stop after the beach or before and it is located in Crystal Beach right by the public beach access.
3. Dewey Destin's Seafood and I love hushpuppies and they have some really good ones. Dewey Destin has 2 locations, one is on the Harbor - 202 Harbor Blvd. in Destin and the other is the crab island location - 9 Calhoun Avenue. Both are fairly casual, with the crab island location being much more casual. Locals often pull up via boat grab a bite to eat in bathing suits and go right back out to Crab Island. In the evening you can watch the dolphins play and see some of the most amazing sunsets. The shrimp basket is one of my favorites!!!
4. Boshamps! Also located on the Harbor in Destin - located at 414 Harbor Blvd - this is a great venue for families because (besides the awesome food) they have a sandy beach area for the kids to play while you are waiting for your food. As a mother of five, this makes my dinner very relaxing. One little tidbit, they have valet parking, don't park across the street at the bank, they will tow you. As for the food it is amazing and again local!!! The cheese grits and feta cheese dip is awesome, they are known for their oysters. It is a great atmosphere and I have never been disappointed!
5. The Louisiana Lagniappe this is located on Holiday Isle behind the Sandpiper on 775 Gulf Shore Drive. You have to go through the guard gate but they will give you directions. As the name indicates they have a Louisiana influence that is so worth the trip! Try the bread pudding - really! Grouper is one of my favorite fish because it is light and always fresh here! My personal favorite is grouper pontchartrain or the shrimp and grits! You just can't go wrong here. This is a little more upscale, but remember you are in Destin, we are casual by nature everywhere, but the dining is upscale.
6. The Marina Cafe romantic, upscale and again, on the harbor! This is located at 404 Harbor Blvd. If you have a meat eater in the family - this will work for all of you. They have a great dessert menu as well - so not what I would consider casual but great views, great food and great ambiance.
7. 790 on the Gulf finally a place on the beach! This is located inside the Inn at Crystal Beach so you walk in and go straight back and down the stairs. 2996 Scenic Hwy 98 and you are on the beach! They have a Sunday brunch with a New Orleans flare and a full bar. They are known for their gumbo so try it! I like the Redfish (another light fish that is local) and my girls love the gumbo. The bread pudding here is also worth trying!
8. Brotula's on the Harbor! 210 Harbor Blvd - home of the build your own boil! You can pick and choose if you can't decide, but personally I like the fried green tomatoes and the shrimp and grits. Brotulas is also known for their oysters! I have not had dessert so I can not comment, but the atmosphere is fun and casual and the customer service has always been great!
9. Lulu's ok one of my personal favorites for the atmosphere alone! 4607 Legendary Marina Drive If you have kids, or you want to sit out at the tiki bar and have a cocktail or if you are looking for entertainment - this is the place to go! It is actually located on the Bay right at the foot of the mid-bay bridge, They have outdoor games and sand and all sorts of fun things for the kids to do while you are waiting OR if you do not have kids, they usually have big screen tv's with sports playing and it is covered but all open. The kids will come back sandy so bring baby powder (a local trick - I will talk about later, but baby powder removes our sugar sand). They have a shop and paddleboard and kayak rentals and a huge menu! They are famous for their crab melt and of course, their most awesome Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding!!! It is a must!!!
10. Now with this said - I am not a big fan of the touristy places, but these 2 are beachfront and actually pretty good food so they are making the cut - The Crab Trap and The Back Porch. First the Crab Trap - it is right on the beach, 3500 Scenic Hwy 98 and they have some pretty good food and a playground and an outdoor bar - most definitely worthy of my top 10. They even have a BEACH CAM you can check out that is live! The views are ah-mazing and they are located at the public beach so if you are patient you can find a spot to park. Now, The Back Porch - also on the beach and casual, this is fun to watch the sunsets and the crab cakes are usually what I get or of course the grouper and grits are a winner too. The back porch is more mid Destin - 1740 Scenic Hwy 98 and it has been around for a long time!