Vacations to small towns don’t have to equal boredom. Often times, the leisurely pace these picturesque towns abide by is a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of our busy, modern lifestyles. I am a product of my southern roots, and the need to slow down every once in a while is in my genes. Mexico Beach is the perfect place to relax and enjoy simpler things in life.
6 Ways to Enjoy Mexico Beach, Florida
My grandparents, on my mother’s side, first introduced me to Mexico Beach, Florida about 10 years ago, and it was love at first sight. Growing up in the southeastern United States, I was immediately taken by the town’s charm and nostalgic feel. It’s not often you find at beach town without any high rise condos or large scale shopping malls, and the slower pace of life in Mexico Beach reminds me of home. The folks are friendly, and the beaches are clean and plentiful. Here are a few way you, too, can enjoy one of my favorite Florida cities on the Unforgettable Coast.
Unlike some of the more popular Florida beaches, Mexico Beach remains fairly unknown to the rowdy, party hardy beach crowd, and the locals would like to keep it that way. You’re liable to find more families with young children or empty nesters than any other demographic. With over five miles of white sandy shores, early rising to stake your claim on prime land is completely unnecessary. Park your family near the only restaurant that sits right on the beach, Toucan’s, and your kids can enjoy a game of beach volleyball or a turn on the swing set while you take in the gorgeous view.
Mexico Beach and the neighboring town of Port St. Joe host several fishing tournaments throughout the year. MBARA, Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association, hosts its annual tournament every August, but there are several other opportunities throughout the year to participate in a tournament. There is even the opportunity to fish on “license-free” days. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at fishing, but are more of the recreational mindset, fishing on a license-free day allows you to “try before you buy.”
All of the restaurants are locally owned and operated. You won’t find a chain restaurant anywhere in Mexico Beach. If you’re like me and you’re used to ordering the same thing everywhere you go, don’t be put off by the inability to get your “usual.” Vacations are the perfect opportunity to branch out and try something new. Killer Seafood has some of the best fish tacos I’ve ever eaten (and I’m not really a fish gal, so that’s saying something), and Mango Marley’s makes a mean watermelon margarita (their specialty). Toucan’s popularity is part menu-based, part view-based (they’re the only restaurant right on the beach), and you’ll love their take on Bang Bang Shrimp if spicy seafood is your thing. If you aren’t a fan of seafood, or just need a break from it, Sharon’s Café is famous for their smiling faced pancakes, and Crazy Beach Pizza will satisfy your pizza cravings with their delectable menu of pizzas, calzones, and specialty sub sandwiches.
While there is no “mall” to speak of, there is still plenty of retail therapy to be had. The Shops at Mexico Beach boast a blend of merchandise including resort wear for men and women, beach souvenirs like hats, sunglasses, and towels, even some familiar brands like Brighton, Crabtree and Evelyn, and Yellow Box just to name a few. Toucan’s gift shop offers a wide selection of t-shirts and novelty items, and The Grove has decorative art, wall signage, and other trinkets that will help put the finishing touches on that beach-themed space in your home. If you’ve got kids in your party, you’ll want to finish up your day at local favorite Tommy T’s. Just a short walk from the city pier, Tommy T’s serves several kinds of Blue Bell Ice Cream including classics like mint chocolate chip, vanilla, and cookie dough, and it has an arcade that stays open late most nights.
Even in a smaller town, there are likely to be several events going on throughout the year for you to enjoy, and my family has been lucky enough to catch a few of these events in action. Blast on the Beach is Mexico Beach’s annual 4th of July celebration, complete with fireworks and an early morning 5k. The annual Port St. Joe Scallop Festival comes around in late September, and the last time we attended there was live music and food trucks galore. If you’re in town during one of the many fishing tournaments, you can catch all the action down at the docks, even if you choose not to participate in the fishing yourself. There really is something for everyone, so be sure to check the calendar of events when choosing dates for your trip.
The Day Trips
At some point in your visit, you might be feeling a little stir crazy and want to get out of town. The good news is that Mexico Beach is within driving distance of several other great Florida vacation spots. Drive east to Cape San Blas and visit the St. Joseph Peninsula State Park or Gulf County’s Salinas Park. Cape San Blas is one of the few beaches in Florida that allows horseback riding directly on the beach. Broke-A-Toe, one of the horse riding companies in Cape San Blas, offers a variety of riding options including one hour, 1.5 hour, and sunset rides that vary from $50-$80 depending on the length of the ride and the season. If you drive west to Panama City Beach or Destin, you can experience all the great things those towns have to offer like go-karts, mini-golf, movie theaters, and, of course, premiere outlet mall shopping!
When you’re ready to relax with your toes in the sand and a drink in your hand, the Unforgettable Coast will be waiting for you. Will you dive right in and swim with the fishes? Will you enjoy a relaxing day in the warm sand? The possibilities are endless for your visit to Mexico Beach.