Sandestin, along the Emerald Coast of the Florida Panhandle, was recently named “one of the best beaches for families” by ivillage.com and is as family-friendly as it gets. With miles of pristine beaches, pools overlooking the ocean and tons of entertainment and restaurants catering to kids, this sunny destination is perfect for either a quick getaway or an extended vacation. My family checked Sandestin out for five days recently, and plan to return this summer for an even longer stay.
With accommodations ranging from studios to bungalows and town homes, the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is also home to the Village of Baytowne Wharf, a lively town square comprised of diverse restaurants, amusement rides, live music and a children’s playground. My girls were big fans of the carousel and Eurobungy, which they tried repeatedly until we dragged them away to dinner as they begged for “just one more jump.” There is also a SkyTrail Ropes Course, an arcade, a zipline, a magic shop and a laser maze. The property is gorgeous, and my family loved being in a resort atmosphere but having a full kitchen so there was no need to eat out every meal.
Our favorite restaurant at Baytowne Wharf is Hammerhead’s, overlooking the bay and serving up buckets of steamed seafood and a festive ambience. Kids get their groove on dancing to the nightly band while parents enjoy the sunset and cocktails. The San Gelato Café is a sweet way to wind up the evening before heading back home to enjoy the breezes on the balcony.
The Hilton has lovely rooms, including suites with bunk beds in a separate alcove with its own television. Barefoots is a seaside, casual eatery (try the fish tacos) and the Picnix Poolside Market has sandwiches, snacks and ice cream for food on-the-go. This hotel is a hotspot for professional conferences, and depending on the group, the pool area can get a bit hectic. But my girls enjoyed the action and if a few conventioneers got splashed, well so be it!
The best part of both resorts: the expansive, swimmable and breathtaking beach.
With the array of dining options at the resorts, there is really no need to leave. But if you want to venture out for dinner off property, try Stinky’s Fish Camp, serving some of the best seafood in the area and located in nearby Santa Rosa Beach.
Dislosure: The resorts mentioned hosted my family for research purposes, which did not affect my opinions of the properties.