Our Research TravelingMom recently visited Navarre Beach in Santa Rosa County, Florida and fell in love with the small coastal town. Read more about what she loved and what she thinks will work for families!
When the Beach is All You Need, Think Navarre Beach Florida
During the madness of Hurricane Matthew, I was in the middle of packing my bags for a beach trip…in Florida. Luckily for me, I was headed for the Gulf Coast, which saw nothing but blue skies and calm surf the entire visit.
When I arrived, I noticed something very very different from the traditional ‘beachy’ towns I’ve visited before. This town was left untouched by the commerce that typically comes along with a beach trip. I knew right away that I had arrived at my beach happy place. You could even call it my idea of paradise.
Navarre Beach is so unspoiled by tourism that when you book lodging (and believe me, you want to book a stay here!), a service like ResortQuest will be needed. Why? Well, the reason is there are currently no hotels in the area, but there is an abundance of vacation rentals.
That’s right – when you visit Navarre likely you will be in a condo.
TravelingMom Note: There is currently a hotel under construction in Navarre, scheduled to open in the Spring of 2017
While the lack of hustle and bustle was immediately apparent to me when we drove up to the condo, I don’t think I truly realized how much of a difference it made until I stepped on the beach. Looking left and then right, I was struck by how I was simply at the beach. There were no high rises fighting for space, just pure coastal beauty.
A Navarre Beach vacation also offers something unique; it boasts the longest pier in the Gulf of Mexico with fantastic views of the Gulf’s clear waters. It costs $1 to walk on the pier. Pay once and you have access, with your receipt, until 11 p.m. The pier was an attraction all by itself. I saw opportunist dolphins ready to snag fish off the lines of the fishermen and pink jellyfish the size of frisbees from my advantage point walking down the fishing pier.
Where to Eat
This quiet little beach town has some fantastic restaurants. My favorite was Lagerheads on the Gulf. Lagerheads had fantastic fish in quite possibly the perfect location – it sat right on the beach with the best views of the clear ocean. I could have (and would have!) sat watching the waves the entire day!
My endorsement of Lagerheads by no means downplays the great food that we had at the other restaurants in town. Sailor’s Grill had a menu with lots of variety and while I didn’t get to try their breakfast we heard nothing but rave reviews from people we encountered about their breakfast selection!
Up the road just a bit is the Ye Olde Brothers Brewery, owned by two of the most adorable men that you have ever met. They are doing big things in Navarre. These brothers have dared to bring something different to town – fantastic craft beer. Now, I myself am not a beer gal, but I could taste that the beer was very good.
What to do
Remember how I told you earlier that there was not much to do while you are soaking in the sounds of the surf? While this is true, just about an hour up the road in Milton there are lots of activities to choose from.
Coldwater Gardens is one of those places and I have to say that I was very impressed. This out of the way spot is perfect for the traveler who wants to get away from it all. They have ‘glamping’ tents, a treehouse, and other cabins available for rent.
While I was touring the grounds, I remarked to my friends several times that this would be a great way for my husband and I to compromise. I am not a camping person by any stretch of the imagination, while he lives for camping. The accommodations at Coldwater Gardens was the best of both worlds: for me, it was plush enough to feel comfortable and for my husband, it is close enough to nature to make him feel happy. In fact, should we return to the area again, I would love to stay at Coldwater Gardens for a night or two, you know, to get away from the sand.
Adventures Unlimited is just minutes away from Coldwater Gardens and it ranks very highly on my ‘to return’ list! They offer a wide variety of, you’ve guessed it, adventures! I opted for a kayak trip, but adventures unlimited also offers zip line tours, and canoe excursions as well. I had never kayaked before but after a brief paddling lesson and general instructions, I was on my way! The river that we were on was perfect for a first trip. The water never was any higher than my waist, should I have had the misfortune to fall out of the kayak. (In case you’re wondering – no, I didn’t. I came very very close, but managed to stay in the kayak!)
The Gulf Breeze Zoo is located about 15 minutes from the beach and it was so much fun! I have to confess, I am not a huge zoo fan, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. The zoo wasn’t so large that it was overwhelming, or that it would take the entire day to see unless you really wanted to spend your whole day there. The exhibits were all fairly interactive and the animals seemed generally happy. Bonus points to the zoo for having reasonable prices in the gift shop!
Navarre Beach was such a gem and I found myself head over heels in love with the little coastal town. Navarre is one of those spots that you love so much that there is always a bit of hesitation before sharing about the destination. The hesitation comes in due to fear that it will be overrun with tourists!
Tell me in the comments below. Have you visited the white sand beaches of Navarre before? What was your favorite part?