Almost 12 hours, including stops.
That was how long it took for the road trip part of our road trip to Destin, FL.
Who was it that said getting there is half the fun? Obviously, they haven’t driven at night the nearly seven hours from Dallas to Shreveport and Lafayette, LA, then on to Baton Rouge.
But the thought of our first vacation on the Florida Gulf Coast sustained four of us through the darkness.
Starting at 11 p.m. on a Friday, we planned to be in Destin by 11 a.m. Saturday, in time for breakfast at Another Broken Egg Café, which got good ratings on Yelp, Trip Advisor and urbanspoon websites. We made it in time to enjoy the first breakfast of a week’s worth of tasty food at places with beachy names.
Arriving at our Holiday Isle condo a couple hours later, we were tired but ready for sun, sand and surf.
From there it was a short walk to the beach right on the Gulf and a shorter walk to a beach on Destin Harbor inlet with a close-up view of the Harborwalk entertainment area and boat docks.
Besides eating at places such as Harry T’s Lighthouse, Stewby’s Seafood Shanty, Stinky’s Fish Camp and Dewey Destin’s Seafood & Restaurant, the area provided opportunities for plenty of seashore activities. Those included dolphin cruising – yes, we saw plenty of dolphins – snorkeling, shopping, miniature golf at what our son described as the best course he ever played, and expeditions to two state parks, Henderson and Grayton Beach, which offered white sand beaches and aquamarine waters.
Chest deep in the water at Grayton Beach State Park, we had our “Jaws” moment – cue scary music – when a shark swam between us and safety. We got out of the water a short time after the coast cleared.
As if to balance our experience a day later, a pod of five or six dolphins lazily passed us, rising and dipping in the Gulf swells maybe 100 yards away at the beach near our condo. As they swam past, the mammals created a commotion among beach-goers, jet-skiers, boaters and dolphin cruisers.
Time also was well-spent along Miracle Strip Parkway, which stretched across the barrier island between Fort Walton Beach to the west, the Gulf to the south and the Choctawhatchee Bay. The dunes there were so white, we joked that it looked like the place was buried in late-spring snow drifts.
From there, the bridge into Destin arches high over the inlet and provides a gull’s eye view of the Harborwalk and also offers a stunning photo opportunity with sunset as the backdrop.
Our only regret on the trip? It may be that we never made it to the Hog’s Breath Café.
Maybe next time.Written by Mark Macesich