Taking an Intentional Time of Rest
At the beginning of May, I had the opportunity to take some intentional time of rest away from the office and vacation for 2 weeks in sunny 30A. I crumbled my overwhelming to-do list, and I swapped my home office and planner for flip-flops and sunscreen. (Actually, that’s a lie. I always work ahead so I never come back overwhelmed.) Don’t get me wrong, I love this dream job of mine, but everybody needs a week or two where the toughest decision they have to make is blended up or on the rocks.
These two weeks in 30A were filled with so much sun, sand, relaxation, and great food shared with even better people. I came back into the office so refreshed, rejuvenated, and filled with inspiration for upcoming weddings and projects this summer and fall. While this trip was mostly unplugged for the sake of rest, I was in fact able to document at least part of our trip.
Let me preface with this: we’re total foodies. So, this is mostly about food. But, if you find yourself looking for some of the best eats in 30A, this blog post has you covered.
The Slow First Day
There’s never a dull moment when you travel with the Nugents. On the way there the first day, it rained the whole time. I’m not talking about little sprinkles either. I mean, we apparently barely missed a tornado on the road. (That was a fun panicked phone call to get from my parents watching the weather from the condo.)
However, when we arrived, the skies cleared. Like magic. Actually, it was probably God giving us a break from the day we just encountered. It was a little chilly, a little gloomy, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying some coffee and a view with the pups. I didn’t care that I had to bundle up in May, I was determined to enjoy the beach regardless of what Mother Nature threw my way.
You get to see my chocolate lab, Beaux, on my social media a lot. However, I don’t usually get to mention my other fur babies from back home. On the left is Charlie. He’s a 14 year old West Highland White Terrier that we’ve had for over half of my lifetime. (Yes, surprising enough, I am only 23, y’all!) He’s a grumpy old man who basically runs the house and all the other pups in it – even our ranch dog and our giant 1 year old German Shepard! With his age comes a lot of challenges, and he’s currently really sick. While that final day with him seems to be approaching faster and faster, and I know it’ll kill me inside, I’m just happy to say he’s had the best possible life and made us smile so much along the way.
On the right is Sophie. She’s actually my grandparents’ pup that they got when they lived next door to us when I was growing up in Texas. While she’s probably only half of Charlie’s age, if that, she’s the sassiest dog I’ve ever met. I still laugh about how she use to bite Charlie’s fur as a puppy and he’d drag her around the house. Over the years she’s kept Charlie in check, but he’s still king.
Beach for Days
Thankfully, most of our time there was spent in the sunshine. One of my favorite things about Destin and 30A are the white beaches and clear water. I could spend all day, every day at the beach. In fact, that’s really all we do on our beach trips. We beach, we eat, we drink. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I mean, how could you not dream of waking up to this view outside your window every day.
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We also found an old kayak left by the stairs going down to the beach. On calmer days like this one, we borrowed it for a little fun. It was perfect for the days that there wasn’t a wave in sight. I would sit in my little green chair with my feet in the sand as Rob trek’d out to the dark blue part of the water. He kayaked among the dolphins and got to see some other fish that were a little too big for my comfort. He said they weren’t sharks, but regardless, I’d rather just say ‘Cheers!’ from the shore.
Drinks and the Boardwalk: Margaritaville
If you’ve never been to Margaritaville in Destin, you’re missing out on some of the best drinks. I’d actually compare their Margaritas to Chimy’s if you were a college student who took Margarita Mondays seriously. (You know, the place the Advertising students held their socials with their professor. Another true story.) Not only were these Margaritaville margs some of the best I’ve ever had, they were strong. Needless to say, I stopped after my second.
We actually found our way here on accident when our evening dolphin cruise tour got canceled due to some weather making its way in. We got Margaritas to-go with my parents, my grandparents, and my great aunt and uncle. Already on this side of town and anxious to kill time before dinner, we went out to explore the boardwalk and walk off the alcohol. Multi-tasking, right?
I love wine, and I love ice cream. Putting them together is just plain magic waiting to happen. My mom and I laughed at how cute and dangerous the idea of wine ice cream was with another guy and his husband who walked up to the window at the same time. Y’all, I must say one of my biggest regrets is not trying the alcohol infused ice-cream from the adorable ‘Wine Not?’ truck. I didn’t want to eat it right away, and we weren’t going straight home to put it away for later. It’s safe to say that I’ll be seeking it out on my next trip back.
Dinner: LuLu’s Destin
LuLu’s in Destin is one of my favorite places to go in Destin. Hands down. I make it a point to go several times for dinner during our stay. It’s the sister restaurant to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, so you know that you’re going to have a good time. Not only is it right on the water to offer you an amazing view while you eat, it has the most fun atmosphere with it’s nightly live music and delicious drinks. Like always, we actually went to dinner there several nights during our trip.
Like I mentioned, they also had amazingly delicious drinks at LuLu’s. My favorite is actually the Cruzan Infusion Bucket that comes in a kid-like 32 oz. souvenir bucket. I must warn you though, this drink is no child’s play. It basically tastes like a bucket filled with 3 types of rum and fruit punch. Let’s just say I drank one and a half of these, and my parents had a good laugh at what was to follow. Hey – we’re on vacation! At least I got my Vitamin C, right?
If you have the opportunity to go to LuLu’s, I hope you go hungry. There is really so much great food that you need to try.
My recommendations from LuLu’s would definitely be the following:
- The Fried Green Tomatoes – There’s not much I have to say about that. This Texas girl loves her some fried pickles and fried green tomatoes. The best part about these is the ‘LuLu’s Wow Sauce’ they serve with it. I have no idea what’s in it, but it definitely will ‘wow’ you. (See what I did there?)
- The Crab Melt – They say it’s one of their best sellers, and I don’t doubt them a bit! It’s sweet claw meet, with cheese, green onions, and mayo spread on a toasted french bread. It’s so rich that my mom and I probably could have just split one. Is your mouth watering yet?
- The Shrimp Basket – While shrimp baskets are usually considered the safe option at a seafood restaurant, there was nothing plain about it. Fried and grilled shrimp were both amazing options.
- Hot Fun Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding – It’s bread pudding made with Krispy Kreme donuts. Needless to say, I thought I died and went to heaven when I tried this. It was the perfect treat for our last night in town.
Rob and I always have so much fun traveling with my parents. They really are some of our favorite people.
Bikes to Breakfast: Sunrise Coffee Co.
I really love taking walks and riding bikes when I’m at the beach. There’s just something about the salty air blowing in my hair that makes me feel at home. Plus, you all know how much I love coffee. I’m a sucker for trying local coffee shops whenever I travel somewhere. One morning while my dad had some work to get done in the condo, Rob, my mom, and I took a bike ride to Sunrise Coffee Company in Gulf Place. It was a cute little place with a large outside seating area. We sipped on some frozen coffees and had the best spinach quiches ever before we rode our bikes further down the strip. If you’re in the area and want a quick pick-me-up on your morning exploration, look no further.
Dinner: Stinky’s Fish Camp
If you’re going to the beach, you have to eat the fresh seafood. It’s almost like a foodie sin if you don’t. Stinky’s Fish Camp may not look like much on the outside when you drive by, but it had some of the best tasting seafood I’d had in a long time. While trying to decide where to go for dinner, we decided to take the chance and see what everyone was raving about. Needless to say, we were hooked. We had a great view, ordered a plethora of things to try, and our stomachs were beyond happy when we left. What more could you ask for?
I’m looking forward to trying more of the menu on our next trip back.
What we ordered:
- Oysters – These were so good! I want to say Rob probably had almost three dozen to himself.
- Crab Legs – I actually intended to order a shrimp basket as my meal, but I also ordered a small cluster of crab legs on the side just to try them. They were so delicious that I hardly ate my meal and ordered another cluster of crab legs.
- Buffalo Frog Legs – I’m not a fan of frog legs, so I did not personally try these. However, Rob loved them!
- Red Snapper – My mom actually ordered the fish of the day, which happened to be red snapper. She always raves about the red snapper that we had one year in the Florida Keys, so every year she tries to find something just as good. It’s safe to say she found a good contender at Stinky’s Fish Camp.
Dinner: The Bay
The Bay in South Walton is definitely one of my new favorite gems that we discovered during our time in 30A. Like LuLu’s in Destin, it’s right on the water and offers some of the most amazing views while you eat dinner. If only we weren’t dressed so nice, I would have loved to have had dinner on the sand-side bar tables just out of frame. It would have been fun to play corn-hole with a glass of rose after dinner. I was okay to settle for a drink on the outdoor lounge area though.
While our experience at The Bay didn’t start off the best due to a rude bartender while we waited to be seated, our waiter and the delicious food made up for it all. I wish I would have taken pictures of the food. But, to be honest, I didn’t even think about it until I already shoved it all in my mouth.
What we ordered:
First off, we had crab cakes to share as an appetizer. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you much about them because they were gone so fast in a blur. You could say they were that good. My dad ordered the Hand cut Ribeye because he doesn’t eat seafood, and he said it was the best steak he’d ever eaten. Rob ordered the Faux Ya Ya (a take on shrimp and grits) and made ‘oh my goodness’ sounds all throughout dinner.
My mom and I had edamame and sushi. Now, I’m not lying to you when I say that their sushi was some of the best sushi I had ever had. I ordered the ‘Hot Mess’ roll for myself (because according to our waiter, you are what you eat- HA!), and I shared a Kelli Roll with my mom. My mom tried to stay ‘safe’ with a California Roll the first time around, but after trying a piece of my Hot Mess, we decided to get a little more adventurous with the Kelli Roll for our second round. While my stomach was full, I didn’t want it to end. If you’re going to go to The Bay for the sushi, I recommend going earlier in the evening rather than later. Apparently, they only made a certain number of each roll per evening. We found that out the hard way when we tried to order another Hot Mess roll.
Bikes to Breakfast: The Perfect Pig
On our last morning there, we decided to take another bike ride to try out a breakfast joint we spotted while sipping our coffee at Sunrise Coffee Co. The weather was a little gloomy, and there was rain in the forecast for later in the day. We wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to take the bikes out one last time and try out one last new gem. The Perfect Pig is a cute little restaurant, bar, and deli all in one. Needless to say, you’ll be ‘praising the lard’ after you’re done eating at this place. I was also thankful for a bike ride home to help me work it off and keep from falling in a food coma.
It was actually kind of nice getting to sit on the patio and have breakfast on our last morning there. As much as we were dreading our drive home the following day, we were celebrating some exciting news that would allow us to see my parents again very soon. However, with how delicious the food was, it was hard to talk about anything other than how much we loved the food.
What we ordered:
- Dutch Baby – My mom ordered the dutch baby topped with blueberries and powdered sugar. If you have no idea what a dutch baby is, it’s like a light and fluffy pancake served in a skillet. Except it was way more delicious than just any ol’ pancake.
- Parmesan Crusted Breakfast Grilled Cheese Sandwich – Rob and I both ordered this, and I’ll leave a picture for you below. I have no words to describe this because it was almost too delicious for words. However, it was almost too rich. I felt like I was going to fall into a food coma all day after eating it. But, It was worth it.
- I’m pretty sure my dad had either an omelet or a quiche, but I know he was wishing that he got the grilled cheese too once it made its grand entrance to the table.
We ended an amazing breakfast by stopping by the deli on the way out. Rob fell in love with the maple bacon so much at breakfast that he purchased a couple pounds of it to bring home. (Spoiler alert: We’ve already eaten a portion of it!)
We also couldn’t resist checking out The Artists at Gulf Place before biking home. It’s a cute little commons area of huts filled with the gorgeous work of amazing local artists. There’s even a resident cat who follows you while you shop, and it goes by the names ‘Socks’. I was almost tempted to bring him home with me.
I hope you enjoyed my little recap and review of our two weeks in sunny 30A!
Now, we recover. Till next time, friends!