Are you ready for a beachy recap of our Destin trip? I really can't believe we've been there and are now at home. The kids haven't been to the beach in a really long time, I don't think they really remembered it. Autumn was one and Nathan was 3.5 when we went to Gulf Shores last. I thought the ages the kids were at now (Nathan is 8 and Autumn is 5) were perfect for a beach trip. Autumn may sort of remember this beach trip, but Nathan will definitely remember it. They both are out of SWIM DIAPERS (YAY!) and Nathan can even swim now... so, it was just an AWESOME time and age for them to hit the beach! Nathan loved the ocean and the waves, but Autumn preferred the pool unless she could find another girl her age to play with on the beach. Autumn is our little social butterfly, she made so many friends at the hotel!
The first day we drove 5.2 hours and stopped in Tupelo, MS and stayed at the Best Western Plus. I selected this hotel, because it offered a free hot breakfast, snack night cap hour and it has a really nice indoor heated pool. I know a lot of people drive to Destin from St. Louis in ONE big trip... and, maybe we will do that sometime... but, for now we prefer to break it up into two driving days for our own sanity.
We arrived in Tupelo, MS around 3:30pm and had some time to kill... since the kids had been cooped up in the car for so long, we decided to take them to Chuckie Cheese! It was perfect and I even found a coupon on my phone for our pizza, drinks and tokens.
On our second day of driving we had 6.45 hours of driving... but, it turned out to be over 8 hours of driving, because we hit MAJOR congestion on the highway the last 3 hours. The last 3 hours were STOP AND GO all the way from Birmingham, AL to Destin, FL... Why? Because EVERYONE and their brother was headed to Destin! We were driving on a Saturday afternoon and I think it was the peak time... we had left at 8 a.m. that morning, too! SO, we drove from 8 a.m. until almost 6 p.m. that day... with one stop at McDonalds for lunch. I don't remember there ever being that much traffic when we went to Gulf Shores, but maybe Destin is more crowded... or we just hit a peak time, I am not sure. Anyway, once we arrived to our hotel and we saw the view from our balcony, all of the stressful driving was ALLLLL WORTH IT!
We decided to stay at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Resort & Spa (click HERE to visit their website). If you are planning a trip to Destin, you must stay here! This resort will pamper you the entire week! We enjoyed valet parking and free internet and a hot breakfast buffet every morning with their Family Fun Package. You don't need to pack beach towels, they give you unlimited beach towels for the pool and beach, they have two HUGE pools, two hot tubs and an indoor pool. They offer umbrellas and chairs on the beach for a nominal cost, there is a bar and two restaurants by the pools... so you can dine and/or drink while your kids swim in your view. There is a full service spa inside the hotel, a morning and evening kids camp (Kids Krew) where the kids get lunch or dinner, face painting, etc. with different themes everyday (which allows Mommy & Daddy to be able to get dressed up and have a grownup night at the AAA restaurant called Seagar's Prime Steaks and Seafood), the hotel even made up a cheese, sausage and fruit tray for us one night after the kids were in bed when they didn't even offer it on their menu! The balcony in our room was HUGE with chairs and a table. There is a trail outside that you can jog on in the evening or even take bicycles out on. It was just a FANTASTIC place to stay! They even came and got our luggage and loaded our car back up for US when we left! If you plan to stay here, please let them know that Carrie from Curly Crafty Mom sent you as they are a blogger friendly hotel!
As soon as we got all unpacked, we decided to head down to take a peak at the beach. Here was a quick shot Nathan took of me and the kids. Don't we all look excited?!
Two VERY excited kids
After taking a peak at the beach, we decided to try out Barefoot, a restaurant next to the pool. Brian and I ordered some beachy cocktails while we waited for our food to come.
The kids went swimming while we waited for the food.
The food I ordered from Barefoot was REALLY good! I got breaded shrimp, corn on the cob and a bowl of fruit... plus a huge slice of watermelon! YUM! We got corn on the cob at a lot of the restaurants over the week and I would always be a nice Mommy and give Autumn my corn... she loves corn on the cob!
After we ate, we noticed a wedding going on at the beach and they had the sunset deck set up for the reception. I think it would be so, so romantic to get married at the beach... but, there is no way I could get my family and friends to travel for it... well, and I am already married :)
The first night on the beach, we didn't do much... the kids were just SO excited to see the beach for the first time, you can sort of tell how excited they were in these photos... they would run this way or that, play in the sand, the water, etc. They really didn't know what to do first or what to think of it!
Night-time view of our hotel
The sun setting over the beach is one of the most beautiful and peaceful moments of the day
I love the coloring of this photo where Nathan is observing the water
And, of course this happened. I wanted to make Autumn into a mermaid, but she wouldn't stay still long enough for it.
Then we went to bed... and, the next morning we got up and did the beach for the ENTIRE day. Oh, and we got a little crispy/burned, too! Especially ME, because I forgot to lather my belly with sunscreen! UGHHH! Here is Autumn, I wrote her name in front of her and she is posing next to it.
But, that wasn't good enough for Autumn... she wanted to write her OWN name in the sand and pose by it, so that's what we did next!
On that first day on the beach, we paid for our own umbrella and chair beach set up. Uh, yeah... what a waste... if it had been just me and Brian, we would have totally used it. BUT, with two kids that just want to play in the ocean and build sand castles in the sun? Well, it is just not worth it. At least it gave me somewhere to stow my bag!
There were a lot of umbrellas on the beach, we were the second one back from the front of the beach. We told Nathan to rinse out his goggles when we were getting ready to leave and he never came back... Brian and I got a little worried that he went in the ocean to play and forgot to come back... Nathan is pretty good about doing what he is told, but we know how tempting the ocean was to him and how much he liked it. So, Brian went to look for Nathan along the ocean and I stayed with Autumn at our umbrella and I started to look around for him. After 5 minutes had gone by, I was starting to get really worried... and wondering what we were going to do if we couldn't find him. Luckily, I caught site of him about 7 umbrellas over and he looked upset... it turned out that he got confused and couldn't find our umbrella, because they all looked the same! I was just really thankful we found him and then we went to look for Brian to tell him we had found Nathan. After that, one of us would go with one of the kids even if it was just going 12 feet over to the water... it was just a little too crowded during midday and it was just best not to take a chance of one of them getting turned around again. We also explained to them where the hotel was on the beach and what our room number was if they were to get lost again.
Now, some photos of the kids on the beach. Here is Autumn enjoying the waves... isn't the water just beautiful and so clear?!
Autumn running from waves... she would get mad at the waves if they 'caught' her and call them 'Daddy Long Legs'. lol! I am not sure where she got that from?!
Autumn's little feet in the sand... I didn't realize this when I got home, but I didn't get any photos of Nathan's feet in the sand... :(
Autumn's favorite thing to do on the beach was to sit on the sand and let the waves roll over her... she would love it even more if I would sit and do this with her.
Nathan found his first seashell on the beach... there aren't many seashells at Destin
Me and my big boy!
I didn't really have to worry about Nathan getting sunburned on his face, he wore this swim mask the ENTIRE time we were at the beach... or the pool! He loved looking under water!
Brian enjoying the beach!
Someone parasailing on the beach... Brian and Nathan were going to parasail while we were there, but it got canceled twice. The first time it was from rain and the second time they were on the boat, ready to go up and they canceled it, because the wind was too hard. Nathan did fly up about a foot off the boat for a second, so he enjoyed that.
Just some generic shots I took of the beach
After the beach, we decided to head to a total tourist trap called Fudpucker's to feed the live alligators and enjoy some delicious seafood.
AND, at Fudpucker's... THIS happened. I was really shocked that Autumn wanted to touch... well, even more then that, she HELD the alligator! Yikes...
Here the kids are waiting to feed the alligators...
I mean, really... wouldn't you want to feed this sweet thing?
Feeding the alligators was kinda gross... So, I let Brian help the kids... You got these turd like looking pellets and you stuck them on the hook. Which, sure... that is fine... but, then after the alligator eats the
You can tell Autumn just really enjoyed feeding the alligators in this photo.
This is the only shot I got of us at the dinner table... I usually take a photo of my meal, but... wow, I didn't. I must have been really hungry. Autumn got this cute pink alligator and she holds it just like how they told her how to hold the alligator when they got their photo taken.
And, that wraps up the First Night and Second day of our trip to Destin! I am hoping to get Day Three up tomorrow... wish me luck, SO many photos to go through!