Hello, this post is the first of its kind on this blog. I’m hoping it’s the first of many more. When it comes to relaxation and memories, nothing seems to produce them like a good family vacation. Vacations can sometimes be hard to take as much as we’d like, but Lord willing they will be coming a lot more often for us. Our worlds can many times be filled with what seems like never-ending work. I’m not speaking of work in terms of work being bad or painful and unfulfilling for that matter. I’m moreso highlighting the fact that we seem to be always going and many times we yearn for being able to spend time as a family with nothing on the schedule, nothing that has to be done and preferably somewhere different. I can remember when planning vacations and getting finances in order to make them happen was a source of a great deal of stress. One thing I believe is, sometimes we have to do whatever it takes to show the kids new places and try to afford them the opportunity to experience new things if finances cause it to be a somewhat stressful situation I have to be honest and say I would do it over and over for my wife and kids. That being said, I am not comfortable with allowing that to be the norm. I am starting to learn you don’t necessarily have to shoot for extravagance or trips to the other side of the world for starters. You can start with something fresh and unknown to you just a short car ride away. Sometimes just a 2-5 hour drive can be all that’s needed for a change in geography, climate, architecture and the types of activities that are available. When it comes to planning your vacations don’t feel the need to pick destinations based on the fact that it seems to be the place where everyone else likes to go or is currently going. Put the abundance of technology and reviews available nowadays to use and pick destinations based on your needs, desires and BUDGET. Don’t overextend yourself or put off vacationing because you feel you need to go for seven days or because it’s not one of the nicer condos or hotels. The ultimate goal should be spending quality time with family in a peaceful, fun environment. Even if you can only go for a day if you plan it and that’s what you can currently do, DO IT!
We took a little trip in June that was truly one of our best. I personally love beaches and have been on a quest to see as many different beaches with my family as possible. For years Orange Beach in Gulf Shores Alabama has been my favorite (maybe it’s home state bias) and for that reason we started going there whenever we wanted to take a beach trip. But our most recent beach trip we decided to try some place different. We started with a quick Google search and Navarre Beach, Florida emerged with pictures, comments and reviews that stood out as just the type of place we were looking for. Navarre Beach is a barrier island located in the Gulf of Mexico. The strip of land that is Navarre Beach has everything that is needed to allow beachgoers (especially families and couples beaching on a budget) to enjoy the beach without all the touristy distractions that you commonly come across on beach trips. I’m reminded of the times we’ve gone places and there’s like a million things with that hefty tourist upcharge for the kids to see and ask about doing before you even make it to check-in. Don’t get me wrong Navarre Beach isn’t a hole in the wall type of place there’s plenty to do but the layout, types of things and prices or a little different than what we’ve seen thus far. And I mean different in a great way. Navarre Beach is about a four hour drive from Birmingham, AL. Which seems to be the perfect distance with youngsters in tow (11, 9, and 2 years of age) to travel without having to take too long a break. We made a few stops but we pretty much kept it moving. Any longer than that four hours and the kids would have been about to drive each other crazy in the backseat. What I loved about the ride down from Birmingham was the fact that after about 2.5 hours on the highway we transitioned to country roads. We passed through some small towns that made the travel to our destination a lot more interesting and that had the types of buildings that left one wondering what they must have been like in years past. The drive was actually shorter than our typical trips to Gulf Shores. What I really loved was the fact that the tank of gas we got before leaving Gardendale lasted until we got on the road to head back home.
As I previously mentioned, Navarre Beach was different. One of the first things we noticed is the fact that there is a Publix and a Winn Dixie in very close proximity to each other right across the bridge not even 10 minutes away from where we were staying. Not only did I like the fact that there were two grocery stores in very close proximity but there was a lot of other places to eat and businesses that really made it feel like “home” by the beach. Hey I get it, I know many people may feel like when you take a vacation you don’t really want to see any reminders of home. You want to have all the fun amusements and the ten different put put golf places. I agree they all have their place. But to us, Navarre Beach was the type of place we’d actually like to own a piece of property one day. It’s the type of place I really wouldn’t mind getting on the road on a Friday afternoon going for the weekend and coming back Monday morning. There were some cool little places that we did take the time to check out and in the remainder of this post I would like to highlight some them. We took it easy this time around I’ll be posting about some of the other great spots the next time around.
Tommy’s Sno Balls was literally a father’s dream in a vacation environment where your trying to ball on a budget. It’s a simple, colorful place with covered outdoor seating. They had an extremely large variety of flavors and everyone got what they wanted (family of 5) for less than 15 bucks. There’s nothing I love more than a place that keeps it simple, does what it does right with excellent service, and most importantly, does all of these things without trying to rip a hole in your wallet. Sitting at those picnic tables enjoying our crushed ice treats was one of my fondest memories on this trip. If you ever check Navarre Beach out be sure to give this place a try.
Navarre Family Watersports
This was one of the few attractions we saw on the way in and it caught mine and David’s eyes immediately. Upon sight he was asking about going and I knew that we were going to have to check it out before we finished the trip and he literally reminded us of this fact every 30-45 minutes until we pulled into the parking lot LOL. Navarre Family Watersports is located on the shore of the Santa Rosa sound and all of the fun takes place in the sound. For $15 per person per hour you can play in the water park which in many ways reminded me of a mix between a trampoline park and an American Ninja Warrior course. If you are thinking $15 is steep for an hour of play, please believe that hour will wear you out if you aren’t in shape. As a matter of fact I was just about done for the day after running around on those floats with David. I had one instance where I thought I was going to be leaving on crutches. But it was extremely fun and I am really looking forward to checking it out again. Although we only went to the Wibit Waterpark at NFW they had a ton of other things available from helicopter rides to wave runner and kayak rentals. The service was great as well and I would recommend it as a great place to visit if you want to take a break from the beach.
Navarre Beach is beautiful and the atmosphere is laid back. The beach was clean. The water was perfect and I must’ve played for hours in it. I laughed and smiled like a child without a worry in the world. Seeing the kids have so much fun and getting to enjoy it with them is one of the things I love about the beach. There’s always some cool critter or interesting person to meet. We did get a quick shower on most days but it actually made the weather that much more enjoyable. With the exception of one pretty windy storm most days it was the kind of shower we were able to just stay out in. Navarre Beach is part of a protected national seashore and for that reason it isn’t as overdeveloped as a lot of beaches. There are some condos but they don’t line the beach as far as the eye can see. It is really just right as far as the amount of people that are on the beach at one time. I can’t wait to get back there again and we definitely plan on making it happen in the future.
The Tent That Took The Show
Remember that one pretty bad storm I mentioned? It seems like everybody at the beach sat on their balconies and watched that storm take out tent after tent but this Coleman Beach Shade tent was the last one standing. I probably could have sold twenty of them right after that storm passed. We’ve had this one for a few years. It’s seen a few storms, a few music festivals, and a lot of unforgettable memories. There are lots of quick setup designs out there but from what I’ve seen this one (although setup takes a little longer- 10 to 15 minutes) is my trusted tent of choice for the beach. I got it on Amazon for about 30 bucks five years ago. It fits into a case about the size of a loaf of bread (maybe smaller).
This was one of the first Beach trips where we actually spent a lot of time at the pool and on the beach. I really enjoyed taking the time to recharge. There’s something to say for actually slowing down and not making anything absolutely necessary. Sometimes vacations can turn into non stop movement going from here to there, to back to there. You get back home and realize you missed the opportunity to take it easy and really enjoy the break. Don’t get me wrong some vacations should have a full itinerary, but in the future I’m going to make sure we have a little more balance when it comes to taking trips. sometimes we’re going to take trips to places and do as little as possible. Sometimes the change of scenery is all you need.
We stayed at the Summerwind Resort and we booked our stay through Navarre Properties. The property was Great in every way. The staff was nice and helpful and I loved the fact that it was a live and let live kind of place. The property is well maintained and it is worth every bit of the cost. If you’ve made it this far thanks for reading. Til Next time…..