We got home on Friday from our yearly trip up to the Panhandle. In 2004 we went up for a family reunion and have been back every summer except for last year after we had Kyleigh. When I was growing up we usually went on vacation to the Panhandle every year and I have so many memories there. Some wonderful and others not. Anyway~ we just keep going back and the emerald water and beautiful sand dunes keep us coming! This trip was a little different in that we stayed in Panama City Beach as a last minute timeshare week became available there. We knew it was really close to Seaside and not far from our club in Sandestin so we jumped at the chance. It turns out that there were a few changes since out last visit two year ago. The photography spot that always took our pictures on the beach with *no sitting fee* was gone, a couple Starbucks were gone as well as different restuarants. However, the malls there do not seem to be hurting and they just keep building them. I had never seen anything quite like Pier Park in PCB. It was huge and went on forever and had a Jimmy Buffet restaurant, a little train ride for the kids, and even a Crocs store:)
The Village had a few changes as well and the little tea room is now an arcade, the Cajun Cookery is gone ( I really wanted to take cooking classes there one year but didn't), and there is now a zipline going across the village. I guess the kids love it but it just seemed to take away from the charm of brick lined streets and all. Landon loved the little boats controlled with a steering wheel and it was well worth our $3! One day we got to hang out at Club Intrawest and watch movies in the little theatre and we swam in the pools there later that night. Shane really had his heart set on riding bikes there but a huge storm came through at the time we would have had to check out the bikes so we played in the arcade at the Club. It was a good thing that Shane and Landon had already gone out on the kayak the day before when the weather was nice. Landon was so cute rowing the oars and they were able to kayak on beautiful Western Lake near Watercolor.
The kids loved being right on the beach as they were able to grab their sand toys each morning and head to work. They built dams and sandcastles and Landon and Shane did Wave Karate. Of course Kyleigh was right there along with all the kids playing in the sand and loving every minute. She really got excited in the pool and I gave lots of horsey rides and motorboat rides to Ky and Cam. Cameron stayed on the steps in the resort pool most of the time but really enjoyed the kiddie pool in Sandestin. He was able to walk all over and had the biggest smile on his face. Cam also became really comfortable even in the deep end on our last day and was asking Shane for rides across the pool and loving it. Of course once he warms up it is usually time to go. As for Landon he is all over the pool this summer and no more life jacket for him. He took off with swimming lessons earlier this summer:)
We met a very sweet family from Mobile, AL staying at our resort and the kids loved playing with Lily and Zane in the sand most mornings and swimming in the pool with them. They went to Shipwreck Island and invited us and even brought us coupons to go but it was still quite pricey with that. Most of the things we did were free as there is so much going on along 30-A at all the little beaches along the highway. The family did tell us about St. Andrews State park where they went snorkeling one day and that the water was so clear and there were tons of beautiful fish. Maybe next time. We did get to do a little more exploring in Seaside this time and I just found out that Vera Bradley designed the Bed & Breakfast Inn that caught my eye on our last day. There are so many fun facts about this charming little community and I just found a link with a great article on Seaside. I don't remember how to make the link look pretty but here it is: http://www.sowalscene.com/blog/2008/12/seaside-florida-motor-courts-south-walton-county.html
If it is possible to love a place then I am quite smitten.