We stayed at The Holiday Inn at the beach in Destin. http://www.hidestin.com/pages/bucs.htm I had researched and found this place to have lots of good reviews and was very family friendly. As we drove down I kept thinking "wow, I hope this place is all it seemed on the internet". I was NOT disappointed. When we arrived it was prime check-in time and the lobby was very busy. The staff was friendly and while we had a short wait for our room to be ready we were invited to explore the hotel and the beach and given a time to return to the desk. We did, taking time to get something cool to drink and look around. The kids were just so happy to out of the car and able to run around that it was no problem. Within 20 minutes our Kids Suite was ready and we got settled in. The room, as well as the hotel itself was very clean. Our room overlooked the main kid lobby were all the activities took place. Did I mention that kids eat free with a paying adult?! With 3 kids, this was a great savings for us!!!
Today we decided to spend on the beach and pool side. The water was so blue and clear and the weather perfect. After eating in the hotel resturant ($20) for all five of us at the all you can eat buffet, we headed down to the beach. It was warn and sunny. I loved the fact that I didn't have to wash a single towel or dish on this trip!
For lunch we decided to get cleaned up and go explore Destin a bit. We had lunch at a wonderful place called Dewey's. http://www.destinseafood.com/ Its a small shack on the dock and provided what my husband said was "some of the best crab claws he's put into his mouth". The kids menu was well priced and the staff was on the job, clearing tables and getting the food to you quickly.
Back to the hotel for the 2pm kids activities. The lobby has a very well stocked and visited popcycle cart and popcorn every afternoon. I can't say enough good things about the Little Buccaneer's club! The schedule of daily activites was posted in our room when arrived. http://www.hidestin.com/pages/bucsschedule1.htm Any changes or delays was well posted around the hotel. We really enjoyed this and as the week progressed the kids would get excited and ask what was happened each day.
After a fun day at the beach and the pool we took advantage of the parents night out and enjoyed dinner without the kids. Some friends had recommened The Boathouse Oyster Bar and were they right! http://www.boathouseoysterbar.com/ I LOVED this place. I recommend the Oysters on the halfshell with a pitcher of beer! Yum Yum good stuff. The live music was wonderful and I wasn't afraid to sing alone :). NOTE: very casual so don't dress up. As we were leaving we were treated to a fireworks display. No one seemed to know what it was for but it was a great way to end our evening out. When we got back to the hotel the kids had a great time and had played and had pizza. Our 10 yr old son was the verge of being too old for some of the activities but he enjoyed himself when he would take part. His favorite part was the video arcade and the free game rentals at the front desk. We also took advantage of the free movie rentals, it was a nice way to let the kids unwind when Mom needed a nap.
After a great breakfast we decided to go to the amusement park across the street named Tracks. It was so much fun. We rode several of the rides and got really wet on the bumper boats. I think I wound up on the bumper cars 3 or 4 times. The prices were reasonable considering the locations etc. I've sufferd worse! We had a great time and we were all hot and a bit wet from the water rides! We treated ourselves to a lunch of desserts! We went to an old fashion diner close by that was covered in chrome and formica and was right out of the 50's. We had ice cream soda's, sundays and soft drinks. It was a great treat for us all and the service was great and the prices reasonable. I am sorry I can't think of the name of the place but you would know it if you saw it!!
The rest of the day was spent napping and then down to the beach for an evening of building sand castles and swimming. We had dinner in the room as we were all so tired. The room is equiped with a frig and microwave so a light meal was easy to put together. We did this a few times for lunch also, it was nice to have something light and then take a nap....Mom gets tired after all that sun and did I mention the Margeritas they serve downstairs by the beach. Another really nice thing about the hotel.
If you do have dinner at the hotel you will not be disappointed. I found the service was good as well as the food. I must admit that my favorite thing on the menu was the chicken wings. After dieting in preperation for the trip, it was a great treat for me! The burgers were also a favorite. Again, the kids eat free so the most we paid for any dinner was around $35.00 plus a nice tip.
We had some rain today but spent the morning down on the beach and then the outdoor pool. In the afternoon we had some rain and stayed at the indoor pool and watch the magic show at 2. Funny I thought Elvis was dead but he was there, making ballon animals and telling corney jokes but it was great. The kids liked it and I love having a few drinks and eating dreamcycles.....yummy. After dieting for the trip it was great to really let go and eat "bad" stuff!!
Credit is due to Mr. Jay. He's is the force behind the kids program and really makes all the children feel special and have a great time. He always took time to talk to any child that approched him and was wonderful. I know how hard it can be to work around children all the time and he has done and is doing a wonderful job. He deserves high praise for the program he has put together along with the staff he has with him. From the tee shirt painting to the free treats in the lobby, the kids never said they were bored.
The last day had finally come. The weather was sunny and warm. I made the whole family dress in white and march down to the beach for "nice" pictures before breakfast. No need to take a chance on getting food on the whites! Any way they turned out really nice and we had no trouble finding someone to help with the group shot. We had thought about getting the pictures done professionally but just didn't want to spend the money.
After a yummy meal we headed down to the beach (again) for the morning to swim and build more sand castles. We then got cleaned up for one of the funnest things we did all week! We headed in to Panama City ( about an hours drive) for a Pirate Cruise. http://www.piratecruise.net/ What fun!! We all had a blast. The crew as friendly and wonderful with the kids. They put on a great show of being pirates and involved the kids including water guns, sword fights and buried treasure pulled from the bottom of the ocean. The ship also had "adult" grog available and boy was it nice to sit back and watch the kids have fun and have something cold to drink. After we docked we decided to check out a local resturant that was suggeted call Schooners. http://www.schooners.com/ It was really wonderful, right on the beach. The sea food was a bit higher priced but well worth it and the kids menu made everyone happy. The service was good and being a Friday night the place filled up fast. We weren't lucky enough to eat outside and I am sure that would have made it even more enjoyable but it was a great place. At sunset they even fire off a cannon. I would highly recommend and would go back anytime.