This year has been a doozie, hasn’t it? I’ve mentioned before that our scheduled Spring Break Disney World trip was cancelled due to COVID. We had hoped that Disney would be opened back up by now and that we’d still get our trip in, but with the way things are going it just wasn’t going to work out. We were feeling stir crazy and wanted some sort of getaway, so we decided to take a family beach trip to Fort Walton Beach, Florida in late June with my parents and sister and brother-in-law. In a way I wish we could have squeezed in this trip back in May when cases were slowed and less people were traveling, but it all worked out.
It was relatively easy to stay socially distanced on the beach, but we noticed that hardly anyone out in public were taking precautions. We saw very few masks and people didn’t seem to be practicing the 6 foot rule whatsoever.
The beach with kids is not typically our go-to vacation. We usually prefer to go to Disney or make new stops on our ballpark tour. The beach is incredibly exhausting, which is part of the reason why we haven’t been in 5 years – this was Audrey’s first trip to the beach! I do think it was worth it though, because they definitely had a blast!
We made the six hour drive to Fort Walton Beach on Monday and arrived just in time to check into our condo at the Island Princess around 3:30. We got unpacked, freshened up, and headed out for an early dinner. We were afraid there would be big crowds at restaurants since they’re not at full capacity. We arrived at Angler’s (a long-time favorite!) around 5 and got seated right away.
This was the best fish I’ve had in a looong time. I got the blackened Mahi-Mahi and it was so good! David got the bacon wrapped scallops and he really liked these as well.
We decided to walk the pier, which is in Angler’s backyard, after dinner. We saw several dolphins playing, a sea turtle, sting rays, and some funny birds. The girls were taking notes in their notebooks about the things they were seeing. It was pretty cute. Audrey claims she saw a narwhal, a mermaid, and a flamingo.
We decided to go crabbing as it was getting dark. We didn’t have a whole lot of luck finding any, but a girl on the beach offered to let us have some that she found because she was about to let them go. The girls were excited and Audrey even tried to pick one up but it pinched her little finger. She didn’t stop talking about that crab pinching her finger the entire trip.
First day on the beach! The girls went straight for the sand. They played in the sand for a while then cooled off in the ocean. We weren’t sure how this would go since it had been so long since we’d been to the beach and the waves were a bit rough that first day. But they both really enjoyed it! Raley kept saying “This is what I was born to do!” We had to educate them on the waves, the undertow, and how they should always wear their life jackets and have an adult with them. The ocean makes me nervous so we had to make sure this was clear.
Around lunch time the sky started to get pretty dark so we decided to go on inside before we got rained on. We didn’t make it in before it came a downpour! We rushed inside but everyone was soaked. Thankfully it cleared up for a little while after lunch and we were able to enjoy some time at the pool.
We got ready and decided to go out for an early dinner again. We went to the Crab Trap in Fort Walton, which was awesome, but sort of slow. They have a type of crab that we’ve never tried before called Bairdi crab from Alaska, and it was delicious! Crab is definitely my favorite seafood and is one of my favorite things about trips to the beach. Also, The Crab Trap wins best kids entertainment. They gave all the kids these bendy sticks that they could shape and make into all kinds of different things. They kept them entertained until their food came out, which was great.
We grabbed some gelato at a place right next to The Crab Trap before heading home and getting the girls ready for bed.
We started our day on the beach again, playing in the sand and the ocean for a while.
Once we got tired of playing on the beach, we swam in the pool for a little bit before going in for lunch. This became our routine for the rest of the trip because the pool allowed us to wash the sand and salt water off of us before heading inside.
We followed this same pattern after lunch as well – play on the beach for a bit, grab all our stuff, then swim in the pool before coming in for the afternoon. We had planned on staying in and cooking dinner at the condo on this particular evening. When we came in we all rested and watched a movie for a bit. We ate spaghetti for dinner and watched fireworks from the boardwalk after dark.
Another day, same pattern! Beach, pool, lunch, beach, pool, inside to wash up, dinner, bed.
My parents offered to watch the girls for the evening while David and I went out on a date. We had been craving Joe’s Crab Shack for like 5 years since the last time we were at the beach. We got the Cajun crab bucket of snow crab, dungeness crab, and king crab. It was very good, but I will say it wasn’t as good as I remember it being last time. Still worth it though I think! We stopped at Alvin’s Island on the way back to the condo and we found a cheap body board for the girls to use on our last day. Raley had been asking for one all week (she thought it was a surf board) so we thought it was worth the $4 to let her finally give it a try.
While we were at dinner, my parents took the girls to eat at a Mexican restaurant and to go putt-putt, which they loved.
Same pattern on our last day! Raley was excited to try out her new body board but once she tried it she was a little more hesitant. They both ended up warming up to it and really enjoyed it. I enjoyed watching them try new things and do those typical beach things such as burying themselves in the sand, making sand castles, hunting seashells, and jumping over waves. Watching them enjoy these things makes the exhaustion worth it. Also, having family with us helped so much! They had a great time with their grandparents and their aunt and uncle.
Side note: these cups were the best! We filled them with ice and water at the beginning of the day. The ice lasted all day. We took a cooler of bottled water and filled them up whenever we needed to so we always had plenty of cold water. Definitely recommend. Mine and David’s are the Tal Ranger Tumber from Walmart and the girls’ are ThermoFlask.
That evening my dad offered to keep the girls at home and order pizza while the rest of us went for one last meal. We decided to go to Floyd’s Shrimp House for dinner. They do all you can eat popcorn shrimp and fish for just $12 from 4-6 each day and it was incredible! So so so good! We had never been there before but this one will be on our list to visit next time.
Whenever we go to the beach we pretty much always go to Fort Walton Beach. It’s right next to Destin, so if we want to go shopping or to any restaurants out there, it’s not too far away. This time we only went out to Destin once and decided not to go shopping at all. Angler’s, The Crab Trap, and Floyd’s were all right around the corner from our condo and super convenient.
After dinner we got back in time to snap some family pictures on the beach before sunset.
We had promised the girls that we would go night swimming before we left, so we took them on our last night. Why is night swimming so much different than swimming during the day? They’re swimming the same as they have all week, but it feels extra exciting. We swam until about 9:00 or so, then came in and the girls passed out real quick. The grown ups did some final packing before calling it a night.
We didn’t have to check out until 10, so we were able to sleep in a little bit. We packed the car and hit the road around 9:30 or so. We made a pit stop at Peach Park in Clanton, Alabama for peach ice cream and cobbler on the way home (yum!) We hit a ton of traffic on the way back, so what should have been a 6 hour drive turned into about an 8 hour drive. We finally made it back, ate some dinner and turned in early. I was afraid the girls wouldn’t fall asleep very quickly since they’d been sitting in car seats all day, but they actually fell asleep very fast! I guess we were all worn out.
Do you enjoy family trips to the beach? Would you prefer the beach or some other family vacation?