Shannon here: Today Cathy Bryant shares a romantic destination stumbled upon by her and her husband/Wookie. Comment on any post dated Dec 6-10 for a chance to win her book, A Path Less Traveled. Deadline: Dec 11, midnight Central time. Here’s Cathy:
Mexico Beach, Florida
By Cathy Bryant, © 2010
A few years ago, my husband and I decided to hit the beach for our summer vacation. We’d heard several people mention the Destin, Florida area because of its powdered beaches, emerald water, and plethora of family-oriented activities. (One man we knew referred to it as the “Redneck Riviera.”)
While I was ready for some rest and relaxation, the idea of going to a tourist-y location really didn’t thrill me. The last thing I want to do on vacation is fight crowds, but we decided to give it a try during the first week of June, with the hopes that it was early enough in the season to avoid high tourist traffic.
We opted not to make hotel reservations ahead of time, but decided to find a place to stay once we arrived. As we pulled into Destin my heart sank. Yes, the beaches were beautiful, and the water color was unbelievable. But there were some drawbacks. You couldn’t even see the beach for all the high-rise condos, but the biggest problem for us was all the people. (If that was a low-volume week, I don’t even wanna see the place during high-volume.)
We opted to keep driving. The drive turned into several hours, but as the sun began to set, we pulled into the tiny seaside village of Mexico Beach. There were still powdered-sugar beaches, and though the water color wasn’t quite as intense as in Destin, it was still breathtakingly beautiful. But the best thing—only a handful of people were on the beach. Perfect.
A Victorian-style inn (the Driftwood Inn) caught our eye, but they’d just booked their last room. They directed us to the El Governor motel, a short drive down the road. The room wasn’t fancy, but it was clean, right on the beach, and served our purposes.
We had an awesome time while we were there—so awesome that we’ve been back since and hope to return again. We’ve even considered buying a vacation home there, and probably would if we lived a little closer.
Our second trip we stayed at the Driftwood Inn. (They even have their own wedding chapel.) The room was huge and had a kitchenette so we could save money by preparing some of our own meals. Our room was opened up to the beach, where we took long walks and hunted for seashells. The sunsets in Mexico Beach are especially spectacular, and if you’re lucky you might glimpse a sea turtle. They nest along these beaches, and the local Floridians are highly protective of them.
There are lots of interesting places to visit in the area. Our favorites are the quaint town of Apalachicola, St. Joseph’s peninsula–voted one of the best beaches in America, a state park, and St. George Island complete with a cool lighthouse.
If you drive in to Mexico Beach from the west and enjoy military history, you won’t want to miss the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. If you have the time, drive the scenic route along the beach, where a great afternoon stop for ice cream and shopping can be found in Seaside, Florida, a beautiful planned community that serves up nostalgia by the scoopful.
This is a perfect getaway spot for a couple, especially if you prefer a quieter, more subdued pace. If you’re looking for nightlife and tourist shopping, you’d probably be happier in Destin.
Come back Dec 10 for a romantic excerpt from Cathy’s book, A Path Less Traveled.