Destin, Florida & Miramar Beach, Florida

Miramar Beach/Destin, Florida

As many times as we’ve visited Florida I’d never heard of Destin until we lived in Texas. People there raved about the beautiful white beaches, saying it was a wonderful place to vacation so we needed to see this place for ourselves. They were not wrong. Oh, my goodness.  Called, “The Emerald Coast,” the white sand beaches ran for miles skirting the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The sand is so fine it felt like sugar.

We stayed in Miramar, which is one of those places that has everything you could want including the nations largest designer outlet center. There are souvenirs at Alvin’s but the area isn’t overrun with tourist stuff like Destin.

After walking the beach and watching sunsets we were curious if the beaches in the other beach towns were as spectacular. Our little trip to find out became a fifty-mile delight. (I regret I didn’t take pictures. Maybe we’ll go back) The Don Allen area had a campground with a tram to run you to the beach, the highest dunes around, and three dune lakes which are said to be very rare.

At the little town called Blue Mountain we found the same beautiful beaches as Miramar, and the water was extremely calm. Where the stairs descended to the beach, butterflies were swarming some wild flowers. They were so pretty.

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Next, we drove to Grayton Beach that is described as a laidback organic beach town with a hippy vibe. It reminded me more of an old fishing village until we saw the multicolored hand painted ragged planks nailed to poles as the street sign. Those beautiful white beaches have a place for everyone.

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The community of Seaside is described as a family place where everyone takes a personal interest in keeping their town beautiful. Pastel beach homes are surrounded by white picket fences. Very cute. They also have permanent lunch wagons along the town square that is surrounded by classy apartments and condos. I understand the trucks were feeding beachgoers long before the buildings blocked their view of the beach so they got to stay, which makes a nice excuse to hang out and meet people.

Alys Beach was another totally difference community. Driving into town the road suddenly became surrounded by large, perfectly manicured, green shrubs and white pillars. The feeling was as if we were entering a grand villa in the Mediterranean with its turquoise beaches.

We missed some of the beach town and finished our tour in Panama City knowing we must go come back again.

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Tallahassee, Florida

Tallahassee was surprisingly impressive with its rolling hills and prosperous looking city center. As the capital of Florida the downtown government buildings rise above impressive Cascade Park, which makes a nice outdoor retreat for workers on their lunch hour to walk, have a chat with friends, and a bite of lunch. The community can also boast of a new outdoor theater in the park. We always enjoy the chats we have with people along the way. A young mom with her baby at the parks bubble fountains was a delightful encounter.

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Just a few blocks further is the campus of Florida State University. Florida A and M University also calls Tallahassee home.

Jim even spotted a Whataburger near us. We haven’t seen one since we left Texas and I think he was having withdrawals. They must be expanding to Florida now. Just in time for us. Anyway, Tallahassee is a great town.

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Woodbine, Georgia

Spending a few days near the Cumberland Island National Seashore, the largest barrier island in Georgia, we did a little exploring. The town of Saint Marys rests quietly along the water’s shores. Although it seemed old and worn out, some of the old antebellum homes have been restored as Bed and Breakfast for those who want to get away from it all. The owners placed plaques dated early 1800s on their buildings. To us Americans that’s really old. A little research revealed the areas amazing history. A Timucuan Indian village first sat where the town was founded in 1787. The area was considered so strategic the English, Spanish, French speaking Acadian refugees, called Cajuns, and Americans battled over the land. The War of 1812, the American Revolution, and the Civil War were fought there, plus raids by smugglers and Native Americans.

Now, Kings Bay Navel Submarine Base is home to eight of America’s Ohio-class submarines. Hopefully, the one in the grass wasn’t one of them.

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Ohio-class nuclear-powered submarines are the largest built for the US Navy. In Georgia they have fourteen ballistic missile subs and four guided missile subs. I feel a little like I might be sharing national secrets, but this is obviously public knowledge. Learning about our military protection always makes me think how much I take for granted the people and equipment protecting our country.

 

Amelia Island, Florida

Driving twenty miles south, we were in Florida. Jim heard Amelia Island was a nice place and it was charming. The original town buildings were across the road and railroad tracks from the waterfront. People slowly strolled by and into the unique shops filled with interesting treasures.

Eight flags have flown over the Island with a history of war as far back as the 1500s. Today the little waterfront town has two lumber mills, a very nice channel where brilliant white boats wait along the dock. A waterfront restaurant had a continual crowd so after checking out the community we decided to join them for a late lunch. The weather was perfect for sitting outside on the deck overlooking the channel, and watching the boats came and went. I loved the movement of the white fluffy clouds against the bright blue sky, and the variety of sea birds that swooped past.

Our server suggest blackened Mahi Mahi and shrimp on rice with red peppers and … It was so delicious that when we finished and he told us about the peach bread pudding, we tried it too. After all, it gave us an excuse to linger at our table in the beautiful Florida breeze a little longer.

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Excited to finally be in Florida we drove into Jacksonville for church and shopping.

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