Did you know there’s more to Florida than just Orlando, theme parks, and traffic? I didn’t realize it either until this past week. Hidden away in the Florida panhandle is Santa Rosa County. There you will find “Florida’s Most Relaxing Place” – Navarre Beach. Offering adults and kids time to escape and soak up what Florida really brings to the table.
Disclosure: I was invited to Navarre to experience everything this beautiful town has to offer. All opinions are only mine, unless stated otherwise.
Experience Navarre, Florida Like Never Before
If you’ve been wanting a serene vacation that won’t over stimulate your children, you’re in the right place. Whether you’re looking for snorkeling, fishing along one of Florida’s longest piers, a 500-acre zoo, ziplining, or simply sinking your feet in the soft white sands along the Gulf of Mexico, everyone in your family can find something to do in Navarre.
WHERE TO STAY?
The best option for immediate or extended families who would like to spread out and relax in their own private space will find ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals is the best choice. These Gulf-front condos, private homes, and resorts right along Navarre Beach will give you the most space, best views, and fantastic amenities.
The spacious 3-bdr/3 bath condos at Caribbean Resort are situated perfectly along the beach of Navarre. With 1,847 sq. feet of space to roam, your family of 8 will be more than comfortable during your stay.
TIP: Ask for a condo that ends in “03” which will put you in a corner unit with the best views! MY specific unit was “1603”.
Equipped with a full kitchen, washer & dryer, large dining space, plenty of living space, a bathtub in each of the 3 restrooms with oversized tub w/ jets in the Master Bedroom, and an extra kitchenette space in the 3rd bedroom! My favorite part are all of the oversized wall-to-wall windows and sliding doors that give you spectacular views of the Gulf and inlet waters.
Are you the adventurous type?
If your family loves to be with nature then Coldwater Gardens eco-resort is the place to be. The serene spread of pine trees extends across 350 acres in Milton, FL (about an hour North-West of Navarre). I could have definitely spent weeks here and wouldn’t have gotten tired of the sights and sounds or gotten the least bit bored.
At Coldwater Gardens you will find the perfect placed to practice yoga, kayaking down the scenic Coldwater Creek, glamping, and the ability to connect with nature. There are 3 types of accommodations on property. All 3 are perfect in their own right but I’m most excited about one in particular… a TREEHOUSE! Oh yes, you read that correctly.
ADDRESS: 7009 Creek Stone Rd., Milton, FL 32570
There are 6 Glamping Tents available for guests. Each one sleeps 4 but I found that there’s plenty of space for either of pack-n-play or toddler cot. These tents have 2 queen beds with Temperpedic mattresses, electricity, a/c in the form of osculating fans, mini fridge, and storage. The price ranges from $75-$85/night.
You will find 4 cabins at Coldwater Gardens. Each cabin 1 King size bed with Temperpedic mattress and 1 pull-out couch. Cabins also sleep 4 but again, there is plenty of space to put up your pack-n-play or cot sleeper. There’s a great size kitchen, dining space, plus a full-size restroom. Cabin prices range from $150-$170/night.
Full-blown childhood dreams coming true with this one! High above, nestled between gorgeous Magnolia trees the Treehouse at Coldwater Gardens is by far their most popular place to stay – who is surprised? Thr tree house is split into two sides. One side is your bedroom space with 2 Queen beds, storage bench, and sky light. Between the two beds is where you can place your pack-n-play or cot. On the left side of the treehouse is your kitchen space and restroom. The treehouse also comes with a private hot tub! The treehouse is $170-$190/night.
WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE THERE?
Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center
I’m always up for some educational stops during our family vacations and Navarre has one of the best places you could possibly stop at. The Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center is located right along Navarre Beach for easy access. Here you will meet Sweet Pea, the resident Green Sea Turtle along with other sea life. Sweet Pea lost her front flipper due to fishing wire being extremely tangled around it. Her shell damage was caused by a boat strike. Due to her injuries she would not be able to swim in the strong ocean currents. She is happy, cared for, and loving life at the Sea Turtle Conservation Center.
Sea turtles are an important part of Navarre (Florida in general, honestly) so while in Navarre truly the perfect time to educate your kids about them. The staff is extremely knowledgeable, and no question will go unanswered.
My favorite animal was Safari and if I say so myself, I was his favorite too. HAHA. This handsome man was actually found on the street about 4 years ago. He is an African Spurred Tortoise which is legal to own has a pet in Florida so unfortunately, it seems like he was abandoned by his family, probably due to his size. African Spurred Tortoise can live around 150 years and they get up to 100 pounds.
Sage Paddle Company
Founded in 2013, Sage Paddle Company was “founded on the mission to bring you unforgettable memories, experiences, and adventures that will only happen while on the water.” Six years later, 16-year-old CEO Sage Offutt is getting real to graduate High School with an impressive list of jobs under her belt. Sage Paddle Company offers adventure seeking guests the opportunity to rent scooters, cruiser bicycles, kayaks, and of course, paddle boards.
Rentals for paddle boards, kayaks, bikes are priced at either half-day or full-day. Scooters also offer half or full day as well as per hour. I recommend a two-hour scooter rental to enjoy the most out of Navarre Beach. If you don’t feel comfortable on a scooter, Sage does offer a 3-wheel Scoot Coupe instead! This is what Zulma and I chose to take and it was a blast.
For all scooter and Scoot Coupe rentals a valid Drivers License is required (if you will be operating the motor vehicle) so be sure to bring that along with you before you arrive.
ADDRESS: 8228 Gulf Blvd, Navarre, FL 32566
WHERE TO EAT?
There are so many unique gems in Navarre and directly on Navarre Beach. Supporting local business is what keeps Navarre special. It also keeps service, quality, and food at it’s peek because you know you’re getting served from residents that care.
When it’s time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner I advise you to seek out these three locations. You won’t be sorry.
Donuts In Paradise
Donuts in Paradise is a local favorite and the #1 spot you MUST stop at. They are closed Monday and Tuesday so plan accordingly because you don’t want to miss out on these small batch, handmade vanilla cake donuts.
Every month the menu changes and on top of that, every day they will have different choices. We tried favorites like Fruity Pebbles, Caramel Peanut, Churro, and Boston Cream!
ADDRESS: 8510 Navarre Pkwy, Navarre Florida 32566
Another local favorite that would be perfect for lunch of dinner is Dewey Destin’s. The Destin family and Destin, Florida have been intertwined since Dewey’s great, great grandfather, Leonard Destin, founded the town in 1835.
Using original Destin and Gulf Coast recipes, Dewey Destin’s is proud to serve seafood and other favorite area side dishes. Fresh fish is purchased from both Navarre and Alabama, it’s cleaned then brought over to the restaurants. Warming heat lamps are also not present in the kitchen because Dewey felt it gives chewy & rubbery fish.
I heard nothing but praise coming from everyone at the table. The shrimp, scallops, and crab cakes were cooked to perfection. My bronzed grilled chicken was extremely juicy, not the least bit rubbery, and completely melt-in-your-mouth perfect.
ADDRESS: 8673 Navarre Pkwy, Navarre Florida 32566
Juana’s Pagodas and Sailors’ Grill
Juana’s Pagodas is Navarre’s oldest family owned & operated restaurant & bar. With multiple bars, live music, and great food – there’s something for everyone.
ADDRESS: 1451 Navarre Beach Causeway, Navarre, Florida 32566
So there you have it. Where to stay, play, and eat in Navarre Florida. It really is a beautiful unhurried, unspoiled, untouched part of the state that more people should visit. If you care about keeping the land around you just how it is, this is your favorite spot. If you are wanting to slow down and enjoy the company of your friends and family, this is the spot for you.