HarborWalk Village is the first thing you see when you cross
into Destin. It’s home to the Emerald Grande, but it also has so much more. HarborWalk
Village is the place for friends and family alike, and it is most certainly the
best place to bring kids on the Emerald Coast. So what activities are there for
children at Harbor Walk Village? Let’s find out!
The Fun Spot
The mirror maze is an amazing 4D experience that is fun for kids of all ages. See all the different reflections, walk into dead ends, and even in circles, by the end of this adventure, you will be the maze master!
Critter George Shooting Gallery
Critter George’s shooting gallery is fun for everyone. Step
right up and give it your best shot! Nothing says vacation like a little family
This interactive game is so cool. When the kids come in, they get to pick out their game and then the fun begins! It’s a game of colors, but each game is different – some you stay in place, other your run around, it really is a fun-filled activity for everyone!
Amusement USA is located on the first floor and is a real
attraction for the kiddos. The Aqua Spheres and the water trampoline will give
your kids the funnest memories of their trip to Destin!
What could be more fun than walking on water? The aqua spheres or as some people call them “water balls” are an interesting activity that puts a smile on your kid’s faces!
Jumping high up in the sky on the Destin harbor is going to be the highlight of your children’s day. Letting your kids jump on the bungee trampoline and watching them flip & fly is a sight to see.
Harbor Walk Adventures
Take a ride on the dual zip-line and watch the boats come in the harbor, or even catch the sunset at the evening’s end. This kid-friendly attraction is 1,000 ft. a round-trip of adventure and excitement. The best part is that you don’t have to go it alone. The dual zip line is one of the best ways to experience HarborWalk Village.
Do you have any adrenaline junkies in the family? If so,
nothing will get the adrenaline pumping faster than freefalling 100 ft. onto a
soft target while your family, friends, and everyone else in HarborWalk Village
40’ Interactive LED Rockwall
Did you know that that this isn’t just the first LED Rockwall in the Florida Panhandle but HarborWalk Village has the first LED Rockwall in the nation! You can play day or night with this interactive activity Climbing 40 ft for all of the visitors to see!
The whole family can join together and get temporary tattoos
as they are good for people of all ages. It’s sure to leave a lasting
impression on all of your family photographs! The kids will love it, and you
Do you think you can make it through the vault? You’re going to have to break out your best moves to break out of this green Laser Maze! Jump, Climb, Crawl, do whatever it takes to get out of the maze. Y’all are sure to have a great time!
Ultimate 7d Interactive Movie Ride
The 7D is great fun at the HarborWalk Village. It’s fun for kids and adults alike. Pick out your game, step onboard the ride, and then start a little friendly competition with your friends and family. Because they do keep track of your score, breaking out the inner competitive kid in everyone!
The Southern Star Dolphin Cruise
Cruise around the Destin Harbor and the Emerald Green waters of the Gulf of Mexico through the east pass. When the water is calm you can cruise close to the beach to see dolphins there as well! Each trip on the Southern Star you can see something different, making it an extra special trip on your vacation.
Buccaneer Pirate Ship
Ahoy Matey! Come about the Buccaneer, Destin’s very own Pirate Ship and become part of the crew in search of Blackbeard’s buried treasure! This trip is not only equipped with singing, dancing, and shenanigans, but you also get to join in on sword fights, water gun battles, and the lucky lil’ Bucs get to pull Blackbeard’s treasure out of the Gulf of Mexico! Every mate on board is sure to have a great time!
Snuba Recreation Center
If your child is 8 years or older then Snuba is for them! It does not require certification and you get to go up to 20ft underwater with a certified instructor! Snuba is a mix between scuba and snorkeling, you get to go deeper underwater, but you’re not required to hang onto any heave equipment. The breathing gear is on a raft with a 20 ft hose that connects to your mask. Letting you see marine life that snorkelers won’t be able to. This is an experience your kids are sure to remember forever; all they need is basic swimming skills!
The Cubby Caboose
Let your little ones ride along HarborWalk Village in their very own cart on the choo-choo train. They can sit in any seat they would like whether it be behind the conductor or all the way in the caboose. This is the perfect way for small children to get around the harbor as they pass all of the shops, restaurants, and of course the Emerald Grande!
As you can see HarborWalk Village is fun not only for kids but adults as well. From dolphin cruises to Rockwall climbing, and even laser mazes there are enough activities to keep you and your family entertained for days.
Destin Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Life Twinning
Recently I had a conversation with my friends family who were traveling in from out of town into the Destin area. They said they come down at least once a year, but weren’t sure where to stay: where to go, or how to get around town once they got there.
We were discussing how they never know where to stay or where to go to find out the information they need. My background is in Vacation Rentals, especially in the Destin, Miramar Beach, 30A area. So I was happy to give them my expertise on things to do in Destin FL. Someone on the beach with them was talking about how they spent all day at Harborwalk Village. They spent half the day in traffic, just to get there and end up paying $10 for parking as soon as they get there. This inspired me to share a little bit of insider info to our Destin visitors to be able to enjoy Destin the way the locals do.
The Destin Fireworks are always on Thursdays. If you are looking for something family-friendly to do, this event in Destin is perfect for you! So if you are coming from the Navarre – Ft. Walton Beach area, head into town early because you WILL be stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. You will not only be stuck in the local workweek traffic but the vacationers that want to be in Destin for the fireworks as well. Same goes for the tourists heading in from 30a- Miramar Beach. Prepare to be in Destin early to catch the show. The Emerald Grande puts on the fireworks show so being anywhere on the harbor would be a good place to watch. Boshamps, Marina Café, The Boathouse, etc would all be a great place to watch the fireworks. Again, you are going to want to get there early because of traffic and everyone wanting to get their seat for the show.
TAKE THE WATER TAXI
Everyone complains about Destin traffic, but no one really knows about the Destin Water Taxi. One of the ways I love to get around Destin is on the water taxi. $5 one way – it’s the perfect way to grab a cold beverage of choice and take in all of the breathtaking views of Destin. Being a Sandpiper Cove native, I recommend eating at the Louisiana Lagniappe for dinner and then jumping on the water taxi from there to my next harbor destination. It is a nice ride, and you can call them when you want to be picked up. If that’s not fast enough, you could always uber- either way, your car is in a safe place and the traffic is over with! Even if you don’t want to go anywhere specifically, the water taxi also does harbor cruises. Just contact them ahead of time!
Yes, you heard that right! While beach bonfires in Destin/ Okaloosa County are not allowed. From Miramar Beach to 30A/ Walton County beach bonfires ARE allowed with a permit. You may cringe to think about getting a permit, but they are actually pretty easy. If you don’t want to lug all of your stuff back to the beach in the evening to get set up for your beach bonfire, companies like La Dolce Vita also have a bonfire service where they provide the permits, chairs, fire, tiki torches, table, and your own attendant. It is 2 hours of pure bliss on the beach with your smores. An experience you will definitely want to plan for as you need to make these reservations 48 hours in advance.
You can’t visit Destin and not do brunch. Knock brunch off of your things to do list by visitng these brunch spots in Destin that are near and dear to my heart: Mcguires, Harry T’s, and 790 on the Gulf.
An oldie but goodie, you just can’t beat the brunch at Mcguires. While you don’t get the amazing gulf views that other places have to offer, you get great drink specials and amazing food. Mcguires is one of the best ‘bang for your buck’ places for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
If I didn’t have a gold keychain that let me skip the line and get discounts I probably would have not gotten over the LSU drama that this Florida restaurant has. But Harry T’s Lighthouse really does have breathtaking views and the bottomless mimosas until 2 pm don’t hurt the cause for this local brunch spot.
790 on the Gulf –
It’s not just because I am originally from the Greater New Orleans area that I like this New Orleans themed restaurant so much. 790 on the Gulf has amazing food and the best brunch spot in town. I like it so much I had my baby shower brunch there. All of my favorite girlfriends showed up to shower me and baby Teagan with their love, and in return I let them have bottomless Mimosas and didn’t get mad about it. 😉 There aren’t many places in Destin that I find you can have an amazing brunch experience, on the beach.
Things to do: BREAKFAST IN DESTIN
Where to eat breakfast in Destin? When you don’t want to cook and you want to bring the family out to eat there are 3 places that come to mind: here is a hint (it’s not the donut hole) Crackings, the Pancakery, and Capriccio Café. Each unique in their own way and they are probably about 5-minute walking distance from each other.
Crackings (formerly known as another broken egg) still lives up to the expectations of serving the best breakfast on the emerald coast. Locally owned by Destin natives this is one of my favorite places to have breakfast with a friend, and even the kids. From the Crawfish eggs toufee’ to the lobster gouda grits this is they have it all!
The Pancakery –
The Pancakery will always be Olivia’s favorite restaurant. These owners are transplants from the New Orleans area, but they have been in Destin long enough to become a local favorite. You would think it would be every 8-year old’s dream because they serve whipped cream on top of their chocolate milk, but their smiley face pancakes aren’t bad either. I personally like the Red, White, & Blue Pancake.
Capriccio Cafe –
Capriccio Café does not only have Destin’s best cup of coffee, but their crepes are top-notch as well. You actually can’t go wrong with anything on their menu. If you want to indulge in sweets, they have that – If you want something healthy, they have that too. You will most likely be greeted by Marco – straight off the boat Italian that puts his heart and soul into this local hot spot, or Danny his right-hand man. Together they make up the dream team to bring you the best food you never thought you knew you needed. Don’t believe me? Even the Snowbirds love this place, and everyone who isn’t even a local knows that they aren’t that easy to please. Tell them Tabatha says hello!
Things to do: LUNCH IN DESTIN
There are so many great lunch spots to eat at in the Destin area – I will do another post that dives into this topic a little deeper. But, my favorite 3 lunch spots in Destin are the Boathouse, Pepitos, and The Back Porch.
The Boathouse –
The Boathouse is Destin’s hidden gym. Located behind the red door most people don’t know that it is there. It has great food (I am a big fan of the grilled cheese, the gumbo, and the boiled peanuts) but they have a fish of the day sandwich, and of course, their oyster selection that is also to die for.
Pepito’s – while it is not your Destin seafood restaurant, it is a great place to have a good bite to eat authentic Mexican style. Their queso is amazing, and their margaritas are even better. I haven’t had anything bad on the menu yet and I’ve been eating here for over a decade!
The Back Porch
The Back Porch – When you want to experience authentic Destin Food: the Backporch restaurant is the place for you. It is located on the beach, with a menu that is sure to please every member of your party. From their Back Porch Mahi to their Crab Stuffed Shrimp each item on the menu is more delicious than the last. This restaurant is an Emerald Coast staple and should definitely be included on your itinerary.
Sushi in Destin
My next category was going to be Dinner in Destin, but I wanted them to all be sushi restaurants because of how great these restaurants are – with that in mind I am going to let you know my 3 favorite sushi restaurants and then break off into Dinner restaurants to let you know where to go to get your freshly caught Destin seafood that you have been dreaming about since you started to plan your vacation.
My absolute favorite Sushi restaurant. Harbor Docks serves sushi for lunch Thursday-Sunday but have sushi on the menu every night starting after 5. I highly recommend sitting at the Sushi Bar, because while Harbor Docks is one of my favorite restaurants, the restaurant tends to get slammed with sushi orders making you have to wait forever when you sit at an actual table. It’s a great place to sit and watch the fireworks (on the patio) but you won’t be disappointed by anything on the menu. My favorite is the back-down roll and the TNT.
In the same group with Harbor Docks, you may even see some of the same Sushi guys behind the bar. Instead of being located on the harbor, Camille’s is located in Crystal Beach. I recommend this place for more of a date night, they aren’t open for lunch. While kids are most definitely allowed in the restaurant, it is more of an intimate location and a walk on the beach after dinner makes for an unforgettable evening. (Backdown roll and TNT are also served here as well)
There isn’t much that Mcguires doesn’t have their name on, but their sushi definitely doesn’t disappoint. They have the best deals going on (check out their happy hour menu) and if you have a non-sushi lover in the group, they can order from the full Mcguires menu – keeping everyone happy! The Destin Roll, Ultimate Spicy Tuna Roll, and the Rainbow Roll are all favorites here.
Things to do: Dinner in Destin
When you think about Destin, the world’s luckiest fishing village – you mainly think about seafood. Fresh, Gulf of Mexico Seafood. All of my dinner selections have just that! My 3 favorite dinner restaurants are Dewey Destins, Harbor Docks, and Brotulas.
Dewey Destins –
The name of this restaurant says it all. Dewey Destins is Destin Fl local through and through and is the place for Destin Seafood. Tourists are learning to put this local favorite on their itinerary more and more. What most of the vacationers coming to the Emerald Coast don’t know is that they actually have 3 locations, 2 of them located in Destin and no more than 10 minutes apart. The 3rd is on the Navarre Sound. The food is great at all locations, and you will have some of the freshest and best seafood you have ever eaten.
Harbor Docks –
Harbor Docks isn’t just known for their good Sushi. They really do have such an incredible menu, from steaks to the freshest gulf seafood I am always a fan of their food (did I mention they have great sushi?!) Enjoy a nice night with a cold cocktail on the patio overlooking the Destin Harbor to experience what the best of Destin has to offer.
If you haven’t been to Destin in a while – Brotula’s restaurant took the place of the Fisherman’s Wharf. Located on the Destin Harbor, they have some of the best food, EVER. For starters take the Sauteed Mussels, and Mamas Garlic Bread – the ultimate combination. Topped off with your favorite Seafood steamed or grilled by the bucket, if you don’t eat here at least once you are seriously missing out!
Where to stay in Destin, FL
You see Destin is full of Vacation Rental Companies. There are a lot more mom & pops companies in the area now than there were before the days of Air B&B and VRBO I will break down a few of my favorite companies to stay with.
Gibson Beach Rentals –
if you are looking to stay anywhere from Miramar Beach to Santa Rosa Beach, Gibson Beach rentals is the place for you! They have exceptional customer service, and they have a good range of properties as well. San Destin and the Baytowne Wharf are some of their top-ranked properties, we highly recommend checking them out! They can show you the emerald coast as you have never seen before.
Compass Resorts –
This company, Compass Resorts, gave me one of my first jobs when I came to the Emerald Coast many years ago, and I watched this company blossom into the powerhouse that it is today. They have the Destin monopoly on all things Silver Beach Towers, Silver Shells Resort, and The Palms in Destin. Their hard work has not gone un-noticed. As a former “front desk girl” myself, this company is all business, and making sure the guests have a top-notch stay is at the top of their books.
RealJoy Vacation Rentals –
RealJoy Vacation Rentals is Tiffany’s old wheelhouse, while they are growing all along the Florida panhandle, but it’s their houses in Crystal Beach that really have wowed us over the years. Crystal Beach is one of my favorite areas, and if you like luxury rentals or simple beach homes, they have everything you would want in a beach home in the middle of Destin between Destin and Miramar Beach.
Things to do with your kids on the Emerald Coast
The Track – Destin
One of our favorite Destin hot spots, is of course, The track! they not only have the best Arcade in town (I am saying this as someone who constantly has to win tickets for her niece while Olivia wastes her tokens on nonsense) but the rides that they have attract the entire family. Gokarts, bumper boats, bumper cars, and even some thrill rides are sure to leave the whole family smiling.
Thrills Arcade & Laser Tag – Miramar Beach
Thrills Arcade is located in Miramar Beach in front of the Seascape resort, it is a nice place to go to because not only does it have an arcade, but it has Laser Tag as well. The arcade is pretty big and newer to the Destin/Miramar Beach area. Something to surely have the whole family laughing as they battle each other in a laser tag battle.
Goofy Golf – Ft. Walton Beach
Located in Ft. Walton Beach, Goofy Golf has been around since 1958 and is my favorite putt-putt course on the emerald coast. With 2 separate courses at the same location this fun, yet challenging course Is the perfect way to add a little friendly competition to your family vacation.
Big Kahunas – Destin
You can’t go around Destin without noticing the Emerald Coast’s Largest Waterpark. Big Kahunas is is fun and cost-effective. Little ones under the age of 2 get in free. They just added a new addition called buccaneers cove, which is perfect for kids the age of 3-7. There is a lot of shade, and seating in the newly renovated part of the park. You can find me and my little at the Tadpole Pond next to the wave pool surrounded by the lazy river on a hot summers day! I highly recommend if you plan on going more than twice throughout the summer to upgrade to a season pass.
The Buccaneer Pirate Ship –
The Buccaneer Pirate Ship is a perfect ride for kids of all ages. They do a wonderful job of putting on a show. Your kids (and you) get to sail the Gulf looking for Blackbeard’s treasure. While searching the kids get to undergo lots of activities such as face painting, water gun, and sword fights. Once they find Blackbeard’s treasure which actually is in the middle of the gulf, the whole gang gets to pull it out of the water and take home one piece of the treasure as a souvenir. Don’t forget to check out the gift shop on board to get the rest of your pirate ensemble. I recommend booking these ahead of time as it is really popular with the littles!
The Southern Star Dolphin Cruise –
The Southern Star is one of Destin’s best Dolphin Cruises. Hop on board and they give you a little history lesson while you tour the Destin Harbor. You then either head out to the east pass (if it’s not too rough) or the Choctawhatchee Bay to get up-close encounters with dolphins and other marine life. Usually, the place you are staying with has some sort of promotion going on with them, making it even more affordable. Definitely book your cruise ahead of time, they do their cruises at specific times so you don’t want to be stuck at the harbor forever!
Things to do: DESTIN NIGHT LIFE
It’s not just one of my favorite lunch spots, The boathouse is also one of my favorite places to listen to live music. Don’t let the dollar bills and questionable undergarments hanging from the roof let you think this isn’t the place to be. In this chill environment on the Destin Harbor, with the live music and good drink prices, you are sure to have a good time. Since it is also a restaurant, it is even kid-friendly. Don’t keep them out too late. 😉
Tailfins is another great location for the night out on the Destin Harbor. They have live music, acoustic usually outside on the harbor, and a band usually plays on the roof bar, which is the third floor. You can check out who is playing by going here!
Aj’s is a Destin, FL staple. They are a big crowd-pleaser because they usually have live music going on outside, the upstairs bar with a DJ (or live music), and its great for gamedays too because of the jumbotron. Usually, everyone starts out at the smaller bars and then all join together at the end of the night at Ajs. The party goes on all night long at Aj’s on the harbor with this bar closing at 4 a.m.
The Village Door
The Village Door is a great place for nightlife in its new location in front of the Seascape resort located in Miramar Beach. Friends and family of all ages can join in for dinner, enjoy You can check out their event schedule here.
VPS the Destin/FWB airport is the closest airport – it’s a smaller airport and located just around the Shalimar, Valparaiso area. 25 minutes away from Destin.
PNS Pensacola Regional Airport is about an hour away from Destin and since it is larger than VPS you can usually get some pretty good deals coming from larger cities.
Hey there! We just got back from our trip to Disney World,
and we just wanted to let you know about our trip, some tips and tricks, and things
to remember before we go back next time! We went with some family friends and
the kiddos. Teagan (19 months) Olivia (8 years old) and Grayson (9 years old) were
all along for the ride. Here are some of the things I will go into more detail
about a little later.
First things first, the car ride! We started the trip in Grand Isle Louisiana because that is where Grayson is from. If you don’t know where Grand Isle is, it is at the very bottom of Louisiana. MapQuest says the ride should have taken 11 hours 25 minutes. We left at 8 am on a Summer Saturday. Having to go through every major city such as New Orleans, Gulfport, Mobile, Pensacola, Tallahassee, etc. we hit traffic EVERYWHERE! Not to mention having the two younger kids and an older gal – we had to stop a lot more than we had hoped. Taking us well over 14 hours to get there.
Island Star Resort
We stayed at the Island Star resort. It was pretty nice as far as vacation rentals go. I will start with the negatives because there weren’t many. The negatives were that the unit was pretty dated. (I come from a housekeeping exec background, so I am paid to notice these things! 😉 We stayed on the A and B side – the units did not match up; sink fixtures in the bathrooms, etc. The kitchen was fully stocked, but we couldn’t find a pizza pan anywhere. But that was it! Having both units made it perfect to give us all the space we needed after long days at the park. The other plusses were, it was close to Disney, the resort had a lot of amenities to offer. Golf, Tennis, Basketball, fishing, 2 swimming pools, pedal boats (we didn’t get to ride the pedal boats because they found an alligator in the lake the week before) but they had a spa with a Sauna and hot tub that was open to guests staying at the resort until 9. And after walking along the park all day – it was really nice to come back to. They also had restaurants on-site and a market that sold everything you could need including Disney Souvenirs!
Day #1 Resort Day
As a Florida resident, I got a deal on mine and the kids’ tickets. 3 days $200 a person (waterparks not included), babies under 2 get in free. Everyone else in our group got a 2-day pass because they had to spend the rest of the time at ESPN Wide World of Sports for the AAU basketball championship tournament. Our first day we decided would be a chill day. Hang by the pool, go mini-golfing, etc. It should also be known that this was at the time that Tropical Storm Barry was getting ready to come into the Gulf and hit Louisiana. So, the weather in Orlando was scattered storms the whole week we were there. Which was a welcome break in our day for the scorching hot summer days!
Day #2 Old Town & the Fun Spot
Monday ended up being another chill day because the basketball tournament kept the rest of our group extremely busy – and we all wanted to go to our first park together since Teahan and Grayson had never been. So on day #2 we hung out at the resort for the morning and then came across old town & the fun spot. Old Town was super cute. So many restaurants and cute things to do. You could spend an entire day in that place. They had this giant arcade that the kids just LOVED! A funny thing that I noticed in Old Town was that for every kid activity, there was a bar or daiquiri stand nearby. Attached to Old Town is the Fun Spot. It’s basically a giant fair. For $100 both kids could ride as many rides as they wanted until the park closed not only did they have barely any lines to stand in, but with these rainy days leaving us a little uncertain – if it starts raining within 90 minutes of you buying your passes – they will refund you and let you come back another day! It ended up not raining until we were there for a couple of hours – but we took a break, went back to the resort to grab a bite to eat and then came back. Parking was right at the entrance to the park, so we had our cooler in the car to be able to go back and forth for drinks. The kids got to ride every single ride at the park repeatedly. It was amazing, they had so much fun!
Day #3 Disney – Animal Kingdom
We were so pumped for our first day of Disney. We were at the park for 8:00 to be able to get our Animal Kingdom on. It cost us $45 to park because we got talked into paying for premier parking because the lady said that would be easier with a baby. It was nice to be able to park close, but after seeing that the other parking wasn’t that much farther, I probably wouldn’t do that again. Avatar was a family favorite. It was pretty insane to wait in line for 110 minutes to sit in the a/c for what felt like 5 minutes. But the spritz of water when you feel like you were flying in mid-air was awesome. The safari was also really cool. I recommend going during the morning and then in the evening to have 2 different experiences with all the animals.
We took a break at about 3:30 to rest our feet so we could make it back for the light show but before we left, we had to check out Asia. In Asia, there is one of the most fun roller coasters – Expedition Everest. For some reason, they always had pretty short wait times (anything under 40 is short to me.) We would get off and then get right back on. The ride also happened to be right outside where the light show was going to happen. So, as the show began to get closer the line began to disappear completely. Needless to say, we stayed there the rest of the night and then caught the end of the light show. Which was amazing. I had never been to Animal Kingdom before – but it was fun!
Day #4 Disney – Hollywood Studios
This is one of my favorite parks at Disney. We were dropped off at the park this day. We started the day at Hollywood Studios with the Star Wars show. Then off to check the wait times at Rock N’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror. Found some Rock N’ Face Paint. Lines were too long so we took our new look to meet some characters. Started with Star Wars and then into Disney Junior Land. It was the cutest. Grayson being 9 thought he was too old/cool to be taking a picture with Doc McStuffins but then changed his mind last minute. Doc started teasing him, the pictures came out adorable. He then started doing some sort of breakdance move as he was waiting for Olivia to finish with her picture and then Doc McStuffins started breakdancing with Grayson. It was probably the coolest experience ever. This was supposed to be mine and the kids one baby free day so they could do big kid stuff. While in the line for Rock N’ Roller Coaster after meeting characters and watching shows they were talking about how much they wish Teagan could be there with them. (Heart melting.) Teagan got to the park, we went and watched the Frozen show (it was HILARIOUS & had the whole theater singing.) Then off to the Disney Junior Dance Party. The Dance Party was extremely cute for all of the kids. Babies and ‘tweens’ alike. It was almost 6:00 when we got out and then it started pouring down rain so Teagan didn’t get to meet her Disney Junior characters.
Day #5 – ESPN Wide World of Sports
This was mostly another chill day for us. Hanging by the pool – everyone was getting nervous about the possible Hurricane about to hit Grand Isle and then we had to be at Disney for the runner up Final. When we got to ESPN Wide World of Sports, I dropped everyone off at the front and then went and parked the car because parking there was free. Along with the AAU basketball tournament, there were also baseball and track tournaments happening as well. This park was packed! I had to park at the very end of the park, not close to the basketball arenas at all. The final was played in the Visa building. As far as stadium food goes, if you don’t like pretzels they don’t have anything for you. I was a little disappointed. Hoping to at least get some popcorn, but that was not to be. The boys won their runner up final, so we then had to head to the giant arena for the award ceremony. Of course, it started to rain before we had to make the long walk between stadiums. It was a pretty neat experience. This place had so much stuff going on. After we were done with ESPN and everyone had their souvenirs it was back to the resort to use the amenities.
Day #6 Magic Kingdom
By this point, the kids were Disney Pros or so we thought. We checked out of the resort and we were just going to do Magic Kingdom all day and then head for home (or close to it because of the “hurricane”.) We thought we would leave for an hour or 2 and grab a bite to eat then head back to finish it out. Boy were we wrong! It had been so long since I had been to Magic Kingdom that I forgot how much of a hassle it is to get to the park. Once you pay $25 (there is no point to pay preferred parking at this par) because once you park you still either have to take the ferry or the tram to get to the park. It was overcast which was good, so there was no point in leaving the park once we got there because we did not want to have to load everything back into the car twice.
We decided to hit up space mountain first, but lucky for us they had the move it shake it mousekadance heading down Mainstreet before we got to any other attractions. When we finally got to Space Mountain in Fantasyland – That line was incredibly long, so I highly recommend getting the fast pace days if not weeks in advance! If you need a ride to cool off in the AC on… The Carousel of Progress is a great ride to do just that! There was never a wait and it was 20 minutes of pure Air Conditioning bliss. We went off to Adventureland to catch Pirates of the Carribean – the kids wanted to go back and catch Monsters Inc so the adults and Teagan decided to grab a bite to eat in Adventureland. By the time our bellies were full, it was time for the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade!
After that, the boys went their way and I had the girls. We were princess bound! The wait times weren’t bad – It was 40 minutes both for meeting Rapunzel & Tiana and also for meeting Cinderella and Alaina of Avalor. Pro Tip: If you need to charge your phone because you were taking 10,000 pictures of your littles doing anything and everything; they have a charging station in Rapunzel’s village. Teagan’s first ride was on the Carousel. She loved going up and down on the horses. We met up with the rest of our group doing on AC cooldown on the Carousel of progress, it was about 6:00 when it decided to downpour. Thunder, Lightning, the works! We took cover at the lunching pad which was the best thing they ever put at tomorrow land. When it lightened up a little bit we walked back over to Space Mountain to find that they have charging stations there as well! Once we were done in Tomorrowland we headed towards the castle to watch the Happily Ever After light show. When this was over we headed to the exits. Since we took the tram in, we decided to take the Ferry home thinking it would be quicker. DO NOT do that. There are only 2 ferry boats and it will take you at least an hour to get back to your car. Save yourself from the misery of dragging around worn out littles for hours after the light show and just take the tram.
This was my first trip to Disney with kids. I had no idea what was allowed in the park. This was a spur of the moment trip, so I didn’t do my due diligence beforehand. Here is what I know now.
Backpacks are allowed at the park, not just diaper bags but actual backpacks!! Wagons are not allowed.
You can bring in your own food & drinks. I recommend freezing water bottles overnight to put in the bag with your other drinks to keep them colder longer. I saw people bring in their own loaves of bread & lunch meat – I wouldn’t go that far but some chips and maybe some uncrustables will go a long way. Every restaurant had uncrustables on the kids menu.
Bring your own fans! You can expect to spend $25 for the fan water bottle combo at Disney so I recommend bringing your own inside the park. Especially if you have little ones. Bringing one that attaches to the stroller is an added bonus!
Bring your own stroller, instead of renting. Although it was tempting to rent the double stroller to let the older kids switch out and rest, it was nice having our stroller to be able to lug everything back and forth. Not to mention I saw too many people flipping their double rental stroller. (They were loading up the back too heavy and letting other kids push them, I don’t recommend doing that.) One of the ladies in our group had a walker, and with our stroller, the kids were able to take breaks in the long lines.
Download the Disney Experience App. It helps you with downloading your fast passes, you get 3 per day and you can put your whole party together. You can also see the wait time for rides at the park which helps plan your route. You can see all the pictures that are taken at the park. From rides to photos in the street, and even character pictures. At the end of your stay, you can buy all the pictures with unlimited downloads for $200. I wish I had downloaded it sooner because you can schedule your fast passes 30 days in advance.
Lightsticks – for the light shows! They are a big hit, and all the kids love them. Get a handful of them at the dollar store nearest you – and you will be the hit of the light show. Hand it to all the kids around you to have a good time!
Face painting – This was a favorite at the park, although it was $20 a person – they get free touch-ups throughout the day as long as you keep your receipt. Say good-bye to meltdowns over melted & sweaty face paint we went back twice!
Have something to keep the kids entertained for an hour or so in the lines. I wish I had brought a deck of cards or something to help them pass the time. We played a lot of I-Spy, Colors, and Rock, Paper, Scissors.
If you have small kids that aren’t able to ride the rides. Hang in the line until you get to the part where you can see an attendant and let them know you want to do the rider switch. It is an amazing program they have going on at Disney. When you have your group you have to let the attendant know – then the group can break up. The adult with the baby can choose 2 other people to get fast passes to ride the ride with them when they get off of it with the rest of the group. This was perfect for the kids because they got to ride the rides twice super fast!
Magic Bands are a must – I am going to be completely honest with you and tell you that I thought they were a waste of money! By day #2 in Disney having to constantly keep taking out the cards every time we wanted a picture or to use the fast passes. The magic bands made it so much easier when the group wanted to split up. I didn’t trust the kids to not lose their tickets!
Don’t forget your autograph books – I honestly thought that the kids were going to think they were too old for autographs, but that was not the case. We waited to meet the characters and then after a few, I was scrambling to the nearest gift shop to buy a pen and an autograph book.
Bring a battery pack/Charger – Between using the Disney Experience App, taking pictures, and calling all of the members of your party your phone is going to die. You will want to bring a battery pack because the only place I know there are charging stations is in Magic Kingdom. Rapunzels village has outlets at the tables, and space mountain has a charging station and they also sell the battery packs to be traded out. $30 for one of those battery packs.
Check the event schedule for after-hours activities! They only let in a certain amount of guests, so you have lower wait times and an experience that you will never forget!
I hope this is as helpful for you as it will be to me and my family during our next Disney World Vacation! Pictures of our trip coming soon!
Destin isn’t just known for its white sandy beaches with Emerald green waters. The world’s luckiest fishing village is also known for some of the best golf courses in the country. These pretty challenging greens will have you happy to step away from the beach for a little bit.
The Raven is located in Sandestin is a course that you must play! It’s a course that people of all different skill levels come to play. It was a stop on the PGA golf tour back in 2014 and you really need to stop by and see why!
Step out onto one of the finest courses on the Emerald Coast. Emerald Bay is located at the end of Destin close to Miramar Beach. The course was just renovated in 2014 and is a real treat to play on.
Seascape is not located in Destin, but it is located in Miramar Beach. It’s one of the most affordable courses in town with its dynamic pricing structure. The course is exquisite and 15 of the 18 holes have water features.
Regatta Bay is a great golf course in Destin. It is located on the edge of Mirimar Beach. It’s been voted the best golf course on the Emerald Coast time and time again. Step onto the links to find out why! The course is under construction with 1.85 million dollars in renovations so you have to play on temporary greens. The new course will be unveiled in September 2019.
Indian Bayou is a beautiful course located in the heart of Destin. The course is in great shape and won’t disappoint. Each shot is more challenging than the next.
Now that the first day of Spring is here., you know what that means?! SPRING BREAK is upon us! Everyone loves this time of year because that one week off means one full week of FAMILY Vacation! With that in mind we have just a few helpful tips to keep in mind when going into the world of Vacation Rentals. With me and Tiff being in the industry for years, we can give you a bit of insider knowledge. You all know that Tiff, the kids, and I will be spending our lovely holiday on the prettiest white sandy beaches of the emerald coast in Destin, FL., but these Vacation Rental tips are helpful for any vacation rental.
Vacation Rental tip #1:
Check-in and check-out times:
Check in time is 4:00 p.m. and check out time is 10:00 a.m. – Y’all when companies say check-in times are
4:00 they really do mean 4:00. For any successful vacation rental in the area,
they are pretty much all booked up. Which means, the previous guests departed
at 10:00 a.m. (if they weren’t dragging their feet stressing everyone in guest
services and housekeeping out.)
*Insider tip, most companies have the ability to charge you for a half of a day if you are not out of their rental by 10:00 a.m. If you think you are just going to ignore their phone calls, and hang by the pool – you will get charged, and the person that comes behind you will have to suffer by getting into their rental late.
Vacation Rental tip #2:
Vacation rentals thrive on their customer service team, and
they will do everything in their power to get you into your unit as fast as
they can. One thing to remember is: they have so many rentals to get to, and
depending on how bad the previous guests left the unit depends on how much cleaning
is going to be involved. So, when the front desk says call us when you get into
town and we will let you know your rental is ready – they mean that. Call ONCE,
ad get the job done – call multiple times and you aren’t getting into your
rental until 4:00.
Vacation Rental tip #3:
Getting your groceries:
Absolutely by no means get your groceries as soon as you get into town. You all know that the grocery stores are going to be slammed with people come the afternoon, but that doesn’t mean get your groceries early and you can just put them in the fridge in the rental. Time and time again I have seen it where people either snuck into their unit behind a housekeeper or and inspector and their groceries got thrown away: or people bought their groceries early and they went bad while waiting on getting into their unit until 4:00. Both ways left the guests extremely infuriated, and it is just not a way that any guest wants to start of their vacation. Instead, why don’t you do a curbside pickup which is available with grocery stores in your area. You can pay ahead and schedule a pick-up time for 5:00. Avoiding the lines, and avoiding the frustration of groceries gone bad!
Vacation Rental tip #4:
Do something fun
Many people start their vacation by sitting at the front desk, most likely harassing the 20 something year old that has no control over getting you into your unit, and just being miserable when you have so many opportunities at your finger tips: Go to the beach or pool, The best part about your resort is that they will let you use your amenities the day of arrival. Your room isn’t ready until 4:00? No problem! Go hang by the beach or pool until 4:00 comes. Want to go somewhere that has air-conditioning so you aren’t out in the heat until late afternoon? How about going ahead and getting those souveniers from the souvenier shop down the road that you know you already are going to have to spend half a day in down the road anyways. Or how about going to do the touristy things such as scuba diving, fishing, or dolphin tours! This is the perfect place to kill a couple of hours while waiting on your rental. Go have some fun with the fam and by the time your unit is ready you will be off the boat with the fam, loving the start of your vacation.
Vacation Rental tip #5:
Please be sure to call ahead, or read your arrival instructions to see what you are going to need to bring with you or buy when you get there. It is from my experience that most rentals are not equipped with beach towels or hair dryers, and there are specific cooking items that may not be required to keep as well. Also, you are usually only equipped with a starter kit including trash bags, toilet paper, and paper towels. So I recommend just giving a shout or shooting over a message to your friendly vacation rental company staff to see what you might need to add to the grocery list!
Vacation Rental tip #6:
Follow the rules:
You may think this is a simple one to follow, but for most
people its not. Each rental is based on a property that has their own Home Owners
Association rules to follow. If a rental states that no one under the age of 25
should be renting the property without the accompanying of a parent, they mean
that. Most properties these days have video surveillance lurking around all
common areas of the resort, for your own protection, and theirs. So they can
see if a parent checks in to the unit, leaves, and then comes along twenty 18
year olds ready to party. More likely than not, they will be kicked out before
the night is over.
*Something to keep in mind* The place that you are renting is worth a couple hundred thousand, if not millions of dollars, so unless you have enough money to pay the owner in full for wrecking their property; it is probably best to follow the rules.
Vacation Rental tip #7:
Most importantly, Have fun!
While on vacation the second something doesn’t go the way
you have hoped – it is easy to get discouraged, but just remember that you are
there to have fun with friends and family. Let that be the ultimate goal, relax
and enjoy the time that you have earned off away from work or school and just
relish in the fact that you are in a beautiful place with the people you love!
We hope these Life Twinningtips may help you when planning your next vacation! If you are thinking of heading to the Emerald Coast and are not sure where to stay: Give us a shout! We are more than happy to send you over to one of our friends on the Emerald Coast!
Once you get to know me, you’ll find out that I make at least three trips to Norway every year. It has taken me TWO WHOLE YEARS to get the courage to bring Olivia, my now 7 year old along with me. I’m so glad I did! Here are 7 tips I can give you to hope your international travel will be as successful as mine, and make you want to travel with your kids more!
Tip #1 Get them excited about the journey!
When I first started to plan the trip, I thought about the best time frame she would get to experience Norway, and it doesn’t get much better than Christmas! We spent 10 days in Bergen where we got to experience a traditional Norwegian Christmas holiday and everything that beautiful town had to offer. I booked the trip months in advance and made sure to talk about it a lot with her to and show her lots of pictures. Before we left for the trip I got her the cutest travel journal from Amazon! She was super excited and wrote in her journal every day!
Tip #2 Plan your flights!
Do your kids follow a normal sleep schedule? Or do they throw your through a loop with a weird sleep schedule? Plan around it! Our first flight was perfect. Olivia usually goes to sleep at 8:30 pm so picking the latest flight which left at 10:00 pm was our best option. We got to the airport in enough time to sit and eat dinner together, and then it was lights out for the entire flight until breakfast! The flight back was a little different.. We had an early morning flight so she stayed up until the end of our last flight.
Check with the airline you’re flying to see if they provide headphones, pillows, and blankets. We brought Olivia’s eye mask and pillow, along with her iPad and favorite headphones so we didn’t have to pay extra for things on the plane. When we finally got our bags and to the car it was still her bedtime, so she was still able to sleep in the car for the . Don’t forget to give yourselves a couple of hours to stretch your legs, play, eat, go to the bathroom and get ready for the next flight!
Tip #3 Pack Smart!
If you’re traveling for a weekend getaway or for several days.. Only pack what you need, especially when you have to bring your winter wardrobe! When I was getting ready for the trip I was thinking.. How am I going to maneuver all of these bags? The truth is, I wasn’t. I got all of the essentials together for the two of us and all of the Christmas presents she would be opening and packed those first. My big suitcase and my laptop bag were all I needed, and I brought a carry-on size suitcase and a backpack for Olivia, to carry her toys and snacks.
Traveling with your kids has its advantages, I got the airport to weigh both suitcases together, so we didn’t have to pay an additional fee for my heavy bag. My suitcase had all of the Christmas presents, so I was so hoping I didn’t have to move anything into hers. It worked out great! I was able to check both of the suitcases and only had to worry about bringing two bags around the airports for 20 hours. The airport also weighed both bags together so I didn’t have to pay additional fees for the big bag.
I also skipped out on packing her car seat and we borrowed one from a friend when we arrived. One less thing for me to tag along!
Tip #4 Pack Snacks!
It doesn’t matter what country I’m in, Olivia is a picky eater. I personally think the food on the plane, when heading internationally can be better than some of the airport food, but the kiddos do not think so. We flew Norwegian Airlines and the flights are cheap, but you have to pay for all of the extra items, including your meals. I purchased the meal plan for Olivia and I through the airline. But, naturally Olivia refused to eat because she saw vegetables. I made sure to pack lots of snacks like nutella, popcorn, and Go Go Squeez . The Z bars were my saving grace when Olivia turned her nose up at breakfast sandwiches. I also packed enough so whatever she didn’t eat in the airports, she had for snacks throughout the trip, and they all fit in her bag.
Tip #5 Do Your Research!
Do you need a passport for the country you are visiting? The answer is always yes, when traveling internationally. But do you need a Visa? Some places require them and others do not. Although we did not need to have a Visa where we were going, I had to provide our passport numbers well in advance. Also, they did not accept the passport card where we went. Make sure to bring the book! If you don’t have a passport and you’re planning to travel soon, check out where to find your nearest passport office. I decided to wait closer to our trip to get Olivia’s because I wanted to make sure I got my paperwork back right away. We also have an office in New Orleans, so it wasn’t too far away. Do what ever works best for you and your family!
Tip #6 Leave In Plenty Of Time!
I was lucky enough for this trip, to have started working from home about a month before we left. This gave me the perfect opportunity to pick up and work from wherever I wanted to. While I only worked for a little while on our trip, I did work there and back. We drove from New Orleans, LA to Orlando, FL and made a trip out of our trip. We stayed in Tallahassee, FL which was the perfect halfway spot for us. Naturally, when we got to Orlando, FL I made a pit stop at the Airhead’s trampoline park. It was a sweet treat for her and it helps make traveling with your kids easier when they’re not so filled with energy. We stayed close enough to the airport to where we weren’t rushing to get checked in. We also did the same going back.
Tip #7 Have Some Fun!
Try and remember to have some fun with it! This is your chance to give your child memories to last a lifetime! If they decide to throw a fit because they’re bored, take the opportunity to embarrass them too. I know I did! We were getting ready to board the plane from London and we had a delay. She got cranky, so I turned on some music and had a dance party. Mortified, she decided to calm down and I chose to stop dancing. You would too if you saw my mom moves!
I hope I was able to provide you with a little inspiration to travel with your kids! If you’re looking for some other ideas, check out the Life Twinning blog.