Texans flock to the panhandle of Florida for many reasons:
- It’s drivable, approximately 12-14 hours from Central Texas. (Beware of the speed traps on I-10 and I-12 through Louisiana!)
- This area has some of the most beautiful beaches of white sand and clear blue water you’ll find, not only in the U.S. but the world.
- The 30A area has a huge fan club in the Lone Star State for good reason—15 unique beach communities with easy access to the beach and varying price ranges.
Sandestin is the very first of the 30A lineup, just down the road from Destin and around the corner from the popular towns of Seaside and Watercolor. Sandestin is a coastal village, which the locals call “campus,” with everything you need: from a grocery (put in your online order at Publix ahead of your arrival), to plenty of restaurants, trails and really anything you need to vacay all day.
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort comprises the bulk of this seaside town. Here you’ll find loads of choices for accommodation, from hotels to condos to homes. Check out Osprey Pointe for a spacious condo option. Just inside the gates of the community, Osprey Pointe has five buildings, each with four floors of condos, overlooking the bay on one side and a pool on the other.
Within the three-bedroom option, you’ll enjoy an open floor plan with full kitchen, living room, washer/dryer and a spacious patio. The main bedroom is large and in charge with a cavernous ensuite bathroom; there’s a room with two single beds and its own bathroom and another bedroom with a queen that uses the third guest bathroom.
Enjoy time at Sandestin’s Marina Bar & Grill for a chill vibe, mostly outdoor seating overlooking the yacht-filled marina. Locals line up along the popular bar, so reservations are recommended. Settle in with a La Crema chardonnay and order hearty apps like nachos or grouper fish dip. Entrees include a relaxed menu featuring a fried grouper sandwich, hamburger and a daily special, such as tomato bisque soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. You’ll really soak up the community’s coastal living here.
Whether you stay at Sandestin’s posh Hotel Effie or not, you can enjoy a full day of vacay here. Book a treatment at the luxurious Spa Lilliana. Indulge in the Spa Lilliana massage (60/90 min; $170/225) for a truly customized treatment. Whether you’re looking for aromatherapy relaxation or a therapeutic sports massage, that table is for you. Make time to relax and read in their quiet room with loungers you won’t want to leave.
Before your eventual departure, head to the top floor to enjoy a drink at Ara, which offers a brightly designed indoor bar and outdoor rooftop pool (said to be the best spot in Sandestin on a gorgeous bluebird day). From specialty cocktails to frozen strawberry margaritas and bloody marys, you’ll soak in the reason you escaped to Florida.
When you’re ready for a delicious dinner, head back downstairs to the first floor’s Ovide restaurant, with all the charm and class Sandestin exudes. Settle in with a bottle of bold red (Es Okay from Mendocino County is a delight) while you enjoy a sharable starter such as the flavorful burrata (small but mighty), chargrilled octopus or roasted gulf oysters. (Make sure you get your fill of Gulf seafood while you can.) For your main, enjoy each savory bite of the lobster risotto, a creamy mix of Maine lobster with pecorino, or a pan-roasted snapper nestled on a Thai chili emulsion. The sharable sides include a healthy grilled broccolini or wild mushrooms, or an indulgent bowl of rice grits with smoked ham. (Be forewarned. You might want to try one of each of these sharable side dishes.)
Within Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, you have access to complimentary bikes and kayaks (rented at the Village of Baytowne Wharf), a fitness center and miles and miles of jogging trails.
Across the Emerald Coast Parkway from Sandestin Resort sits the Hilton Sandestin, right on the beach. With two outdoor pools, an indoor pool and hot tubs both in and out, this pool deck that leads to the pure white sand is all you need for a day of beach bummin’. Reserve chairs and an umbrella, or grab a chaise lounge on the pool deck overlooking the beach, for a sunny day escape. Wander up to Barefoot’s Grill at midday to get your fill of fried grouper tacos, a burger with fries or a leaner salad for swimsuit season.
As a lavish add-on to your day, book a service at the world-class Serenity by the sea Spa, steps away from the beach. Take your pick from a massive menu of treatment choices and build several extra hours into your experience to enjoy their steam room, dry sauna and indoor jacuzzi. (Make sure you push the waterfall button!) There are two relaxation lounges: one bright and airy (and a bit loud) and another tucked away in a dark corner, perfect for reading a juicy novel in peace. To crank up the craic (an Irish term for fun), order lunch to be delivered: a wood-fired margherita pizza, a cobb salad or burrata, paired with a low-sugar Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc. (Because we’re there for our health!)
Sandestin Sidebar Suggestions
● Another Broken Egg Cafe
● Sunset Bay Cafe
Suggested morning activities:
● Beach trip
● Floating waterpark
● Kayak/boogie board/paddle board
● Hammerhead’s Bar & Grille
● Roberto’s Pizzeria
● Sunset Bay Cafe
● The Drunken Goat Saloon
● The Village Door
Suggested afternoon activities:
● Explore Village of Baytowne Wharf
● Afternoon bicycle ride (call 850.267.6363 to arrange for bike pickup/drop-off)
● Afternoon snack for the sweet tooth at Moo La-La Ice Cream & Desserts or Tony Larue’s
As a Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort guest, you will receive complimentary unlimited health club access for adults and a four-hour bicycle rental daily for two. Also included are one hour of kayaking (seasonal), one hour of boogie board (seasonal) and one hour of tennis courts each day per unit (after 11 a.m.). Registered guests are entitled to resort transportation to and from designated stops. Download the app for the resort tram schedule and live map.
Marika Flatt, Outstanding Austin Communicator 2021, is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She began her travel writing career in 2002 with Austin Woman Magazine and now writes their “The Texas Traveler” section. She can be seen as a contributor on TV shows across Texas, offering travel tips.