Travel has not been cancelled this summer in spite of rising coronavirus cases around the world. A record number of Americans are hitting the road this summer, favoring road trips to air travel and domestic locales to foreign destinations.
Growing up, my dad loved taking me and my sister on road trips around the U.S….from San Diego to Seattle, or Manhattan, Kansas to Montana and so many more stops over the years. This summer, I’ll be sharing my favorite U.S. summer destinations with you as part of my Summer Travel Series.
To kick things off, we’re going to Watercolor, Florida! Watercolor is a picture-perfect town nestled in between Destin and Panama City Beach along the scenic 30-A Highway. I’ve been going to Watercolor since 2010, but my husband and his family have gone since the 90s, around the time the town was developed. His mom has the most beautiful beach house there so we try to go a couple of times a year and it is just magical.
This beautiful beach town is a quick four-hour drive from New Orleans, Louisiana, a six-hour drive from Atlanta, Georgia and nine hours from Houston, Texas. There are also two airports nearby–Northwest Beaches Airport in Panama City and Pensacola International Airport that bring in flights from around the country.
Watercolor is a private resort community and it has its own beach, beach club, pools, tennis courts and miniature water park. The town has a hotel and homes that can be rented or owned. By staying at the hotel or one of these homes, you then have access to all of the town’s amenities.
Watercolor and the surrounding communities are connected by biking trails so you don’t have to drive once you get there if you don’t want to. Ubers are VERY limited in the area so I would recommend arranging rides to and from the airport and any dinners that are far away in advance because it is really hard to get a ride last-minute.
The restaurants in the area are some of my all-time favorites. Our family favorite and closest restaurant to our house is Cafe Thirty-A. It’s a very traditional restaurant and they have great fish, an incredible wine list and it is family-friendly. Next on our list is Basmati’s…I think they have the best cocktails and the food is so good! Borago is also a wonderful option if you are in the mood for Italian.
For lunch, I have to go to Shrimp Shack at least once every trip. They have the best lobster rolls–huge pieces of fresh lobster served on a simple bun with no sauce, but a side of melted butter…the best. And sometimes I get their gumbo too. The actual restaurant is really small, but they have patio-style seating that looks over the water and it makes for a great afternoon. My other lunch favorite is George’s at Alys Beach, but I have been told by most people I bring there that they don’t like it. I however, love it. The building looks like it has been dropped out of the Hamptons and delivered straight to 30A. The food is wonderful and the service is great.
We also try to go to the Big Bad Breakfast (BBB) at Inlet Beach on our trips–either right when we get in or before we fly out. BBB is originally from Oxford, Mississippi, the same town where my husband and I went to college at Ole Miss so we love going to the new BBB at Inlet Beach for a little bit of nostalgia and the food is amazing.
Reservations are always essential at these restaurants for dinner, but even more so now because of coronavirus restrictions. I will say our most recent trip was quite different than those in the past. The town was still busy, but the Watercolor Inn seemed really understaffed and over-occupied leading to crowding and nearly hour long wait times to even order a drink. If you’re at the beach club, I would just suggest packing a cooler and bringing your own drinks to the beach.
Other than the beach and beach club, there is also Camp Watercolor and the lake for guests to enjoy (in addition to smaller community pools and parks.) Camp Watercolor was just re-done and has a really fun lazy river, a slide and a pool for children of all ages.
If you’re more interested in checking out the lake, they offer kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing in a beautiful setting. But whatever you’re interested in doing during your vacation, Watercolor will almost certainly have you covered.
I hope you enjoyed this trip to Watercolor with me! Come back next week to see our next stop on Brit’s Summer Travel Series!